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Legislative process builds momentum

Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

Billy Spivey

Billy Spivey


state representative

February has come and the freight train that is the legislative process is really building momentum and picking up steam. Things have gone from busy to busier in Nashville and, for the most part, that has been a good thing, as many encouraging bills that should make Tennessee an even better state are beginning to clear some early hurdles.

The new month has also brought some particularly good news on the legislative front, as the Hall Tax modification bill I proposed (HB1861) has passed through the fiscal review process and is now moving on to be considered by the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee.

I know, I know … that sounds really interesting and exciting. Or not.

Before you doze off in the middle of this article, please give me a moment to try and explain why the word on HB1861 really is good news.

Once a bill is proposed, it is submitted to what we call the “fiscal review” process. This is the first test given to the bill, and it is an economic test. Basically, the financial impact of the proposed legislation is analyzed in detail by a group of folks who specialize in this area. After looking it over thoroughly, they generate a report explaining how significant the financial impact of the proposed bill would be for the state of Tennessee if it is passed into law.

This way, before the process of consideration moves very far down the track at all, every one of us considering the merits of the legislation in question will have access to an objective, detailed analysis of the potential financial impact of the bill. This is obviously very important and very useful information, and it goes a long way toward helping legislators keep the state of Tennessee on sound financial ground.

Everybody has things they’d like to do or see passed, but, unfortunately, as we’ve seen with some frequency on the federal level for some time now, there are many who ignore the bottom line when they propose and pass laws, and that approach, ultimately, cannot be sustained. Eventually, debt crushes people, be they individuals or states or nations, when they just let it grow and grow through a lack of discipline. People can only dismiss or ignore the realities of debt and deficit spending for so long before it finally crushes them. Thankfully, Tennessee has maintained a very solid financial footing by taking a fiscally disciplined approach to government in recent years and, Lord willing, that will continue.

After going through the fiscal review process, a bill is assigned a “Fiscal Note”, which is the official report from the experts I mentioned earlier. The Fiscal Note makes a general pronouncement and then provides details, as necessary, to elaborate on the general assessment. The general assessment is like a grade. In the case of HB1861, that grade was “Not Significant”, which means that, after careful review, the bill has been determined not to pose a significant impact on the budget of the state of Tennessee. Considering that this is a tax-cutting bill, that is an excellent grade!

With the Fiscal Note in place, HB1861 now moves on to be considered by the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee. If all goes well there, it will advance to the Finance, Ways & Means full Committee. If these two groups both pass the bill, then it advances to the full House for a vote. The same process rolls along in the Senate for the Senate version of the bill (SB2239).

Any tax-cutting bill that receives a “Not Significant” Fiscal Note is very well positioned to advance through the process, but, as we all know, strange things can happen, particularly in the world of politics.

So please contact any friends and family members who want to see senior citizens treated more fairly in the way they are taxed, and encourage them to call and write in to every Representative and Senator, encouraging them all to support of HB1861 and SB2239. Reaching out to the folks who are on the Finance, Ways & Means Committees and Subcommittees would be particularly helpful at this critical time in the process.

You can follow the progress of HB1861 online at www.capitol.tn.gov. You can also easily access the names and emails of everyone on the committees that I’ve mentioned.

Your prayers and help are much appreciated!

Next week I should have updates on some other important bills. In the meantime, please do continue to pray for all of us here, that we might do what is right on every issue brought before us.

Also, please feel free to stop by my office, give me a call, or send me an email if you have any thoughts or ideas to share. My office is in suite 110 of the War Memorial Building in Nashville, my number is (615)741-4170, and my email address is rep.billy.spivey@capitol.tn.gov. You can also connect and let me know what you think on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RepSpivey.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider these things, and thank you for the honor and privilege of serving the 92nd District!

Billy Spivey is a member of the House State Government Committee and House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. He lives in Lewisburg and represents District 92, which includes all of Marshall and portions of Lincoln, Franklin, and Marion counties.