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  • Middle Tennessee Chambers Support Tennessee Promise

    by Adam Lister | Mar 19, 2014
    How to help Tennessee become the first state in the country to offer free community college

    An educated workforce keeps Tennessee’s economy strong. By improving postsecondary education, employers ensure access to a highly educated and skilled workforce, and our region’s long-term economic vitality is positively impacted.

    That’s why the Nashville Area, Rutherford County, Robertson County and Hendersonville Area Chambers of Commerce support Gov. Haslam’s Tennessee Promise (SB 2471/HB 2491).

    The program, which passed in the Senate Education Committee today, would increase higher education completion and promote affordability across community colleges and two-year and four-year schools.

    If enacted, it would also make Tennessee the first state in the country to offer free community college to nearly every high school graduate. Currently, 41 percent of Tennessee high school graduates do not go on to postsecondary education.

    Tennessee Promise, sponsored by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Gerald McCormick, would decrease that number by providing funding for graduating Tennessee high school students to attend state community colleges or colleges of applied technology for free by covering the remaining balance of tuition after all other grants and scholarships are received. To learn more about Tennessee Promise and its funding, click here.

    By providing ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Haslam Says Economic Development, Education Are Priorities for Tennessee

    by Adam Lister | Mar 11, 2014
    This morning, the Chamber hosted our annual Governor's Address with Gov. Bill Haslam. Since many of Haslam's priorities as governor -- such as economic development and education -- mirror the Chamber's priorities, the governor's presentation is a good opportunity for our members to hear how our state is making progress.

    Managing a $31.5 billion budget, the Haslam administration is working to preserve Tennessee's fiscal integrity, and over the past three years, has doubled the state's rainy-day fund. Tennessee also has the lowest debt per capita of any state.

    Economic development is one of the governor's highest priorities. In January, Business Facilities magazine named Tennessee the 2013 “State of the Year” after evaluating the top five projects for the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested from October 1, 2012 through October 31, 2013. Tennessee’s top five economic development projects created a total of 6,900 jobs and $3.2 billion in capital investment, and included seven expansions and three new recruitments.

    Education is closely related to economic development because well-educated citizens are the backbone of a quality workforce. The governor's Drive to 55 initiative aims to increase the number of Tennesseans with a college degree or certificate to 55 percent ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Making Your Business Voice Heard

    by Adam Lister | Feb 06, 2014
    At the Nashville Area Chamber, we advocate for creating an environment for businesses to succeed. A little less than two years ago, we launched Middle Tennessee Business Voice, an online advocacy tool that gives you the opportunity to reach out to your legislators about policy issues that impact your business.

    Middle Tennessee Business Voice has grown into a regional advocacy tool, through partnerships with the Rutherford Country, Robertson County and Hendersonville Area chambers. Members of these chambers are considered “advocacy members” of the Nashville Chamber, which helps strengthen the collective influence of Middle Tennessee businesses around state policy issues.

    To inform our more than 5,000 advocacy members of the issues that may impact their companies, our policy team monitors various legislative issues and posts updates about them on the website. New legislative issues were added to Middle Tennessee Business Voice a few weeks ago, coinciding with the start of the 2014 state legislative session.

    We know that our efforts are strongest when our members are involved. Your involvement with this tool and our other advocacy efforts means we can better represent area businesses, ensuring a strong business environment. In turn, you will have a chance to play a pivotal role ...
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    Category: Policy
  • Member Feedback Guides Chamber's Legislative Agendas

    by Adam Lister | Jan 06, 2014
    To help guide our annual state and Metro legislative agendas, we ask our members for their thoughts about business-related policy issues in an online survey. In 2014, survey results show K-12 education improvement and job creation are top of mind for businesses in the Nashville region.

    Key takeaways from the survey include:

    An environment where business can prosper:
    • 84 percent favor a system for selecting state appellate judges that keeps these office holders out of the partisan campaign cycle.
    • 79 percent favor making Tennessee’s unemployment tax rates competitive with Tennessee’s peer states.
    Talent development of the region’s workforce:
    • 94 percent favor Tennessee’s continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which focus on college and career readiness.
    • 90 percent favor expansion of dual enrollment, in which high school students earn college credit and high school credit for the same class.
    • 90 percent favor annual teacher evaluations that are tied to student academic performance.
    • 71 percent support automatically closing charter schools if they are identified as being among the lowest-performing schools in the state.
    Quality of life that attracts and retains residents and workers:
    • 92 percent favor postsecondary programs that are closely connected to workforce needs.
    • 75 percent favor comprehensive federal ...
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    Category: Policy
  • Chamber-initiated Legislation Becomes a Reality

    by Adam Lister | Aug 19, 2013
    Yesterday, Governor Haslam hosted a bill-signing ceremony with Senator Bill Ketron and Representative Mark White for the Nashville Chamber’s impact-to-commerce legislation. Joined by Ralph Schulz and Paul Latture, the Nashville Area and Rutherford County Chamber CEOs, the governor put his signature to a bill that directs the Fiscal Review Committee to provide an “impact-to-commerce” analysis for legislation referred to the legislature’s commerce committees, ensuring bills are studied not only for their impact on government but also for their impact on commerce or jobs.

    The Nashville Area Chamber initiated this legislation as a way to put more information into the hands of state decision makers. In addition, our members will have a better idea about how a bill might impact their bottom line before the General Assembly takes final action. Currently, each proposed piece of legislation is studied for its impact on government, but no consideration is given to its impact on Tennessee’s economy. That will begin to change next legislative session when the new law takes effect January 1, 2014.

