Senate approves compensation for families of deputy jailers killed in line of duty

From the desk of Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown):

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 4, 2022 — Tennessee currently offers a compensation program for families of first responders killed in the line of duty. Senate Bill 278, passed by the Senate this week, expands the definition of a law enforcement officer in the program to also include deputy jailers, retroactive to March 1, 2020.

Bill would allow TEMA to use drones for emergency response

The Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to use drones to aid in emergency response efforts. Current state law prohibits the agency from doing so.  Senate Bill 2428 would permit TEMA to use drones to survey the scene of a catastrophe or other damage, coordinate a disaster response, conduct damage assessments of property and infrastructure following a disaster, and help with search and rescue efforts.

The bill would allow images captured for damage assessment to be retained no more than one year unless the disaster has been declared a major disaster by the president of the United States, in which case the images may be retained for a designated period of time by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for data related to the assessment.

Legislation seeks to repeal R&D amortization provision in Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

A bill proposing to repeal the research and development amortization provision in the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act advanced through the Finance, Ways and Means Committee this week.

Since 1954, the revenue code has allowed businesses to deduct research and development expenses in the year in which they were incurred. But that changed in January of this year, when the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect. That law requires companies to amortize research and development costs over five years instead of deducting them immediately each year.

Businesses investing in research activities will experience a higher liability on the short term. This could have a chilling effect on the economies of communities where research and development is prominent.

Senate Bill 2397 would allow companies to continue the current practice of deducting research expenses as incurred.

Bill would lower tuition costs for out-of-state military

Passed by the Education Committee this week, Senate Bill 2486 would allow active-duty military and veterans living outside of Tennessee to be eligible for in-state tuition rates.

The bill specifically authorizes the boards of state universities to choose to offer in-state tuition to veterans. Current law requires veterans to live in the state, though their formal residence may be out of the state, to receive in-state tuition.

The bill would apply to active-duty military, U.S. Army Reserve, members of the National Guard and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.

Careers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is currently accepting applications for their next cadet class, which starts in August 2022. The THP is a national leader in law enforcement and is internationally accredited.

During the 16-week and 10-week lateral academy for Tennessee P.O.S.T. certified officers, the training division will challenge and prepare cadets to become Tennessee state troopers.  Additionally, their training curriculum is transferable as college credit hours.

Men and women interested in a career as a Tennessee state trooper must apply online.  Applications are being accepted now through 11:59 PM CST, Thursday, March 24. The starting salary for a trooper cadet while in school is $3,345 per month, which increases to $3,690 per month after graduation.  The starting salary for the lateral class is $3,690 while in cadet school and $3,856 after graduation.

Thank you for following this column and please keep an eye out for unclaimed funds letters from my office! I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts and concerns. My office can be reached by phone at: (800) 449-8366, extension: 13851 or by e-mail at: sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov. Thank you for the honor to serve you in state government and God bless!