November 17, 2015
(NASHVILLE) -- State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) said today that he is drafting legislation to determine how much refugee resettlement is costing Tennesseans in his continuing effort to give the state greater control over who and how many are placed here by the federal government. Ketron, who said he is adamantly opposed to the federal government placing Syrian refugees in the state, said he was very pleased that Governor Haslam has asked the Obama Administration to halt their resettlement efforts.
“I have been very concerned for many years that what happened in Paris, could happen here because of the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the federal government’s refugee resettlement program,” said Senator Ketron. “I am encouraged that now that others recognize the dangers of this practice that it can be stopped.”
“My proposal is aimed at understanding the costs that Tennessee taxpayers must bear through the federal refugee resettlement program,” he added. “Beyond the urgent public safety concerns, state governments must pay the tab for refugee needs, like healthcare, education, and welfare programs. Currently, we do not collect the data we need to give us that information. This bill is about transparency so that we know the full costs of supporting these refugees that the federal government has thrust upon us.”
Ketron said he expects to present the legislation when the General Assembly returns to Nashville in January.
October 12, 2015
On Monday, October 19, 2015, State Senators Bill Ketron and Mike Bell with State Representatives Sheila Butt and Jay Reedy will host a Legislator Community Forum to discuss Senate Joint Resolution 0067, Tennessee’s application for an Article V Convention of States. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows the states to apply for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution. The forum will be held at the Millennium Maxwell House, 2025 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN at 7:00 P.M. and is open to the public. Admission and parking are free but guests must register with Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/convention-of-states-legislator-forum-tickets-19029154714
SJR0067, which passed the Senate during the 2015 legislative session, seeks a convention “limited to proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
Forty-one states have introduced such resolutions in their legislatures since 2014, with four states already passing the resolution: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Alaska. The Convention of States submits that “it has a solution as big as the problem” posed by the growth and overreach of the federal government. http://www.conventionofstates.com/
Tennessee Convention of States State Director Scott Williams and Deputy State Director Norman Bobo will present an overview of Article V and what citizen volunteers can do to help return power to the states and “We the People.” The legislators will present their views on why such an amending convention is necessary. The presentation will be followed by a citizen Q&A.
Contact: Scott Williams, State Director, Tennessee Convention of States (865) 566-3033 or Norman Bobo (615) 948-5748. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1644980642410553/
NASHVILLE – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has been presented with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police’s (TACP) “Legislator of the Year” Award. Ketron was presented the award at a meeting of the group in Nashville on Thursday in recognition of his work on behalf of improving public safety in Tennessee.
“Bill Ketron has long been a supporter of law enforcement in Tennessee,” said Glenn Chrisman,
Chief of Police of the Murfreesboro Police Department. “As a citizen, national civic leader, County Commissioner and State Senator, he has tirelessly supported efforts to strengthen public safety and quality of life for Tennesseans. We are proud to recognize his support of law enforcement in the General Assembly with the TACP Legislative award for 2015.”
“Senator Ketron has been an invaluable champion of law enforcement issues. The TACP is appreciative of his leadership and ensuring the safety of all citizens in the great State of Tennessee,” stated TACP President, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch.
Ketron led to passage legislation this year designed to boost the number of Tennesseans who wear seat belts. He also sponsored a new law allowing for the enforcement of Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law with a real-time system of auto liability policy verification to protect the public on Tennessee’s roads. In addition, he passed a bill to give law enforcement officers and other officials more training to identify, investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking.
In accepting the award, Ketron praised the work of the police chiefs. “This is certainly an honor and most cherished award, as I have tremendous respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us,” he said. “It has been an honor to work with them and I look forward to continuing our efforts to make our streets safer.”
(NASHVILLE, TN), August 4, 2015 -- State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) today congratulated Cedar Grove Elementary, Central Magnet School, McFadden School of Excellence, Stewarts Creek Elementary School and The Discovery School @ Reeves- Rogers for being named Reward Schools. Reward Schools are the top five percent of schools in the state for performance as measured by overall student achievement levels, and the top five percent for year-over-year progress as measured by school-wide value-added testing data. These 10 percent of schools receive recognition for their success under the state’s accountability system.
“This is a tremendous honor for these schools,” said Senator Ketron. “I congratulate these hard working students, caring parents, inspiring teachers and great administrators for a job well done.”
