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'New Markets Development Act'

This information is provided by 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other area counties,

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously approved legislation that would create a tax credit program to encourage economic growth in rural and low-income areas.

The bill will be reviewed by the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee next.

The program created by the “New Markets Development Act” would fund small businesses in Tennessee through insurance premium tax credits. Variations have been implemented in 14 other states and on the federal level.

The legislation would have benefits across the whole state potentially, especially rural areas that desperately need access to capital, which is difficult to get for businesses that want to expand. This legislation will help make that happen.

Through the program, investment groups would receive tax breaks if they offer loans or invest in businesses or developments in low-income or rural areas. The program could raise and invest up to $100 million into Tennessee small businesses.

This investment strategy has been useful at the federal level, and a number of states have done this for at least a decade with huge success. This will increase investment in Tennessee into areas that investors don’t always look to.

Ranked choice voting ban advances to Senate

Legislation banning ranked choice or instant runoff voting in state and local elections was passed by the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

Ranked choice voting is a method in which voters rank candidates by preference.

The candidate with a majority of first-preference votes wins. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, then the candidate with the lowest preference is eliminated and their votes are redistributed among the remaining candidates.

Instant runoff voting has been proven to increase voter confusion, decrease voter turnout and confidence, and produce results that leave no candidate with a majority of total votes.

Gov. Lee Issues Statement on CMS Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee late has issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana by Tennessee and 15 other states to vacate the CMS vaccine mandate:

'We are renewing a challenge to the CMS vaccine mandate in court so Tennessee health care workers have the right to private health care decisions.

While this mandate represents the worst of federal overreach, it also threatens our ability to staff facilities and provide care for the elderly, disabled and other high-priority populations."

Tennessee Forestry Commission testifies before committee

The Tennessee Forestry Commission testified before the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee concerning its annual report.

TN Forestry Commission Chair Johnny Heard said the commission identified the need for more engagement with the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service agency, expressed concern about the retention and recruitment of qualified personnel, endorsed the 2020 Forest Action Plan, and encouraged an increase in timber sales from the state forest.

Heard said the commission suppressed 709 wildfires over 6,910 acres; safely conducted 232 prescribed fires across 12,100 acres; and deployed 215 personnel across 13 states to help them deal with wildfires and natural disasters, resulting in $2.6 million in revenue.

The commission evaluated 38 logging operations with water quality complaints and found 22 with issues that affected water quality. It provided technical assistance to bring them into compliance with the Water Quality Control Act.

The commission completed 24 timber sales of a combined 10.7 million board feet, generating nearly $3.5 million in revenue.

Internships — The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 520, which expands internship opportunities for high school students starting in the 2022-2023 school year.

High school students are allowed to enroll in college courses at community colleges, as well as Tennessee College of Applied Technology colleges, some of which offer or require internships.

High school students are typically under the age covered by workers compensation insurance without additional expenses so only large companies have been willing to absorb the risk. This bill allows the medium and small-sized companies to be able to hire interns without unreasonable workers compensation insurance risks.

Cemetery Trust: Senate Bill 1934 allows cemeteries with small trust funds to share banking and trustee costs with other cemetery trust funds, and also provide cemeteries with a more stable way to determine the amount allowed for dispersing earnings for maintenance expenses. This will help provide financial stability for smaller cemeteries throughout Tennessee.

Law enforcement: Per a bill passed in 2014, peace officers who die in the line of duty or suffer a career-ending injury are presented the Three Stars of Tennessee Award in a ceremony on or around Sept. 11. Senate Bill 1751, which cleared the Judiciary Committee, allows a representative of the agency at which the peace officer served to receive the award on his or her behalf if there are no available next of kin.

Child abuse: Advanced by the Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 1793 would require a court to revoke bail for a defendant who is convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child. “Continuous” is defined roughly as three or more acts of abuse within 90 days.

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

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald TN 38462, or he can be reached by calling 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or by E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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