To my Friends and Neighbors,
Session has officially adjourned. It was a long and exhausting journey but I am proud of all that we’ve accomplished and look forward to what we can do during the 110th General Assembly. In my time as a legislator, I have maintained a steadfast focus on transportation, commerce, health and protecting our most vulnerable citizens. This session was no different.
The Long Drive to P3 Legislation
This year, I continued my efforts to tackle legislation to combat the growing issue of commuter traffic. With so many Rutherford County residents commuting to Nashville for work each day, it was important that I confront the congestion concerns of I-24. A person should not have to add an additional three hours to their workday just to put food on the table and this new law is the result of months of collaboration by many groups that understand the necessity to find solutions to the challenges we face to meet the growing transportation demands in Tennessee.
With the passage of the Public-Private Partnership (P3) legislation, we can now begin to utilize free market strategies to improve safety, reduce congestion and increase capacity on Tennessee’s roads, as well as encourage economic growth and development. This law authorizes partnerships between private entities and state and local governments for the private development, redevelopment and operation of transportation facilities. This could include light rail, monorail or many other possible solutions. With the ability to enter into public-private partnerships, we can now examine projects that we might not otherwise have been able to consider and allow those working outside the county to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families.
Defense from Foreign Threats
We cannot just rely on the federal government to protect us from foreign threats. We must be proactive rather than reactive to prevent the state from inadvertently funding international dangers. We must put the safety, security and welfare of Tennesseans and Americans first.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, which authorized state and local governments to prevent investment in companies operating within Iran’s Energy Sector that may directly or indirectly support Iran’s nuclear capabilities. With this in place, we passed the Iran Divestment Act (Public Chapter 817) to identify businesses that invest in Iran’s energy sector and prohibit the state from contracting with them. The state Chief Procurement Officer is now required to develop a list of persons engaged in these types of investment activities and publish the list on the state’s website, which will be updated every 180 days. Any person attempting to contract with a state agency or entity must certify that they are not on the list and that they do not utilize a subcontractor on the list.
It is vital to the safety of Tennessee and the United States that resources to support Iran’s Energy Sector are cut off. We cannot support businesses that fund a nation that endangers all of us and through this legislation and the thirty other states that have similar laws, we can do our part to protect the citizens.
Fair Practices in a Free Market
One of the primary duties of government is to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices and to develop rules to maintain a fair marketplace. I am delighted to have sponsored two bills this past session that protect consumers and educate citizens regarding their commercial rights.
As technology improves, we are gifted with amazing innovations, but those same innovations open the door for crooks and hackers. Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and it is important that the state keeps up with them so that our personal and financial information remains confidential.
Public Chapter 692 tightens up Tennessee’s law regarding breach notification requirements. The 2013 Target breach cost credit unions over $30 million and the 2014 Home Depot breach is estimated to have cost even more. Under this new legislation, companies are now required to disclose a breach immediately, but no later than 45 days from the discovery or, in the event the notification is delayed due to the needs of law enforcement, no later than 45 days after the law enforcement agency determines that the disclosure will not compromise a criminal investigation.
Another piece of legislation that helps defend against unethical business practices is Public Chapter 691 that closed a loophole in the salvage title law. With approximately 168,500 registered motorcycles in Tennessee, it was vital that we close this loophole and put motorcycles under the same salvage law requirements as other vehicles. Our free market is a brilliant system, but it only works when consumers have access to all the information.
A Healthy Tennessee
With the support of God, my family and my friends, I am so grateful to have my health. And, as a lawmaker, I feel it is my duty to support medical advancements and to ensure that the public is provided with the necessary information for preventative healthcare options.
Stroke is the fifth highest cause of death in Tennessee and the leading cause of disability in the state. With over 128,000 people in the United States dying of stroke each year, I realized that action needed to be taken.
Public Chapter 678 establishes a stroke best practices and treatment guidelines task force with the goal being to ensure the rapid identification, diagnosis and treatment of strokes and reduce the risk of preventable complications and death throughout the state. The statistics are too high, but through education and training they can be reduced.
