Rep. Dale Carr’s Newsroom

Representative Dale Carr Announces Funding Approval For Walters State Sevier County Campus Addition

July 19, 2017

House Speaker Beth Harwell strongly supported funding efforts for new construction

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Dale Carr (R-Sevierville) announced today that the State Building Commission has officially approved funding for

the construction of new facilities at the Walters State Community College campus in Sevier County.

The monies will cover the cost of construction for a new building for Allied Health Labs, additional classrooms, and professional entertainment labs. They would also allow for the creation of ancillary buildings and renovations to accommodate mechanical systems.

The $12.5 million project was officially approved today by the State Building Commission which oversees construction of all public state buildings and structures. In recent years, the Commission’s responsibility has been expanded to include authority over most improvement and demolition projects of property owned by the state.

“It is imperative for us to support our colleges and universities across the state in order to ensure they have the essential resources that will allow them to prepare students for the 21st-century job market,” said Chairman Carr. “I am grateful to the State Building Commission for investing in this important project that will allow Walters State to meet the needs of our growing community.

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) — a member of the State Building Commission — was a strong supporter of this critical project and encouraged the commission to approve the necessary funding.

“Projects like this are important in ensuring our college campuses have the tools they need to serve our students and teachers on a daily basis,” said Speaker Harwell. “I am proud of my colleagues for coming together and moving this initiative forward; I also thank Representative Carr for his dedication to education and to serving the residents of House District 12 and our state.”

Dale Carr serves as a member of the House Transportation and House Local Government Committees. He is also the Chairman of the House Local Government Subcommittee. Carr lives in Sevierville and represents House District 12, which includes part of Sevier County. He can be reached by email at Rep.Dale.Carr@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-5981.

###

Rep. Dale Carr’s Legislative Update: 03/31/17

March 31, 2017

Broadband Accessibility Act Clears Additional Key Legislative Hurdle

House Bill 529, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, cleared an additional key legislative hurdle this week after gaining unanimous approval from the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee.

As introduced, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act seeks to expand broadband internet services across the state, especially to Tennessee’s rural areas that currently completely lack coverage.

Tennessee ranks 29th in the country for broadband access, with 13 percent of the state lacking accessibility to high speed internet. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents are without coverage, placing them at a distinct disadvantage over their city counterparts.

House Bill 529 addresses broadband accessibility and adoption through business investment and deregulation. Coupled with the state budget, the legislation makes targeted investments through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s unserved areas. The legislation also permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service — something they have been completely unable to do in the past.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) produced a report that outlined several municipal broadband failures and made recommendations about how more Tennesseans can adopt broadband services. Of particular interest, the report noted, is finding ways to provide broadband access to Tennessee’s rural areas.

House Bill 529 will next be heard by the full Finance, Ways & Means Committee.

 

House Approves Legislation Protecting Identities Of Minors In Crime Situations

Earlier this month, House lawmakers unanimously approved legislation designed to protect the identities of Tennessee minors who fall victim to crimes, especially those that are sexual in nature.

House Bill 344 protects the identities of minors in a crime situation, unless a court waives confidentiality at the request of the victim’s parent or legal guardian. The legislation designates as confidential a minor’s name, contact and personal information — including social security number — as well as photo or video evidence of the crime and any relationship between the minor and offender.

It does not hinder the ability of law enforcement agencies and legal representatives to prosecute offenders in order to ensure that justice is served.

Supporters of the legislation agree that minors who have been victimized, especially from those crimes that are sexual in nature, should not be subjected to additional emotional or psychological damage caused by having their identities and other sensitive information revealed to the public.

Proponents also stress that the bill ensures offenders will still be held accountable for their actions.

The full text of House Bill 344 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0344.pdf

House Republicans Pass Legislation Strengthening Tennessee Campaign Finance Laws

The full House passed legislation this week to strengthen Tennessee campaign finance laws, with House Republicans leading the charge to require funds donated to a campaign be deposited and maintained in a traditional bank or credit union account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  Current statute allows campaign funds to be invested in a private or publicly traded company, causing ethics concerns and a gap in transparency in the state’s campaign finance laws.

