April 20, 2017
House and Senate Pass IMPROVE / TAX CUT ACT Setting Stage for Adjournment:
Business Community notes solid grassroots engagement and support to improve transportation and help manufacturing

For the first time in over a decade, the Tennessee General Assembly faced a major tax debate that will be known for generating lots of grassroots activity, both in opposition to and in support of the IMPROVE Act, also known as the Tax Cut Act of 2017.  Legislators noted both publicly and privately that local chambers of commerce and manufacturers have been weighing in with them frequently to support transportation and infrastructure improvements and the single sales factor business tax apportionment option for manufacturers contained in the approved legislation.  Likewise, groups opposing the measure, including the Tennessee arm of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), have also been working hard to defeat the legislation.

All of this activity came to a head yesterday morning as the House took up the proposal.  With a total of 81 amendments filed for consideration on the bill, debate on the measure lasted for over 5 hours.  After successfully tabling or withdrawing over 70 hostile amendments and adopting the friendly "Doss-McCormick" amendment, which included all of the major tax cut and road funding provisions of the proposal, the House finally voted 60-37 to approve the IMPROVE Act.  Later that day in the Senate, members there also passed a similar version of the same bill by a 25-6 vote margin, although some amendatory language revolving around property tax relief for disabled veterans in the Senate version means the two chambers have yet to both adopt an identical bill.  The House is scheduled to consider the Senate version on its message calendar on Monday, April 24th and we are optimistic they will approve the Senate version sending the bill to Governor Haslam for his signature.
Rep. Barry Doss _R-Leoma_ in the House _well_ on Wednesday presenting the Tax Cut Act 2017_ Amendment _4. The Doss amendment_ which was supported by the Tennessee Chamber_ was adopted by a vote of 61-35 and includes transportation funding and the single sales factor for manufacturers. _photo courtesy of TN Chamber staff_
Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) in the House "well" on Wednesday presenting the
Tax Cut Act 2017/ Amendment #4. The Doss amendment, which was supported by the Tennessee Chamber, was adopted by a vote of 61-35 and includes transportation funding and the single sales factor for manufacturers.
(*Photo courtesy of TN Chamber staff)
Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance Weighs in with Ads Promoting IMPROVE / TAX CUT ACT

Prior to the floor votes in both Legislative chambers, The Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance this week released a number of local radio and digital ads to promote legislative action for transportation and infrastructure improvements and tax cuts. The ads were targeted in a number of districts and provided an important message of overall tax cuts that offset fuel tax increases.  Formally established over a year ago, the Alliance has strategically worked on this issue and included a number of groups supporting the transportation and infrastructure improvements.  The ads have been particularly effective in a number of districts and have countered maneuvers by opposing groups.  The Chamber asked if we could help promote this message as well.  Many of our local Chambers also joined the effort and were critical to our grassroots efforts.  We are including a link to the Facebook post below.

Click on the links below to show your support...

Published by TN Chamber ·  Yesterday at 11:14am  · 
"The IMPROVE Act funds transportation infrastructure and, at the same time gives a tax cut to all Tennesseans through a 20 percent tax cut on food. In fact, the IMPROVE Act contains the largest tax cut in the history of the state."

     55K Views          Like          Share
TN Chamber Scores Win for Middle Tennessee Economic Development;
Nashville Efforts to Stop Industrial Development Through State Air Permits Stopped
            Legislation will be heard in the Senate on Monday night
This week, Tennessee's economic development and industry scored a major victory as legislation proposed by the Tennessee Chamber and sponsored by Rep. Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) and Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) cleared the full house by a vote of 69-23-2. The legislation establishes that air pollution control permit decisions must be made on air regulation standards only instead of other criteria not related to air quality standards.  The legislation is in response to recent efforts by Nashville which attempted to stop a natural gas transmission station on 80 acres in rural Davidson County. The Tennessee Chamber and others feared the move, If not addressed, could set a dangerous precedent for middle Tennessee and their ability to land or relocate industrial projects.
The legislation gives specific authorization for the State Air Pollution Control Board to deny local requests to use air permits to obstruct industrial projects based on land use and zoning criteria.  The Chamber believes that air pollution permit decisions should be based on scientific air data, not local land use and zoning objections that should be handled at the local zoning level.   
Natural gas transmission companies operate distribution networks that cross multiple states and jurisdictions; they require consistent regulatory standards.  Currently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) enforces existing federal regulations on site locations.  FERC is the appropriate venue to ensure interstate utilization and should remain separate from the air permitting process.  The recent proposed actions by Davidson County create a dangerous precedent for existing businesses as well as new ones seeking to come to the area.
We think it is also important to mention businesses and manufacturers depend on reliable and predictable sources of energy that these companies deliver.
TN Chamber Business Grassroots Network Takes Charge to Build Support for IMPROVE / TAX CUT ACT of 2017
As public and legislative debate mounted in recent weeks over transportation and infrastructure funding issues, the Tennessee Chamber worked to coordinate and engage local chambers of commerce, manufacturers and economic development agencies across Tennessee to weigh in with House and Senate members to urge their support for the IMPROVE Act/ Tax Cut Act of 2017.  Prior to the grassroots blitz by the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance and the business community, there was doubt that the IMPROVE act could muster the 50 votes needed in the House.  Capitol insiders estimated that 45 votes were supportive of the bill, five short of the threshold needed for passage.  The Infrastructure Alliance and the Tennessee Chamber effectively countered the Tennessee arm of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), who seemed to struggle to message their opposition since the legislation ended up seeking to cut more taxes than it increased.

