Tag Archives: repeal

AG: New Gun Bill Doesn’t Impact Old Law Allowing Guns on Campus

The “guns in parking lots” bill pending in the Legislature will not repeal a current law that allows a “non-student adult” to keep a gun in a car on school grounds, according to an opinion issued by state Attorney General Bob Cooper on Monday.
The bill (SB142) has already passed the Senate and is scheduled for a House vote on Thursday. It declares that persons with a handgun carry permit can keep guns in their cars virtually anywhere, including parking lots of companies that ban guns on property.
The bill also declares that permit holders can take guns on school grounds, including colleges and universities, “notwithstanding” a current statute that generally bans them. The old law, however, already has an exception declaring a “non-student adult” can keep a gun in his or her car on a campus.
Gov. Bill Haslam and others have raised the question of whether the new bill would effectively make it illegal for those “non-student adults” to keep guns in their cars on a public school or university campus. Cooper, formally asked that question by Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, said the answer was no.
“SB142 carves out an additional exception to the present prohibition of firearms and firearm ammunition on school property,” the opinion says. “This new exception to the criminal offense outlined in (relevant state law) does not explicitly or implicitly repeal the current exceptions.”
“While the various exceptions listed in current law and created by SB142 may overlap with each other, they are not inconsistent or in conflict with each other, and the fact that a person may come within more than one exception poses no disruption in the harmonious operation of the provisions of this statute,” the opinion says.

Note: The full opinion is HERE.

Virtual Schools Melee: Repeal Bill Killed, Haslam Bill Passed, Legislator Testimony Blocked

A House committee killed legislation that would have closed Tennessee Virtual Academy Tuesday after one Knoxville legislator effectively blocked another from talking to the panel about allegations the for-profit school altered the bad grades of some students.
Instead, the House Education Subcommittee approved a bill pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration that puts some new restrictions on virtual schools, but only after eliminating – with the governor’s approval – a proposed 5,000-student enrollment cap that was originally part of HB151.
Democratic Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville sponsored the bill (HB728) that would have effectively repealed a law passed in 2011 that allowed for-profit virtual schools to operate in Tennessee.
The 2011 bill was sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, who is now chairman of the House Education Committee and sponsor of the Haslam administration bill changing some rules for running virtual schools.
Stewart told the committee that Tennessee Virtual Academy, part of a system of virtual schools operated around the nation by K12, Inc., has proven itself in a year of operation a “bad idea” for both its students, who have had low scores in testing, and for taxpayers.

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Legislators Eye Ending Campaign Contribution Limits

Perhaps on a bipartisan basis, state legislators are moving toward repealing Tennessee’s limits on political campaign contributions while requiring more rapid and complete disclosure.
Rep. Glen Casada, elected House Republican Caucus chairman last week, said Friday that concept is at the core of a “comprehensive” revision of state campaign finance law that he and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron hope to introduce in the 108th General Assembly that convenes Jan. 8.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions, along with the ever-increasing expense of campaigns, mean that contribution limits are no longer needed or desirable, said Casada.
“A campaign is, in essence, getting your message out,” he said. “That is free speech and free speech costs money.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, who was reelected to his post last week, told reporters that he has decided the time has come to “re-think” past support of campaign contribution limits because they are no longer effective.
“I’m coming around to that (repeal of limits),” Kyle said. “What we’ve found is that Republicans are so good at circumventing the law, why go through the effort?”

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Roe Wants to Repeal Low-Calorie Rules for Kid Meals

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Phil Roe has a bad taste in his mouth from the new federal standards for meals served in public schools.
The Kingsport Times News (http://bit.ly/RPA4p9 ) reported Monday the Tennessee Republican from the 1st District said in a conference call Thursday with reporters that the revamped school meals are just “more overreach of government.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture changed the standards for meals served to 32 million kids across the nation to offer more fruits and vegetables, increase whole-grain foods, limit calories based on the age of children and reduce saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
Roe said one school director in his district said the standards are too restrictive, and he has signed on as a co-sponsor for a bill that would repeal the calorie limits.

