business

Politico: TN one of six states with no enforcement of minimum wage rules

Excerpt from a Sunday Politico piece:

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

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Senate approves revision in rules for online job contract companies

After a half-hour of debate, the state Senate approved 25-3 Monday night a bill that revises legal restrictions for online “marketplace platform” companies that collect a fee for putting those needing temporary work performed in touch with persons willing to do the job – TaskRabbit, for example.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson, says it’s a business-friendly update to the realities of today’s technology and increasing use of contract services. Critics contend it undermines protections for both workers and those who hire them.

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Airbnb to begin collecting taxes for state Department of Revenue

Airbnb will collect state and local sales taxes from the 7,700 Tennesseans who rent their homes through the online company and send the money to the state Department of Revenue under an agreement reached Wednesday, reports The Tennessean. Currently, each individual Airbnb host is responsible for collecting and remitting the taxes.

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There’s now a ‘Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition’

Press release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Today, Williamson County businessman and farmer Bill Lee announced over 100 business leaders from across Tennessee have joined to form the Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition. The group, encompassing every corner of the state, will serve in an advisory role to Lee on business and economic development issues and help spread Bill’s ideas within their professional and local communities.

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Trump Jr. says report of family getting Hawkins County property ‘not true’

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Donald Trump Jr. denies a report that he, his father, other family members and the Trump organization were deeded a lot in a Hawkins County subdivision.

Says the tweet: We love Tennessee and it’s incredible people, but this is not true. There’s a link to a Las Vegas TV station’s report on the transfer of an acre lot in a Rogersville, Tenn., subdivision from developer Phillip Henard to President Trump, family members including his son and the Trump Organization.

And here’s an excerpt from a Tennessean report on the supposed deal:

Jeff Thacker, Hawkins County assessor, said because the transaction involved a quitclaim deed —  a type of real estate instrument that carries less weight than warranty deeds — the agreement is suspect.

“I have mailed a letter to the Trump Foundation today asking them to verify the validity of this document before I put it on the tax records in their name, which would be subject to taxation,” Thacker said on Tuesday.

“As far as this being bogus or whatever, all I’ve read is what’s been reported in the paper … it’s as clear as mud.”

Note: Most recent previous post HERE.

ECD deemed winner of Beacon’s TN 2017 ‘Pork of the Year’ award

Press release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

In the 12th annual Tennessee Pork Report, the Beacon Center revealed that state and local government officials wasted more than $400 million of taxpayer money this past year.

The Pork Report highlights a combination of government mismanagement, incompetence, and outright fraud. The Beacon Center allowed Tennesseans to choose the infamous “Pork of the Year” award, and it really came down to the wire. After nearly 400 votes were cast, the “winner” of the award was the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development for their Industrial Machinery Tax Credit. The department took 34% of the vote in the public poll.

In one of the most inefficient instances of corporate welfare in recent years, Tennessee taxpayers paid a whopping $67 million annually for a mere 55 jobs per year from 2011-2014, which adds up to $1.2 million per job. Even if the program’s main goal isn’t to create jobs, it is not the government’s role to help buy equipment for some private companies on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers. The $14 million of tax dollars given to the Opryland Hotel to build a waterpark (that residents are not even allowed to use) came in a close second with nearly 32% of the vote. Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold and the state Jobs4TN Program came in the 3rd and 4th with 19% and 15%, respectively.

The Beacon Center prints the Pork Report every year to make sure state and local governments are held accountable for how ineffectively they spend our tax dollars. The wasteful spending in this report should make Tennesseans’ blood boil. We hope that government officials will use this report to slash wasteful spending in 2018.

The 2017 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars.

Note: The full 2017 “Pork Report” is HERE. Excerpt of some highlighted stuff as ‘nominated’ for Pork of the Year:

Jobs4TN: This state-based program has been taking millions of taxpayer dollars for years, spending more than $60 million in 2016- 2017 alone. This money then goes to a select few fortunate companies for their hiring and professional development needs, empowering government to pick winners and losers, and leaving left-out employers across the state to compete with these subsidized businesses.

