February 9, 2017
Bill Filing Deadline Comes:  Lots of Work for Business this session.
Now that the official bill filing deadline has come, there are a number of bills that have attracted the immediate attention of the Tennessee Chamber and our member companies.  

          • Trial lawyers and Workers' Compensation - Legislation has been filed on behalf of plaintiffs' attorneys proposing a number of significant changes to physician panel selections that would cause additional litigation. Ironically, the bill is numbered 666 in the House. Senator Richard Briggs and Rep. Matthew Hill are sponsoring the legislation which will undoubtedly raise lots of eyebrows in the entire employer community.  The Tennessee Chamber HR committee will be meeting in the future to discuss this legislation and will engage according to its direction.
          • Pay mandates for tipped employees- HB 129 and HB 80 establish a state pay requirement for both tipped and hourly employees.
  • Data Breach legislation has been filed to correct a number of concerns voiced from the business community. SB 547 seeks to make several revisions to data breach requirements established last year.  Increasingly, this policy area has become an important issue for businesses facing technology and data management obstacles.
  • Stop Economic Development Act - This legislation comes from Senator Mae Beavers and Rep. John Ragan requiring any driver's license issued to non U.S. resident to read "ALIEN" or "NON US CITIZEN".  The Legislation is HB 222, and we believe it does not in any way serve a purpose other than to chill foreign investment in our state. 
EXTRA: Legislation is still coming in, but already TAXES are going to be a major subject. There are over 50 tax bills that could impact the business community. Also, the Haslam administration this year has 33 bills which is a smaller in comparison to previous years. 
Tennessee Chamber Testifies before House Business & Utilities Committee;
Statewide Business Survey, Agenda Items Promoted to Legislature

This week Bradley Jackson, President of the Tennessee Chamber, provided testimony to legislators updating them on a number of important business issues expected to surface in the General Assembly this year.  The testimony covered several key areas, starting with the findings from the joint Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Chamber's Business Barometer survey. In discussing those findings with committee members, Jackson noted skyrocketing confidence and optimism trends among the state's business community following last year's election of Donald Trump, including significantly heightened expectations about the future of the state and national economy.  That survey, along with internal survey results from the Chamber, also revealed some persistent areas of concern for business owners, including workforce training issues and anxieties about the long-term sustainability of our infrastructure and road funding. To see the results of the survey, click here .  In addition, Jackson presented a comprehensive package of solutions to address the concerns outlined in the survey findings.  Included among some of the highlights were the allowance of a single sales factor assessment of franchise and excise taxes for Tennessee manufacturers and the strengthening of rigorous, accountable classroom practices that adequately prepare students for postsecondary and career success.  After the presentation, a number of supportive statements were made from committee members around the manufacturing single sales factor tax policy.  Rep. Gerald McCormick, now chairman of the influential House Finance Subcommittee, specifically detailed how the current business tax structure had negatively impacted one major manufacturing employer in his district and discouraged them from expanding their operations in Tennessee.  You can see the presentation delivered to committee members here.

Legislative Pressure Mounting on Both Sides: Governor Haslam travels state to support IMPROVE ACT, Opposition Urges Defeat

This week groups both in support and in opposition put their best foot forward in making their case of how to raise and spend money to build the roads and bridges Tennessee needs to keep up with modern demands.
The proponents: Governor Haslam is visiting local communities, taking his case directly to the voters in an effort to both explain his proposal and convince legislators that the people back home desire a serious discussion.  The Governor's proposal has several components in addition to raising fuel taxes.  Local mayors have voiced strong support for the $117 million in revenue it will generate for their road maintenance. These funds would prevent them from having to raise property taxes to repave their local roads.  Local elected officials are certainly making the case that a dedicated user fee (i.e. the gas tax) is a responsible way to capture revenue by those who actually use the roads.
The opposition: Anti-Tax advocates Americans for Prosperity, who oppose the Governor's plan, are holding meetings with legislators in some areas. Their plan uses only this year's budget surpluses to fund a few approved projects. Although relatively painless, this approach only kicks the can down the proverbial road.
The others:   Other plans will also pop up in the weeks ahead.  We have counted at least 12 bills that could carry alternative transportation funding proposals. 

Support the IMPROVE ACT, Email Legislators with one click.