Raelyn and the team that helped guide the passage of Public Chapter 625
Just as strokes are preventable, so is Cytomegalovirus (CMV). I became aware of this disease through a beautiful little girl named Raelyn who, like 1 out of every 150 babies, was born with CMV. This disease is the most common congenital viral infection in the U.S but is still virtually unknown to most people. Public Chapter 625 encourages healthcare professionals who care for pregnant women and those who may become pregnant, to provide information about CMV prevention and symptoms to those patients who are at risk for the disease. Hopefully this will bring awareness to a very preventable disease.
Protecting the Vulnerable
It is our responsibility as legislators and as citizens to help those who are the most vulnerable. Whether that means children, the disabled or victims of sex crimes, it is our moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Every seven minutes, a child in the United States is bullied. Every day, more than 160,000 children miss school out of the fear of being bullied. With these statistics in mind, I knew there was a need to strengthen Tennessee’s bullying law. Public Chapter 783 enhances the bullying reporting process by including a counseling referral procedure and a requirement to initiate an investigation of a bullying incident within 48 hours which will give schools and teachers better tools to deal with these issues.
Some of our most vulnerable citizens are those with intellectual disabilities (ID). They often rely their entire lifetimes on their parents and caregivers, who can face their own healthcare challenges as they age. Public chapter 707 allows eligible people with an intellectual disability who are on the waiting list for services and who have custodial parents or caregivers aged 75 or older to enroll into the Self-Determination or similarly capped waiver. As a state, it is important that we give aging caregivers the peace of mind that their children will be supported after they pass away and ensure that Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens have the support they need to live safe, healthy and engaged lives in their communities.
Since receiving the shocking results of a TBI report on the state of human trafficking in Tennessee, I’ve made it a mission to help stomp out these criminals and to protect the 4,000 victims state-wide. Although we’ve made major strides on this issue in the General Assembly since 2011, we have to continue the fight to prevent perpetrators from finding legal loopholes. Public chapter 634 clarifies that it is not a defense to prosecution in human trafficking sex cases that the intended victim was a law enforcement officer or that the victim is a minor who consented to the act. It was never the intent for law enforcement to actually procure a child victim for the buyer in order to commit this crime. These changes will aid the prosecution in securing convictions in sex trafficking cases.
Convenience at the Ballot Box
Voter participation and civic engagement are the most vital components of maintaining our democracy. However, in 2014, Tennessee ranked the fourth worst state for voter turnout, with only 29.1 percent of people voting. While still preserving the sanctity of the vote, we also had to make the process more convenient.
Public Chapter 768 allows Rutherford County to participate in a pilot project to establish convenient voting centers on Election Day 2018. These vote centers would be situated in centralized locations, regardless of the voter’s precinct. This will save the voters time, confusion and money. It makes voting more accessible and is helpful to residents who work out of the county and leave before the polls open and return after they close.
Rutherford County has always been a leader and innovator for the rest of Tennessee. I have no doubt that this project will be successful and its achievement replicated across the state.
Looking to the Future
We were able to accomplish so much this session. Historic and powerful legislation was passed. Unfortunately, not everything resulted in a victory. Just as I was elected to represent you, my peers are chosen to serve their constituents. That sometimes means that we don’t see eye-to-eye. Some important pieces of legislation did not pass this session but that does not mean that we are conceding.
I was disappointed that we came across road blocks with the “Governor’s Three Star Physical Education and Literacy Program.” It would have established a 2.5 year pilot program in 18 schools to determine whether increasing physical education and literacy courses in a student's schedule to 4 days of each school week for no less than 30 minutes and no more than 45 minutes each day will raise test scores, decrease discipline problems and accelerate growth in foundational motor skills.
During my battle with cancer, I made a promise to God that I would do everything I could to help all the other cancer patients in the state. The “Cancer Treatment Fairness Act” would have allowed cancer patients to receive the treatment determined by their doctors to be the best option without cost being a factor or deterrent. It would have required group health plans that cover intravenous chemotherapy to cover oral chemotherapy, which is the only treatment in some forms of cancer, as parity. Cancer touches all of us and it is important that we push forward with comprehensive legislation to help those suffering from it.
Before the beginning of the next session, we will meet with constituents, experts and stakeholders to prepare to reintroduce these pieces of legislation. I will continue to fight for the health and future of our children and our loved ones.
