By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor
Veterans and taxes are only two of the many topics covered in more than 3,000 proposed bills filed by state legislators in the 113th Tennessee General Assembly. The filing deadline draws near and many of the proposals are headed to committees.
Senate Bill 724 would allow honorably-discharged veterans who hold a high school diploma to use their relevant training to earn a practitioner occupational teaching license. This bill would fast-track veterans for a teaching certification in related courses.
A proposal by Sen. Ed Jackson of Madison County, SB 1463, would grant active-duty pay to members of the Tennessee National Guard immediately upon receiving orders of activation.
In related news, National and Air Guard members could see sales tax relief when purchasing a vehicle if they are in good standing with their units. Under HB 1415, the first $15,000 of a vehicle purchased by Guard members would be exempt from sales tax.
Disabled veterans may see additional property tax relief under proposed HB 935. The legislation would reimburse veterans who are 100-percent disabled for local property taxes on a residence owned and used by the veteran.
HB 698 would ensure at least five percent of state contracts are awarded to veteran-owned businesses.
Another proposal, HB 1072, would establish a grant program for veteran-service organizations that serve as honor guards during the burial ceremonies of veterans. The grant program would be created by the state’s department of veteran services for organizations registered with the Secretary of State’s office. Grants would be available for training, transportation, food, equipment and supplies for honor guards.
A House Joint Resolution seeks to amend the state Constitution by legalizing cannabis (marijuana) for medical purposes and four percent of the taxes collected from sales would be used to assist military veterans with healthcare needs.
In related news, SB 1411 would poll Tennesseans on the legalization of marijuana during the 2024 election. Voters would be asked to answer the three following questions on the ballot:
Should Tennessee legalize medicinal marijuana?
Should Tennessee decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana?
Should Tennessee legalize and regulate commercial sales of recreational use marijuana?
Parents who are state employees may see some relief from child-care costs if HB 478 becomes law. Under the proposed bill, state employees with children who have special needs or who are not yet eligible for Pre-K, with multiple children and don’t receive other child-care subsidies, could receive monthly stipends for child care from the Department of Human Services.
Another proposal expands child care in the state. HB 573 would increase the number of children from five to seven as the minimum number of children a facility must have under its care for three or more hours per day in order to fall within the definition of a child care agency for licensing purposes.
HB 573 would establish a temporary expansion of TennCare benefits up to five years for people under 21 years old whose family income is no more than 138 percent of poverty level, if the child isn’t already covered by CoverKids or a similar insurance program.
In relation to children, HB 1403 would require the Department of Children’s Services to increase the number of social workers so that each does not have a caseload of more than 20 children by Jan. 1, 2024 and no more than 12 by July 1, 2024.
Three proposed bills relative to power supply companies are under consideration.
One proposal, HB 601, would prioritize utilities for healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes when engaging in load management for an electric service system.
The second proposal, HB 408, prohibits an energy utility that delivers power to heat and cool homes from shutting off the power if a state of emergency is declared due to weather or temperatures are at levels that threaten public health if energy is shut off.
The third proposal, HB 1494, would require utility companies to refund or reimburse, or provide rebates for future billing to customers who experience an interruption or power loss.
Other Proposed Legislation
SB 717 would make it a requirement for landlords to give senior citizens 62 years or older a 90-day notice of eviction if the tenant has paid rent in full and the eviction is due to a new property development.
SB 714 would create a tourism fund for local governments, tourism, convention bureaus and nonprofit entities for the planning of events celebrating Juneteenth. Grant funds would be available for marketing and logistics related to hosting the festival.
HB 1386 would allow a man and woman to enter into a common-law marriage, recorded and accepted by county clerks’ offices.
SB 1355 would allow people to use debit or credit cards for lottery purchases.
HB 409 eliminates the retail sales tax (4 percent) on fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen or canned.
HB 1230 joins forces with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina to exempt the state from Daylight Saving Time provisions.
HB 819 changes the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour.
HB 1438 eliminates a four-percent sales tax on food by increasing the sales tax on cigarettes from 3 to 8.35 cents per cigarette and increases tax on other tobacco products from 6.6 percent to 17 percent of the wholesale cost.
For more information into proposed legislation, see future editions of this publication.