‘It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I have 15 bills to present in this Legislative Session and I am going to 4 to 5 committee meetings each week to introduce my proposed bills. HB374 is a bill I am carrying for the Secretary of State. This bill moves the oversight of fantasy sports from the Secretary of State’s office to the Sports Wagering Advisory Council. The bill makes sports wagering and fantasy sports under the same agency, which takes advantage of the efficiencies of centralized regulation. For the calendar year ending 2022, Tennesseans wagered $3.85 billion on online sports wagering. The total privilege tax collected was $68 million. By law, 80% of those funds go to education, 15% to local governments for infrastructure projects, and 5% to treatment programs. It costs these companies $750,000.00 per year for a license, which brought in an additional $9.75 million in 2022.
Another bill I am carrying (HB804) will change the tangible personal property tax law. These changes would make it easier and simpler for business owners to file, and much easier for our county Trustees to collect. I talked to Rhonda Clanton, Bedford County Property Assessor, and Tonya Davis, our county Trustee about this proposed change and they both said this was way overdue and that I need to do more next year.
I am working on a bill (HB88) that would require the Department of Safety to waive the knowledge test to obtain a commercial driver’s license permit if the applicant provides documentation showing that they possess certain relevant military experience and a clean driving record. The American Trucking Association estimates that we currently have a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, which could grow to 160,000 by 2028. This is a pro-veteran bill that would allow current military personnel or veterans within one year of honorable discharge to help acquire a commercial driver’s license.
My bill to make the process easier and quicker for farmers’ co-ops to merge (HB922) passed through its first committee this week. Moore County mayor, Sloan Stewart, who is on the Co-op state board, asked me to help with this proposed legislation and I agreed. On February 1st, the Lincoln Co-op merged with the Bedford-Moore Co-op and this new law should make that long drawn-out process much less of a headache in the future.
I got a report this week from the fiscal Review Committee that gave a recap on the state’s tax collections for six months in the 2022-23 fiscal year. Total year-to-date tax collections have exceeded the budget by $1.31 billion. The Tennessee economy is in good shape. I hope we can use these excess funds on our infrastructure projects across the state.
I was appointed to the Lincoln/Huntsville Hospital Community Board last year and we had our February board meeting this past Monday. The discussion was about all the new projects and plans that the hospital is undertaking. They are cleaning and painting the hospital, putting up new signs, and hiring new doctors and nurses. I’m very excited about the new student advisory board from the local high schools. I had the pleasure of meeting twenty eager students who told me about their future plans in healthcare. Fayetteville and Lincoln County are very lucky to have this community hospital and its new partnership with Huntsville Hospital.
I want to thank Ashton Thomas, Lisa Lee, and Travis Layne from Bedford County who spoke with me regarding physician’s assistants and the proposed legislation that would give them more control over their practices.
Also, Kelly Sue Waller from Shelbyville and Patricia McIntyre from Normandy provided a lot of valuable information about housing and homelessness. This is a statewide problem and we all need to work to come up with new ideas that can help.
I got to attend the FFA state breakfast on Thursday morning at the Memorial Coliseum and had the pleasure of sitting with the Cascade school FFA chapter and their leader Mike Swafford. Also, I got to visit with the Community and Shelbyville chapters and their advisors Brigette Swafford, Morgan Grannas, and Madison Smith. FFA has 32,000 members nationwide and they do a wonderful job of teaching young men and women leadership skills that they can use throughout their lives.
I’m honored to serve as your state representative and please call or email if I can ever help. 615-741-6824, [email protected]. You are also welcome to come up to the Capitol and stop by my office at 610 in the Cordell Hull building.