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Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts’ Legislative Update, June 7th 2013

 

Final update detailing the first session of the 108th General Assembly

Food, Clothing, and Hygiene Drive to support the Austin Peay State University Food Pantry

Tennessee State Representative - House District 67Nashville, TN – House Bill 32, License Plates for our Veterans and Active Duty Military.

House Bill 32, sponsored by Tennessee State Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) will make some changes, effective July 1st, 2014, to the issuance of license plates to our active duty military and veterans who receive honors and awards such as the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Air Medal, and Medal of Honor.

The most substantial change is moving the Air Medal plates to the category of military cultural license plates.  This category also contains other license plates such as the Silver Star and Bronze Star.

Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts

Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts

Representative Sexton also committed to convening a study group to create consistency and reduce confusion for our active duty military and veterans about the process and eligibility of receiving the license tags for vehicles.

Currently, there are different ways to qualify to receive plates, some free and some not, which makes it unnecessarily difficult for our military to understand this opportunity.  Rep. Sexton agreed to introduce legislation in January 2014 which would clarify the matter and fairly represent and honor those who have served, or are serving, our nation in the Armed Forces.

House Bill 0431/Senate Bill 783

Makes Major changes to the Unemployment Insurance statute

House Bill 0431 sponsored by Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) Senate Bill 783 sponsored by Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) made major changes in the unemployment insurance compensation statute including the following detrimental changes to a person’s benefits if they lose their job.

The bill deleted the current statute that allowed a person eligible for an additional $15.00 a week, not to exceed a total of $50.00, for each minor child they supported.

Added the word “charged” with a criminal offense. Current statute says you will be denied unemployment benefits for “misconduct” if you are convicted of a criminal offense relating to your employment.  With the word “charged” added, the presumption of innocence no longer exists. Simply by being charged with a criminal offense relating to your employment is now enough to deny unemployment benefits.

This legislation deleted the section of the code that would allow a person to accept a part-time job, if the part-time job is no more than 20 hours week. By eliminating this provision, the General Assembly is removing an incentive to re-enter the workforce, even at a part-time level.

“Our policy seems to have shifted toward denying those who lose their jobs the paltry unemployment compensation they now receive to keep food on their tables,” said Pitts.  “Recent reports indicate the Unemployment Trust Fund is sound and the substantial change enacted in this bill goes too far.”

House Bill 236

Changes names of the Tennessee Technology Centers

House Bill 236 sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) renames the Tennessee Technology Centers (TTC) across the state to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (T-CAT). The proposal was introduced to change the perception and image of the training centers who, since their inception, have provided invaluable training and retraining services to the workforce of the state. With a student completion rate of more than 75%, and a job placement rate approaching 100%, the TTC’s have attracted national attention for their success in the post secondary education arena of our state.

“While the name change may appear cosmetic, it will more accurately reflect the true mission and service provided by these institutions,” said Pitts.  “The TTC, or T-CAT of Clarksville will open its new 65,000 square foot addition later this year under the new name.”

Public Chapter 98

Provides funds for need-based financial aid program

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam requested legislation be filed and passed (Public Chapter 98) that would allow the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation to use left over federal funds, currently totaling more than $35 million, be moved into an interest bearing endowment that would create need-based grants to students attending community colleges in the state.

It is anticipated that more than $700,000 would be available each year for students in need to continue their education at a local community college.  “This is a great example of our policy matching our rhetoric,” said Pitts. “Money is the single largest barrier to college for students and these grants will give help to those who need it.”

Help support our community with your generous donations.

The Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center will host a Food, Clothing, and Hygiene Drive to support the Austin Peay State University Food Pantry Monday June 3rd, 2013 – Monday July 8th, 2013.

Items must be delivered to the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center in the Clement Building (Clement 120). With every ten items you donate, one ticket will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing to be held on July 10th, 2013.

Grand Prizes consist of a $50.00 Governor’s Square Mall Gift Certificate (APSU Students) and a Gift Bag (Faculty, Staff, Community Members)

Funding for the Trahern Building at Austin Peay State University

Approved in this year’s budget is $1 million for an addition and renovation of the Trahern Building at Austin Peay State University. “Austin Peay State University has emerged, state and nation wide, as a leader in higher education, specifically in the arts,” said Pitts.  “The Trahern building renovation is long overdue and upon completion will be a showplace for the extraordinary work of the faculty, staff and students gifted in the arts.”

If you have questions about any item above or other issues of concern, please call me at 615.741.2043, or email me at rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov


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