- Take Down the Flag; Session's Over.
- June 2, 2017 | Author: Nicole Osborne
- Law Firm: Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. - Chattanooga Office
- The Tennessee Legislature completed its first session of the 110th General Assembly this Wednesday. The flag flying over the Capitol, signifying the body is in session, was taken down. The General Assembly will reconvene on January 9, 2018. This is the first time in years that session has spilled into May, but rightfully so since it was what you might call a BIG YEAR for the body. The biggest decision came in the form of a gas tax increase - the first increase in nearly 20 years. Via the IMPROVE Act, the General Assembly voted to increase the tax on gas by six cents and the tax on diesel fuel by 10 cents to be phased in over the next three years. Cue the offsets. Along with the fuel tax increase came a slew of tax cuts - $257 million this year alone to be exact. The act decreases the sales tax on food; gives property tax relief for veterans, elderly, and people with disabilities; changes the F & E tax for manufactures in the state from a triple weight to a single weight factor; and ensures that the Hall income tax will be eliminated by 2021. Check, please.
The body also approved a $37 billion budget with the majority of funding allocated for transportation improvements and education. Some noteworthy actions of the General Assembly this session include:
- Offering Tennessee adults (who do not have a college degree) tuition-free scholarships for community colleges and technical schools through the Tennessee Reconnect Act
- Providing $10.7 million in disaster relief for Gatlinburg and Sevierville in the aftermath of the deadly wildfires last year
- Adopting legislation to issue driver's licenses printed in a vertical format for Tennesseans under 21 years old
These highlights don't even touch the surface of the more than 1,500 bills that were introduced this year - some prevailed, some failed, and some we will see again next year. Lights out.