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General Assembly should support these bills

Editorial Board • Jan 24, 2018 at 12:56 PM

Hundreds of lives could be saved annually if the Tennessee General Assembly follows through on its commitment to make fighting the horrific opioid crisis in the state its top priority.

But a variety of other bills also deserve their support, including reinstating a work requirement for able-bodied adults who rely on welfare programs, truth in sentencing, continuing education reform, and support for Aerospace Park at Tri-Cities Airport.

Funding for Aerospace Park, the aviation-related economic development effort at Tri-Cities Airport, holds the promise of thousands of high-quality jobs. And Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration proposes to reinstate the work requirement for ablebodied adults without dependents who rely on the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for assistance. Nearly 60,000 adults who have no dependents and are physically capable of working are receiving that benefit. And that should stop, except in counties designated as distressed and except for senior citizens.

And as Rep. Bud Hulsey notes, “We owe it to the victims of crime to be honest at sentencing time. I have authored legislation requiring that an inmate who is incarcerated awaiting trial cannot earn good behavior or sentence reduction credits that shorten a sentence, until the minimum sentence demanded by statute is fulfilled.”

“It’s difficult enough to be a victim of crime,” Hulsey said, “but even worse to find that only a few short months after sentencing, the perpetrator is ready for parole consideration because of excessive credits awarded due to our overcrowded facilities.”

That bill merits easy approval, as do bills continuing education reform, enhancing the criminal penalty for body fluids thrown on citizens as a personal attack, giving businesses that make donations to nonprofit organizations a tax credit, and changing the DUI law to give drivers a new license denoting a DUI conviction.

Other priorities for our lawmakers are to stop de-annexation legislation which would have a negative impact on cities, the economic drivers for the state, and to provide educational maintenance of effort relief for cities such as Kingsport where counties have reduced the share of education funding the cities receive by withholding county taxes paid by city residents.

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