Gift Tax Repeal a Gift for Haslam Family

A bill repealing the state gift tax is expected to put more money in some Tennesseans’ pockets including those of one highly recognizable taxpayer, Gov. Bill Haslam.
Marc Perrusquia explains:
The super wealthy businessman-turned-politician gave his tacit approval this spring as fellow Republicans pushed the bill through the General Assembly. Passed by the House and Senate on the final two days of the session, it now goes to Haslam, who’s expected to sign it.
The new law, which eliminates the 5.5- to 16-percent graduated tax on gifts, could create a windfall for Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Flying J, a nationwide chain of convenience stores and truck stops ranked as one of the most lucrative private companies in the country.
Haslam transfers Pilot stock to his three grown children, but to avoid gift taxes he sells those shares rather than give them away. The arrangement, which generates about $1.1 million a year in income to Haslam, costs less in income taxes than it would to pay gift tax by giving shares to his kids, Haslam’s CPA, J. Todd Ellis, said in a 2010 interview.
While the cuts may be good for well-off individuals such as Haslam, some Democrats argue they are bad for the state. Eliminating the gift tax will cost Tennessee $15 million a year in revenue while a related measure passed this session — the phasing out of the inheritance tax by 2016 — will cost the state another $94 million a year.
“I didn’t see a need to give up that (gift tax) revenue,” said Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, one of three senators and 10 representatives — all Democrats — who voted against eliminating the gift tax.
Rep. Charles Michael Sargent, R-Franklin, sponsor of both bills in the House, said although the measures will cost the state revenue, lower taxes will help the economy by increasing consumer and business spending power.
“This is just another way we’re looking at reducing taxes in the state of Tennessee,” Sargent said. “Republicans just believe this is the way to go. It brings in more business, which in turn brings in more revenue.”
Haslam did not agree to an interview for this story.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Alexia Poe, said in an e-mail that eliminating the gift tax “wasn’t part of his legislative agenda this year,” yet “he is comfortable” with the decision. Haslam proposed raising exemptions to the inheritance tax before legislators moved to phase it out altogether.
“Federal tax policy drives financial planning and estate planning decisions. The main impact of state tax policy on those decisions is where people are going to live,” Poe said. “The governor doesn’t consider living anywhere else but Tennessee, so the elimination of the gift tax here won’t impact his planning decisions.”
Nonetheless, he should benefit from the tax cuts.
…The law change eliminates any “transfer by gift” made after Jan. 1, 2012.
Previously, the state charged taxes of any gift greater than $13,000 per tax year if the gift was made to an immediate family member including a spouse, child or sibling. Taxes were charged on gifts greater than $3,000 if the gift was made to someone other than an immediate relative.
Ellis, Haslam’s CPA, explained in a 2010 interview that Haslam employs a sophisticated mechanism to avoid gift taxes when transferring Pilot stock to his children, Will, Annie and Leigh.
Under the arrangement, Haslam sells stock to trust funds set up for the benefit of each child. Haslam holds a loan note to finance the sales. Each of the three trusts pays Haslam $358,000 a year through an amortized schedule to finance the stock sales, Ellis said. The CPA said at the time income taxes on the transactions were less than gift taxes Haslam would have paid if he’d given the shares away, yet he provided no additional details.
Bucking a long tradition among gubernatorial candidates, Haslam declined to release tax returns that might detail the arrangement and other financial transactions.
Under the state’s now-repealed gift tax, a $300,000 gift to a relative could have cost $26,000 in state gift taxes alone. Any federal gift taxes would come on top of that.
But by selling stock to his children Haslam could have minimized taxes, said Taylor, a partner at Pelletier, Chase & Associates in Portland, Maine, where she is a business and tax adviser. That’s because only the profit — or the capital gain — is taxed in a stock sale. Haslam could further limit gift taxes by giving the stock sale a low value, limiting his gain, Taylor said
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Gift Tax Repeal Goes to Governor

Legislation repealing Tennessee’s gift tax has been sent to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has endorsed the idea and adjusted his state budget plan to cover the anticipated $15 million per year in lost revenue.
The bill (SB2777) was approved 30-3 in the Senate Monday evening. The House approved it 79-10 Tuesday. The final version makes repeal retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, which House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent said could mean a refund for anyone who has paid the tax this year – though most wouldn’t file 2012 taxes until next year.
Sponsors said Tennessee is one of the last state’s to retain a stand-alone tax on gifts. Sargent, R-Franklin, said only Connecticut will still have such a levy once the bill is signed into law.
The current law has a $13,000 exemption. The tax rate applies to gifts above that value at a rate ranging from 5.5 percent to 16 percent; the bigger the gift, the higher the rate.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said that “an astute tax practitioner” can legally avoid the tax as it stands now so that it has been “primarily a trap for the unwary.”
Also, McNally said that the gift tax was initially imposed to capture revenue from wealthy persons transferring funds to avoid paying or reduce inheritance taxes that would follow their deaths.
Legislation passed earlier – also sponsored by McNally and Sargent — will repeal the state’s inheritance tax in stages with full elimination of the levy on Jan. 1, 2016.

