Capitol Hill Week 3/4/2016

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.

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