Last week in the Tennessee General Assembly, House bills requiring labeling of GMO foods and seeds were deferred until 2014. House Subcommittees are shutting down for the year, while Committees finish hearing bills as the legislature prepares to begin budget discussions.
This week, a bill prohibiting United Nations representatives from monitoring elections in Tennessee failed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
A bill making evidence obtained by drones inadmissible in court, except when a warrant is obtained or in exigent and authorized exceptions, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously. The bill authorizes civil suits against law enforcement agencies to prevent or stop violations of the legislation.
Several tax bills are moving forward. The House unanimously passed a bill reducing the sales tax on food ¼ of a % saving about $25 million a year which is about $3.50 per individual. This makes the State portion of sales tax on foods 5%. A bill raising the Hall income tax exemption levels for senior citizens in 2013 from $16,200 to $33,000 for single filers and from $27,000 to $59,000 for joint filers passed the Senate Tax Subcommittee. Tennessee has the highest beer tax rate in the nation. The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 removes the wholesaler beer tax of 17% replacing it with a flat tax of $35.60 per barrel. The legislation is moving forward in both the House and Senate.
The Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013 passed the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and is headed to the floor next week. The state workers’ compensation system was established in 1919. Tennessee is one of only two States to adjudicate workers’ compensation claims in the trial courts, causing medical costs related to workers’ compensation to be some of the highest in the nation. The overhaul is suppose to make the system more efficient by allowing allow workers to receive benefits faster and return to work sooner. The bill has already passed the Senate 28-2, with Blount County Senator Doug Overbey voting against it.
A bill allowing State legislators to nominate their parties candidate for general elections of US Senators was taken off notice. This bill attempted to partially return the process of selecting Senators back to State legislature. The 17th amendment to the US Constitution allegedly ratified 100 years ago, requires popular election of US Senators, although some States were already doing this prior to the amendment. A copy of the State Legislative Journals documenting the ratification process of the 17th amendment in Tennessee is available at www.bcpublicrecord.com. This reporter visited the Tennessee State Library and Archives to obtain documentation of Tennessee’s ratification process for the 14th, 16th and 17th amendments to the federal Constitution and is happy to share those documents.
This is Tona Monroe with Blount County Public Record. I am delighted to bring you these weekly State legislative updates and thank Truth Radio for the opportunity. For more information on these bills, visit www.bcpublicrecord.com.