The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.
Greetings! The Ignition interlock proposal championed by myself and my colleagues for a number of years cleared a major hurdle this week as the Budget Subcommittee, commonly known as the ‘black hole’ committee of the legislature, overwhelmingly approved the measure.
The bill requires anyone convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or higher to use the ignition interlock device (IID). Ignition interlock devices have been implemented around the country, and tests the driver’s BAC level. If it is above the set limit, the car will not start.
I firmly believe this legislation will save lives on our Tennessee Highways and I am honored to be a prime co-sponsor of HB2768. Having now passed the Budget Subcommittee, the legislation will be heard next week in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
The Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee discussed the workers’ compensation insurance issue at length this week, hammering out a proposal that advanced to the House Government Operations Committee. Under the legislation, anyone engaged in the construction industry must carry workers’ compensation insurance on any employee, as well as any subcontractor not otherwise covered by a policy. Sole proprietors, partners, officers of corporations and members of limited liability companies will be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance on themselves.
However, sole proprietors, partners, officers of corporations and members of limited liability companies engaged as contractors may exempt themselves from workers' compensation coverage if they:
Own at least 30 percent of the business; and serve in a supervisory role while attending the worksite without engaging in any of the sub-classifications for the building construction categories listed in rules set by the Tennessee board for licensing contractors.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development gave the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee a snapshot of where the state’s unemployment compensation fund currently stands. A representative from the department said the fund currently has a balance of approximately $8 million, but is in the process of receiving first quarter taxes from employers and should have about $221.4 million by the second quarter of this year. The state had taken in 58,569 claims by the end of January, a decrease of about 36 percent from January of 2009.
Tennessee has a $120 million line of credit with the U.S. Department of Labor, and to date has only tapped $20 million of those funds. On March 3rd, the governor requested a loan from the U.S. Secretary of Labor due to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s promise that the $20 million will be paid back in the next couple of weeks.
We voted last year to save Tennessee’s Unemployment Trust Fund from federal intervention, saying that the move was necessary to keep the federal government from completely taking over the nearly insolvent fund. The fund was approaching insolvency after the state unemployment rate jumped to 10 percent in 2009, and with the continuously rising percentage of Tennesseans out of work, the fund is being drained of resources. Many legislators supported the move, on the condition that a series of triggers allow unemployment taxes to decrease if the fund’s balance reaches a certain threshold.
The Tennessee Department of Health issued a warning this week about a potential scam that is making the rounds in Tennessee. Reports have been turned in to the department that someone claiming to be a Health Department Vital Records employee is calling households seeking citizens to confirm important personal information such as birth certificate information.
The Commissioner of Health said the Office of Vital Records does not send employees to homes and issued the following tips to help protect against scammers:
Be wary of anyone who shows up at your home or calls you claiming to be with the government and asking for identifying information. Although U.S. Census workers may visit your home or call within the next few months to obtain information for the 2010 Census, employees from other federal agencies usually will not. Medicare staffers will not visit your home or call unless you request it.
Don't give out personal information — including your date of birth, bank account number, Social Security number or your Medicare number — to strangers.
If you believe you have been the target of a bogus attempt to get personal information, call your local police department. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.
As always it is an honor to serve you the 40th District. Please, do not hesitate to call my office at 615-741-2192 if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to visit.