Tennessee Chamber Update: Is a monthly newsletter distributed in place of the weekly Capitol Update which is produced when the legislature is in session. 
TN Chamber Update                 October 2017
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Visit tnchamber.org for more information; To register - Click 'Events' & select training/conference
 date on calendar.
Turbulence Ahead for Tennessee Politics in 2018
Corker Will Not Run Again, Announcement Shakes Up Elections
During the upcoming non-presidential year many Tennessee counties' hold their local elections.  Often these races for mayor, property assessor, commissioner and sheriff excite communities as they choose to retain or replace local leadership.  Incumbency has a strong benefit for those who can point to past accomplishments and remind voters why they should keep them around. 
However, is there something brewing in the cosmos?  A growing number of elected officials not to seek re-election and deciding to pursue new opportunities.  The 2018 election was already aligned to promote new leaders. Most know that Governor Bill Haslam is term limited and not running for re-election. The gubernatorial race is already an active affair with at least seven prominent contenders criss-crossing the state to earn support.  Less well known, several senior leaders within the General Assembly have been nominated for federal positions, are planning to run for other offices, or have decided to retire after valued years of service.  Only considering these open seats Tennessee will have at least 20 new legislators being sworn into office in 2019.  It will be quite a change.
Of course, the bombshell that shocked the political establishment at the end of September was U.S. Senator Bob Corker announcing he would not seek re-election.  We are hopeful he will make the most of the remainder of this term.  
The fallout from this decision has come in many forms.  The most distracting and least productive aspect has been the media reports and late night television coverage of President Trump and Senator Corker trading twitter barbs, coinciding with Corker giving an interview to the NY Timescritical of the 45th President's demeanor.  If this unproductive banter continues it will undoubtedly have an impact on the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee and other around the country.

Regardless, there is intense speculation on who will follow Corker in the U.S. Senate. We know Gov. Haslam seriously considered pursing a run for the U.S. Senate before ultimately deciding that slogging away in the "world's greatest deliberative body" was not something he wanted to do.  

"I'm certainly not saying I'm never going to run for office again, because I love [serving]," said Governor Bill Haslam. "And if I never get a chance to have a public service job again, I'll be sad about that.  "But," he added, "I just don't feel like going to Washington as a United States senator is the right thing for me." (Chatt Times Free Press)

More updates below...
Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin) is in.  
Shortly after Haslam publically announced he was not running, Congressman Blackburn released a short video , announcing her candidacy and making the case that she was the conservative candidate for voters to rally around.  
The video was a success in at least one way.  In the days that followed,   Twitter notified Blackburn's campaign that the platform would not allow her to run the video as an advertisement, noting her comments on her pro-life bone fides were inflammatory.  Blackburn, a savvy campaigner and media critic, pounced and rallied conservative media decrying the perceived censorship. Twitter has since reversed course and Blackburn is of course claiming victory .  In less than two weeks Blackburn has coming out swinging and making the case for herself.  

Former Congressman Stephen Fincher  (R-Frog Jump) is considering run for the U.S. Senate.  His initial steps are a contrast to his former colleague.  Fincher released this statement at the end of last week and embarked on a traditional listening tour.  He is currently, travelling the state meeting with local people and fellow farmers to introduce himself and hear their concerns.  The Knoxville News Sentinel made a video recording of Fincher when he stopped at a local coffee shop.  One would expect that after he makes his trip from Mountain City to Memphis (and stops in between), he will be making an official announcement.  

Who else is running for U.S. Senate?
Marsha Blackburn
Stephen Fincher
Many other names have taken a tour on the rumor mill and wishful thinking continues to animate the politically connected.  Several successful businessmen and business women are quietly investigating a possible Senate race.  Memphis businessman Jeff Webb (listed above) did express interest two weeks ago, so we are including him.  In fairness to others we will not disclose their names until they make a public statement.  It is likley this list will continue to grow through the end of the year.
Who is NOT running for U.S. Senate?
The following individuals have indicated they are not interested in running and made public statements to that effect.  All of the candidates for Governor have declined: Beavers, Black, Boyd, Dean, Fitzhugh, Harwell and Lee.  Candidates that would have represented ideal candidates for the so-called establishment wings are not interested: Governor Bill Haslam, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, and Peyton Manning.  Prominent Democratic figures have also stated they are not running: Mayor Megan Berry (Nashville), Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), Congressman Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Bill Freeman, and St. Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).
It is clear that the Democratic Party is re-evaluating the U.S. Senate Race now that Bob Corker is out. The Tennessean wrote a nice summary this week on the current perspectives of Democrat party officials.  In short, they know they have an unexpected opportunity despite not having won a U.S. Senate election since Al Gore was last elected in 1990.  Perhaps, the Democrats are correct that the midterm elections will provide them an opportunity to galvanize those who disagree with Trump.  However, most political insiders note that the actual organization of the Democratic Party is not what it used to be.  Democrats will need to rebuild a statewide organization in order to support whoever their candidate turns out to be. 