In June, Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Tennessee students made significant gains in all high school subjects and in the majority of subjects in grades 3-8. High school scores on the 2015 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) continued to show strong growth for the third consecutive year, increasing in all seven tested subjects across English language arts, math and science.
Since 2011, 131,000 more students are on grade level in math, and nearly 60,000 more students are on grade level in science.
“We have made incredible progress statewide,” Ketron added. “This progress will not only help our student’s lives individually, but it moves our state forward as well. I look forward to continuing to see the great things that will come as a result of this progress.”
(NASHVILLE, TN) -- State Senators Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro and Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) announced today that 13 arts grants have been awarded to 11 organizations in Rutherford County from the Tennessee Arts Commission with a combined total of $71,340. The grants are made possible through an appropriation of state funds by the General Assembly, federal dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Tennesseans who buy specialty license plates.
“It is very important that we preserve our cultural heritage for future generations,” said Senator Tracy. “I am very pleased these grants have been awarded for this purpose.”
“We thank the Tennessee Art Commission and Executive Director Anne Pope for their decision to award these grants,” said Senator Ketron. “The arts are extremely important to our communities, especially in terms of education, economic development and cultural development. Our local organizations fared very well with these grants and I am sure the recipients will put the funds to good use in promoting our cultural heritage and the arts.”
The grants include $15,900 for the Center for the Arts, $9,000 for the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra and $7,150 for Kids for the Creative Arts. The Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Humanities will receive $12,800 in three separate arts grants. Other recipients include Smyrna West Alternative School, Eagleville School, International Folkloric Society Planning Council, Middle Tennessee Choral Society, Children’s Museum Corporation, Generation for Creation and Main Street Murfreesboro.
"The arts do have a positive impact on our community and the effects certainly trickle down: the creative thinking skills of students are improved, our local culture is communicated through various mediums, and the community's beauty is enhanced for our residents and visitors," said Senator Tracy.
According to Pope, the Arts Commission will award approximately 1,000 community grants in both urban and rural areas through the 2016 fiscal year, totaling $5.3 million. The allocation process involves a review by citizen advisory panels made up of Tennesseans with expertise in appropriate disciplines and a final review by the full 15-member Commission.
Five key bills sponsored by Ketron, including legislation to curb human trafficking, will take effect on July 1
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Five key bills sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) are among 169 new laws which will become effective in Tennessee on Wednesday. The bills include two new laws to curb human trafficking, legislation strengthening penalties against spectators at animal fights, a measure requiring the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to enroll all eligible people on the waiting list with a custodial parent or caregiver age 80 and over, and a statute to help first responders who contract Hepatitis C on the job.
“Several key bills we passed this year are effective July 1, including our human trafficking legislation” said Senator Ketron. “The law passed this year will focus on getting the right training to law enforcement to address some of the problems that have plagued Tennessee in this area. The budget, which is also enacted on July 1, provides for four additional special TBI agents to implement the new program.”
“Also effective July 1 is our new law extending the statute of limitations to prosecute promoting prostitution,” Ketron continued. “Often times, minors do not realize they have been a victim of this crime until well after they are 18. This new law extends the statute of limitations from 10 years to 25 years after the victim becomes 18 years of age to give them more time to address the issue and prosecutors more time to prosecute offenders who are promoting prostitution.”
Ketron said the legislation relative to enrollment of eligible people on a waiting list with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities helps give custodial parents or caregivers 80 years of age or older peace of mind that their loved one is cared for as they face their own healthcare needs later in life.
“Parents often have their own healthcare needs that compromise their ability to provide adequate support, putting the health and safety of all concerned at risk. After a lifetime of providing continuous support at no cost to the state, these elderly parents and custodial caregivers will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member will have needed services.”
The animal fighting law increases the penalties for being a spectator at any animal fight to a Class A misdemeanor. It also establishes the offense of taking a minor under 18 years of age to an animal fight as a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum $1000 fine and closes a loophole allowing the distribution of animals with the intent to fight.
“The purpose of the legislation is to provide punishment stiff enough to put a dent in the pocketbook of animal fight organizers,” added Ketron. “Animal fighting attracts such criminal elements as the Mexican drug cartel that ran multi-ton quantities of meth and heroin through such events in Tennessee.”
