Legislative Update from State Senator Joey Hensley: Preview of 2020 General Assembly

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   Preview of the 2020 Session of the 111th General Assembly: Jobs and Commerce

  We continued our work for the 111th General Assembly during the week of January 20th. In the last update, I addressed healthcare issues and improvements that you should expect to see addressed during this session. Here is a look into the important issues and legislation that will come before lawmakers this year involving jobs and commerce. I look forward to proposing and passing legislation in the upcoming months that will benefit District 28 and Tennessee as a whole.

  Business Climate / Jobs — Jobs and the economy will be a high priority during the 2020 legislative session.  Over the past several years, the General Assembly has made great strides preparing students for the 21st century marketplace and creating a business-friendly climate.  Tennessee’s low tax standing and light regulatory burden contribute to the state’s favorable business climate, which according to Business Facilities magazine is the best in the nation.  Tennessee ranks first in small business employment growth according to Paychex and is rated fifth for economic growth, job creation, health of real estate markets; credit ratings and outlook, according to CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business.” As a result, Tennessee has enjoyed the highest real GDP in state history at $322.9 billion. 

   Employment growth has remained strong with historic low unemployment rates. An emphasis will be placed during the 2020 legislative session on keeping the forward momentum in the growth of high quality jobs. Tennessee is one of six states where real personal income per capita increased more than 17 percent in the last 10 years.

  Rural TN / Economic Opportunities – A major issue for the 2020 General Assembly is addressing barriers to economic success in the state’s rural communities. Upon taking office, Governor Bill Lee ordered all Tennessee departments of state government to specifically address challenges unique to rural communities. In August, Governor Lee held a Rural Opportunity Summit to further explore these challenges. Expect the 2020 session to include new proposals which develop from Governor Lee’s and the General Assembly’s efforts to strengthen the state’s rural economic outlook.

  Likewise, expect Governor Lee to continue to work with the General Assembly to spur agricultural advancements that will support jobs and propel progress in the state’s rural communities. Agriculture is 13 percent of the state’s economy, but many believe the industry is still emerging, including development of the technology industry which can advance it. 

  Expansion of broadband and cell service is another key issue that will be discussed in legislative conversations regarding rural economic opportunities. Many businesses seeking to locate in rural communities need high-speed broadband networks to operate and expansion of broadband helps incentivize companies to operate there. Broadband is also important to access telehealth and provide rural students needed information on the Internet to complete their studies and compete for 21st century jobs.

   Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing – A new issue that could come before the General Assembly this year is peer-to-peer car sharing. The highest profile company facilitating car sharing is Turo. It allows private car owners to rent out their vehicle via an online and mobile interface, much like Airbnb accommodates peer-to-peer short-term home rentals. The debate will likely center on making sure proper insurance is in place to cover the person liable and ensuring tax fairness is applied.