TN Chamber Public Affairs Conference Announced... 
Wednesday, November 8

Gubernatorial Candidates Take Center Stage to Hear from Business: 

Please join us for our annual Public Affairs conference and Boots n' Business reception.  These events present a special opportunity to learn about 2018 legislative issues and a night of entertainment with our reception and songwriter's session. Participants include state legislators ( invited ), business leaders, local chamber and economic development professionals from across Tennessee.   
*Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be provided.    

   AT&T Building
333 Commerce Street, 27th Floor 
Nashville, TN 37201

Schedule of events:
Public Affairs Conference: 11:30am - 4:45pm
Gubernatorial Candidate Panel: 3:30 - 5:00pm
Boots 'n Business Reception: 5:00pm
**Songwriter, Dean Dillon, begins at 5:45pm

$125 per person covers both events

Sponsorship Levels:
President & CEO: $5000 
Senior Vice President: $2500 
Vice President: $1500
* *Contact Suzie Lusk for more information and details on sponsorship levels. 

State News:
Tennessee Workers' Comp Cost Data Showing Results from Reforms
2017 State Workers' Compensation Fiscal Data Places Tennessee in 6th lowest cost.

The annual Workers' Compensation Fiscal Data Research Bulletin showing state workers' compensation system payments and costs from 2006 to 2015 is now available for purchase.  The 2017 fiscal bulletin places Tennessee in the bottom six states for costs per employee. The Tennessee Chamber advocated for the 2013 reforms initiated by the Haslam administration and approved by the legislature.  Overall, the bulletin shows the continued economic expansion and trend toward lower benefit cost rates. The number of covered workers in all states increased from 129.9 million in 2014 to 132.4 million for 2015. States have significantly different costs per employee, with the following highest and lowest benefit costs per employee in 2015. Good news for Tennessee Business is that we are now one of the six lowest WC cost states: the lowest cost per employee are Texas ($168); Arkansas ($193); Indiana ($196); Utah ($215); DC ($220); and  Tennessee ($259). By Comparison, the highest states were Washington ($789); California ($752); Alaska ($720); New York ($654); Wyoming ($648); and New Jersey ($595)   Source: National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation and Workers' Compensation 

Opinion: Bradley Jackson, TN Chamber CEO 
Give Employers, Families, Seniors Relief from Pending ACA Tax
If you have health insurance coverage through work, you may be interested in knowing that your premiums could go up next year by as much as $500. But amid all the debate about health insurance, you likely haven't heard much about it.  This ballooning of health insurance premiums will affect millions of employees of large and small employers, the self-employed, small businesses, and state governments.
A little background: The Affordable Care Act placed a sales tax on health insurance premiums. In a bipartisan vote by Congress, the tax was deferred for 2017. The idea was to keep the cost of employers' health coverage down.  But that moratorium runs out Jan. 1, 2018. We are nearing a critical juncture, and many of those affected do not even know this tax is coming. If Congress does not act quickly, many Tennesseans will take a big hit.  Memphis Daily News
Gov. Haslam Proclaims Manufacturing Week: Pushes for Manufacturing Plant at Memphis Megasite

Working with the Tennessee Chamber and Tennessee Manufacturers Association, Governor Bill Haslam recently proclaimed Tennessee manufacturing week. Governor Haslam is also pushing manufacturing growth in the volunteer state. The 4,000 acre  Memphis Megasite in Haywood County , Tennessee, is the focus of an intense effort in the autumn of Bill Haslam's term as Tennessee Governor.  Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development  Bob Rolfe  told the  Memphis Rotary Club  that the Governor told him, "Bobby, I would love to announce a tenant before we leave office." Haslam's second term in office ends in sixteen months. Haslam has named the site near Stanton, Tennessee, as a prime location for a planned $1.6 billion automobile manufacturing plant announced by Toyota and Mazda as a joint venture in August.  More on News5...

TN MFG Week Kickoff Event at Nissan
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry/Tennessee Manufacturers Association joined with the TN Dept. of Economic & Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Nissan (Smyrna Plant) to host the TN kickoff breakfast and plant tour for #MFGDay17!

Governor Haslam Proclamation of Manufacturing Day 2017
"Gov. Haslam proclaimed October 6, 2017 as 'Manufacturing Day' in Tennessee and encouraged all citizens to join him in this worthy observance." 
Study: Tennessee's Per-Capita Sales Tax Is Above U.S. Average

According to the Tax Foundation, 45 states levy a sales tax.  How much each state raises from their sales tax per capita varies widely.  The Foundation notes that Hawaii and North Dakota collect the most in statewide sales tax per capita at $2,090 and $1,835 respectively, but both states' sales tax bases are extremely broad and include many services, so they're not strictly comparable.  Among the more comparable states, according to the Foundation's FY2015 data, Tennessee ranks the 18th highest overall. 