The legislation places Tennessee in line with other states that limit lawmakers to maintain funds in federally-backed accounts.

Under House Bill 704, any investment not authorized would be prohibited and the candidate, or in the case of a multicandidate political campaign committee, the treasurer, would be subject to a civil penalty by the Registry of Election Finance of not more than $10,000 or 115 percent of the amount invested.

The legislation also strengthen the state’s campaign finance laws by requiring that any interest, dividends, or income earned on campaign funds by an investment made legally be reported on the candidate’s financial disclosure.

The bill now travels to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.

 

Bill Aimed At Safeguarding Personal Information Of Tennessee Tourists Moves Forward

On Monday, lawmakers unanimously approved legislation that safeguards the personal information of Tennessee tourists who visit state parks by restricting access to the personal information of park guests.

Under current law, Tennessee state parks must disclose personal information of its guests when it receives a public records request, because there is no exemption protecting this information.

This personal information includes the name, phone number, address, and email address of any guest at a state park. In addition, reservation information, such as the dates of a particular guest’s stay, is also not protected.

House Bill 312 promotes privacy and security for all state park guests by creating an exemption to the current public records requirement. The move places Tennessee state parks on equal footing with the private sector regarding the privacy of personal information.

Currently, at least 25 states protect this personal information from public disclosure.

State Representative Dale Carr’s Legislative Wrap-Up: 03/16/17

March 16, 2017

House Republicans Demonstrate Continued Support For Military Veterans, Families

House Republicans demonstrated continued support for veterans and their families this week, moving forward with two major bills to expand access to education in Tennessee. The House Government Operations Committee gave a positive nod for the Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act to create a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard funding toward a first-time bachelor’s degree through a tuition reimbursement program.

In addition, House lawmakers passed House Bill 433 this week that will make it easier for veterans to determine how their military training can count as credit in Tennessee’s colleges and universities.

The STRONG Act provides an opportunity for those who protect and serve our state and country to receive their bachelor’s degree, a move that gives Tennessee’s National Guard a competitive edge in recruitment. As a last-dollar reimbursement, the amount of state tuition reimbursement is offset by any other funds received. To be eligible, the individual must be currently serving with the Tennessee National Guard in good standing, have applied for federal tuition assistance, and be admitted to any Tennessee public community college, public university, or private college or university which is regionally accredited. The student must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

Currently in Tennessee, 27.7% of veterans have some college or an associate’s degree, while 24.3% have a bachelor’s degree.

In addition to making it easier for veterans to determine how their military training can count as credit in Tennessee’s colleges and universities, House Bill 433 grants in-state tuition to anyone currently living in Tennessee who is using VA educational benefits, regardless of their official home of record. That change brings Tennessee into compliance with new provisions in the GI bill, ensuring that about 13,000 Tennessee service members, veterans, and their dependents continue to receive education benefits under the federal program.

The proposal also updates Tennessee’s Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages enrollment of veterans and removes barriers known to impede their success in attaining higher education credentials.

The legislation enhances the VETS Act and makes Tennessee the second state in the nation to develop a web-based dashboard to help prospective student veterans determine how their military training counts. Under the new program, a veteran or service member will be able to click on the specific military occupational specialty he or she possesses and instantly see what academic credit they qualify for at each of Tennessee’s public institutions, before they enroll. The easy-to-use system will help the state recruit and keep military service members in Tennessee.

The bill also calls on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to select representatives of various state colleges and universities by December 2018 to work collaboratively in adopting policies for Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) for veterans. Currently, PLA credit can vary significantly from one institution to the next. The group will identify and develop uniform methods to assess and maximize academic credit for veterans based on the experience, education, and training obtained during their military service.

As the 2017 legislative session continues, House Republicans remain committed to helping veterans, their families, and all those involved with protecting Tennessee and the United States on a daily basis.