In spite of the fact that the General Assembly has adjourned, my work will continue. I plan to use this time between now and January to consider the issues that we face as citizens of Rutherford County, of Tennessee and of the United States and look for innovative, fiscally sound and effective solutions. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you and please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas that you might have. I look forward to continuing to serve you.
Best Wishes and God Bless,
Senator Bill Ketron
Majority Caucus Chairman
I recently spoke with Charter Local Edition Host Brad Pomerance about my successful battle against cancer and proposed legislation regarding cost-sharing parity for cancer medication
Ketron wins Senate approval of Public Private Partnership (P3) legislation to meet growing transportation needs
April 5, 2016 (NASHVILLE) – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) won approval of legislation on Monday that would provide a framework to allow Private Public Partnership (P3) agreements for certain transportation projects. The bill aims to improve safety, reduce congestion and increase capacity on Tennessee’s roads, as well as encourage economic growth.
Typically with a P3 agreement, the public sector maintains ownership of the asset but the private partner manages construction, operation, and maintenance through the life of the contract.
Senate Bill 2093, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), authorizes partnerships between private entities and state and local governments for the private development, redevelopment and operation of transportation facilities. Transportation facilities are defined, under the bill, to include any mass transit system intended for shared passenger transport services to the general public.
“With long-term funding sources for transportation being uncertain, the ability to enter into private-public partnerships will allow us to finance projects that we might not otherwise be able to even consider,” said Sen. Ketron. “This legislation is the result of months of collaboration by many groups that understand the necessity for forging ahead to find solutions to the challenges we face to meet growing transportation demands in Tennessee. It would give us another tool in the toolbox to address those needs.”
The bill authorizes a state or local government entity, or agencies created by them, to receive, consider, evaluate and accept proposals for a qualifying transportation facility. It details the procedures for doing so, including that the private entity must first obtain state approval before entering into a comprehensive agreement with the state or local government. The request must also be reviewed by the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee prior to the agreement to ensure transparency and oversight. Under the proposal, any project estimated to be over $50 million would require an independent audit to be paid for by the private entity. This audit will be subject to public disclosure, other than proprietary information. If any state funds are expended for the purposes of a P3 agreement, it must be appropriated in the general appropriations act.
The bill is pending action in the House of Representatives, where it is scheduled for a vote in the House Finance Subcommittee tomorrow.
March 30, 2016
State Senator Bill Ketron made the following statement regarding the announcement that Steel Technologies LLC officials will build a new 83,000 square foot facility in Smyrna. Steel Technologies will invest $18 million to build the Smyrna manufacturing facility, the company’s second location in Rutherford County, and create 50 new jobs.
“This is a huge investment in Rutherford County and will be a tremendous boost to our local economy. I am very excited about this announcement and what it will mean in jobs for our citizens. We must continue our efforts to provide a business-friendly atmosphere to draw jobs to our state, as well as provide a quality education and improved infrastructure.”
Senator Ketron honored as ";Legislator of the Year"; by Tennessee Development Districts Greater Nashville Regional Council
(NASHVILLE, TN), March 28, 2016 -- State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has been recognized by the Development Districts Association in Tennessee (TDDA) for legislative achievements benefiting the people of the 13th Senatorial District, which he represents in Rutherford County. Ketron received the award on Thursday, March 24 as the group gathered for a statewide meeting in Nashville.
The Tennessee Development District Association is an association of the nine state-wide districts, which were established by the General Assembly under the Tennessee Development District Act of 1965. Ketron received the "Legislator of the Year” award from TDAA’s Greater Nashville Regional Council. The Tennessee Development District Association was established to serve as a statewide forum for the diverse problems the districts must solve in their mission to serve 95 counties and some 350 municipalities.
"I truly appreciate this honor from a group that does tremendous work for our communities,” said Senator Ketron. "I look forward to continuing to partner with them to expand economic opportunities in our communities, as well as to provide assistance to citizens with disabilities and those with other essential needs.”
STATEMENT FROM SENATE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS CHAIRMAN BILL KETRON REGARDING THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT LT. GOVERNOR RON RAMSEY WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) released the following statement regarding the announcement by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey that he will not be seeking re-election:
“I am so proud of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and the accomplishments that he has made in the Tennessee Senate for the people of this state. His legacy will be long remembered. He not only brought us a majority, but a super majority and defined his motto – It matters who governs.”
