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Busy week awaits for Tennessee Legislature

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(The Center Square) – Several pieces of Tennessee legislation could see action in the next week, with the bills either held from long calendars or intentionally delayed for further discussion.

The state’s amended $52.8 billion budget bill, however, passed both the House and Senate.

The reduced budget comes as Tennessee beat its budgeted tax collections by $17.6 million in March but remains $420 million behind budgeted estimates for the first eight months of the fiscal year.

Next year’s budget is $10 billion less than the budget for this fiscal year.

“After years of record-high revenue growth, the state’s revenues have normalized,” said Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson. “We’ve tightened our belts and kept recurring expenses low to alleviate future financial burdens. Despite declining revenues, this budget maintains low taxes while also providing services to those in need, particularly disabled and vulnerable populations.”

Conference committees were named to debate the different House and Senate versions of a franchise tax repeal and rebate with the House version refunding $713.6 million or one year of franchise tax while the Senate passed a version worth three years of franchise taxes for an estimated $1.6 billion.

The House version also requires the companies receiving a refund to be named on the website of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development and those companies to first use any department tax credits to offset the refund amount.

Reps. William Lamberth, R-Portland, Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville and Larry Miller, D-Memphis will be joined by Sens. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, Watson and Ken Yager, R-Kingston.

Progress on statewide educational savings accounts slowed to a halt, with the bills held in Senate and House Finance, Ways and Means without progress and with reports that the bills are close to not moving forward this session.

Meanwhile, a concealed carry bill for school employees on school grounds passed the Senate before the House held the Senate version on the desk.

Changes to the state’s certificate of need laws will next be discussed in the Senate as soon as next week.