The legislation to help first responders expands the presumption statute currently in state law to include Hepatitis C as being presumed to have been acquired in the line of duty in all cases involving emergency rescue workers. Currently that burden is on the first responder to prove they got the disease on the job.
NASHVILLE, Tenn., (April 30, 2015) – Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) won approval of major legislation during the recently adjourned 2015 session of the Tennessee General Assembly, including a bill establishing an online verification program to help ensure compliance with the state’s Financial Responsibility law. There are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists, leaving those injured in such accidents with little recourse to recover damages.
Other bills sponsored by Ketron and passed by the General Assembly are a resolution opposing federal intervention into education, a bill banning powdered alcohol, a measure providing four new Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents to attack the problem of human trafficking, legislation extending the statute of limitations to prosecute promoting prostitution, a new law strengthening penalties against spectators at animal fights, and a proposal requiring the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to enroll all eligible people on the waiting list with a custodial parent or caregiver age 80 and over. This is in addition to a new law which adds an unmarried spouse as a surviving joint tenant so they can continue in the Homebelt program after the death of their husband or wife and legislation aimed at increasing seat belt use.
“We were able to get a lot done this year,” said Senator Ketron. “The uninsured motorist bill has come before lawmakers for several decades and it is one of the most significant pieces of legislation affecting our roads in many years. I was also pleased to see approval of legislation addressing human trafficking. The law passed this year will focus on getting the right training to law enforcement to address some of the problems that have plagued Tennessee in this area.”
Ketron had also worked on strengthening the laws against animal fighting for the past several years and was pleased that the General Assembly voted to raise the penalties for fight spectators this year. “Besides the cruelty to the animals, fighting events like dog fighting or cock fighting bring in many other criminal elements, including gang activity, illegal drugs, prostitution and gambling. That is not to mention that fact that children are exposed to these illegal activities when a parent brings them to a fight. If you don’t have the spectators, the events will dissipate and that is what this legislation aims to do.”
The Palcohol bill bans the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol, a product recently approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which when mixed with water becomes a cocktail. The product is creating concern nationwide that it would be an easy and accessible target for abuse by underage drinkers, prompting thirteen states to enact similar legislation.
The legislation relative to enrollment of eligible people on a waiting list with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities helps give custodial parents or caregivers 80 years of age or older peace of mind that their loved one is cared for as they face their own healthcare needs later in life.
“The stress on families caring for a loved one with an intellectual disability is extreme as caregivers are aging parents,” added Ketron. “Parents often have their own healthcare needs that compromise their ability to provide adequate support, putting the health and safety of all concerned at risk. After a lifetime of providing continuous support at no cost to the state, these elderly parents and custodial caregivers will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member will have needed services.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn., – Rutherford County fared well with the passage of the 2015 - 2016 state budget according to Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), who represent the county in the State Senate. The lawmakers said the county will share in many appropriations which have statewide impact like new funds for food banks and community health departments, but other items specifically with a dollar attached in the budget going to Rutherford County projects will improve education, create jobs, and preserve local history.
Senate Bill 1399, which funds state government for the year beginning July 1, was approved by the General Assembly before lawmakers adjourned last week.
“The vast majority of money appropriated in the budget earmarked for Rutherford County is about creating jobs and improving both the structure and instructional programs at MTSU,” said Ketron. “We were also able to get several other local projects funded that are important to the citizens of Rutherford County.”
“The expansion of Nissan will not only provide new jobs for local citizens but will create other jobs from supporting businesses - so it will be a big boost for our economy,” added Tracy. “We were very pleased that we were able to help secure all of these funds.”
Appropriations for Rutherford County include:
- $84.1million in state appropriations for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), an increase of $1.25 million;
- $7.07 million for capital projects using school bonds and institutional funds at MTSU including $1,800,000 for a bus maintenance facility, $650,000 for chiller replacement, $850,000 for College Heights renovation, $780,000 for Corlew and Cummings elevator replacement, $280,000 for facilities storage sheds, $530,000 for Floyd Stadium visitors training area, $680,000 for Natatorium upgrades, and $1,500,000 for Womack Lane Housing plumbing upgrades.