Tennessee General Assembly: Weekly Calendars

Senate's weekly calendar click  HERE .
House of Representative's weekly committee calendar click  HERE.  
Legislation for Local Chambers Involved in Historic Preservation

SB1040 / HB1061 -   Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixon) / Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga)  
Tennessee Historic Rehabilitation Investment Incentive Act
This legislation provides a tax credit of 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures for eligible historic buildings. Managed by the Tennessee Historical Commission, the incentive can be applied against the insurance premium tax and other qualified expenses. The state tax credit would pair with Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits to make it possible for property owners and investors to rehabilitate historic structures listed on the National Register or located in Historic Districts across Tennessee.
This bill is supported by the Tennessee Preservation Trust, and they offer additional information here.  They have noted that all of Tennessee's neighboring states have similar incentives in place joining a total of 34 states across the nation.
If your community is involved in historic preservation (and we know many of you are), make sure to contact your legislators to express your support.  Let us know as well and we can follow up with your state senator and state representative.

Photos of the square in Gallatin, TN. 
Their local leaders invested over a decade building support for downtown revitalization.  It took a lot of work but their efforts have paid off. 
Planned Education and Workforce Training Site in Bradley County Showcases Collaboration Between Regional Industry and Local Education System

The Tennessee Chamber's Denise Rice, who directs the Tennessee Manufacturers Association was noted in a  report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press . Officials in Bradley County are moving ahead with plans to reuse an old factory for an education, job training and retail site which some say is unlike anything in Tennessee.  Plans are to turn the 290,000-square-foot former American Uniform Co. plant off North Parker Street into a regional site where local companies can set up production to train workers, said Denise Rice, who directs the Tennessee Manufacturers Association. 
"This idea is to bring industry to the school," said Rice, whose group is working with Bradley education and business leaders, some of which toured the sprawling 13-acre tract last week. "I don't know anybody else doing anything exactly like this."
Also, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classes are slated to be offered, along with the industry training sites with an aim toward workforce development. In addition, there could be retail locations, such as a bank branch and restaurants, set up at the facility, according to officials.
Tennessee / Virginia Partner to Bring Manufacturing Roundtable
May 4th at Bristol Motor Speedway
Please join us as Tennessee Chamber / Tennessee Manufacturers Association  partners with the Virginia Manufacturers Association to offer a Manufacturing Town Hall meeting on May 4th at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  The event will feature a number of important policy discussions and networking opportunities for manufacturers.  For east Tennessee and Southern Virginia, there are a number of manufacturers that contribute greatly to both states' economic activity.  Additionally, Tennessee Chamber Board member Jerry Caldwell has graciously offered an exclusive tour of the Bristol Motor Speedway. The event is free to attend and begins at 12 AM.  For more details, contact suzie.lusk@tnchamber.org

Washington D.C. Fly-In
May 15-17, 2017

The Tennessee Chamber is proud to announce our inaugural Washington D.C. fly-in.  We hope you can join us and make this event a great success.  Planned activities include meetings with Tennessee's U.S. Senate and House delegation and staff and policy briefings at the U.S. Chamber and National Association of Manufacturers.  Please consider sponsorship opportunities as well for your company to be recognized in our Nation's capital.  

Host/Recommended Hotel: Hotel George - 15 E St NW, Washington, DC 20001; Phone: (202) 347-4200
*No room block, but we suggest staying here if possible (TN Chamber staff will be here)

Cost: $199/member (Hotel cost NOT included)

Deadline to book: April 24 (**Limited spots are available); Contact Carolyn Davis (
carolyn.davis@tnchamber.org ) if you will attend

Sponsorship Opportunities: *Presenting Sponsor - $5,000
*Premier Sponsors - $2,500

Report: Poor TN road conditions cost drivers $6B

A national transportation research group says deterioration, congestion and lack of safety features on Tennessee roads and bridges cost the state's drivers $6 billion annually, according to an AP brief summarizing the study.  The report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, was released Tuesday, the day before a House floor vote on Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to raise the gas tax for road improvements.
The organization says the $6 billion figure includes higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.  When broken down by regional locality, the average extra cost to each driver annually is estimated at $2,019 in Memphis, $1,667 in Nashville, $1,471 in Chattanooga and $1,376 in Knoxville.

You can read more from the AP here.
Textile Industry Making a Comeback In U.S. Southeast

Beth Land, Senior Consultant at McCallum Sweeney Consulting, writes for  Area Development Magazine (4/18) that textile companies "are considering highly automated, environmentally conscious production facilities in the U.S. Southeast, where the infrastructure necessary for this industry's success is already in place." The article adds that "within the last five years, there have been significant announcements by foreign-owned textile companies investing in the United States, with site selection choices clustered in the Southeast once again." America's textile industry saw "$2 billion in capital investments in 2015."

For further information, please contact:

The Capitol Update is written by the Chamber's government affairs staff and is distributed statewide to all of our business, local chamber and economic development professionals.  The Tennessee Chamber Capitol Update is a powerful grassroots communication tool and we encourage you to share this publication with your team members to provide crucial updates and engage your local elected officials on important issues.