SB1692/HB1731 the “MOTION” Act is the TTA 2024 legislative package that continues to move through the legislature.  The legislation sponsored by Senator Jack Johnson and Representative Jake McCalmon modernizes the current towing laws and addresses storage fees, notices, creates a state portal, etc.  It also addresses the predatory booting practices in Tennessee. The booting of trucks and trailers with USDOT numbers and plates will be illegal. Other major changes are included. 


Tennessee Franchise Tax Passes the Senate Floor, Set for House Debate Next Week

Last week, the Senate heard discussions on the $1.9 billion dollar franchise tax break, a bill aimed at providing refunds and tax breaks to certain businesses within Tennessee. SB2103, also known as the Tennessee franchise tax bill, sparked extensive deliberation during the floor session. Senators Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Bo Watson (R-Hixson) passionately advocated for the bill’s approval, while Senators Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) and Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) voiced strong opposition. Following extensive debate, SB2103 passed the Senate, receiving  party-line-votes of Aye-25 and No-6.


On the other hand, progress on the House side has been limited. HB1893 is currently scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tuesday, April 2nd.


Bill to Bar Local Governments from Reappointing Expelled Lawmakers Passes House Floor

A bill aimed at preventing a local legislative body from reappointing lawmakers who were expelled from the legislature due to disorderly conduct successfully passed the House Floor. This legislation, sponsored by Representative Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville) in the House and Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) in the Senate, was filed in response to the prompt reappointments the Nashville and Memphis City Councils made last April of Reps. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) following House expulsion proceedings. Jones and Pearson, who became known nationwide as two members of the “Tennessee Three,” were expelled from the House for disorderly conduct in a largely party-line vote, only to be promptly reappointed to their House seats by their respective city councils. On Monday night, Democrats proposed four separate amendments on the floor, but all failed to pass.

Although House Republicans showed their support with a 69-22 party-line vote on Monday night, testimony from legal counsel during the State Government Committee indicated potential constitutional concerns with the bill. Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) has also expressed reservations about the bill, citing possible constitutional issues. Earlier this month, McNally stated, “while I am aware of the serious issues the bill attempts to solve, I may have concerns about the constitutional questions the legislation presents.” He commented that he will be able to make a better assessment of the bill once the bill starts moving through the Senate committee process. Despite the bill’s success in the House, it was deferred to Summer Study in the Senate, which means the upper chamber will not take up the measure this year.



 Gov. Lee’s School Choice Initiative Advances in House and Senate


Governor Lee’s plan to expand the Education Savings Account (ESA) Program continued its advance this month in both the House and Senate, although the versions differ widely due to amendments attached to the bills in the respective chambers. Both versions of the bills passed out of the Education Committees. The Senate amendment was added to the bill and passed on a 7-1 party-line vote. The bill includes highlights such as allowing students to attend school in any district that has available space even if they are not zoned for it, as well as new testing requirements. The Senate bill moves on to the Finance, Ways & Means Committee.

Meanwhile, the House Education Administration Committee deliberated the House version of the bill for nearly five hours. Throughout the hearing, lawmakers questioned Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds — a proponent of school choice — primarily to address budgetary and financial concerns. Eventually, the committee voted to advance the House bill with the recommendation of two amendments, by a 12-7 margin. On March 18, the bill passed out of the House Government Operations Committee with a positive recommendation and now moves on the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee.

Despite lengthy and intense debates in both chambers, disagreement persists regarding the final version of the bill. Currently, neither the Senate nor the House seems willing to compromise on their respective versions of the legislation. However, the Senate proposal, with a fiscal impact of $95 million this year and $333 million at full capacity, and the House proposal, with a fiscal impact starting at $398 million and jumping to $425 million in the program’s second year, will have different implications for the State of Tennessee’s budget depending on which version is ultimately adopted.


Wagner Confirmed to Tennessee Supreme Court

Governor Lee’s nomination of Shelby County Circuit Court Judge, Mary L. Wagner, to the state Supreme Court was confirmed Monday, March 11th by the General Assembly in an overwhelming fashion, with the House vote of 94-3 and the Senate 32-0.  Wagner, 39, fills the seat soon to be vacated by retiring Justice Roger A. Page in August.

Wagner, a graduate of the University of Colorado and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, was appointed in 2016 and has served in her position as Shelby County Circuit Court judge since 2018.  Prior to her current position, Wagner worked for the Memphis law firm Rice, Amundsen and Caperton.

Wagner received widespread praise throughout the vetting process, and – as was the case with Justice Sarah Campbell – some insiders believe that she bears watching as a potential future nominee to the United States Supreme Court.  Indeed, the vote to confirm Wagner was nearly unanimous.

Wagner is Governor Lee’s third Supreme Court appointment and is one of five on the five-member court. She received a standing ovation from the joint chamber following the vote.  



TTA Day on the Hill and legislative reception will take place on Wednesday, April 10. We looking forward to TTA members visiting with members of the General Assembly to address concerns of the industry but to also thank them for supporting our legislative initiatives this year.