February 8, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
February 8, 2018
Tennessee Chamber Annual Meeting /
Legislative Day on the Hill Planned for Next Week
Meeting provides great opportunity to outline business priorities
for the legislative session.
Legislative Update:
Proposed Cybersecurity Bill Has Far Reaching Business Impacts

Increasingly the Tennessee General Assembly has proposed legislation that contains consumer notification requirements when data breeches occur that release certain types of information. Legislation proposed this year by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Courtney Rogers (R – Hendersonville) vastly expands notification requirements to additional industries and
information breeches. The proposed legislation creates a civil right of action against any business who violates the act, which is a new standard for Tennessee business compliance.  The Tennessee Chamber is meeting with the bill sponsors to note concerns from a variety of industries about the proposed bill.  To view the proposed bill (SB2536) click here . Do let us know if you share these concerns and would like to be included in our meetings.
Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Updates
Retaliatory Discharge Proposal Concerns Business

This week, officials from the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance presented updates to the House Consumer and Human Resources committee on the state’s workers’ compensation trends and climate. Overall, the 2013 reforms supported by the Tennessee Chamber continue to show increased cost savings to business. Abby Hudgens, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation administrator presented numerous statistics revealing positive trends and cost savings for business. Wa tch the hearing: http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=366&clip_id=14307
(*Abby Hudgens starts at the 12 minute mark)

Legislation for Workers’ Compensation for 2018
The Tennessee Chamber has been monitoring filings and have identified several workers’ comp proposals this year in the legislature. First, the Tennessee Chamber has legislation SB1615 to eliminate requirements that third party administrators must have a Tennessee office in order to office WC policies. Second, we noticed legislation SB2475 to repeal a “sunset date” established to provide for the wrongful denial of claims. Years ago, the TN Chamber worked to add this “sunset” provision as a safety measure, ensuring the section did not create concerns for business. The section has only included minor contested claim activity, so the removal of the date is not alarming. Finally, the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation will advocate for legislation SB2141 that provides a protections for agricultural employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees and benefit from Tennessee’s no fault system to avoid unnecessary litigation. Concerning to the Tennessee Chamber and employers is HB 2411 sponsored by Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis) and Rep. Dwayne Thompson (D-Cordova) which establishes expanded circumstances and awards for employees who prevail in alleging retaliatory discharge for workers’ compensation. The Tennessee Chamber will be communicating our concerns to legislators regarding this proposal. 
Senate Commerce Committee Advances Legislation Establishing Employment Relationship of “New Economy” Services

This week legislation ( SB1967 ) sponsored by Senator Bo Watson (R – Hixson) moved forward overwhelmingly in the Senate Commerce Committee that established a needed framework in our emerging, modern “flexible economy”.  The legislation defines the relationships of technology companies and professionals who offer their services through an online marketplace by clarifying that the professionals are not the employee of the technology company.  
The legislation advanced despite testimony from Dept. of Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips, who seemed to argue for more time to study the impacts of the proposal. In the past a number of different industries have defined in statute the definition and relationship of contract employees. Unions and trial lawyers have engaged in litigation across the country to question these relationships in a variety of both emerging and well established industries, the proposed legislation should reduce litigation in this area.  
The pace is picking up the Tennessee General Assembly... 
House Finance Ways and Means committee begins their run of state agency budget hearings at 8:30am on Monday, February 12 th . As most of you know, this process takes about a month to review all of the entities. 

On Monday, February 12 th there will also be a Government Operations hearing on the University of Tennessee, Board of Trustees, followed by a meeting of the Council of Pensions and Insurance.   

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 
CLICK HERE for the TN Dept. of Revenue Notice #18-01.
Most Candidates for Governor not in Line with UT Board Change

Victor Ashe’s column in the Knox News Sentinel focuses on the sentiment of those running for Governor. Gov. Bill Haslam wants to remove the governor's seat from the UT board of trustees and reduce the size to 11 members. This may happen by summer, but its real impact will be on the next governor elected in November. The next governor is likely one of six people, two Democrats and four Republicans. It turns out that with the possible exception of House Speaker Beth Harwell, no one has asked what they thought.

Gov. Bill Haslam says he likely will be best remembered for his programs providing tuition-free community or technical college to Tennesseans, but he personally believes his No. 1 achievement is in a more controversial arena. That is, the 2012 overhaul of Tennessee civil service laws that makes it easier to hire, promote, reward or fire state workers. 

The Times Free Press has the scoop from two Chattanooga legislators want to end vehicle emissions testing in Hamilton County and five other Tennessee counties, arguing it's no longer needed because the entire state now complies with federal air quality health standards. Sen. Watson and Rep. Carter have introduced legislation to do just that. "If you think about it, who is hurt most by having to pay for emissions. It's those who can least afford it," Watson said. "So in many ways I would argue we're removing a burden from some citizens who have less capability to pay to get their car fixed."

Over the past two years, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has announced the federal Environmental Protection Agency has designated Tennessee as having "attained" compliance when it comes to standards for particle pollution, as well as smog standards. But state and local officials, as well as environmental groups, say it's not that simple for Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties. All have what are known as inspection and maintenance programs under a State Implementation Plan (SIP) approved by EPA and which is federally enforceable.
Nashville Council Approves May Referendum for Ballot
Voters can approve reject $5.4B (or $8.9B) transit tax plan

The Metropolitan Nashville Council has voted 34-2 to give final approval to adding Mayor Megan Barry’s transit referendum to the local primary election ballot on May 1, reports The Tennessean. But bucking the administration, the council tweaked the referendum language to list both the transit proposal's present-day cost of $5.4 billion as well as the estimated amount of long-term revenue needed for the project, $8.95 billion. The mayor's office had lobbied for only the lower amount to go on the ballot. It sets the stage for what will be one of the most momentous public referendums in Nashville history and continues a campaign that’s already turned heated in recent weeks between the two sides.

