(NASHVILLE) – May 13, 2022 – On April 28, the 112th General Assembly adjourned sine die, concluding a successful session with historic investments in education, tax cuts for every Tennessean, and truth in sentencing reforms.
One of the biggest achievements this year was the passage of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act, or TISA, which includes more than $1 billion dollars in new, annual recurring funds for education. This new funding model replaces the current Basic Education Program (BEP) and changes the funding formula to prioritize the individual needs of students. Districts will receive more funding under this new plan because of this transformative investment in Tennessee students. TISA prioritizes learning initiatives that encourage each student to read proficiently by third grade, prepares high school students for postsecondary success, and provides individual schools and districts the ability to create innovative solutions to solve their students’ unique learning challenges. In addition, it allows for greater transparency for both taxpayers and parents. With this new funding formula, Tennesseans and parents can understand where and how schools are spending taxpayer money. Representative Tandy Darby was proud to cosponsor this legislation. “When I was first running for State Representative, I promised to support our teachers and strengthen our public education system. With this legislation, teachers will be getting a raise, our new funding formula is the largest investment the state has ever seen, and we are increasing transparency with our tax payer dollars,” Darby said. “I am proud to support TISA.”
In addition to education investments, this year’s budget included over $280 million in tax cuts and financial relief to Tennesseans. House Bill 1405, cosponsored by Representative Tandy Darby, provides direct tax relief to farmers. It allows farmers to be exempt from paying sales tax on items and services that are used for agriculture production. These expenses include building materials, repair services, and labor. The total tax reduction is $2.8 million dollars. All Tennessee farmers will greatly benefit from this tax reduction.
Tennesseans will benefit directly in the month of August through a grocery sales tax holiday. This will provide relief for rising inflation costs and the increased cost of food. In addition to the grocery sales tax holiday, House Bill 2640, cosponsored by Representative Tandy Darby, provides a tax break of $121.6 million dollars that will be used to eliminate the $23.75 state license plate registration fee for one year. This impacts every Tennessean who operates an automobile or motorcycle that is registered in the state. Additional tax cuts include eliminating taxes on the sale of gold and silver bullion, removing the annual $400 professional privilege tax on physicians, a reduction of sales tax on broadband supplies, and an extension of tax cuts on gun safes. Because of Tennessee’s strong economic position, the General Assembly is able to advocate for tax cuts in order to provide financial relief for families in Tennessee.
HB2315 enacts The Tennessee Natural Gas Innovation Act, sponsored by Representative Darby. This legislation provides an opportunity for public utility companies, and the Tennessee Public Utilities Commission to authorize, the opportunity to recover costs related to the use or development or infrastructure for natural gas utility customers when the costs are in the public interest. Because of Representative Darby’s legislation, excess methane and other natural gases can now be captured for beneficial use. These natural gases can create new revenue streams for farmers and municipalities while also increasing resilience by adding new sources of fuel. In addition, this legislation creates a pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. HB2315 became effective on March 18, 2022.
In an effort to create safer communities, Republicans passed legislation providing truth in sentencing and transparency in sentencing reforms for victims of violent crimes. For certain violent offenses, offenders are now required to serve 100 percent of the sentences handed down by a judge or jury. Significant crimes included in this legislation are attempted first degree murder, second degree murder, vehicular homicide, and especially aggravating kidnapping and robbery. There is now no release eligibility for these offenders. The Transparency in Sentencing legislation requires the court to record what factors and reasons were considered for the sentencing. It also requires the court to record the approximate years and months the offender will serve before becoming eligible for release. This will ensure that crime victims and their communities will know exactly how much time the offender will serve.
In conclusion, the 112th General Assembly focused on improving the lives of Tennesseans by advocating for important changes to the education system, supporting criminal justice reform, and by keeping taxes low. It was a successful two years in Nashville, and Representative Darby is ready to keep fighting for Conservative values.
Representative Darby is proud to represent District 76, which includes Weakley County, part of Carroll County, and part of Obion County. Under the recently passed redistricting plan, the 76th District will no longer include part of Obion County, and instead will include part of Henry County. “Serving District 76 has been an honor and I am excited to continue to advocate for West Tennessee on Capitol Hill,” Darby said. “I will continue to help Tennessee thrive under Conservative leadership.”