March 15, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
March 15, 2018
Tennessee General Assembly Sets the State for Mid-April Adjournment: Committee Closings Announced

The week of March 12 th for the Tennessee General Assembly will go down as one that moved at breakneck speed in both the Senate and House. A number of major committees in both Chambers announced last calendars and closing. The speculation around Capitol Hill is an adjournment no later than the week of April 16 th (possibly earlier) as legislators wait for February state revenue reports that will provide an estimate of anticipated revenue to balance the budget and close out the 2018 legislative session.
Perhaps most importantly, candidates seeking state legislative office must file by April 5 th as incumbent returning legislators anxiously anticipate their opposition. For the Tennessee chamber keeping up with the activity has been a tremendous task and we appreciate the work of our businesses and local chambers who are always eager to weigh in on all legislation. 
TNECD Kicks Off Apprenticeship Listening Tour

TNECD is holding a statewide apprenticeship listening tour beginning this week to discuss the future of apprenticeship in Tennessee. The listening tour includes five stops across Tennessee concluding in an all-day summit in Nashville in May. The first stop is in Smyrna on Tuesday, March 13. To learn more about the listening tour and to RSVP for a listening tour location, click  here March 19: Jackson & Memphis + March 27: Kingsport & Athens 
Weekly Recap
Tennessee Chamber Work Based Learning Initiative Clears Key House Committee Vote: Additional Hearing Next Week
This week a House subcommittee unanimously approved legislation to enhance Tennessee’s work based learning programs. The Tennessee Chamber has worked with Rep. John Forgety (R-Athens) and Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) to introduce HB 1599 / SB 1649 which establishes tax credits ($500 for each student) and liability protection for employers that offer workbased learning opportunities for students in partnership with a local K-12 school systems or TBR institutions. The Chamber anticipates a major hurdle for the legislation is the $1 million fiscal impact of the bill to provide funding. We encourage you to contact and encourage your legislators to support this legislation and provide funding . A number of our surrounding and competing states have enacted similar legislation that includes Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The legislation originated from Chamber member survey results that identified ways to enhance work based learning in the volunteer state .
Congratulations to the following committees, which have completed their business and are subject to the call of the chair. 

CLOSED: House subcommittee for Business & Utilities
CLOSED: House subcommittee for Consumer & Human Resources
CLOSED: House subcommittee for Insurance & Banking
CLOSED: Senate Health & Welfare Committee
CLOSED: Senate Energy, Agriculture, & Nat. Resources Committee       
Several additional committees have called last calendar and may conclude their business next week.

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
Additional Meetings:
Monday , March 12, 2018
  • 11:00am State Building Commission Executive Subcommittee will meet in HHR 2 in Cordell Hull
  • 12:30pm Joint Fiscal Review Committee meets in House Nearing Room 1.
  • 1:00pm Textbook Commission meets in House Hearing Room 3
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
* Pre-Commerce Committee may meet 7:30 a.m., 8th floor Conference Room D

Good Week for Business in House Subcommittee on Consumer & Human Resources Committee
All legislation opposed by Tennessee Chamber and business community fails to advance

In a tense environment the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee dealt fatal blows to a number of bills opposed by the Tennessee Chamber and business community. The Tennessee Chamber was called to testify on a number of these proposals to explain their impact on business and commerce in the Volunteer State. The committee is now closed for the session. The Tennessee Chamber, following adjournment of the session, will produce a comprehensive listing of all proposed legislation and its outcome. If you would like a list of these bills prior to adjournment please let us know. 
Please thank Subcommittee members: Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), Rep. Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson) Rep. Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon) Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) and Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) for their support of business and industry in Tennessee.  

Tax Update: Tennessee Business / Corporate Taxes and Industrial Recruitment: Impacts from Federal Tax Reform

Following the enactment of federal tax reform the Tennessee Chamber’s tax committee is taking a serious look at the impact on corporate income taxes paid by Tennessee businesses. For both revenue collections and company tax liability there are many unknowns. However, one thing is becoming certain: if states do not make adjustments, businesses will pay more in state taxes. In addition, federal reforms indicate that economic development grants could now be taxable if not included in state “master development plans”, which Tennessee does not have. Already a number of our surrounding states are working to enact changes to mitigate any negative impacts on business. We must act to keep Tennessee’ tax structure competitive.
In an effort to prepare for this issue the Tennessee Chamber has worked with Senator John Stevens (R-Huntington) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) to file SB 2119 / HB 2310 as a placeholder to address this issue for the business community. In the coming weeks, we will be asking the business community, local chambers of commerce and economic development professionals to talk to their legislators about this important issue. If you or your company’s tax professionals are interested in this issue please email us and stay engaged. 

