January 26, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
January 26, 2018
Special Election Alert:
Reeves to face Jordan in March General Election for St. Senate

Shane Reeves prevailed over Joe Carr in yesterday’s Republican Primary. The contest was seen by many as a battle between TEA party conservatives and Business Conservatives, if that was the case, then business conservatives won this round. Reeves was former Chair of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and supported by the business community.

Reeves will face Democrat Gayle Jordan in the March 13 general election to succeed recently retired Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy. Tracy was appointed by President Trump to serve as the Tennessee Director for Rural Development for the USDA. The seat is currently vacant. 

In anticipation of the Special Election results in the Murfreesboro area, we waited to share the Capitol Update.
Haslam’s Final State of the State

Next week Governor Bill Haslam will deliver his final State of the State address. As in previous years, the Governor’s team is tight lipped about budget priorities. The Governor has noted that this year’s budget will be tighter than 2017. Autumn revenues arrived on target, hardly above budgeted estimates. ( December revenues were a surprise, see article below .) Prudence has been the foundation of Haslam’s state budget proposal so we do not expect to see a laundry list of new spending in his final year in office.  We do expect him to “make a hullabaloo” on the fiscal health of the state, pointing to our AAA bond rating and the restoration of rainy day funds following the recession as signs of good governance.

In Tennessee Check your local listings. Public Television typically carries the speech live.

MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2018 - 5:45PM CT
Joint Convention – Governor Haslam delivers “State of the State” address

You can access the live feed here , thru a computer. It should go live near start time.
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

A slow week ahead for committees as few bills are on notice. Budget hearings and presentations are the order of the week. The deadline for filing bills is less than a week away. We are prepared for plenty of late night reading.  

Tennessee Tax Collections Surprise in December
Increase Driven by Corporate Tax Payments

This month Commissioner Larry Martin announced that revenues for December posted higher than expected and exceeded the monthly revenues from the previous year. State revenues for December were $1.4 billion, which is a growth of 11.34 percent and $139.9 million more than December 2016.
  • Total revenues in December were $171.6 million more than the budgeted estimate.  
  • Sales tax revenues were $32.6 million more than the estimate for December.
  • Franchise and excise taxes combined were $103.3 million more than the December budgeted estimate. The Dept. of Finance and Administration noted that F&E payments includes several substantial one-time payments.
Haslam Announces “TN Together” Plan to Address Opioid Abuse
(Nashville) – Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a plan to combat the state’s opioid abuse epidemic. Lt.Gov. Randy McNally, Speaker Beth Harwell and Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins joined the Governor at the State Capitol as the Governor discussed the three main components” prevention, treatment & law enforcement. The comprehensive proposal comes after months of discussion among state officials, including lawmakers, on how to combat the ongoing crisis.

The TN Together opioid abuse response plan is one of the Governor’s top legislative priorities for 2018. We expect to hear more during his State of the State address on January 29 th , when the Governor introduces his budget priorities. At the moment there is a substantial two page 1-pager for all to review .  

Dickerson, Faison introduce Medical Cannabis Only Act
State Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) and Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) have introduced the Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018, which would only give Tennessee patients with specific health conditions access to safe, regulated medical cannabis oil-based products, according to a news release.
Jobs market: Labor shortage means longer hours but
more cash for workers
Long term solutions to prepare more workers are needed

In an ever-tightening labor market, many employers are following a simple credo: If you can’t find enough workers, give the ones you have more work.  Worker shortages are frustrating for businesses, but the can be a financial win to many employees. Business surveys show full-time employees are scoring lots of overtime, and part-timers are toiling more hours or shifting to full time. That’s lifting weekly paychecks, and the broader economy, even as average hourly earnings have increased only modestly. Short term, the strategy of giving existing workers more hours is helping companies meet demand but some worry about the long term challenges of running employees too hard.

In a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers late last year, 73% of manufacturers said attracting and retaining a quality workforce was a chief business challenge. Two-thirds said they were responding by giving more work to existing employees. There are other remedies, including hiring temporary workers, installing robots and partnering with schools to develop a new generation of employees. But, “the short-term response is to keep giving workers a lot of overtime,” says Denise Rice, director of the Tennessee Manufacturers Association .

The Tennessee Chamber is working with Governor Haslam, Legislators and other business groups to advance additional solutions. We must create a culture where our education system values students who are interested in the Career Technical fields of education. Stay tuned…
Rep. McCormick drops controversial 'bathroom bill'
The Times Free Press reports Rep. Gerald McCormick said Thursday he is dropping his controversial school "bathroom bill" following assurances from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that he already can and will step in with legal aid to smaller systems facing lawsuits over LGBT access policies.

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

Week #2: Monday, January 29, 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
TNECD Awards 52 Digital Literacy and Broadband
Adoption Grants
TNECD and Secretary of State Tre Hargett last week announced the recipients of 52 digital literacy and broadband adoption grants. The grants were made possible by Gov. Haslam’s Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act and a partnership between TNECD and the Tennessee State Library and Archives within the Secretary of State’s office.

The grants will support three main resources for communities:
  • Training classes to improve digital literacy including basic computer skills, how to apply for jobs, small business applications and online learning;
  • Devices and hardware to increase capacity at local libraries as key access points for community members; and 
  • STEM programming for youth that supports broadband adoption by teaching 21st century skills and exposing participants to science and technology. 

Click to see the communities that received that Training Opportunties for the Public (TOP) grants Read more  here
Thank You - Businesses and Local Chambers
Just a quick note to say thank you to all of the local businesses and hometown chambers of commerce. We know you are always engaging with your local St. Senator and Representative. Just this week we have seen several articles where local chambers are inviting their elected officials in to hear about priorities and expectations for the 2018 Legislative session.
Whether you meet at local restaurant, a hospital conference room, a hotel ball room or at the local chamber, your consistent engagement is essential to keeping business issues front and center. It also helps keep elected officials grounded and tied back to their districts. We think this is key to arming a citizen led legislature and encouraging them to question entrenched bureaucracies in state government.  
TN #EduForum18: Candidates Discuss Education
Chambers across Tennessee Supported the Forum
The Tennessee Chamber along with many of the regional chambers across the State were proud to partner with SCORE, USA Today Network, and NewsChannel5 to bring you the 2018 gubernatorial forum on education. 

Archived video of the event: can be found online: USA Today Network , and NewsChannel5 .

Top headlines from the forum were:

USDA invests $23 million in e-connectivity
Feedstuffs.com reports , "The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing in e-connectivity, which will provide virtual access to job training, educational and health care opportunities for rural communities." According to the story, the USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant Program. The projects are based in several states and invest in equipment that use broadband to help rural communities connect to educational and health care services.

Related: Tennessee’s Broadband Accessibility Grants will be announced soon .  

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