May 14th, 2010
44,710. That’s the number of volunteer hours that you dedicated to cleaning up Nashville after the flood in nine days, according to Hands On Nashville. That’s more than five years and nearly $1 million worth of assistance you gave to help our neighbors get back on their feet.
Much work remains. Federal assistance has begun, volunteer groups are still cleaning, and victims are starting to settle into temporary housing, even if it may never feel quite like home. As people weigh their options and seek federal aid, the U.S. Small Business Administration is setting up an office in the old JCPenney space at Hickory Hollow Mall to assist with low-interest loans. For more information, contact Walter Perry with the SBA Tennessee District office at (615) 736-5881 or at Walter.Perry@SBA.gov.
I want to inform you of legislation we passed this week to potentially lower property taxes for flood victims, as well as consumer protection sources that can help you avoid scams and shoddy workmanship as you begin to repair your homes. Finally, I want to alert you to two developments in the state legislature as we discuss various budget proposals.
Lower property taxes for flood victims
Thursday, we passed legislation in the State Senate to provide property tax relief for flood victims. Under Senate Bill 3687, which I sponsored, local governments can vote to allow property owners in federally designated disaster areas to apply for prorated property taxes. To be eligible, the property must be uninhabitable for at least 30 days or the damage must be greater than half of the property’s original value. This legislation gives our local governments the opportunity to help our neighbors in a time of need.
Consumer protection sources
The Department of Commerce and Insurance has a simple and easy way to check the qualifications of contractors at http://licsrch.state.tn.us/. Please beware of out-of-state contractors and deals that seem too good to be true. If you come across a business that seems to be operating unfairly, you can report it at the state attorney general’s flood information website at http://www.tennessee.gov/attorneygeneral/cpro/flood.htm. And as always, you can check any business with the Nashville chapter of the Better Business Bureau at (615) 242-4222 or at http://nashville.bbb.org.
This week we received the Senate Republican budget proposal, which is designed to replace Gov. Bredesen’s plan. I have several concerns that the Republican proposal, the strongest of which relate to child welfare and real estate transfer funds that include money for state and local park and land acquisitions. The proposal would use these funds, less than 1/10th of one percent of our budget, to plug budget holes.
Since their creation in 1991, these funds have helped preserve about 300,000 acres – an area larger than the Smoky Mountains These funds largely saved Radnor Lake State Natural Area from development, and now nearly a million people enjoy the park each year.
The real estate transfer funds are a solid economic investment for Tennessee. For every dollar spent on our parks, we receive seven dollars back in tourism dollars. Gov. Bredesen wants to restore the real estate transfer funds and keep the money where it belongs. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support the restoration of these funds, and I will strongly oppose any effort to reallocate them.
This week the Senate Finance Committee overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 3431, which I sponsor, to require armed robbers to spend a minimum of nearly six years in prison for their first offense. I have mentioned this bill before in these updates, because it is tough and smart on crime. Under this bill, nearly 450 armed robbers would serve longer jail sentences, including 90 criminals last year alone in Nashville. We would move first-time, non-violent property offenders into community corrections programs, in which they would be forced to pay restitution to their victims. Police chiefs and most district attorneys across Tennessee support this legislation, which should go to the Senate floor soon.
If you have any question or comment about what I’m doing in the legislature, don’t hesitate to contact my office at (615) 741-3291 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up with what I’m doing at my Web site, http://www.senatordouglashenry.com. Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to continuing to serve you.
Sen. Douglas Henry
April 26th, 2010
April 9th, 2010
April 2nd, 2010
March 26th, 2010
March 19th, 2010
March 12th, 2010