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109th General Assembly Adjourns

May 10, 2016

By Molly Pratt

The 109th Tennessee General Assembly resigned sine die on Friday, April 22. Although the Session went past the adjournment deadline that the leadership had predicted, this General Assembly still managed to only use a total of 65 legislative days for its work — each General Assembly meets for two years and can use up to 90 Legislative days to conduct its business over the two year period.

The Governor's proposed budget for FY 16/17 was tinkered with and then adopted by the two bodies. The final budget came in at $32.8 billion. Additionally, the 109th General Assembly had a total of 2,692 bills introduced over the course of its two years and several controversial issues were hotly debated. Bills ranging from allowing permit holders to carry guns on college campus, immigration and a variety of anti-discrimination bills caught the headlines along with the usual, ongoing discussions about education and health care.

The annual Omnibus Specialty License plate bill passed smoothly. The House vote was 91ayes -1nay and1 present not voting. The Senate passed the bill 32-0. Kudos go to Senate and House Transportation Committee Chairmen, Jim Tracy and Jimmy Matlock along with Arts Caucus Chair Doug Overbey and all our Arts Caucus members for their continued support of the License program and their commitment to preserving the all-important formula that gives 40% of all new specialty plates sold to the TN Arts Commission.

The omnibus legislation now assigned as Public Chapter 879 will give 15 new groups the opportunity to pre-sell 1,000 plates potentially leading to the creation of more new specialty plates. If these 15 new groups are successful, the arts will receive 40% of the revenue going forward. The legislation also granted name changes to two plates already in existence and six groups were granted an additional year to reach the pre-sold, 1,000 plate threshold. A few of the potential new plates authorized include the Pat Summitt Foundation, the Dollywood Foundation, Cumberland Trail, and the Nashville Parks Foundation.

There also were several bills that attempted to change the formula that funds the arts but none were ultimately successful. It continues to be of critical importance to support the license program including letting your local legislators know the impact that your organization has on the local community and how vital the funding from the license plate program is to those efforts!