Written by Joe Pitts
Tennessee State Representative
Nashville, TN – Property Tax Relief for disabled Veterans, disabled persons and elderly low-income homeowners, House Bill 1496/Senate Bill 1675 (Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville), scheduled for the House Finance, Ways, and Means Full committee on Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 was rolled for 1 week awaiting a possible amendment that will strengthen the bill.
This legislation corrects a rule change made in October, 2017 which would have caused individuals to lose their eligibility for tax relief if the veteran, low-income elderly, and disabled person if admitted to a nursing home for an indeterminate amount of time.
“I am hopeful we will see this bill pass and the tax relief programs will be left intact and alone in the future,” said Pitts.
Credit Report Freeze
House Bill 1486/Senate Bill 2470 (Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield) passed the House Floor on Monday, February 26th The Senate bill also cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and should be heard on the Senate Floor next week. The bill will allow Tennesseans to place, temporarily lift or permanently remove a credit freeze with a credit reporting agency without charge.
“It currently costs $7.50 for these services, and as personal identities continue to be at risk, protecting yourself from online credit issues should not be a profit center for credit reporting agencies,” said Pitts.
Limiting New Statewide Assessments
HB 1855 (Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro) and SB 1806 (Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro) passed the House Education Instruction and Programs Full Committee this week and should be heard on the House Floor next week. This legislation will prohibit the Tennessee Department of Education and the State Board of Education from mandating any statewide assessments for any grades or subjects beyond those required as of the 2016-2017 thru the 2021-2022 school years.
“I voted in favor of this legislation. I believe our credibility is undermined every time we fail to deliver test results on time, and find the results are rife with errors. Until we meet that standard, we need to pause on adding more testing,” Pitts said. “Further, I loathe moratoriums but there is no other option.”
This legislation will be heard in the Senate Education committee on March 7th, 2018.
Veterans Hiring Preference Legislation
In April, 2012, the “Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management (T.E.A.M.) act was signed into law.
Part of this law stated “When invitations to interview candidates are extended, whether for appointment or promotion, and the list of eligible includes any person who has been honorably discharged from the army, navy, air force, marine corps or coast guard or any active federal service in the armed forces of the United Stated, these persons must be invited to interview”. It also stated “If a veteran is on the list of eligible, and if the minimum qualifications and the skills, abilities, competencies and knowledge of the veteran and any another applicant being interviewed for the position are equal, preference will be given to the veteran for the position.”
This summer it was brought to my attention that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation interpreted “will” as “may”. “I used a personal example of why I do not believe it was the intent of the Tennessee General Assembly to substitute “may” with “will”. Example, when I told my children that they “will” be home by 10:00pm, they knew I meant that this was not a request, it means you “shall” be home or face consequences,” Pitts said.
Thus, House Bill 2006/Senate Bill 2191 (Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol) was drafted changing the word “will” to “shall” to clarify the Tennessee General Assembly’s original intention.
This bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Consumer and Human Resources Sub Committee on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018.
Visitors to the Hill
On Monday, February 26th, 2018, Dillion Reuben Rich, 10, and his sister Lillie Marie Rich, 15 served as pages on the Floor of the House of Representatives. Their mother, Melinda Kelly-Major accompanied them as well.
Candy Johnson and a group of students from Christian Brothers University meet with Rep. Joe Pitts to discuss their passion for equity in education and their priorities.