NASHVILLE – The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce honored state Sen. Mae Beavers last week as the organization presented her with the 2013 Friend of Business Award.
Each year, the chamber recognizes legislators with strong records of fighting for pro-business legislation that encourages economic growth.
“I am honored to receive this award,” said Beavers. “Each year, I strive to sponsor and pass legislation that helps make Tennessee one of the most business-friendly states in the nation. I also look forward to continuing to work with business leaders and local lawmakers to help bring more jobs and economic growth to Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson counties, as well as to the entire state of Tennessee.”
Beavers continued to stress the importance of fiscal responsibility at the state level, including the necessity of passing a conservative budget, following the January revenue report delivered by Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin.
Martin announced last week overall January revenues were $1.1 billion, which is $51.6 million less than the state budgeted. January represents the fifth month of negative growth in corporate tax collections this year.
Martin said, however, the January sales tax collections, which reflect consumer spending that happened during the December holiday buying season, were the largest growth rate experienced in the past 13 months.
Franchise and excise taxes combined were $48.9 million below the budgeted estimate of $188.6 million. Year-to-date collections for the past six months were $222.7 million less than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was under collected by $219.6 million, and the four other funds were under collected by $3.1 million.
The full Senate voted last week to give partners seeking limited liability protection a similar level of liability protection that members of limited liability corporations currently have. Senate Bill 1613 makes clear that partners in limited liability partnerships are not personally liable for partnership obligations, whether arising in contract, tort or otherwise, unless the liability arises out of an individual’s partners own wrongful acts, omissions, torts, misconduct, malpractice etc.
The Department of Transportation was among the many governmental agencies appearing before Senate committees as budget hearings continued. Tennessee’s road revenues are flat with a bleak longterm outlook due to federal funding cuts, according to Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, and Tennessee will likely see a reduction of about one-third of what the state currently receives from the federal highway trust fund unless Congress acts. In light of the transportation budget, the Senate Transportation Committee voted to ban state road funds from being appropriated to fund rapid transit bus systems on state highways.
The commissioner said Tennessee roads were recently ranked second best in the nation, according to CNBC’s 2013 study “America’s Top States for Business.”
State senators also approved legislation last week to authorize handgun carry permit holders to carry their legally-possessed firearm in all publicly owned parks, unless there is a school function in the park. Senate Bill 1496 expands the law originally sponsored and passed by Beavers in 2009 that allowed law-abiding handgun permit holders to carry their firearm into state and federal parks for protection.
“Criminals do not abide by laws that ban handguns from public places,” said Beavers. “This week, we voted to also give law-abiding citizens the opportunity to protect themselves should the need arise.”
State senators gave final approval to legislation creating the “Three Stars of Tennessee Award” for peace officers, firefighters and medical first responders killed or injured in the line of duty. Senate Bill 1691 calls for the governor to present the award to each recipient or the surviving next of kin during a public ceremony held on or as near as practicable to September 11 each year. The award, which will consist of a medal, a certificate and a ribbon suitable for wearing on a uniform, aims to recognize the heroic and brave sacrifices of first responders who give their lives or suffer a career-ending injury protecting and serving the public.
The full Senate approved legislation, Senate Bill 1503, that requires an owner or landlord of property to notify law enforcement if he knows methamphetamine is manufactured in that property.
Two bills, which address human trafficking, were approved on final consideration last week. Senate Bill 1748 said it is not a defense to promoting prostitution to claim that the victim was a consenting minor or a law enforcement officer.
Senate Bill 1660 adds the offense of promoting prostitution to the list of offenses that constitute severe child abuse. The bills are among 11 measures proposed by the anti-human trafficking coalition to toughen state laws, help survivors, and aid law enforcement in their quest to eradicate human trafficking in Tennessee.