April 13, 2018
Wine Added to Sunday Grocery List
A bill allowing Sunday wine and liquor sales passed both the House and Senate this week. On Monday, the measure passed through the House with a vote of 55-35 after an hour of debate and scripture quoting. Multiple Representatives spoke in opposition to the bill, some equating allowances in the bill to snorting cocaine and the indoctrination of children. Rep. Akbari (D-Memphis) was supportive of the legislation by saying passage would result in greater convenience for consumers. In the Senate, there was limited discussion and references to the Bible. Those who rose in opposition worried about the impact on small businesses and their ability to compete with larger stores.
HB1540/SB2518 would align the times between beer and wine sales on Sunday – 8 AM to 11 PM Monday through Saturday and 10 AM to 11 PM on Sundays. The legislation also allows for liquor stores to open on Sunday. Those liquor stores are able to open nearly six months before larger grocery chains.
Tennessee is Preparing for 5G
The Competitive Wireless Broadband Investment, Deployment, and Safety Act of 2018 passed both chambers this week. The legislation is important in bringing 5G technology to the state of Tennessee. Small cells can be affixed to existing infrastructure, like light poles. Senator Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) explained the possibilities of this technology, “When installed, these small cells will increase capacity to handle a huge amount of data. There could be anywhere from ten to one hundred times faster connectivity than we currently have with 4G…This bill will change our world as we currently know it on many activities from telemedicine to texting, and from documentation to autonomous vehicles, because of the connectivity speed through the bandwidth that 5G brings.” The bill is now headed to the Governor for his signature.
Budget and Adjournment
The General Assembly is expected to take action on the budget next week. The House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee is holding its last calendar on Wednesday, April 18th. The subcommittee is also wrapping up, finishing its last calendar before focusing on bills placed behind the budget. The Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee previously mentioned they had been waiting on the House to take up the budget. Once the budget is passed, the expected adjournment is sometime during the week of April 23rd.
Governor's Race Update
The official deadline for candidates to file for governor of Tennessee was April 5, 2018.
With the field now set, Tennessee voters will have four major candidates to choose from in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, Tennessee voters will have two major candidates to choose from.
In the Republican primary, the four major candidates seeking the Governor's office are Congresswoman Diane Black, former Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and middle Tennessee businessman Bill Lee.
Even though the August Republican primary is still months away, an early indicator of candidate strength was released this week in the form of First Quarter 2018 Financial Disclosures. In terms of gross aggregate campaign income, which includes individual contributions, candidate self-funding and transfers from candidate committees, Randy Boyd has taken an early lead with $10,185,128 in his campaign account. In second place, Bill Lee reported $7,880,760 in his campaign account. In third place, Congresswoman Diane Black reported having $6,029,810 in her campaign account, and Speaker Beth Harwell reported having $5,219,765 in her campaign account. It should be noted that Speaker Beth Harwell as a current member of the Tennessee General Assembly was prohibited by law from raising money in the First Quarter of 2018 because the state legislature was in session.
In the slightly less crowded Democratic primary, the two major candidates seeking the Governor's office are former Mayor of Metro Nashville Karl Dean and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh.
With Tennessee being a firmly red state, the two candidates in the Democratic primary did not post numbers as large as their Republican counterparts. A quick glance at the First Quarter 2018 Financial Disclosures show Karl Dean with a sizeable lead over Craig Fitzhugh as Dean reported having $3,204,383 in his campaign account. Craig Fitzhugh reported having $804,513 in his campaign account. As a current member of the Tennessee General Assembly, Craig Fitzhugh was prohibited by law from raising money in the First Quarter of 2018 because the state legislature was in session.
New TDEC Commissioner
Last Friday, Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau decided to return to the private sector. In his place, Governor Haslam appointed Dr. Shari Meghreblian as commissioner. She had previously served as deputy commissioner since 2011.
We wish the Nashville Predators the best of luck as they start the road to the Stanley Cup!
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