March 23, 2017
Transportation and Business Taxes Have a Good Week; IMPROVE Act Moves Forward in House and Senate Committees
This week, the Governor's transportation proposal, known as the IMPROVE Act, moved forward in the key House Transportation Committee on a decisive 11-7 vote.  The revised proposal, as amended in both the House and Senate, raises the gas tax by six cents per gallon and the diesel fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon, each to be phased-in over a three-year period.  This new version cuts the state sales tax on groceries from 5 percent to 4 percent, making the overall bill an aggregate tax cut for the average taxpayer.  Also earlier in the week, the Senate State and Local Government Committee likewise approved the new amended proposal on a unanimous 9-0 vote. Longtime Tennessee Capitol reporter Tom Humphrey has a brief recap here.
A note for manufacturers: the proposal for an optional single sales factor is included in the current amendment.  The Chamber is continuing to speak to legislators about this pro-growth policy necessary to keep Tennessee a competitive business destination with our regional neighbors.  If you are a manufacturer and this pro-growth tax reduction would benefit your business, please be sure to contact us and your local legislative delegation to express your support.
Bathroom Bill Falls Flat in Senate Education Committee; Proposal Defeated for the Year
The controversial "Bathroom Bill" sponsored this year by Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Mark Pody failed for lack of a motion yesterday afternoon in the Senate Education Committee. 
As introduced, the bill would have legally mandated that students in Tennessee public schools use the restroom that corresponded with the gender listed on their birth certificate.  Prior to and following the bill's failure in committee, Republican leaders, including Lt. Governor Randy McNally, repeatedly pointed out that, with President Trump's decision to rescind the Obama Administration's school bathroom directive from last year, the legislation was largely unnecessary and would have only subjected our state to potentially costly litigation in federal court.  Instead, with the measure's defeat yesterday and with Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen's recent guidance allowing local school districts to handle this issue at the local level, school policies regarding restroom usage can be responsibly resolved within local communities and individual schools instead of by federal judges.  You can read more about the bill and yesterday's actions in the Senate Education Committee in this article from The Tennessean.
TN Chamber Legislation Clarifying State Air Pollution Control Board Authority Moves forward in Senate Committee

  This week legislation proposed by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and supported by the Tennessee Chamber moved forward on a 6-2 vote in the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.  The legislation, SB 1371, gives specific authorization for the State Air Pollution Control Board to deny local efforts to use air permits to obstruct industrial projects based on land use and zoning restrictions.  The Chamber believes that air pollution permit decisions should be based on scientific air data, not local land use and zoning objections.  The legislation addresses a specific situation where Davidson County's metro government attempted to block a natural gas transfer station in its jurisdiction.

Natural gas transmission companies operate distribution networks that are cross multiple states and jurisdictions; they require consistent regulatory standards.  Currently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) enforces existing federal regulations on site location.  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.

Tennessee General Assembly: Weekly Calendars
Senate's weekly calendar click  HERE .
House of Representative's weekly committee calendar click  HERE
House of Representative's weekly subcommittee calendar click  HERE
Chatter Grows Louder on the 2018 Gubernatorial Rumor Mill

This week, rumors continued to swirl that House Speaker Beth Harwell (R- Nashville) was inching closer to a potential 2018 run for Governor.  Multiple Chamber members have recently confirmed that they have received phone calls from the House Speaker suggesting that she is strongly considering entering the race.  Governor Bill Haslam is term limited, leaving a wide-open field of both declared and prospective candidates seeking to replace him in the next election cycle.  Should Speaker Harwell officially enter the race, she would join state Senator Mark Green and Former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, who have already announced their candidacies. While speculation about Green's forthcoming nomination to be the next Secretary of the Army in the Trump Administration has somewhat slowed his campaign's pace, so far, Boyd seems to be the most active in his electoral outreach efforts, holding a number of fundraisers and town hall meetings on a statewide listening tour.  U.S. Congressman Diane Black is also rumored to be contemplating a run and maintains a strong existing base of support, owing largely to her prior service in the Tennessee Senate and her current representation of a broad swath of counties in Tennessee's 6th Congressional District.  Bill Lee, President of Lee Company in Nashville, has similarly suggested that he may be eyeing a run at the Governor's mansion as well. Lastly, no one should forget State Senator Mark Norris, who has been an effective and well-regarded Republican legislative leader for many years.  Norris has been quietly cultivating support among business and political leaders across the state, although he is also rumored to be under consideration for appointment by President Trump to fill a federal judicial vacancy in West Tennessee's U.S. District Court.
Surviving Active Shooter Situations 
in the Workplace
A Mitigation Strategy for Workplace Violence

Date/Time : April 20, 8:00am - Noon CDT  (half-day workshop) 
Hampton Inn & Suites
                   5001 Crossings Blvd., Mt. Juliet, TN 371222
Fee(s): $150 TN Chamber Members; $175 Non-members 
Are you responsible for delivering governmental or professional services, products, education, or health care?  If you are, the data shows that you also need to be concerned about violence in the workplace and its impact on your business and employees.