Opryland Waterpark: The city of Nashville decided to give $14 million to Gaylord Opryland Hotel to construct a waterpark, and while taxpayers are footing the bill, the waterpark is open only to those staying at the hotel.

• Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD): ECD’s Industrial Machinery Tax Credit has doled out an astonishing $1.2 million in taxpayer money…per job. The tax credit has created just 55 total jobs at a cost of nearly $67 million.

• A Sheriff’s E-Cigarette Inmate Scheme: Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold profiteered off a captive audience of local inmates who were sold e-cigarettes from Arnold’s company—earning him and his wife nearly $75,000 over the course of their scheme, which was later exposed by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

Note: Arnold pleaded guilty to corruption charges and was sentenced to four years in prison. Randy Boyd, who resigned as ECD commissioner earlier this year, is running for governor.

More on Trump getting a Hawkins County subdivision lot — maybe just a promotional stunt?

Rogersville developer Phillip Henard tells the Kingsport Times-News that he got the “crazy idea” of quitclaiming a lot in a subdivision he owns to President Donald Trump a year or so ago and presidential associates recently agreed to accept it. But he denies speculation by a local utility district official that the move was part of an effort to get water service into the Grandview Estates subdivision.

The newspaper otherwise elaborates on earlier cryptic reports about transfer of the subdivision lot, which were based on a press release issued by Henard, after reviewing the deed and interviews with Henard and Lakeview Utility District Superintendent Tim Carwile.

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Lawsuit filed against Nashville law restricting home-based businesses

A team of attorneys is challenging a Metro Nashville law that prohibits residents from operating certain businesses in their homes, reports WPLN. The new lawsuit was filed on behalf of two people who say their home businesses were hurt after the city received anonymous complaints.

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Opposition develops to new megasite in Montgomery and Robertson counties

Opposition has surfaced to plans for creating an new 1,800-acre industrial megasite in Montgomery and Robertson counties, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. An online petition against the plan had garnered more than 230 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

One of the people behind the petition, Debra Moore, who lives “almost next-door” to the proposed megasite in Montgomery County, said residents have two basic concerns.

“The people out there are concerned about the impact on the farmland, which is some of the best farmland in our county, as well as the additional debt that (Montgomery) county would take on,” Moore said. “I guess we were all surprised … at why they had to skip-jump from Montgomery County’s existing industrial park (near exits 4 and 8 of Interstate 24), all the way out here.”

Residents who live near the proposed megasite chose the location because “they want to get away from the city,” Moore said. “They want the quiet lifestyle.”

… “We certainly respect the rights of residents in the area to voice their opinion, pro and con, on this development,” said Margot Fosnes, president and chief economic development officer with the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce. “This particular area has many qualities that make it attractive as a megasite, water availability and rail access being two critical assets. We are very cognizant of the importance of agricultural lands and their value to Robertson County and would work to make sure this project did not negatively impact these interests.

“This project could go a long way to providing more options for our farm families to keep their children and grandchildren working close to home.”

In an emailed statement, Robertson County Economic Development Board Chairman Roger Blackwood said the megasite is a realization of the board’s primary goal to create more, high-paying jobs for residents.

Note: The referenced petition is HERE.

TN Bankers Association names Heaslet as new counsel/lobbyist

News release from Tennessee Bankers Association

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 14, 2017) – Amy Smith Heaslet has been named general counsel and senior vice president of the Tennessee Bankers Association and elected secretary of its board of directors, TBA President Colin Barrett has announced.

In her new role, Heaslet will lead advocacy initiatives on legislative and regulatory issues and policies that affect the banking industry and will serve as an adviser to the TBA board of directors, officers and member banks. She was previously the TBA’s deputy counsel.

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