Across the Southeast the rankings vary widely with neighboring Mississippi #7 and Arkansas #13 with higher costs than Tennessee. On the other hand, Virginia #45, Alabama #44 and Georgia #43 all ranked on the lower end of the scale. It is important to note that each state varies in terms of items or services included or excluded in the sales and use tax base.  Tennessee maintains one of the highest sales tax rates in the country at 7% with an additional local option of up to 2.75%. Unlike many of the other states in the study Tennessee does not have a personal income tax, and state-based capital gains taxes are being phased out through the 2017 IMPROVE Tax Act. 

National News:

Tax Reform Takes Center Stage:
Manufacturers' Timmons: Tax Reform Framework is Bold Action U.S. needs
Earlier this week, GOP leaders in the House, Senate and White House released their framework for tax reform and relief.  The proposal aims to lower taxes on business investment and simplify several aspects of the federal tax code.  (For a summary, see the Tax Foundation's site .)  The plan has been praised by National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, who said: "This tax reform framework is the type of bold action manufacturers have been calling for because it will spur economic growth for all Americans."  Timmons added:  "We're in a crisis right now involving economic growth.  If we don't act now -- if we don't seize this opportunity to modernize the tax code -- we will not live up to our full potential as a country."  He later told CNN that "30 years of our current tax code without reforms has led to a stagnation."  

U.S. Chamber and American Chemistry Council CEOs Weigh in Supporting NAFTA

Two of America's top business trade associations are weighing in to support NAFTA. The U.S. Chamber and the American Chemistry council, both of which the Tennessee Chamber serves as the state affiliate, are noting the positive economic impact that NAFTA has had on American business. 
( U.S. Chamber ) -- With the latest round of NAFTA negotiations underway, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue says that quitting NAFTA would be an economic, political and national-security disaster.  According to Donohue, "14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, which are by far the U.S.'s largest export markets. Our North American neighbors buy more than $600 billion in U.S.-manufactured goods each year, more than the next 10 largest markets combined."  Donohue adds: "Thanks to NAFTA, virtually all North American trade is tariff-free."

The ACC notes - Since the North American Free Trade Agreement began, chemical trade in the region has more than tripled, said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. Withdrawing from NAFTA or similar deals "has the potential to undermine this once-in-a-generation opportunity we have to capitalize on a global competitive position," he said. 
  S&P Global Platts (9/28)
Republicans Regain Control Over National Labor Board
(Politico) -- PoliticoPro.com reports that the U.S. Senate voted 49-47 earlier this week to approve William Emanuel to the NLRB, "creating a Republican majority that will look for opportunities to reverse the pro-labor decisions of the Obama board."  Republicans and business groups didn't try to hide their excitement. "It's a new day at the NLRB," House Education and the Workforce chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said in a statement with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.). "Today marks the end of a partisan era at the board, where we saw an activist agenda that empowered special interests at the expense of hardworking men and women."  Full article here>>
Cyber:  Recent Hacks Spur States to Pass More Data Security Breach Notification Laws Impacting Business:

The recent hack   of Equifax, one of the country's three major credit-reporting companies, is the latest example of Americans' personal information under attack from foreign governments, organized criminals, and mischievous hackers. Equifax's data breach has placed roughly 143 million people's names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security numbers at risk of being accessed by hackers and criminals all over the world.   In April, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) identified laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia requiring notification of data security breaches. The National Association of Attorneys General has pushed back on any federal legislation that would preempt these state laws , leading to a patchwork of laws in different jurisdictions. 

Many of these state bills require entities to notify the regulating government agencies in the event of data breaches. Typically, these bills have required the breached organization to send notifications to the office of the state attorney general, but some have mandated that they notify governors' offices and state and local law enforcement offices as well. Mandated notification recipients can differ depending on the size of the breach or whether the institution breached was under public or private control. Over the course of the 2016-2017 session, state lawmakers have introduced 27 data breach notification bills with provisions requiring additional notification requirements. 
Industry Input Wanted:
EPA revives Smart Sectors program

The Environmental Protection Agency is bringing back the Smart Sectors program to work with industry leaders on regulatory issues that affect certain sectors. "When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public and the environment all benefit," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
The Hill  (10/3), The Examiner Washington D.C. ( 10/3)   

Environmental News: Regulatory Rollbacks Graphic
52 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump

The list shows dozens of environmental policies that the Trump Administration has targeted, often in an effort to ease burdens on the fossil fuel industry.


HR Corner:
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has revised mandatory federal posters on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA). By law, employers must display official DOL posters where employees and job applicants can readily see them. Here's a general overview of the applicable statutes and the specific updates... Continue Reading...

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