Lawmakers, Farmers Celebrate Annual ‘Ag Day On The Hill’ Event

House lawmakers joined with farmers and agriculture groups from across the state this week to celebrate Tennessee’s annual ‘Ag Day on the Hill’ event at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Governor Bill Haslam has also proclaimed the date ‘Agriculture Day’ as part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners provide to the state and nation.

This year, ‘Ag Day on the Hill’ activities included farm animals — horses, cows, goats, sheep, piglets, and chicks — and a variety of farming equipment on display at the entrance to the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from agricultural organizations and agencies were also available to discuss programs and opportunities for those interested in farming and forestry in Tennessee.

In addition, a potato bagging and calf bottle feeding contest between House and Senate lawmakers took place, with the Senate claiming the calf feeding victory and House members winning the potato bagging challenge. Following the contest, the Farm & Forest Families of Tennessee organization presented a check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in honor of contest participants.

The day’s events also included a sweet potato bagging project to benefit the Society of St. Andrew and a silent auction benefiting Second Harvest and the Ag in the Classroom program.

Tennessee has more than 67,000 farms representing 10.9 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $70 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports more than 340,000 jobs.

General Assembly Passes Property Tax Relief Bill For East Tennessee Fire Victims

Property owners could receive prorated 2016 property tax assessments

This week in Nashville, House members passed legislation to provide additional support to East Tennessee families that had property damaged by wildfires that swept through Sevier County and surrounding areas last November.

The bill calls for prorating the 2016 tax assessment for a homeowner’s real property or a business owner’s personal property, if it sustained damaged from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified disaster area last year. House Bill 52 is modeled after similar legislation that granted tax relief to victims of the 2010 floods in Nashville.

The legislation would not become effective until it is approved by a two-thirds vote of the local governing body of the county or city in which the property is located. The new legislation would also require fire victims to provide a listing of the destroyed, demolished, or substantially damaged personal property for which the tax relief is sought.

If the tax computed for the 2016 tax year has already been paid by the property owner prior to proration, he or she would receive a refund under the new law.

Lawmakers Pass Resolution To Raise Awareness Of Malignant Brain Tumors In Children

This week, Republican lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution designating May 17, 2017 as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day in Tennessee.

The resolution was initiated by constituent Elizabeth Psar and is designed to increase attention to the leading cause of cancer death in children — DIPG. DIPG is a type of brain tumor that is highly aggressive and has a zero percent survival rate.

These tumors are difficult to treat because they are often found near the base of the brain on the brainstem, which controls many of the body’s vital functions. Those who are diagnosed are typically between the ages of five and nine. Patients often stop breathing or go into full cardiac arrest as the cancer spreads throughout their body.

Proponents of the legislation hope that by spreading the message about DIPG, they can help educate Tennessee parents and caregivers, while also trying to increase resources that will lead to researchers discovering a cause and cure for this disease.

Tennessee Department Of Environment & Conservation Seeks Environmental Achievers

Nominations now open for the 2017 Governor’s Stewardship Awards

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is inviting Tennesseans to submit nominations for the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards include multiple unique categories: Building Green, Clean Air, Energy and Renewable Resources, Environmental Education and Outreach, Land Use, Materials Management, Natural Heritage, Sustainable Performance, and Lifetime Achievement.

Any individual, business, organization, educational institution, or agency is eligible, provided it is located in Tennessee and the project was completed during the 2016 calendar year. All nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive years of overall environmental compliance with TDEC. Self-nominations are encouraged.

As Tennesseans continue to make the state a stronger and healthier place through innovative ideas and collaboration across industries, these annual awards help motivate and empower individuals, organizations, and communities to keep pushing the needle on stewardship efforts across the state.

A panel of judges representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental, and academic professionals will select award recipients based on criteria including level of project or program completion, innovation, and public education. The deadline for nominations is March 31, 2017. Award recipients will be announced in May 2017.

