TCSA Capitol Update
Week of January 29 - February 2, 2024
It’s been a whirlwind week. The House stuck with the January 31st bill filing deadline and the Senate kept its deadline of February 1st, despite legislators and staff losing a week of January due to the winter storm. There is always a rush of legislation filed just before the deadline, but this year’s process was especially compressed. When the dust settled, the House had introduced 1369 new bills and the Senate 1365 (a bill must be filed, heard and passed in both chambers to become a law).
Your associations are already working through the process of analyzing these new proposals. The TCSA Education committee met and reviewed 60 bills impacting K-12 education yesterday via zoom. The TCCA Governmental Affairs Committee is meeting in person today in Wilson County to review all legislation that could potentially impact county governments. These decisions and discussions, together with the association’s legislative platform, set the priorities and positions of the organization.
Committee calendars remain a bit on the light side at the General Assembly, in part due to the fact that all this new legislation has to go through two readings on the floors of the respective chambers before the bills can be assigned to a committee.
This week, HB 1689, an administration bill dealing with waste tires, moved from the House Ag and Natural Resources Subcommittee to the full committee. It makes some changes to the reporting process related to waste tires and also grants flexibility for waste tire funds to be used to investigate and clean up illegal tire dumps.
In Senate State and Local Government, Sen. Walley presented a bill to create a new fund for TEMA to administer that could provide as much as $250,000 for an immediate response to a natural disaster in a county. The funds could be used to:
- repair and replace roads, bridges, buildings, utilities and other infrastructure owned by local governments;
- for emergency life-saving efforts;
- to protect and secure health, safety and property; and for debris removal.
Provided a quick infusion of funds to a county responding to a disaster could make a tremendous difference. The bill passed the committee and was sent to Senate Finance where it will have to be be determined if there is funding for the proposal. The companion bill (HB 1795 by Rep. Capley) is scheduled for a House subcommittee next week.
HB1643 which returns the responsibility to the state to fund mental health evaluations for individuals charged with misdemeanors cleared the Criminal Justice Committee and is headed to the House Finance Subcommittee. The proposal saves county governments in excess of $1 million per year.
Looking ahead to next week, the Comptroller’s critical legislation that modernizes the reappraisal process for property taxes is up for discussion in the House Property and Planning Subcommittee. HB 2057 by Rep. Carr eliminates 5 and 6-year reappraisal cycles, requiring counties to reappraise property at least once every 4 years. It authorizes counties with the resources to do so to provide more frequent cycles, including annual reappraisals. This is in an effort to reduce the detrimental impact of sales ratios that have been deeply discounting rates for some taxpayers. Some counties last year saw sales ratios of 30, 40 or even in excess of 50% because their home values had become so far out of alignment with the market. TCSA and its affiliates support this legislation being brought by Comptroller Mumpower.
Things don’t slow down next week as the Governor will deliver his State of the State Address Monday night. This will be followed by the introduction of his budget, which will be presented to the Finance committees next week. We will continue to keep you informed about what’s happening in Nashville and we hope to see many of you February 19 and 20 for County Government Day.