110th TN General Assembly Sine Die

 In one of its final actions prior to adjournment, the Tennessee General Assembly approved legislation that allows municipalities to spend revenue from natural gas utilities on funding for chambers of commerce and other economic and community organizations. 

SB1894 by Sen. Delores Gresham, and HB1914 by Rep. Ron Gant, was a TML-sponsored  bill that sought to grant natural gas utilities the authority to contribute to community marketing and economic development efforts. 

The bill was amended to only apply to municipal gas utility systems that are located in counties having a population of less than 336,400 and utilities cannot raise rates to pay for donations to the chambers. 

Among other actions taken by the General Assembly this year was the passage of legislation designed to accelerate the deployment process for small cell wireless technology. The legislation, called the Competitive Wireless Broadband Investment, Deployment, and Safety Act of 2018, creates a process for providers and local governments to work together to manage the right-of-ways and to get the new technology deployed as soon as possible. 

While the legislation calls for a statewide application process, local governments retain their authority to:

  • manage placement of utility poles and facilities in the right of way;
  • establish aesthetic plans that govern facilities in the right of way;
  • protect historic districts;
  • manage and protect areas with underground utilities
  • ;require damage repair in the right of way;manage and reject any deployment based on public safety concerns; and,
  • apply right of way permitting and fees.

A more detailed analysis of the legislation will be reviewed at the TML Annual Conference held in Knoxville, June 11. 

The legislature approved $37.5 billion budget which assumes a 3.2 percent rate of growth and proposes state government spending for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018.

The budget invests $247 million in new state funding for K-12 education, including additional funds for teacher compensation. It provides $124 million in job growth investments, targeting programs in rural communities in particular, and it increases the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $861 million, more than three times its size in 2011