“It has been an honor for me to serve beside him in making Tennessee a better state. I wish my friend Godspeed.”
Iran Divestment Act -- The Senate State and Local Government Committee approved a bill this week to identify persons investing in the energy sector of Iran and prohibit the state from contracting with them. Thirty other states have passed similar legislation to Senate Bill 377, called the “Iran Divestment Act.” The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) requires the state Chief Procurement Officer to develop a list of persons engaged in investment activities within 120 days of the effective date of this act (July 1, 2016). Investment activities are defined as providing goods or services of $20 million or more in the energy sector of Iran or providing credit to another person for 45 days or more for such purpose. This list must be posted on the state’s website and updated every 180 days. The Chief Procurement Officer must give 90 days notice, if reasonably able to provide such notice, to any person on the list that they are ineligible to contract with the state. Such persons notified may be removed from the list if they demonstrate that the activity is not taking place or has stopped. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, which authorized state and local governments to prevent investment in companies operating within Iran’s Energy Sector that may directly or indirectly support Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Wine in Grocery Stores – State Senators voted this week to allow applicants for a retail food store wine license to seek a certificate of compliance from local government and receive approval letter from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission prior to July 1, 2016. The purpose of Senate Bill 2094 is to allow wholesalers to solicit orders from retail food stores and deliver wine prior to July 1, 2016; however, such wine may not be sold to the public until July 1, 2016. The bill clarifies that a retail package store may deliver to customers without such activity being in connection with a party, special event, tasting, etc. It also clarifies that a person having such items delivered by a retailer is not required to purchase the items at the physical location of the retailer. Retail package store licenses are limited to two per owner under the proposal. The bill is sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
Historic Commission – On Wednesday, the Senate voted to establish a formal process for a local government to petition the Tennessee Historic Commission for a waiver and requires public notice for transparency and the opportunity for interested parties to appear before the commission and offer public comment. Senate Bill 2138, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), creates clarity as to what is protected by defining a historic entity, event, figure, and organization. The legislation provides a legal process whereby a petition for waiver may be brought by a local government to the Tennessee Historic Commission and requires notice that gives the public and interested organizations the right to offer public comment to the commission. After sufficient consideration, the Tennessee Historic Commission would conduct a hearing and rule on the petition under the bill. All parties then have the right to appeal the commission’s decision to Chancery Court.
Earlier Date for Sales Tax Holiday Weekend -- The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Revenue Subcommittee gave favorable recommendation to Senate Bill 2239, which would move the sales tax holiday weekend to the last weekend in July. The sales tax holiday assists parents with the high costs of back-to-school supplies, which, according to the National Retail Federation, cost families an average of nearly $670. Current law was put into place before the school calendar changed to an earlier start date. The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) and Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), was brought to the members from their constituents and would allow families to purchase the educational necessities during the sales tax holiday before the school session begins.
Capitol Hill Week 2/26/2016
Pace quickens on Capitol Hill as Senate Committees continue to examine budget proposals and approve a wide variety of bills
The pace quickened on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers considered a wide variety of bills and continued to review budget requests from departments and agencies of state governments. Senate committees have examined 35 of 53 proposed budgets from ¬¬¬ agencies and departments of state government since the budget was proposed by Governor Bill Haslam on February 1. The hearings are expected to be completed by mid-March as the budget proposal is generally one of the last bills to be considered by the General Assembly before adjournment.
Efficiency in Handgun Permitting Act overcomes first hurdle with approval by Senate Judiciary Committee
Among bills approved in Senate committees this week was the “Efficiency in Handgun Permitting Act” which aims to improve the process for gun owners and lowers the fee associated with obtaining a handgun carry permit. Senate Bill 2566 was given approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is part of a package of bills submitted to the legislature by Governor Bill Haslam. The legislation extends the current five-year handgun carry permit to eight years, lowers the initial handgun permit fee from $115 for five years to $100 for eight years and expands the renewal cycle from six months to eight years after the expiration of a permit before a person must reapply as a “new” applicant.
Under the proposal, background checks will continue to be conducted at the time of initial issuance and at the time of renewal. Additionally, an internal background check will be conducted in the fourth year of the eight-year permit without charge. It also gives a member of the armed forces, whose permit does not expire while deployed until two months after their return to Tennessee, the same eight-year period after expiration that a civilian has to renew a permit before having to reapply as a new applicant.