Participants in this cutting edge, relevant workshop will learn specific strategies for Surviving Active Shooter Situations (S.A.S.S.).  In our S.A.S.S. program the attendees will learn specific techniques of what to do if the unthinkable happens and they find themselves in the middle of an Active Shooter Situation. There are specific and easy to remember actions that YOU CAN DO to drastically increase the chances of surviving an Active Shooter Situation for you, your coworkers, and your family. The Active Shooter Situation will be over in minutes, but seconds will count, do you know what to do?  

Instructor: John Rose M.A. 

Testimonials from attendees at previous training(s):

"John Rose gave excellent examples and did a "spot-on" job.  
He got the key points across.  Not only will I ensure plans at work, 
but we will prepare at home, as well."

"Best training I've had in years!!"  

"Training was a good value for the cost.  Speaker was engaging and knowledgeable."
Cumberland County Schools Eye Career Preparation Tracks for Students

School leaders and district administrators in Cumberland County are renewing their focus on career preparation and postsecondary readiness for their students, reports the Crossville Chronicle .  There, only 58 percent of graduates from the class of 2015 went on to enroll in a postsecondary institution of some kind by the following fall, compared to a state average of roughly 66 percent.  To help improve graduates' chances of pursuing a postsecondary four-year, two-year, technical, or industry-related education, district officials are helping students identify potential career fields earlier, by the eighth grade in many cases, and guiding them to coursework that can help support their educational and career aspirations.  Cumberland County offers students opportunities to explore 16 career clusters through the CTE department and is placing a greater emphasis on early postsecondary opportunities, such as industry-standard certification courses and elective technical courses that can carry credit into a community college or technical school after graduation.  Roughly 59 percent of Cumberland County students earned CTE credits to fulfill the elective concentrations requirements for high school in the 2014-'15 school year. In the coming year, the district will be looking to better align those elective concentrations within career clusters and programs of study, including expanding work-based learning opportunities.  

Bills to Roll Back Obama-Era Regulations Sent to Trump for Signature

The Washington Post  (3/22, Kindy) reports that in a 50-48 party-line vote Wednesday, the Senate approved the second of a pair of bills calling for the elimination of Obama-era OSHA rules. The measure approved Wednesday "takes aim at a new rule that gave OSHA authority to issue citations and levy fines against companies with 10 or more employees if they failed to record illnesses, injuries and deaths that dated back as far as five years." Both bills "now await President Trump's signature. Administration officials said he plans to approve both measures."

The Hill (3/22, Carney) reports in its "Floor Action" blog that Republicans "argue that the Labor Department's rule is another example of the Obama administration overstepping its boundaries." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is quoted as saying, "It's a regulation that purports to look out for workers' best interests but actually does little to achieve that outcome." Similarly, the Indianapolis Business Journal (3/22) reports that critics "said the Obama administration was trying to extend the penalty window to five years, describing the rule as 'an unlawful power grab.'"

Data Security is a Business Imperative

Trade publication  Manufacturing Global   (3/21)  has an excellent article on the importance of data security for manufacturing businesses.  Today, our systems and machinery are more connected and data security is increasing as business issue.  The author recommends businesses, especially manufacturers develop an information-security plan that trains employees to be mindful of these issues and to report suspicious activity, rather than simply relegate the issue to the IT team. 



Peyton Manning:
"I have no interest in the political world"

Peyton Manning, the former NFL quarterback (also Univ. of Tennessee legend) turned professional speaker, tried to set the record straight on Wednesday.  Since retiring from the NFL in March 2016, Manning has been the subject of much speculation about his next career, which has ranged from potentially joining the Colts' front office (he didn't) to running for the U.S. Senate.  Manning's name has been floated as a potential candidate if U.S. Sen Lamar Alexander does not run in 2020.


"I don't know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I'll be an astronaut," Manning said. "I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities."


 Read the full article in the Denver Post.

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