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Representatives conclude a history-making legislative session

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By Dennis Powers

  Job growth a major focus of the conservative majority

House leaders applaud jobs4tn plan

Showing their mutual commitment to paving the way for job creation in the private sector, House leaders welcomed news of the Jobs4TN plan presented by the Administration.

The Governor and Economic and Community Development Commissioner (ECD) announced the plan, which lays out the Administration’s economic development strategy resulting from a top-to-bottom review of the department. The plan is consistent with the principles laid out by the Leadership of the General Assembly and implores unique initiatives to pave the way for job creation in Tennessee. The plan focuses on: Prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries; Assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and remaining competitive; Supporting regional and rural economic development strategies; As well as investing in innovation and reducing business regulation.

“My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs,” said the Governor. “Our Jobs4TN plan is a blueprint for doing just that. By leveraging our existing assets in each region, we will be able to attract new businesses to the State while helping our existing businesses expand and remain competitive. We will also be making significant investments in innovation to position Tennessee as a national leader well into the future.”

The plan was developed over a 45-day period and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders, and national experts as well as through seven roundtables across Tennessee that were hosted by Legislators.  “Government cannot create jobs,” said State Rep. Dennis Powers, “but it can create opportunities to bring new companies here and expand the existing ones.  We can do that by providing infrastructure, a business-friendly environment and qualified, educated work force.”

House Leadership applauded the plan, noting a clear vision for reducing regulations and passing common sense reforms will encourage job growth throughout Tennessee. This plan is an innovative blueprint that respects the unique aspects each region brings to the table and seeks out companies that will partner with those areas. The Governor and this Majority, once more, prove we are committed to economic development in this State.

Representatives pass tort reform to create jobs

Conservative legislation that caps non-economic damage awards at $750,000 and at $1 million in cases where victims suffer certain catastrophic injuries was given final approval by the House and sent on to the Governor who signed it into law.

 “I believe these reforms will bring stability to the legal environment companies have to account for when considering relocation to Tennessee or doing business here,” said State Rep. Dennis Powers.

The House leaders have talked about the fact this reform will drastically improve the business prospects for Tennessee by leveling the playing field so Tennessee is more competitive with other States in the region.

The bill also caps punitive damages meant to punish accidental negligence by businesses or individuals. Awards for injuries that can be quantified, such as medical care, rehabilitation, or loss of income, are not capped.

GOP passes major protection for Tennessee workers

While tort reform was seen as a major positive for businesses, another measure was cast as a positive for the rights of workers. The House enacted HB 1747, a major protection for Tennessee’s workforce. In basic terms, the legislation ensures Tennesseans will never face intimidation or coercive tactics by unions that are forcibly trying to unionize factories or workshops.

The bill ensures all employees, who want to select a bargaining representative for their workplace, may utilize a secret ballot – a core principle of American voting tradition.

One Member who voted for the measure remarked, “Secret ballot voting is a basic American value that we must protect. No citizen should be forced to join a union or pay dues to a union just to have the opportunity to work and provide for their family.” Another conservative Member added, “For the last five years, unions have spent millions of dollars across the country to pass bills that effectively eliminate employees’ rights. With this legislation, we are forever ensuring those horrid tactics will never be a reality in Tennessee.”

Tennessee representatives fight back against Washington’s outrageous growth, spending

Health care

The “Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act,” co-sponsored by State Rep. Dennis Powers, passed the House early in the Session, demonstrating the General Assembly’s pledge to roll back the unconstitutional mandates handed down from Washington that hurt economic growth in the State. This bill was part of a larger effort by the Majority to not only encourage job growth, but protect the valuable jobs already in Tennessee.

The legislation was an integral piece for many legislators’ agendas over the last two years. A majority of House Members felt it was necessary for Tennessee to take action and protect the State from job losses that would have inevitably occurred due to the onerous mandates stemming from the federal health care law. Experts project higher insurance costs will be levied on Tennesseans if no action was taken by the Majority. More importantly, the legislation protects the integrity of individual rights for Tennesseans.

Essentially, the law ensures every person within Tennessee is free to choose or decline any mode of health care services without penalty or punishment from the government. Additionally, it prohibits Tennessee officials from interfering with the health care insurance decisions of every Tennessean. The bill passed in an overwhelming, bipartisan fashion with a 70-27 vote.

Spending

As the free-spending ways of Washington sink our nation further into debt, one Representative guided a resolution to passage that calls on Congress to follow Tennessee’s model.

The resolution passed the House of Representatives 97 to 1, garnering bipartisan support. The measure simply encouraged the U.S. Congress to return to the founding principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility to rein in spending. Additionally, the resolution advises Congress to follow the example set by Tennessee of balanced budgets and responsible spending cuts to provide a stable environment for the State.

“This legislation is a direct reflection of the will of Tennesseans. Our citizens are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars being wasted in Washington on bailouts, giveaways, and out-of-control entitlement programs,” said State Rep. Dennis Powers. “We are simply sending a message to Washington to get its fiscal house in order. If they need a model of how to do that, all they need to do is look to Tennessee. We have navigated these rough economic times by maintaining a balanced budget, keep taxes low, and reining in burdensome government regulations.”

He concluded, “Certainly, I am proud of the efforts of the leadership in Congress that have enacted reductions. We support them and want them to continue fighting for more so our country can flourish.”

The Chairwoman of the House Majority Caucus applauded the House and remarked, “This is a thoughtful resolution that asks Washington to clean up the mess it created. Tennesseans are encouraged by the efforts to fight the out-of-control spending in Congress and we want to show Tennessee is behind them 100 percent. We believe our State provides a great model of how to manage government and let the private sector lead the way in job creation. Simply put, we are saying voters deserve more of Tennessee, not DC.”