Tennessee Chamber / Tennessee Manufacturers Applaud Department of Education’s 21 new industry certification options

This week, Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that the state is expanding its work to ensure students receive an education that is aligned to the needs of Tennessee’s workforce by introducing 21 new department-promoted industry certification options. These new options will be part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offered in schools that prepare students for the workforce and are aligned to Tennessee's highest demand industry sectors. Tennessee Chamber President Bradley Jackson recently served on the CTE advisory council that provided recommendations to improve Tennessee’s technical certification programs. These new certifications bring the number of CTE programs of study with specific certifications up to 46 from 30 and are a direct response to local school district and industry requests. The department works with industry officials to do an annual review in each of the state’s 16 career clusters to ensure that the K-12 pathways for students are aligned to workforce needs and provide a rigorous education so students are prepared for career and college opportunities. 

In support of Governor Haslam’s  Drive to 55 initiative , the department set forth aligned goals in its strategic plan,  Tennessee Succeeds , to ensure that every student in Tennessee graduates high school both prepared for postsecondary coursework and qualified for employment. To achieve this, high schools are encouraged to provide students career-aligned learning pathways through robust CTE programs that culminate with the achievement of nationally recognized industry certifications, capstone work-based learning experiences, and attainment of postsecondary credit hours. To support this work, the department released the  Drive to 55: Pathway to Postsecondary  data report in fall 2017 to provide district and school leaders information on postsecondary enrollment and CTE course alignment to labor market needs.

The addition of these new certifications brings the total number of industry certifications that the department recognizes to 80. Additionally, the department now allows certifications to count across different programs, rather than in one program and not another. This increases the number of pathways to certifications available to students. To view the full list of department-promoted industry certifications, visit the department’s website .
Search for Expansion Site Leads JDS to 2 nd Location in Scott County

WATE reports JDS Technologies, a rubber and plastics manufacturer, announced Monday it will expand its operations in Scott County . The company will invest $2.2 million to establish a new manufacturing facility in Winfield and create approximately 110 new jobs during the next five years. The new operation in Winfield will be JDS Technologies’ second manufacturing facility in Scott County.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam expressed his gratitude to JDS Technologies. He said. “It’s encouraging to see a local employer like JDS Technologies creating jobs that will have a profound impact on Scott County and its residents.” Based in Oneida, JDS Technologies designs and manufactures a comprehensive range of custom rubber and plastic-molded products, including metal stampings. JDS Technologies supplies companies in the appliance, automotive, gas and oil, aerospace and medical device industries. 
Committee Quietly Approves In-State Tuition Bill for Undocumented Immigrants

The Associated Press reports a Tennessee House subcommittee has approved legislation with in-state tuition for public college students whose parents brought or kept them in the country illegally. Republican Rep. Mark White's bill cleared its first hurdle in about one minute Tuesday. Republican Rep. Dawn White argued Tennessee shouldn't subsidize those immigrants. 
Dozens of students took photos with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and lobbied lawmakers . Haslam says they grew up here, attended high school here and are staying here, and Tennessee needs a trained workforce. Republican sponsor Sen. Todd Gardenhire believes a proposal from President Donald Trump helps the tuition bill's chances.
The legislation still faces significant hurdles, including opposition from gubernatorial candidate and House Speaker Beth Harwell Last year, the legislation failed in the full House Education Administration and Planning Committee by a 7-6 vote.

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

Week #9: Monday, March 19, 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:
Legislation Expands Landlord and Tenant Law to All Counties
Previous law only applied to counties with population over 75,000

Although it has not been required, many landlords comply with the provisions of the Landlord Tenant Act. Legislation being debated in the TN General Assembly would mandate the requirements by expanding the law to all counties. Currently, as amended SB 2658 by Bailey (HB 2023 by Farmer) as amended expands the law governing rental agreements, landlord obligations, tenant obligations as well as enforcement and remedies for those in contract under a lease agreement.  

We encourage our partners in local chambers to review the current law. The citation for your review is TN Code Annotated Title 66; Chapter 28: Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. You can find the current law online – via Lexus Nexis.
Updates from the Campaign Trail: TN Gubernatorial Race 

Last week we highlighted activities of Republican gubernatorial candidates. This week we share some recent activities we have noticed from the Democrats: Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh . To start off we will remind you that we are now less than 140 days until the August Primary, the coverage will only become more intense in the months ahead. West TN is a historic battleground in the Democrat primary, you will note both candidates are investing time there.

Here are some updates...