For more information about each category, judging criteria, and nomination forms, visit TDEC’s website at http://www.tn.gov/environment/gov-awards.shtml.

Key House Republicans Pass Legislation Providing Property Tax Relief To East Tennessee Fire Victims

March 14, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — Monday evening, House members unanimously passed legislation co-sponsored by Representative Dale Carr (R-Sevierville) and Representative Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) that provides additional support to East Tennessee families whose properties were damaged by last November’s wildfires.

House Bill 52 calls for prorating the 2016 tax assessment for a homeowner’s real property or business owner’s personal property, if it was damaged as a result of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified disaster between Sept. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016. The bill is modeled after similar legislation that provided relief to the victims of the 2010 floods in Nashville.

“As the residents in the eastern part of our state continue to put their lives back together, we want to do all we can to support their recovery efforts,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville). “By providing property tax relief, we hope we’ve encouraged them to move toward a brighter future for themselves and their families.”

“Our communities have suffered tremendous loss and hardship due to the tragic circumstances surrounding this natural disaster,” said Representative Carr. “The passage of this bill enables us to help those who are suffering in a small way through a very difficult time.”

“It is imperative that we support the residents in communities that were ravaged by the tragic wildfires by passing this legislation,” said Representative Farmer. “This bill will help further expedite the rebuilding process so that our region can come back stronger than ever before.”

House Bill 52 would not become effective until approved by a two-third vote of the local governing body of the county and/or city in which the property is located. If the tax computed for the 2016 tax year has been paid prior to the proration, the victim would receive a refund.  The legislation is retroactive to January 1, 2016.  The owner must provide the assessor a listing of the destroyed, demolished or substantially damaged personal property for which the tax relief is sought. The owner would also be required to apply to the assessor for the relief by Sept. 1, 2017 in order to be eligible.

The full text of House Bill 52 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0052.pdf

###

State Representative Dale Carr’s Legislative Wrap-up: 03/09/17

March 9, 2017

House Republicans Move Forward With Critical Legislation To Combat Welfare Fraud

At the end of February, House Republicans moved forward with critical legislation designed to combat welfare fraud in Tennessee by passing House Bill 227 on the full House floor. Once passed by the Senate, the bill will travel to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.

House Bill 227, referred to as the Program Integrity Act, is the result of over two years of work between Republican lawmakers and the Department of Human Services (DHS) and TennCare. As passed, the important legislation gives these departments more tools in the toolbox to help reduce welfare fraud across the state.

Specifically, the bill creates a new system of enhanced verification in Tennessee, requiring DHS to conduct quarterly data matches and crosscheck this data in various ways to help eliminate fraudulent payments that are being made. As society becomes more mobile, the bill allows DHS to explore joining a multistate cooperative for identifying individuals who currently receive Tennessee benefits but who live in other states.

As people move, get jobs and get married, pass away, or simply falsify their economic statuses, the new computerized crosscheck system created by House Bill 227 will help ensure those who are receiving benefits are only those who actually qualify for the programs and who genuinely need state assistance.

In addition to the new enhanced verification system, the legislation also directs the Tennessee Department of Lottery to report to DHS, on a monthly basis, the name, prize amount, and any other identifying information of welfare recipients who win a prize of $5,000 or more. While this rule is already in federal statute requiring welfare recipients to self-report this information, this change simply adds an extra layer of security to the process by adding that the Department of Lottery will also report this information to the state.

In Tennessee, studies estimate the state loses approximately $123 million per year in fraudulent payments to people who are not actually qualified to receive benefits.

The full text of House Bill 227 can be found by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0227.pdf.

 

Broadband Accessibility Act Gains Momentum

Earlier this week, House Republicans advanced House Bill 529 through the Business and Utilities Subcommittee, with the legislation gaining much-needed momentum as it continues its path to the full House floor for a final vote.

