We finished up the first session of the 111th General Assembly on May 2nd. It was a productive session and I have been privileged to serve the 28th district for another year. We adjourned having passed key pieces of legislation that will set Tennessee up for success in the many years to come.
Senate approves “Katie Beckett Waiver Bill” to expand TennCare coverage for in-home care to children with severe disabilities
A major bill expanding TennCare coverage for in-home care to children with severe disabilities, regardless of their parents’ income, received unanimous approval by the Senate during our last week of legislative action. In order to implement the TennCare changes, Senate Bill 476 directs the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration to submit a waiver request to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish a Katie Beckett Program in Tennessee.
Most of the children that would be affected by the program require around-the-clock care due to medically-intensive and complex disabilities. This allows the parents the opportunity to care for their children at home.
Legislature approves bill eliminating professional privilege tax for 15 of the state’s licensed professions
The General Assembly passed major tax cut legislation before adjourning the 2019 session, eliminating the $400 professional privilege tax levied on licensed individuals annually in 15 professions in Tennessee. Senate Bill 398 repeals the tax for accountants, architects, sports agents, audiologists, chiropractors, dentists, engineers, landscape architects, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, psychologists, real estate brokers, speech pathologists, and veterinarians.
The professional privilege tax was implemented in 1992 at $200, but was increased to $400 in 2002. Action on the legislation comes after a 2016 Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) report stated that some professions in the state that are not taxed have higher average incomes. The report also noted that incomes of professionals vary significantly within the taxed professions and those in occupations earning lower salaries, pay the same amount as those earning more. Professionals in these areas must pay the tax annually even when they conduct no business. Tennessee is one of only six states that impose a professional privilege tax.
Leigh Ann’s Law / Domestic Violence -- The full Senate showed their continued support for domestic abuse victims in passing the Leigh Ann Act. The legislation is named for a Hohenwald woman who was murdered 17 years ago in an act of domestic violence by her former boyfriend who violated a no contact order. Senate Bill 1163 creates a Class A misdemeanor for a person who is arrested on domestic violence charges to knowingly violate a no contact order that is issued prior to the defendant’s release on bond. I was honored to carry this legislation through the Senate and get it passed. The bill now awaits Governor Lee’s signature before becoming law.
Daylight Saving Time -- The Senate voted to keep Tennessee on daylight saving time once the federal government has approved it. Senate Bill 1100 puts Tennessee on record in favor of federal legislation currently pending in Congress which calls for daylight saving time year-round. According to studies, since time changes have been implemented in the 1960s, there has been a statistically significant increase in wrecks, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as a decrease in work productivity and an increase in workplace accidents. President Trump has stated he supports a permanent daylight saving time.
Truth in Sentencing -- The Senate approved “truth in sentencing” legislation which ensures that Class A, B, or C felons, which are violent offenders, are required to serve the minimum sentence for their crimes before being eligible for reduction credits for good behavior. Senate Bill 215 allows both crime victims and perpetrators to have an accurate timeframe for minimum sentencing. It also presumes that Class E or D nonviolent felons will be released on parole when they reach their “red date” or release eligibility date, unless good cause is shown for why the inmate should not be released.
You May Contact Senator Hensley at
425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746
Nashville TN 37243
Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100
855 Summertown Highway
Hohenwald TN 38462
Cell Phone 931-212-8823