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (D-Nashville) spent some time in West TN recently, working to make inroads in the backyard of his primary opponent. As former elected official he has the freedom to travel across the state and is making the most of the opportunity to introduce himself to democrat voters. He was recently interviewed by the Maryville Daily Times .  Dean covers a number of issues, expressing moderate stances. He shares some of his experience as a big city Mayor, expresses a pragmatic approach, noting “There’s no Democratic or Republican way to fix a pothole.”

Surprisingly, Dean sat down with the conservative-aligned Beacon Center recently for an interview. Note: the Beacon Center opposes economic development incentives and Karl Dean provided an excellent explanation of his experience on the positive influence of incentives to spur economic activity.  Dean’s willingness to reach out beyond base politics is refreshing (it also may be the only pathway for a Democrat to succeed in a state that has become more Republican in the past 2 decades). We look forward to Dean’s campaign getting back on message, as a former Nashville Mayor he has been repeatedly asked to comment on his successor’s recent resignation .

St. Representative and Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) shares a similar challenge with Speaker Harwell, as a sitting legislator he has obligations at the General Assembly and cannot spend as much time campaign as he would like to. To account for that hurdle Fitzhugh has been active with every forum, luncheon and “day on the hill” organized by groups and associations visiting Nashville during the General Assembly.  An additional challenge is that as a legislator, he is restricted from raising money until the session adjourns. 

None of this has stopped Fitzhugh from keeping a busy calendar. He has been busy courting rural democrat voters, a voting block that is key to success for Democrats in the upcoming midterm election. As one of the few remaining Democrats from a rural area, Fitzhugh has made connecting with rural voters a top strategy.  One of his recent visits was covered by the Jackson Sun . “It is critical that I relate to rural voters, especially in my home area of West Tennessee,” Fitzhugh said. “If I can’t convince them that I can do them a good job in my own home area, then I’ve got problems — but so far, so good; I’m having good results.” 

Watchful, politicos will want to be in Maury County for Mule Day on Saturday April 7, 2018. Fitzhugh’s daughter is married to Columbia attorney, Chaz Moulder. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzhugh are frequent visitors to the area to see their grandchildren and have made many friendships. We expect that Fitzhugh will have a strong showing for the Mule Day parade.  
Reeves Wins big in State Senate Special Election
Earns 71% of the general election vote

The Murfreesboro Post reports that pharmacist Shane Reeves (R- Murfreesboro) roared past Democrat Gayle Jordan winning more than 70 percent of the votes to capture the vacant state Senate District 14 seat. Despite rumors in some corners that Democrat enthusiasm may boost their candidate, Republicans redoubled their efforts and rallied around Reeves in the closing weeks. After the impressive win, Republicans are calling this election the kickoff to the 2018 election season.

Shane Reeves will be sworn in Thursday at 9 a.m. at the State Capitol, giving him about a month in office before the 110th General Assembly adjourns. He fills the void left by Jim Tracy, who resigned from the Senate last fall to take a post as Tennessee rural development director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  
Blackburn worried about negative impact of Trump's tariff proposal

In a rare disagreement with President Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn said Friday that the recent tariff proposal on steel and aluminum imports could have a negative impact on Tennessee. Blackburn said the tariff proposal should largely focus on what she called the top "offenders," which she said included China. 

Blackburn spoke to reporters when turning in her nominating petition for U.S. Senate, "I think we have to tread very carefully as we look at tariffs". Blackburn said she is well aware that the state's auto industry, as well as appliance manufacturers like Electrolux and LG, are concerned about the tariff proposal. "You do not want to drive up the cost of consumer goods," she said.

The Tennessean ’s Joel Ebert reported on Blackburn’s comments . He also has statements from Senators Alexander & Corker.

Bredesen discusses Trump in second TV ad

U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen (D-Nashville) released his second TV ad “ Ought To Do in which he addresses his approach to working with President Donald Trump. “Look, I’m not running against Donald Trump,” Bredesen says in the spot, pledging to support the president’s initiatives when they’re good for the state, and to oppose them when they’re not. The former two-term governor concludes “I think that’s what senators ought to do.”

Andy Sher in the Times Free Press described the ad as an effort by the Bredesen campaign to reach out to Tennessee Republicans and independent voters. At a minimum the message is an acknowledgement more republican leaning voter patterns, in addition to the fact that Trump received over 60% of the Tennessee vote in general election 2 years ago. Veteran political journalist Tom Humphreys noted Bredesen’s approach is in contrast to his likely general election opponent U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin), whose messages have closely aligned with President Trump’s policies and positions.  
Could it be a trend in 2018? It is worth mentioning that current Democrat U.S. Senator Jon Tester is also running a Trump aligned ad in his home state of Montana. According the Washington Post Senator Tester kicked off his re-election “with a  commercial highlighting the 13 pieces of legislation he’s co-sponsored that the president signed into law." 
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry |
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