The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee is asking for you help contacting legislators and making your voice heard in supporting the IMPROVE Act.  It is critical that your elected officials hear from you, their local business partners and employers, about the importance of providing steady, sustainable funding for our transportation infrastructure and keeping Tennessee competitive with growth-driven reforms to our state business taxes.  Click here to contact your legislators and see helpful guides for explaining the facts and benefits behind the IMPROVE Act.
Tennessee Chamber / TCCE / TEDC Day on the Hill & Annual Meeting February 15: Next Wednesday!
Please join us February 15th for our annual Day on the Hill and Annual Meeting & Reception.  This is our largest event of the year and allows a unique opportunity to interact with our elected leaders and hear about the legislative session.  For more information ... click the image above!

 Corker Statement: Burdensome Federal Regulations Have Stifled Job Growth Across Our Country for Far Too Long
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement regarding President Donald J. Trump's executive order to reduce burdensome federal regulations.
"For far too long, burdensome federal regulations have stifled job growth across our country," said Corker. "I applaud President Trump for following through on his promise to rein in federal bureaucrats and look forward to working with the administration on additional ways to unleash the American economy and create opportunities for hardworking Tennesseans."
White House Cites NAM Study To Make Case For Regulatory Relief.
CNS News (2/8, Arter) reports White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday "that President Trump will free businesses from the restraints of government bureaucracy and regulations, noting that 'the real government incentive is the government restraining itself.'" In discussing President Trump's "One In Two Out" regulatory policy, Spicer said, "In 2014, the National Association of Manufacturers calculated that companies in every industry paid an average of $9,991 per employee to comply with federal regulations, and it's only gotten worse since that study was conducted. By relieving even a small portion of this burden, we will allow businesses to grow and hire more people. Projects that have been stalled or scuttled are being revived in anticipation of the president's pro-growth policies." 

616 Business Groups to Senate:
Get Regulatory Reform Done this Year
Industry Groups and Chambers of Commerce Ask Senate Leadership to Take Up the Regulatory Accountability Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a  letter sent last night to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a broad cross-section of America's business community urged the lawmakers to take up and pass the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA).

Governors Send Administration List Of 428 "Shovel-Ready" Infrastructure Projects.
The Washington Post (2/8, Wagner) reports in its "Post Politics" blog that the National Governors Association on Wednesday sent the Administration "a list of 428 'shovel-ready' projects" in anticipation of the "major infrastructure initiative promised by President Trump." The list includes a variety of "transportation, water, energy, and emergency-response projects," and the "sheer size of it underscores the intense interest in the initiative from governors in both political parties." The NGA has said the list includes projects from 49 states and US territories; Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said this week that he "plans to lobby the Trump administration directly for his state's needs rather than participate in the NGA process," and commented that he "has a strong relationship" with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, as well as "other administration officials." 
Tennessee General Assembly: Weekly Calendars
Senate's weekly calendar click  HERE .
House of Representative's weekly committee calendar click  HERE .

Preyer, Howard: Success Of Infrastructure Plan Depends On Faster Permitting Process.
In an analysis, Restoration Systems Co-founders John Preyer And George Howard write for the Washington Times (2/6) saying that President Trump's infrastructure plan "must come with incentive-based changes to our permitting system." They highlight "significant barriers to implementing worthy projects that are built into the permitting system," adding that even high-profile economic development projects with compelling public purpose and need "are not exempt from these onerous permitting requirements." Further, they write that the success of a $1 trillion investment in new infrastructure "may well depend on who the regulatory chief is in every one of the 38 Army Corps districts across the United States." 
The Importance of Confidence
The New England Patriots' Tom Brady  who cemented his status as the NFL's greatest by engineering an epic comeback from a 28-3 hole to beat the Atlanta Falcons by 34 to 28, in the first-ever Super Bowl overtime -- to Terry Bradshaw, during a taped interview for Fox's pregame show:
"You get in the huddle and you call those plays, you have 10 other guys that are feelin' your energy. And what are you puttin' off? Are you puttin' off confidence? Are you puttin' off fear? You know, they can feel all that. And when they get in the huddle with me, I want to look in their eyes, and I want them to feel a belief that we're gonna do it."
Why Walmart believes in American-made
Walmart wants to do more than offer everyday low prices, which is why it has committed $250 billion to products made, assembled in, or grown in the United States.
Manufacturing products domestically is more efficient and can help create jobs. As Walmart works to reduce the time from factory or farm to shelf, they are also striving to provide better local products for their customers. Learn more .

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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.