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    Gov. Haslam signs the Chamber-initiated business impact legislation. L-R: Dan Haskell, Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin; Nashville Area Chamber CEO Ralph Schulz; Bob Pitts, Associated Builders & Contractors; Gov. Haslam; ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Legislative Scorecard Details Progress Toward Community Priorities

    by Adam Lister | Aug 05, 2013
    The Nashville Area Chamber is proud to release our second annual Legislative Scorecard, which reports how elected officials in the Nashville region supported the needs and priorities of the business community. A printed copy of the scorecard will be mailed to each member company this week.

    Throughout the year, our policy team works closely with elected officials and other leaders to advocate for an environment where businesses can thrive and the region can prosper. Each year, the Chamber develops a state and local legislative agenda based on feedback from our members in our annual policy survey.

    The 2013 Legislative Scorecard details the Chamber’s advocacy efforts to advance four specific community priorities:

    1. An environment where business can prosper;
    2. Talent development of the region’s workforce;
    3. Quality of life that attracts and retains residents and workers;
    4. Regional efforts to ensure economic prosperity.

    The 2013 legislative session was another good one for business in Tennessee. This year, the legislature took action supporting 77 percent of the Chamber’s agenda items. Key priorities in the first year of the 108th General Assembly included business impact statements for proposed legislation, moving workers’ compensation disputes out of the courts, and greater transparency around ACT ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Employer Mandate in Health Care Law Delayed One Year

    by Adam Lister | Jul 03, 2013
    One of the most controversial requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by President Obama in 2009, is the so-called employer mandate, which requires that companies employing 50 or more workers offer insurance coverage by 2014 or face penalties up to $3,000 per worker per year. Citing concerns about the complexity of the employer mandate requirements, the Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that this aspect of the ACA will be delayed until 2015.

    One requirement that did not change with Tuesday’s announcement was the individual mandate, which requires consumers to carry health insurance coverage or be subject to a penalty, ruled a tax by the Supreme Court in the summer of 2012. With businesses not forced to offer coverage next January, some employees across the state will be directed into the federal exchange or will be subject to the new tax. The new marketplace, or health care exchange, will open on October 1 and take effect on January 1, 2014. Subsidies associated with this new marketplace are, at this point, unchanged.

    Despite Tuesday’s announcement, a number of other provisions of the ACA have already taken effect, including a limited small business health insurance tax ...
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  • How Will Changes in Tennessee Law Affect Your Business?

    by Adam Lister | Jul 01, 2013
    A new fiscal year is upon us, and this week, months after the after the adjournment of the 2013 state legislative session, businesses are faced with the difficult task of identifying if, how, and to what extent any of nearly 500 changes in law will affect them.

    As an advocate for Middle Tennessee businesses, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce routinely tracks legislation and analyzes its impact on the region’s job creators. This year, the Chamber played a direct role in the passage of three key pieces of legislation important to the business community. A bill initiated by the Chamber directs the Fiscal Review Committee to provide an “impact-to-commerce” analysis for legislation referred to specific committees, ensuring bills are studied not only for their impact on government but also for their impact on commerce or jobs. As part of a large business coalition, the Chamber aided in the passage of legislation that fundamentally reforms workers’ compensation in Tennessee, which will cut costs to businesses, create more predictability, improve the efficiency of claims management, simplify the physician selection process for injured employees, and reduce the current delays preventing workers from obtaining the benefits they deserve. Finally, efforts to protect wages and ...
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  • State Legislature Adjourns - Highlights of 2013 Session

    by Adam Lister | Apr 19, 2013
    On Friday, April 19, the Tennessee State Legislature completed their business and adjourned the first session of the 108th General Assembly. Advocating for a state legislative agenda developed in January based on feedback from our members, the Chamber worked to keep Tennessee, especially the Middle Tennessee region, one of the country’s friendliest and freest places for business.

    Chamber staff engaged legislators on a number of key issues including: spearheading a bill that provides for more thoughtful consideration for how new legislation will impact commerce or jobs in Tennessee; supporting a reform of the state’s workers’ compensation system; and supporting a bill that would prevent local governments from mandating their own minimum wages, health insurance benefits, or family leave requirements.

    A significant victory for the Chamber and its members was the passage of SB 116/HB 220 which directs the Fiscal Review Committee, beginning January 1, 2014, to provide an “impact-to-commerce” analysis for legislation referred to specific committees. In many cases, legislation proposed by the Tennessee General Assembly has some potential impact on the private sector, and while bills are studied for their impact to government, no consideration is given to their impact on commerce or jobs. This bill is necessary to ...
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    Category: Policy
  • Chamber Education Committee Discusses Charter School Landscape

    by Adam Lister | Mar 21, 2013
    The Chamber’s Education Committee, a group of business leaders focused on supporting the Chamber’s multi-year plan to improve K-12 public schools through advocacy and dialogue with key stakeholders, met March 13 to discuss the charter school landscape in Nashville and how legislation pending in the General Assembly will affect this reform strategy.

    Following a brief overview of the Chamber’s education initiatives, the committee heard from MNPS School Board Member Will Pinkston and COO of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator Justin Testerman. Pinkston, currently serving as chair of the school board’s budget and finance committee and delegate to the charter review process, said that Nashville has developed one of the country’s best processes for reviewing charter applications and expressed that SB 830/HB 702 would refine the existing appeals process by creating a new state panel that would only hear charter appeals after they have been denied by local school boards. If the state panel approves the appeal, then the applicant would receive its charter from the state, instead of the decision being sent back to the local school board to implement. Pinkston did express concern about the bill’s potential fiscal impact on local school districts, as well as shifting accountability for ...
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    Category: Education