Adam Lister's Blog

RSS feed

  • Haslam Discusses Education, Insure Tennessee with Chamber Members

    by Adam Lister | Mar 24, 2015

    With nearly 225,000 private-sector jobs created in Tennessee in the past four years, our state's economy is booming. Due to this job growth and its associated capital investment, Business Facilities magazine recently named Tennessee "State of the Year" for the second year in a row. Tennessee is the first state to receive the recognition in consecutive years.

    With this success as our backdrop, we hosted Gov. Bill Haslam today at our Governor's Address. This event is our members' annual opportunity to hear from our state's top leader about his priorities, which closely align with the Chamber's most important concerns.

    Haslam discussed his goals for helping Tennessee maintain "high and rigorous" educational standards, noting that well-prepared students become tomorrow's workers who can help our state address the challenges ahead. The Haslam administration's Tennessee Promise -- the first program of its kind in the nation -- will provide two years of tuition-free education at any of Tennessee's 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or any other eligible institution offering an associate degree.

    While Tennessee Promise will help thousands of students achieve their goals of higher education, Haslam noted that 70 percent of students enter college needing remedial work -- a ...

    Go comment!
    Tags: Gov. Haslam
  • Chamber Board Adopts 'Yes on 2' Resolution

    by Adam Lister | Sep 26, 2014
    Yesterday, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors approved a resolution supporting a consistent and predictable state judiciary. While trial court judges in Tennessee are decided through contested elections with multiple candidates, Supreme Court and appellate judges have, for the past two decades, been appointed by the governor and subject to a “yes/no” retention vote by the electorate every eight years. Despite a system that works well for Tennessee, there is disagreement around whether the Tennessee constitution allows for a retention election for these officeholders. That’s why voters, on November 4, will decide whether to approve new constitutional language making it clear the current process for selecting appellate and Supreme Court judges will be preserved.

    Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment, including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, have rallied around a campaign to encourage voters to approve the new language preserving the current system. Voting “yes” on Amendment 2 on the November ballot will ensure predictability and accountability in the state’s judicial selection process by preserving the right of Tennesseans to vote to retain or replace their judges at the end of their respective terms. Under this plan, the governor will continue to appoint the state’s appellate ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Policy
  • 2014 Legislative Scorecard Details Chamber's Advocacy Efforts

    by Adam Lister | Jul 10, 2014
    The Nashville Area Chamber is proud to release our third 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 2014 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 2014 legislative session was another good one for business in Tennessee. This year, the legislature took action supporting 83 percent of the Chamber’s agenda items. Key priorities in the second year of the 108th General Assembly included preserving the continued implementation of Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards, more equitable employer experience ratings for unemployment taxes, automatically closing failing charter schools, ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Policy
  • Evaluating the Business Impact of New Legislation

    by Adam Lister | Jul 01, 2014

    Today is July 1, and as most businesses prepare to begin a new fiscal year and think about the year’s revenue goals, they must also consider how some of the hundreds of new laws passed by the Tennessee General Assembly this year will affect their operations. Today, while also the first day of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, is New Law Day, the day when many of the new laws passed by the legislature take effect. It’s difficult to find changes in the law that do not impact business in some way; 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 legislation important to the business community. One bill initiated by the Chamber, as a result of a member company’s unexpectedly high unemployment tax bill, authorizes the Department of Labor to calculate an unemployment tax rate for businesses new to Tennessee that takes into account their employment history in other states. Prior to this bill, sponsored by Rep. William Lamberth and Sen. Bill Ketron, businesses that relocated and were new to Tennessee were ...

    Go comment!
    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Corker Calls For Gas Tax Increase

    by Adam Lister | Jun 26, 2014
    Last week, Sens. Bob Corker (TN) and Chris Murphy (CT) proposed increasing the federal gasoline and diesel taxes by $0.12 over two years, indexing future tax rates to inflation using the Consumer Price Index, and, at a minimum, reducing other taxes on American families by an amount equal to that raised from the gas tax over the next 10 years.

    This summer, the Federal Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent, threatening current and pending transportation projects, endangering more than 660,000 jobs per year, and creating a $160 billion deficit in state transportation budgets over the next decade. Middle Tennessee projects that are likely to be affected are bridge replacements along I-40 in Davidson County and the Mack Hatcher Bypass extension in Williamson County. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce thanks Sen. Corker for his leadership and commitment to preserve the country’s transportation network, which is vital to all aspects of our economy.

    The Federal Highway Trust Fund must continue to provide the necessary resources to maintain the nation’s transportation infrastructure and assist new or expanded mass transit projects in growing regions. While immediate action is necessary to ensure the solvency of the fund in 2014, Congress must adopt a sustainable, ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Legislative Issues
  • 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 ...
    Go comment!
    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 ...
    Go comment!
    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 ...
    Go comment!
    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 ...
    Go comment!
    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.

    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; ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Legislative Issues