(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.
Legislation that would ban the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol in Tennessee has cleared its first hurdle with passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Senate Bill 374, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), would make it a Class A misdemeanor offense to sale the product, which is currently pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Palcohol, which is the brand name for the new product, was approved last year by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before the agency rescinded that decision over labeling issues. When mixed with water it becomes a cocktail. It is being promoted as a product that can be easily transported by the consumer.
“The powdered alcohol product is creating concern nationwide that it would be an easy and accessible target for abuse by underage drinkers, including the possibility of being snorted,” said Senator Ketron. “There is also concern that the product could be misused by adults if it is sprinkled onto someone’s food or in their drink without the other person’s knowledge.”
“It could easily be over-consumed by a person not knowing how much to dilute it by, by eating it undiluted, or by mixing it with an existing alcohol creating a drink with an unknown potency, thus greatly increasing the risk of over-drinking and alcohol poisoning,” Ketron added.
Powdered alcohol products would not be defined as an alcoholic beverage under current Tennessee law because it is not a liquid and would be free from regulation by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This means it could be sold directly to minors in grocery stores, over the Internet or in any other location. In addition, powdered alcohol could create liability issues for owners of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, as the accessibility of powdered alcohol and the ease in which it can be snuck in could unintentionally lead to the illegal over-serving of a customer by the establishment.
Thirteen states have enacted similar legislation banning powdered alcohol. The bill now goes to the full Senate for final consideration.
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) February 4, 2015 – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) of Tennessee’s 13th Senate District has been appointed to the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board. The appointment was made recently by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and fills the vacancy left by Senator Douglas Henry who retired from the Senate last year.
The foundation is a non-profit organization charged with supporting the activities and programs of the Tennessee State Museum through a statewide membership program, funding activities, and grants management. The museum’s mission is to procure, preserve, exhibit, and interpret objects which relate to the social, political, economic, and cultural history of Tennessee and Tennesseans.
“The museum is vital to the preservation of our state’s history,” said Senator Ketron. “I am honored to sit on the board and look forward to working with my fellow members to help preserve our rich heritage for many generations to come.”
The board consists of 23 members from throughout the state. Additional members include the museum executive director and the chairman of the museum committee of the Tennessee Arts Commission. Eighteen members are elected for three-year staggered terms by the foundation board, one is a House member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one is appointed from the Senate by the Lieutenant Governor. The final member is appointed to the board of directors by the governor for a four-year term.
(NASHVILLE, TN), January 17, 2015 --- State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) have been appointed to key committees in the State Senate. Ketron will serve on the Senate Finance Committee, which holds the purse strings for all of state government, while Tracy has been reappointed Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
The announcement was made by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey as the 109th General Assembly concluded their organizational session in Nashville on Saturday.
In addition, Senator Tracy was appointed 2nd Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and will be a member of the Education Committee. Senator Ketron will also be a member of the State and Local Government Committee, which he chaired before becoming Senate Republican Caucus Chairman.
“I appreciate the confidence that Lt. Governor Ramsey has placed in me to serve again as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee,” said Sen. Tracy. “Transportation needs are always a key issue, especially as they are essential to economic development and job creation.”
“I look forward to continuing to serve on the Senate Finance Committee again this year,” added Ketron. “We continue to face challenges with our budget as our state and nation are still recovering economically. I look forward to working with Governor Haslam, Lt. Governor Ramsey and my colleagues in finding solutions to these challenges in the 2015 session.”
Governor Haslam is scheduled to deliver his budget address to the General Assembly on February 9.
The General Assembly will take a brief recess to make office assignments before convening the Special Session on Healthcare on February 2.
Lt. Governor Ramsey, Leader Norris and Chairman Ketron win re-election to top posts
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Senate Republicans met Wednesday, December 10 in Nashville to elect leaders for the 109th General Assembly where they voted unanimously to nominate Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) to retain his top leadership post as Lt. Governor and Senate Speaker for a 5th term. The Senate Republican Caucus also voted to re-elect Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) for a 5th term as Senate Majority Leader and chose Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) for a 3rd term as Republican Caucus Chairman.
The State Senate’s organizational session is set to begin on January 13. Senate Republicans now number 28 of the 33 members after gaining 2 new seats in the November 4 election and provide representation to citizens in all 95 counties in the state.
“I am truly humbled to once again be the nominee of my party for Speaker of the Senate,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Since I was first elected lieutenant governor, Republicans have not only achieved historic majorities in the state legislature, we have transformed state government ushering in a new era of transparency and customer service in state government. We have accomplished much but there is still much left to do. I look forward to continuing to work to keep Tennessee a low tax, low debt state and the best place in the nation to own a business and raise a family.”
“I appreciate the confidence of my colleagues — veterans as well as newcomers,” said Leader Norris. “I look forward to continue working together to strengthen our workforce and schools while providing safer communities for all citizens during the 109th General Assembly.”
“I am very pleased to again work with such a tremendous leadership team,” said Chairman Ketron “This team will continue to work together to encourage private sector job growth, strengthen education, follow sound fiscal budget practices, as well as addressing other concerns facing Tennesseans.”
Others re-elected to leadership positions in the Senate Republican Caucus were Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) as Treasurer, Senator Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville) as Secretary and Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) as Chaplain.
Members nominated to the General Assembly’s Joint Fiscal Review Committee from the Senate Republican Caucus are Chairman Ketron, Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), and Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown). The nominees will be confirmed through a resolution when the General Assembly convenes. Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), whose term has not expired, will continue to serve on the Committee, as well as Senator Randy McNally who serves due to the position he holds as Chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.