- $2.65 million in capital projects for central Plant control updates at MTSU
- $174.76 million in state appropriations for Rutherford County Local Education Agencies (LEAs), an increase of $4.68 million;
- $34.03 million in state appropriations for the Murfreesboro City LEAs, an increase of $2.59 million;
- $100,054 for one Public Defender position to help expedite justice in the court system;
- $40 million in incentives to help create approximately 1,000 jobs at Nissan North America in a new Supplier Park;
- $270,000 for parking expansion at the State Veterans Home;
- $9,300 for roof repairs at the Sam Davis Home; and
- $250,000 to the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Fund which can be used for the purchase of the King-Johns House in Smyrna.
The budget now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature before becoming law.
Senate Approves Legislation Sponsored by Senator Ketron Implementing an Online Verification Program for Uninsured Motorists
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), April 23, 2015 -- A major bill establishing an online verification program to help ensure compliance with Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law was approved by the Senate before the Legislature adjourned this week. Senate Bill 648, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), aims to reduce the state’s uninsured motorist rate, which is currently at 23-24 percent.
There are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists.
“This is one of the most significant bills passed in the last 40 years to affect automobile insurance,” said Ketron. “It will allow for the enforcement of Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law with a real-time system of auto liability policy verification to protect the public on our state’s roads. Those who have been involved in a car crash with uninsured drivers know how devastating that can be financially, particularly when there are injuries.”
Tennessee law requires drivers to have a driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance; however, there is no verification system to track the insurance requirement. The bill requires that a notice procedure be provided to any driver found to be uninsured, allowing them 15 days to provide proof of insurance or exemption. If there is no response, the owner will be sent a second notice stating that they have 30 days to provide proof of insurance. Failure to comply will result in a $25 coverage failure fee on the first notification and a $100 fee on the second. The bill also increases the fine for failure to provide proof of insurance from $100 to $300, and if a driver fails to provide proof of insurance to an officer, the officer may tow the vehicle as long as the officer’s agency has adopted a policy for such procedure.
Forty-six other states have similar auto liability verification systems.
“I am very pleased this bill has passed in Tennessee. It will make our streets safer and will hopefully save lives as well,” Ketron said.
(NASHVILLE, TN), March 31, 2015 --- “I am very pleased that the Governor’s supplemental amendment to the budget includes adding another month of health insurance benefits for teachers. This shows the continuing commitment the Governor and the legislature has towards helping provide additional benefits for our teachers as we work to cover all of the health benefits for them in the future.”
See Governor Haslam’s release below:
HASLAM INTRODUCES FY 2015-2016 BUDGET AMENDMENT
Legislation includes significant education investments and funding for new state museum
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks.
The supplemental appropriations amendment to SB1399/HB1374 reflects $30 million more in recurring funding, which tracks closely to the governor’s original budget proposal presented to the General Assembly on February 9.
The proposed budget amendment designates those additional recurring dollars to K-12 education, specifically to increase state funding of health insurance coverage for teachers.
“This budget proposal continues our administration’s ongoing commitment to quality education in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “All of our additional recurring money is going to fund K-12 education in addition to the $144 million from our original budget proposal. We are also making significant investments in higher education.”
Due to Franchise and Excise tax collections that exceeded estimates last month as a result of an unusual one-time event, along with other revenue collections and program savings, there are nearly $300 million more than anticipated in non-recurring funds. The budget amendment proposal includes the following non-recurring investments:
• $120 million to fund the state’s commitment to a new $160 million Tennessee State Museum, $40 million of which will be raised through private funds;
• $50 million for economic development projects bringing more high-quality jobs to Tennessee;
• $40 million to complete renovations of the Cordell Hull building;
• $36.5 million for the Rainy Day Fund in addition to the $36.5 million proposed in the original budget bringing the total reserve to 4.5 percent of state revenues;
• $12 million for maintenance and improvements to higher education facilities across the state;
• $5 million to fund new equipment in our Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to meet job training demands across the state;
• $1.9 million for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to fund adolescent residential alcohol and drug treatment grants.
The proposal also restores full funding to the TennCare Bureau for level two case management services. Nearly half of the funding, $5.2 million, is included as recurring dollars while the rest of the funding is designated as non-recurring. The administration will continue to review the program and look at possibilities for efficiencies in the process.
The budget amendment is scheduled to be filed Tuesday, April 7. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin begins presentations on the amendment to finance committees of the Senate and House of Representatives today.