State’s status revealed

Chuck Laine, president of Laine Communications and lobbyist on the state level for town of Farragut, spoke to Farragut Rotary Club Wednesday, June 22.

“Tennessee’s in great shape as a state,” he said.

He listed the state’s credit rating, record revenue this year, services, business climate, reasonable regulations and low taxes as things that made the state’s status “great.”

Laine talked about issues the legislature discussed during the now adjourned 109th General Assembly. He said he was involved with two bills that involved Farragut.

The first was related to the Gas Tax. Laine said the legislature discussed raising the Gas Tax, but the session ended without a vote. However, he said the tax might pass later.

“It’s hard to pass anything that says ‘tax’ if you’ve got a Repub-lican majority,” Laine said.

A connected measure he said concerned the Town was a bill that would prevent local municipalities from using Gas Tax mo-ney to pay for bike routes and lanes. Laine said some roads have bicycle lanes, making the money mutual for car and bike routes.

“What are you going to do when you repave it, leave the bike trail crumbling?” he said. He said bike lanes also help motorists by taking traffic off roads.

David Smoak, Town administrator, Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill and he visited the bill’s sponsor. He said the sponsor proposed making an exception for Farragut. The bike bill did not pass.

The other Farragut-related measure in which Laine said he had been involved was the Hall Income Tax.

He said the Town annually receives $550,000 from the tax’s revenue. He said bills during this General Assembly ranged from the tax’s immediate elimination to gradual elimination over five years.

“I said I felt like it was going to pass, and which one do you want, basically. How do you want it to smell because it’s going to stink any way you look at it?” Laine said, regarding his conversation about the bills with Smoak.

He said the law that passed said towns could choose how often they wanted to keep collecting money, so long as they eliminated the tax after five years.

“Quite frankly, if you look at the other side of it, it is an unfair tax,” Laine said.

Other bills he discussed included a failed bill to make the Bible the official state book, a failed bill involving restrooms at schools, a passed bill allowing therapists to deny treatment when it conflicts with sincerely held beliefs and a failed bill allowing Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to regulate coal mining rather than the federal government.