Legislature

House sub blocks push to disinter and relocate President James K. Polk’s body

The House State Government Subcommittee has rejected a legislative resolution authorizing disinterment of the bodies of President James K. Polk and his wife from a tomb on the state capitol grounds and moving them to Columbia.

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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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Legislators spurn new restrictions on bounty hunters

Legislation designed to crack down on bounty hunters following a fatal shooting in Clarksville last spring has died quietly in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, reports the Leaf-Chronicle.

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Black, husband criticized for lobbying against medical marijuana bill

Medical marijuana legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison is hitting a hurdle with gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Diane Black opposing it and her husband trying to kill the measure, according to the Tennessee Ledger. Her husband says his actions are in the public interest and not for any financial gain by his company.

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Bill putting $100K cap on loans to campaigns clears House committee

A bill that limits local and statewide candidates’ from loaning their campaign more than $100,000 was approved by the House Local Government Committee Tuesday, reports The Tennessean.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), HB1770 would not take effect until next year, after the current campaign season that has already seen at least four gubernatorial candidates loaning their campaigns more than $100,000. The bill would still allow candidates to make direct contributions to their campaigns in unlimited amounts — just not loans subject to being repaid afterwards, which sometimes occurs if the candidate wins.

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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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Columnist in chemotherapy backs medical marijuana bill

Frank Cagle, currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, declares his support for legislation to legalize medical cannabis oil in his current News Sentinel column. It begins as follows:

If you lose 40 pounds and the sight and smell of food make you wretch, you are tempted to try most anything for relief. If you ask around, you can find cannabis oil here in Tennessee. But it has drawbacks.

— You don’t know where it came from.

— You don’t know what the dosage is.

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Bill to give legislators oversight of airports stirs flap in Northeast TN

Legislation introduced by Rep. Matthew Hill and Sen. Steve Southerland would create a board of state legislators to oversee – and overrule, if they wish – decisions made by regional airport authorities. The bill involves the Tri-Cities Airport Authority’s use of a $4.1 million state grant and is stirring controversy in Northeast Tennessee.

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Harwell joins push to stop vehicle emissions testing in TN

House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is running for governor, Thursday threw her support behind legislation that would end vehicle emissions testing in the six counties where it’s now required, reports the Times Free Press.

The bill (HB1782) is sponsored by two Hamilton County legislators, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. Besides Hamilton and Davidson County, which Harwell represents, the bill would also apply to Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

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Proposal lets legislators challenge fiscal notes; adds 10 staffers to analyze state budget

House Majority Leader Glen Casada and Sen. Ken Yager, who chairs the Fiscal Review Committee and the Senate State and Local Government Committee, have proposed to set up a process allowing legislators to challenge estimates of how much a bill would cost taxpayers if enacted.

Their bill (HB2096) requires Fiscal Review Committee staff to list all sources of information used in a cost estimate, known as  fiscal note, and establishes a formal procedure for a lawmaker to challenge an estimate – including calling state officials involved to testify. It also calls for hiring ten new legislative staffers to help analyze the governor’s budget proposal and prepare amendments for legislators.

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