House Bill 529, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, was created after the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) produced a report earlier this year that outlined several municipal broadband failures and made recommendations about how more Tennesseans can adopt broadband services. Of particular interest, the report noted, is finding ways to provide broadband access to Tennessee’s rural areas.

Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the country for broadband access, with 13 percent of the state lacking accessibility. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents are without coverage, placing them at a distinct disadvantage over their city counterparts.

House Bill 529 addresses broadband accessibility and adoption through business investment and deregulation. Coupled with the state budget, the legislation makes targeted state investments through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s unserved areas. The legislation also permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service — something they have been completely unable to do in the past.

In addition, the legislation encourages training and assistance, as well as grant funding for education opportunities at the state’s local libraries to help residents improve digital literacy skills, which will maximize the benefits of broadband.

House Bill 529 will be heard in the full Business and Utilities Committee next week.

Resolution To Honor Blind Citizens, American History Receives Committee Approval

This month, the House State Government Subcommittee approved legislation to honor Tennessee’s blind citizens as well as American history by passing House Joint Resolution 88.

As approved by the committee, the legislation calls for a braille American flag to be displayed in the new Cordell Hull legislative office building, which the General Assembly is set to move into later this year.

Randolph Cabral, founder of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, created the braille flag to honor his father, Jesus Sanchez Cabral. Jesus Sanchez Cabral was a decorated U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who served the United States during World War II. Glaucoma robbed him of his sight 10 years before his death. It also hampered Cabral’s ability to post and fly the American flag on his front porch, a duty he cherished as a patriotic veteran.

The braille American flag serves as a valuable teaching and learning aid for instructing blind students about its place in American history. It is composed of braille figures in the upper left corner that represent the stars of the 50 states. They are arranged in nine rows of alternating clusters. The long smooth horizontal lines represent the red stripes. Each red stripe is lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color. The long raised textured areas on the flag represent the white stripes. They are also lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color.

The American braille flag is a powerful symbol for more than 30 million blind and low vision Americans. In 2008, the United States Congress authorized its placement at Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to blind veterans. It is displayed by thousands of sighted and blind civilians, veterans, hospitals, memorial parks, elected officials, schools for the blind, and many other places.

Department Of Environment & Conservation Announces Open Registration For Third Annual Transportation Awards And Forum

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Tennessee Clean Fuels, announced this week they will hold the third annual Tennessee Transportation Awards and Forum during Clean Air Month from May 23-24 at the Nashville Public Library.

The event will bring together state experts, local leaders, and community members to discuss successes and challenges facing transportation in Tennessee.

The forum, entitled “Navigating Toward a Livable Tennessee,” will highlight local transportation planning and the pursuit of policies and investments for improved transportation options in our communities. The keynote address will be delivered by Russ Brooks, Smart Cities Director at Transportation for America, an organization focused on supporting the development of smart, sustainable, and locally driven transportation policies across the United States.

An awards luncheon will be held on the second day of the forum, and will include remarks from TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau and Tennessee Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Toks Omishakin. The awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state, consistent with ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, provide for a strong economy, and protect our state’s natural resources.

To register for the event, visit https://goo.gl/QNcfqm.

 

March 8 Commemorates Legislative Joint Convention With Elvis

Fifty-six years ago, on March 8, 1961, history was made on the floor of the House of Representatives. At 11am that day, the hour set by 1961 Senate Joint Resolution 52, the Senate joined the House in the House Chamber for a Joint Convention.

Elvis Presley was then escorted into the Chamber to address the members of the General Assembly, along with an overflow crowd of guests.

Prior to Elvis’s introduction, Speaker of the Senate William Baird understated, “The House Chamber is quite crowded.”

The Speaker is then famously heard to say, “If any lady faints, please let Elvis catch her.”

This is not the only connection between Elvis and the General Assembly. One of the paramedics who attended to Elvis at the time of his death in August 1977 was Ulysses Jones, Jr. In November 1987, Ulysses Jones was elected to represent the 98th District for the 95th General Assembly, a seat he held until his passing in November 2010.