April 26, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
April 26, 2018
110 th  Tennessee General Assembly Adjourns “Sine Die”
Last Minute Local Chamber and Economic Development Utility Partnerships and School Testing Controversies Make for Eventful Adjournment

The 2018 session of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned late last night with a bang. Interestingly, the final hours turned hostile to economic development and local chambers of commerce during final consideration on a bill that had received little attention in prior committee hearings. HB 1914 Rep. Gant / SB 1894 Sen. Gresham dealt with authorizing natural gas municipal utilities to provide funding for local economic development efforts through local chambers of commerce. This is a common practice that has contributed to productive economic development partnerships that enhance overall revenue for local utilities and promote economic development across the state. Noteworthy to the business community, the bill received strong legislative support from a number of members who praised the efforts and partnerships of local chambers of commerce and economic development agencies. More concerning, was the targeted opposition in both the House and the Senate to the bill, jeopardizing its passage. Opposing legislators noted that ratepayers should not fund private, not-for-profit efforts , even if those efforts are decided by a local utility and maintained a number of safeguards that included approval from local governing bodies. Ultimately, the bill passed with both the Senate & House adopting a conference committee report that excluded several counties including the four largest urban cities from the provisions of the bill.

Rumors swirled that various tea-party and left-leaning groups were working behind the scenes to defeat the bill with the shared goal of minimizing recent legislative successes by the business community. The last minute efforts to derail the bill were unsuccessful as Tennessee Chamber staff worked late into the session to ensure a positive outcome. The Tennessee Chamber will include this legislation as a key vote in our 110 th  Tennessee General Assembly voting analysis.

To view House and Senate votes on the bill click here (select the “Votes” tab). We encourage you to look at this vote and THANK those legislators who stood strongly to support local chambers of commerce and economic development and ASK THOSE OPPOSING the legislation why they oppose efforts to enhance economic growth in their counties.

The Tennessee Chamber staff is working on a comprehensive business analysis of the legislative session that includes bill outcomes, key votes and how the business community fared on a number of issues. We expect this upcoming edition of our Business Insider publication to reach your inbox or mailbox in the coming weeks. Please, stay tuned. 
 
Lastly, we wanted to extend our sincerest thanks to each of you, our members and Chamber partners, for all of your hard work during the legislative session. Your efforts in contacting House and Senate members on important legislative issues made a measurable impact and served to visibly elevate the presence and influence of the business community. With the session now adjourned until next year, it is crucial that you maintain communication with your elected officials on important business issues and, most importantly, THANK those members that supported the business community this year, particularly those who supported the IMPROVE Act in 2017. The opposition will no doubt be talking with legislators now that they are home, so it is more important than ever to weigh in and continue making your voices heard.
 
This will be the final edition of our weekly Capitol Update for the year. In the meantime, do not hesitate to   reach out  to our government affairs team if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas about this or next year's legislative session.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED TENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that the One Hundred Tenth General Assembly stand in adjournment sine die at the close of business in both houses on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dispute Over Education Testing Failure Contributes To Delays Before Adjournment

Last week, reports of end of year testing failures at K-12 schools across the state prompted lawmakers to hold specials hearings in the education committees. During her presentation Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that the failures were due to a "deliberate attack" on computer systems of the company contracted to administer the TNReady exams. 

After it became clear that many schools would not be able to access the computerized testing, many school districts halted the exams. Legislation was proposed to ensure that this year's TNReady test results will count only if it benefits students, educators and districts.  The House and Senate approved the measure. 

However, tempers Wednesday afternoon tempurs flared when House lawmakers ( prodded by calls from the teachers’ union ) said the language of that bill did not go far enough to hold teachers harmless for this year's test results. At one point the House, hoping to prove how serious it was taking the issue, threatened to prevent the state's budget from being signed. Some members suggested that the House refuse to adjourn, which would have forced the Legislature to reconvene next week.

Thankfully a compromise was eventually reached around 9:00pm. The House adopted a stronger amendment stating “no adverse action" could be taken against any student, teacher, school or district regarding this year's testing and the Senate concurred. For more details the Tennessean has an interesting recap of the situation , and a few other intramural battles.  
TN Legislature Honors Everyday Hero
“Find the Good and Praise it”
Following the tragic attack this past Sunday, the General Assembly honored Mr. James Shaw, Jr. for his actions in disarming the shooter at the Antioch Waffle House. All believe that his actions prevented more lives from being lost.

Mr. Shaw’s action and humility following these events are a reflection of the best of us. The New York Time s has a story that may interest you.  
First Class of TN Trained Graduates Ready to Assist in Tennessee’s Jobs Recruitment Efforts

Seventy-four educators and economic and workforce development professionals have been awarded certificates as the first graduates of TNTrained, an initiative of the College System of Tennessee and its partners, the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
 
TNTrained’s mission is to "create a unified approach to recruiting and retaining businesses and jobs to the state by providing professionals in public higher education and state agencies with a common knowledge base of practices, strategies and skills for working with industries considering Tennessee for new locations and expansions. To learn more, check out the coverage in the Chattanoogan
Energy & Environment notices

TDEC’s Air Division Considering Another Round of Fee Increases

This week the Air Pollution Control Division of the Department of Environment and Conservation held two stakeholder meetings for air permit holders. The purpose is for the Air Division to justify their next round of Fee increases on both Title V facilities (major sources) and non-Title V businesses (true minor and conditional major sources). The Air Division is making the case to raise approximately $3.3 million in new fee based revenues (paid by business) to cover their expanding expenses. 

The Tennessee Chamber urges all businesses who pay fees for air permits to participate in the upcoming stakeholder webinars/meetings over the next two months. If you did not receive alerts from the TN Chamber on these meetings and want be engaged, we will add you to our Air subcommittee distribution.

Numerous companies are frustrated with yet another proposal to raise fees on air permits.

Here are the slides from the meeting that were held this week.

Upcoming Meetings:
  • May 8, 2018 – 9:30am; Title V Fee 2nd Webinar
  • May 9, 2018 – 1:30pm; non-Title V 2nd Webinar
  • June 7, 2018 – 1:30pm; non-Title V fee 3rd Webinar
  • June 13, 2018 – 1:30pm; Title-V fee 3rd Webinar
**Please note all times are central time

Additional information on how to participate in these meetings can be found near the bottom of the following pages on the TDEC website. Look for the header “ Stakeholder Webinars/Meetings ”: Title V fees and non-Title V fees .  
Retiring Finance Chair, Rep. Charles Sargent leaves behind two decade legacy
Pro-Business Outlook and Conservative Budget Practices Highlight His Career
Last Friday, the Tennessean wrote an excellent profile on retiring St. Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin). Chairman Sargent has been a strong advocate for education, business and responsible budget practices. His home district in Williamson County and the State of Tennessee owe him tremendous thanks for his years of service. In truth, the full extent of his impact will not be fully measured until we reflect on his absence in the 111 th General Assembly.

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry | www.tnchamber.org
(615) 256-5141 | info@tnchamber.org