The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration before moving to the floor for a final vote.
Senate Revenue Subcommittee recommends seven Hall Income Tax relief bills to Finance, Ways and Means Committee
The Senate Revenue Subcommittee sent seven Hall Income Tax relief bills to the Finance Committee this week with recommendation for passage. The Hall Income Tax levies six percent on earnings from stocks and bonds, with 3/8 of the revenue going to cities and counties. Since enactment of the tax in 1929, the use of investment savings has grown as a primary source of retirement income making it less palatable as a source of revenue to many members of the General Assembly.
The bills passed by the Revenue Subcommittee include:
• Senate Bill 1440 which reduces the tax from six percent to five percent for taxpayers who are veterans with service connected disabilities;
• Senate Bill 1461 which decreases the tax from six percent to 5.5 percent for tax years beginning January 1, 2017;
• Senate Bill 1551 which raises the income level for taxpayers 65 years of age or older from 37,000 to $50,000 for single filers and $68,000 to $100,000 for joint filers;
• Senate Bill 2 which abolishes the state’s share of the tax, but holds local governments harmless;
• Senate Bill 2619 which repeals the tax, but allows local governments to continue collecting up to 2.25 percent;
• Senate Bill 2539 which establishes a “angel investor” tax credit against the Hall Tax to spur investment in early stage companies; and
• Senate Bill 839 which phases out the tax contingent upon revenue growth exceeding three percent in any fiscal year until it reaches zero percent.
The Subcommittee will hear four more bills providing Hall Tax relief next week. In addition, Senate Bill 47 was sent back to the Finance Committee by the sponsor this week to add an amendment. The legislation, which would begin the process of repealing the Hall Income Tax, had been pending final action on the Senate floor.
The Senate Finance Committee Chairman has said the full committee will consider all bills recommended by the subcommittee as members work on a comprehensive approach to Hall Tax relief this session.
Physical Education / Schools
The Senate Education Committee approved a bill this week which creates the Governor’s Three Star Physical Education (PE) and Literacy Pilot Program for students in grades three to five (SB 2001/Ketron). The purpose of the pilot is to determine whether increasing PE and literacy courses in a student's schedule for 30-45 minutes, four days a week, will increase growth in motor skills for the students as well as boost achievement and decrease behavioral incidents. Under Senate Bill 2001, 18 elementary schools will be chosen, divided into two groups of nine schools. One group will participate in the pilot and the other group will be the control group. The schools will be chosen with priority given to schools with a large concentration of students with a high body mass index (BMI), identified as low performing schools, or without a PE program. Tennessee is the 47th worst state in the nation in obesity and is 49th for inactivity.
NASHVILLE – Ian Flinn, MD, PhD, of Brentwood, was honored along with nurses from TriStar Sarah Cannon Cancer Center on the floor of the Tennessee Senate on Wednesday.
Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, recognized the work of Flinn and nurses working on the third floor of Sarah Cannon, where Ketron was treated for cancer. He talked about his experiences on Wednesday morning, including undergoing stem cell treatment.
“It was a journey,” he said.
Ketron said Tennessee is recruiting the best of the best medical talent.
“We’re so fortunate in Tennessee to have hospitals like Sarah Cannon, hospitals like Vanderbilt, hospitals like our hospital down in Memphis…It’s a tough business to be in because they see the toughest times of people struggling through an affliction that hits so many people today,” he said.
Ketron also nominated Dr. Flinn to serve as TMA’s legislative Doctor of the Day on Wednesday.
Dr. Flinn said it was a wonderful honor to be recognized by Ketron.
“We’re very glad Senator Ketron is doing so well and we can be here today with him,” Dr. Flinn said.
He said serving as Doctor of the Day is an opportunity to talk with legislators about issues affecting his patients and to learn.
“It seems like a good opportunity to learn more about our legislative process,” he said.
TMA works with the General Assembly each legislative session to provide volunteer physicians who serve the medical needs of lawmakers and their staff. Volunteers spend a day in Nashville getting a first-hand look at the legislative process and interacting with legislators.