Laffler Tells Legislators: Repeal Gift Tax for ‘Creme de la Creme’

Economist Arthur Laffer urged Tennessee lawmakers on Monday to follow up repeal of the state inheritance tax — a bill that has already assured of passage — with a cut to the state’s tax on gifts, which he said curbs economic growth.
From Chas Sisk’s report:
Laffer told the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Review Committee that the state’s gift tax should be eliminated immediately. The Nashville-based economist has been pushing for repeal of Tennessee’s estate and gift taxes, which he says cause rich retirees to move to states where they can pass on their wealth to heirs tax-free.
“Tennessee’s performance has been very poor, and the reason it’s been poor in my view … is because of the gift and estate tax,” he said. “You’re taking that very small group of people, the crème de la crème of the job creators, and forcing them to leave. By doing that, you’ve really held down the growth rate.”
….Laffer told lawmakers Monday that they should continue with repeal of Tennessee’s gift tax, which kicks in whenever a Tennessee resident gives a family member goods and cash worth more than $13,000 in a year or a nonrelative more than $3,000. The tax starts at 5.5 percent, tops out at 16 percent, and brings in about $15 million a year.
House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, who has filed legislation to repeal the gift tax, indicated he would like to pursue the idea. Speaking as if a gift-tax repeal were a foregone conclusion, Sargent, R-Franklin, asked Laffer when the state would see the benefit.

Group Contends Health Care Reform Repeal Would Cost TN $73B

If a budget proposal adopted March 29 by the U.S. House of Representatives is put into effect Tennessee could lose more than $73 billion by 2022 and an additional 628,000 Tennesseans could be uninsured, according to a report by Families USA cited by the News Sentinel.
The nonprofit consumer health care advocacy/lobbying organization on Tuesday released the report, which broke down state-by-state the impact of the proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
The report said the proposal, which reduces the deficit by cutting health care programs that largely help middle- and low-income Americans, would cost the nation $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years and “end Medicare and Medicaid as they currently exist.”
It would repeal 2010s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Tennessee wasn’t in Families USA’s list of top 10 states impacted: California, which faces $303.8 billion in cuts, followed by Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Georgia and Michigan. But the report said all states face “substantial” cuts. Tennessee currently has a waiver for Medicaid replacing it with TennCare; the state pays 35 cents and the federal government 65 cents of every TennCare dollar.

Note: As originally posted, this item used the figure $75 Million instead of Billion. It has been corrected.

Bill Repealing PAC Limits Taken ‘Off Notice’

A Senate-passed bill repealing the present limit on how much total money legislative candidates can take from political action committees – currently $107,200 per election – was taken “off notice” in a House Committee Tuesday.
The move, which typically means a bill is dead for the year, was taken by sponsor Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove. He said afterwards that he made the the decision on his own because “I’m just covered up” with other legislative work. But Casada said he will consider pushing the bill anyway if House leaders ask him to do so.
The bill was initially sponsored in the House by House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville. Maggart said she signed the bill over to Casada because of his expertise in the area – Casada sponsored a bill last year that allowed direct corporate campaign contributions to Tennessee candidates – and trusts his decision on whether or not to push the measure this year.

Bill Repealing Early High School Graduation Program Advances

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to do away with the state’s early graduation program is advancing in the House.
The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin (HB2235) was approved Tuesday on a voice vote in the House Education Committee. The companion bill unanimously passed the Senate 30-0 last week.
Under the so-called Move on When Ready Act, a student who scores 27 on the ACT is only required to obtain 18 hours of specific classes to get a diploma. Casada’s proposal would require students to complete 22 hours before moving on.
Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis said he voted against the legislation because he thinks students should benefit from the law’s requirements if a “child’s aptitude and all-around fitness” show they have the ability to advance.