NASHVILLE, May 8, 2017– As the session comes to a close, we are so close to finishing considerations on some of the our final pieces of legislation. We have gotten down to our final calendars and are almost ready to adjourn and return home. There will be plenty to reflect on after the session is over and I look forward to visiting throughout Maury County the rest of the year.
HB0011 – Firearm Silencers
This bill removes the prohibition of silencers under state law. The goal of the legislation is to defer to the Federal Government on the regulation of silencers. The ATF currently regulates silencers through a rigorous vetting process, nearly year-long wait period, and a $200 federal tax. The bill has passed both the House and Senate and expected to be signed by Governor Haslam.
HB0508 – Protection in Gun-Free Zones
This legislation allows a private cause of action for individuals whose Second Amendment rights had been infringed upon by a local government or agency. The intent of the bill is to allow a person to bring a lawsuit against a local entity if that entity is enforcing a law that pertains to the Second Amendment and has been made legal by a state law. It also allows that individual to collect attorney’s fees if they prevail in court. The House passed the legislation last Wednesday and I was proud to vote in favor.
HB0968 – Caring for the Disabled
The priority of this legislation is seeing that disabled individuals are cared for appropriately and with the best care. This legislation redefines how a paid personal aide is classified and what requirements they must follow. It also allows these personal aides to perform certain medical maintenance tasks on competent disabled adults. Current law does not allow for paid aides to perform these maintenance tasks. The bill goes on to define competency and what medical maintenance tasks consist of. We passed this bill unanimously on Wednesday.
Seizure Appeal Laws Revised
On Wednesday, HB1190/SB1001 was sent to Governor Haslam for his final approval. The legislation makes it mandatory that the agency seizing property collaborate with the Secretary of State<http://sos.tn.gov/> to use administrative judges for forfeiture hearings. After these administrative judges rule on the forfeiture, the ruling is final for purposes of appeal on behalf of the agency. However, the bill allows the individual to, at their discretion appeal the ruling in a chancery or circuit court in applicable counties.
The intent of the legislation is to provide more protection for those who have their property seized. Under current law, the seizing agency may use internal administrative procedures to rule on the legality of the seizure. The bill changes that policy to require the Secretary of State intervene and seek the opinion of an administrative judge.
It also changes the period a court must set dates for a hearing for an individual to claim property that was seized after that person was convicted of certain crimes.
Legislature Passes Budget
This week, the legislature passed a $37 billion balanced budget. Again, the General Assembly made teacher compensation a priority. Teachers will receive a 4% raise equating to $100 million. In total, K-12 education will receive more than $300 million through increases in allocations. New higher education capital projects will also be funded. These projects are recommended by the Higher Education Commission<https://www.tn.gov/
In an allocation that began years ago, the General Assembly will be diverting $134 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Since the 2008 recession, the fund has experienced a gradual climb thanks to annual appropriations. This year will mark the first time the fund has returned to 2007-08 levels. The contribution will bring the total amount of the fund to over $750 million.
For the second consecutive year, funding will be transferred from the state’s general fund to the highway fund, which is used exclusively for transportation projects. These disbursements are intended to reimburse funding diverted away from the highway fund over a decade ago. After Governor Haslam’s supplemental amendment to increase the amount, the transfer equates to about $190 million. After much discussion and some against the vote, the House also passed an amendment to the budget to send back some of the money allocated to TDOT in the original budget to local counties. Maury County will receive about $650,000 more for state aid if the Senate concurs.
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We will adjourn this week, most likely on Tuesday. There are just a few more bills to consider. I look forward to seeing many of you and listening to your concerns for our District.