The program gives TMA members an opportunity to take part in the political process while giving something back to the public servants who support physicians’ issues.
Dr. Flinn joined Sarah Cannon in 2006 as the director of the blood cancer research program. He oversees blood cancer research throughout Sarah Cannon and its affiliates, including the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Research Consortium. Dr. Flinn also serves as the director for the Sarah Cannon Center for Blood Cancer at Tennessee Oncology and TriStar Centennial Medical Center.
Governor Bill Haslam’s unveils 2016-2017 budget focusing on education
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), February 4, 2016 -- Governor Bill Haslam delivered his proposal to fund state government for the 2016-2017 fiscal year in his annual State of the State Address this week, unveiling a balanced $34.8 billion proposal that makes the largest investment in K-12 education without a tax increase in Tennessee’s history. The governor’s Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget proposes 261 million in new dollars for Tennessee public education, including $104.6 million for teacher salaries. It also builds up state reserves, puts Tennessee on the path to catch up on long-deferred maintenance of buildings, reinvests in the state workforce and focuses one-time dollars on reducing the state’s ongoing costs.
In his speech, Gov. Haslam highlighted the collaborative effort with the General Assembly to grow Tennessee’s economy, reduce ongoing costs, provide high quality service to taxpayers and maintain fiscal discipline that has positioned Tennessee to invest in its priorities. The governor said that the budget proposal takes advantage of a strengthening economy combined with the hard work and discipline of departments of state government and the conservative fiscal strategy employed by the General Assembly, the state’s constitutional officers and his administration.
“By managing wisely and investing strategically, we’re making tax dollars work harder for Tennesseans. This is what we do,” Haslam said.
Including the current fiscal year’s appropriation, state government will invest more than 414 million in new dollars in Tennessee schools. Haslam proposed funding the 12th month of health insurance for teachers and doubling the state’s recurring contribution for technology needs at schools.
The governor’s proposal puts $100 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to an estimated $668 million on June 30, 2017; $60 million for salary increases for state employees; and another $36 million for market rate adjustments for state employees making less than $50,000 annually.
Gov. Haslam proposed significant investments in higher education and the Drive to 55 initiative, the state’s effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 percent by 2025, including:
• $50 million for the Complete College funding formula for higher education;
• $20 million for the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund to help community and technical colleges meet the growing demand for degrees and certificates; and
• $10 million for the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP), helping communities align degree and course offerings with the needs of the local workforce.
Other notable budget investments are:
• $130 million from the General Fund to repay the Highway Fund;
• $24 million in state funds for the Employment and Community First (ECF) CHOICES program to allow the state to serve more people currently on the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ waiting list and others eligible for services;
• $12.8 million for facilities and homeland security upgrades for the Military Department;
• $10 million for the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Rural Development Initiative;
• $1.27 million to increase the number of drug recovery courts from 41 to 50 and for two additional veterans courts.
“We have been very prudent with Tennessee’s finances. We have the lowest state debt in the nation and nothing in this budget will create new debt,” added Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson (R-Hixson), who is Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Rather, this budget increases the state’s savings account which declined greatly during the recession years to ensure we have the financial safety net we need in the event of a downturn in the economy. I look forward to working with the administration as this budget moves forward.”
Legislation calling for online voter registration advances in the Senate State and Local Government Committee
Legislation providing for the establishment of an online voter registration system for Tennesseans was unanimously approved by members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week. Under Senate Bill 1626 / House Bill 1742, sponsored by Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston), voters with an unexpired driver's license or personal identification card issued by the Department of Safety will be able to go to an official state website where they will be able to register to vote online.
"In an electronic age, it makes sense to provide electronic registration if we have proper safeguards and validation steps," said Senator Yager. “This legislation provides those assurances to make voter registration more convenient for Tennesseans and hopefully encourages more citizens to participate in the election process.”
The voter registration application would be reviewed electronically. If the request is confirmed to be valid, the new registration would be added to the state’s voter registration list after being reviewed by the respective county election commission office. The validation step is done by comparing the information on the online registration form against the information provided by the same individual when he or she received a driver’s license or their state-issued identification card.
The signature already on record with the state would become the signature on record for voting. If the information does not match, the applicant would be directed to print and complete the application and mail it to the county election commission office in their county of residence to be processed.