Here are the four tax increases that will be on the ballot:
  • The sales tax hike would increase Nashville’s rate from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent beginning July 2018 and to 10.25 percent in 2023. The new sales tax surcharge passed by the state last spring allowed Nashville to go above the state’s current cap of 9.75. 
  • Add a quarter percent surcharge on the hotel-motel tax beginning next year. It would jump to three-eighths in 2023, pushing the rate to 6.375 percent overall – one of the highest in the nation.
  • A 20 percent surcharge would be added to the local car rental tax that would move the rate from 1 percent to 1.2 percent.
  • A 20 percent increase for the city’s business and excise tax. For a business that currently pays $1,000 in taxes, the increase would mean an additional $200.

Senate leaders unveiled a two-year budget deal Wednesday, a major victory for both parties that could prevent a government shutdown at the end of this week. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the deal with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor. It would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years as well as include a hike in the debt ceiling and more than $80 billion in disaster relief.
Report: Tennessee Gains Manufacturing Jobs
Competition with neighboring states is a challenge

Tennessee manufacturing employment inched up for a sixth straight year, according to new data collected by Manufacturers' News Inc. (MNI) . MNI reports the state added 3,251 jobs over the past year, a 1 percent increase, and is now home to 6,517 manufacturers employing 382,972 people . Manufacturing employment in Tennessee has grown at a steady clip over the past six years, rising 5 percent since October 2011.

Manufacturing job gains in Tennessee were spread across multiple sectors and were strongest in furniture/fixtures, rubber/plastics and electronics. Primary metals, textiles/ apparel and food processing each grew by 3 percent, while fabricated metals and paper products grew by 1 percent. Industrial employment losses were reported in the stone/clay/glass, industrial machinery and printing/publishing industries. All other industries remained stable.

Business and a Biscuit Legislative Series
A Fast Paced Preview of the Legislative Week Ahead

Week #4: Monday, February 12, 2018
10:00am – 10:30am CST
Location: TN Chamber Office, 414 Union Street, Nashville, TN 37219

**Join in person or dial-in by phone**
RSVP email required: info@tnchamber.org
Report: Tennessee Infrastructure Needs Total $45 billion

Tennessee's annual estimate of costs for needed roads, schools, parks and other infrastructure is now $45 billion in the five years between 2016 and 2021, a new report says. The report calls for improvements in many different types of infrastructure. Increases in education and health, safety, and welfare infrastructure needs are responsible for most of the 4.7 percent increase.  See the full report issued by TACIR on Monday. The TACIR report includes a statewide overview chapter with information by type and a comparison of county-area needs. It includes one-page summaries for each Tennessee County.

TACIR or Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations was created by the TN General Assembly. Members of TACIR are directed to research, explore and discuss solutions for state and local government.
One more item on Workers’ Compensation...

The 21 st Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Education Conference in Murfreesboro will be held June 6-8, 2018. This is sponsored by the TN Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development. You can sign up for the Bureau’s email announcements here . While they have announced some speakers, portions of the agenda are still to be determined. 

**The Bureau would like your input in designing the remainder of the agenda.  If you have any suggestions for topics, presenters, etc., email Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator at the TN Bureau of Workers Compensation. Or chat them up on Facebook .
Tennessee's Phil Roe Still Undecided about Re-election: Speculation Bounds About Potential Candidates

Roll Call reports that U.S. Rep Phil Roe will decide in the “next week or so” whether he will run for reelection.   The House Veterans’ Affairs chairman cited family considerations as a reason he may opt against re-election. If he decides against running, Roe will be the tenth Republican committee chairman to leave the House after this term. If he retires, Roe would be the fourth of Tennessee’s nine House members to not seek re-election this fall. Republican Sen. Bob Corker isn’t running either. (Budget Chairman Diane Black has relinquished her gavel to focus on her campaign for Tennessee governor.)

Roe, a former mayor of Johnson City, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. When asked about his plans for re-election by  Kingsport Times-News reporters  in late January, Roe said he was waiting for the results of medical tests and cited his role as Veterans Affairs’ chairman. He said Monday he’s in good health. The Roll Call article speculates about potential candidates should Roe announce that he is not running and notably identifies Kingsport Chamber President and CEO Miles Burdine as a potential candidate in addition to others. 

TNGOV: Diane Black picked up her petition to run for Governor and answered some questions from reporters
Georgia Lawmakers Revive Dead Border Argument to Tap Tennessee River
They want our sweet mountain water to soak Atlanta’s growth

ATLANTA – In a move that would devastate Tennessee industry and tourism Georgia lawmakers are reviving a controversial movement to gain access to Tennessee waters. A decade ago, Georgia lawmakers wanted to sue Tennessee over the border near Chattanooga. What they really want is not a new border – just a pipe that can draw drinking water from Tennessee River just over the current state line. Georgia officials contend the border placement was the sloppy work of a surveyor some 200 years ago – who mistakenly put it a mile south of where it should be. 
Once again, Georgia lawmakers want to change the state’s border with Tennessee. Another Georgia House resolution calls for a conference committee with Tennessee to discuss what Georgians say is a misplaced northern border. St. Rep. Marc Morris thinks he could persuade Tennessee officials to consider Georgia's complaint. "I’d like to think that I am (persuasive). I’d like to think that we could just wear each other down," he said.

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