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113th General Assembly Passes Bills To Improve Tennessee

This information comes from 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, who represents, Giles, Lawrence, Lewis and Maury counties.

State lawmakers work to help storm victims - Severe storms ripped across Tennessee, leaving destruction and devastation. Numerous tornadoes impacted many citizens. Tragically, 15 Tennesseans died.

Gov. Lee has requested an emergency declaration which was supported by lawmakers serving Cannon, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lewis, Macon, McNairy, Rutherford, Tipton and Wayne counties. The Tennessee Congressional Declaration has also urged President Biden to approve the emergency declaration.

State lawmakers are exploring ways to financially help those affected by these storms in property tax relief for damaged property and structures.

The proposal will ensure that citizens are not paying an unfair property tax on damaged property that has depreciated as a result of the storms.

Keeping Tennessee a low-tax state — The State and Local Government Committee passed a bill to help ensure Tennessee remains a low-tax state.

Over the years, as state lawmakers have cut taxes to benefit Tennesseans, local governments have become leaner, and many have reluctantly raised property taxes to cover expenses.

Senate Bill 385 attempts to address this challenge by returning between $35 million and $40 million a year to local governments so they don’t have to raise taxes.

The bill accomplishes this by reducing the Department of Revenue’s administrative fee for collecting and administering the local option sales tax from 1.125% to 0.5% in phases by July 1, 2025.

The state collects between $50 million and $55 million a year from this fee, but administering the sales tax revenue only actually costs about $15 million a year now that that task is handled digitally.The difference between the money collected from the fee and the cost to process the local option sales tax — estimated to be between $35 million and $40 million — will go back to local governments.

This legislation is an effort to try to return some money to local governments so they will not be forced to raise property taxes and other taxes on local residents so we can remain a low-tax state.

Home school immunization records -- Senate Bill 644, which I sponsored, will delete the requirement for homeschool students to report immunization records to the superintendent of schools.

Homeschool students participating in interscholastic athletics would still be required to satisfy all eligibility requirements established by the association that regulates the athletic competition. The bill heads to the governor’s desk.

Appropriating funds to juvenile mental health and addiction -- Currently, 5% of the taxes collected from the Sports Wagering Council are appropriated to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for grants to programs that help with gambling addiction and gambling disorders.

Senate Bill 1230 will allow funds not used by gambling addiction and disorder services to be used toward juvenile addiction and mental health disorders.

Left over funds will help increase access to services for juveniles. The bill passed the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee and moves to the Senate floor for final approval.

Pro-life bill advances to Governor -- The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 745 which ensures the life of a mother will be protected when a nonviable pregnancy endangers her life. Elective abortions will remain illegal in Tennessee but the bill clarifies for doctors that terminating a nonviable and life-threatening pregnancy, such as an ectopic or molar pregnancy, is not an abortion. The bill heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Adding “In God We Trust” to all license plates -- The Senate passed the omnibus license plate bill, Senate Bill 142 will add “In God We Trust” to all license plates in Tennessee.

Tennesseans can choose to opt-in to having the phrase on their license plate, and this legislation will change it to an opt-out option. This Omnibus Bill included the “Historic Maury” License Plate which will be available soon for purchase.

The Tennessee monuments and memorials commission -- Senate Bill 1100 seeks to create the Tennessee monuments and memorials commission.

The commission will have nine members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Members will be responsible for waivers related to monuments and historical sites. The new commission will help the Tennessee Historical Commission run more efficiently.

Motor vehicle registration -- Senate Bill 576 would allow private, non-commercial vehicle owners and lessees to renew their vehicle registration for 24 months instead of 12 months beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

This will be an option, and people will be able to continue to obtain a 12 month registration or get a 24 month registration for twice the 12 month cost.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243; or 615-741-3100, or toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, and his telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823, and his e-mail is:

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