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Sen. Barnes, Rep. Johnson Want Stricter Guidelines For Sex Offender Parents On School Grounds

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Phillip Johnson, R-Pegram; March 29, 2010:

Bill bans registered sex offenders from after-school events

NASHVILLE – Registered sex offenders who are parents or legal guardians of school children will be barred from school events like ballgames and will be required to receive written permission before entering school grounds, under a bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Barnes of Adams and Rep. Phillip Johnson of Pegram.

“Registered sex offenders have no business going to after-school events, and they shouldn’t be anywhere near a school without a principal’s knowledge,” Barnes said. “Parents and teachers should know that their children are learning and playing in a safe environment.”

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the bill Monday evening.

The bill (SB2988/HB3263) bans parents and legal guardians who are registered sexual offenders from their children’s school events like plays and ballgames. Those individuals will have to obtain written permission from a school principal or administrator before attending conferences, and provide written notice of their status upon their child’s enrollment in order to drop off or pick up their child. Current law allows such parents to do all of the above without written permission or notice.

The bill is designed to alleviate concerns after the Cheatham County School Board passed a rule restricting the hours that a parent who is a registered sex offender could be on school grounds. The board had to later rescind its actions and adopt the state policy.

“Current state law contains far too many exceptions that could create an unsafe environment for our children,” Johnson said. “Our schools need to be able to protect our children, and this bill gives them a better opportunity to do that.”

Violation of the proposed law would result in a fine. Monetary penalties for violations of current sex offender restrictions range from $350 to $1,100.

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Legislature OKs Finney, Barnes’ Veterans Job Assistance Bill

Press Release from Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, and Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, March 26, 2010:

Legislation would expand hiring benefit to all Tennessee veterans

NASHVILLE – This week the General Assembly passed a bill by Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) to help Tennessee veterans obtain jobs by expanding preference-points eligibility to all veterans.

“I have watched many great men and women depart for service in some of the most dangerous places in the world,” Finney said. “When our veterans come home after serving our country, they deserve the opportunity to support their families.”

Under the bill (SB3857/HB3819), preference points for civil service position applicants would be expanded to all honorably discharged Tennessee veterans. Preference points are used in civil service hiring to give a leg up to veterans looking for jobs after leaving the armed forces.

Under current law, veterans from only certain conflicts are awarded preference points.

All honorably discharged Tennessee veterans would receive two preference points under the bill, with increased points given to veterans of wars and those with service-connected disabilities. The preference points will be awarded to veterans who are registered Tennessee voters or have been Tennessee residents for at least two years.

Spouses of veterans disabled or killed in the line of duty would also receive preference points under the bill.

The bill would cover veterans of the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including members of the 101st Airborne in Clarksville and the 1/230th Air Cavalry Squadron of the Tennessee Army National Guard in Jackson.

“Our veterans have sacrificed everything to serve our country and keep us safe. We must support them in the same way they have supported us,” Barnes said.

The House passed the bill Monday and the Senate followed suit on Wednesday. The bill will go to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature next week.

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Senate OKs Sen. Barnes’ Bill Protecting Farmers From Unfair Taxation

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, March 24, 2010:

Bill would protect farm land from massive estate tax hikes

NASHVILLE – The state Senate passed Wednesday 31-0 a bill by Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) to protect farmers from unfair property valuation by sponsoring a bill to limit the effect of exorbitant appraisals.

“I’m pleased to say we’re closer to protecting our farmers from losing their family farms because of unfair federal estate taxes,” Barnes said. “Farmers deserve our assistance for all that they do to feed Tennessee families and support Tennessee’s economy.”

The bill (SB3191/HB3448)would make Tennessee farms’ “highest use value” available only for computing state rollback taxes – not for use in values for estate taxes, as the current law interprets. Many farmers are being taxed based on the state’s assessment of the land’s development value, even if the property is impossible to develop or has been restricted to farm use through a will.

Barnes and Pitts sponsored the bill after hearing from Montgomery County farmers who have seen their farm appraisal rates increase more than 700 percent after the most recent reappraisals.

The House version of the bill passed in a subcommittee Wednesday and will go to the House State and Local Committee.

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Sen. Barnes, Rep. Pitts Support Fair Taxation For Tennessee Farmers

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, March 18, 2010:

Bill would protect farm land from massive estate tax hikes

NASHVILLE – Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) want to protect farmers from unfair property valuation by sponsoring a bill to limit the effect of exorbitant appraisals.

“I’m hearing from farmers who are in danger of losing family farms because they face high federal estate taxes due to high appraisals,” Barnes said. “We must do all we can to protect our farmers who form the agricultural backbone of our economy.”

The bill (SB3191/HB3448) would make Tennessee farms’ “highest use value” available only for computing state rollback taxes – not for use in values for estate taxes, as the current law interprets. Many farmers are being taxed based on the state’s assessment of the land’s development value, even if the property is impossible to develop or has been restricted to farm use through a will.

Barnes and Pitts sponsored the bill after hearing from Montgomery County farmers who have seen their farm appraisal rates increase more than 700 percent after the most recent reappraisals.

“Sen. Barnes and I were made aware of this problem by Betty Burchett, our Montgomery County Property Assessor, and members of the local Farm Bureau,” Rep. Pitts said. “This proposal hopefully will make her job easier by putting farmers’ minds at ease.”

The legislation passed in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. The House version is scheduled for a subcommittee hearing next week.

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Sens. Finney, Barnes Support Unemployment Benefits For Military Spouces

Press Release from state Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, and Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, March 9, 2010:

Bill would support veterans’ families

NASHVILLE – Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) want to help Tennessee military families by extending unemployment benefits to individuals who leave their jobs to accompany their spouses on a military transfer.

“The military families in my district move in and out so much that many spouses are constantly on the job search,” Barnes said. “We must help our military families in those times between jobs, so that they can continue to provide for their children.”

The bill (SB3213/HB3449) would require the state to pay unemployment benefits for those who left their jobs as a result of a spouse’s military transfer. About 2,300 Tennessee military spouses are employed and have to transfer each year.

Kansas enacted a similar law and processed 67 such unemployment claims in 2007. Tennessee would likely see about 100 unemployment claims from military spouses each year, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, resulting in an estimated cost of about $365,400.

“This bill isn’t going to break the bank, and it certainly will mean a lot to military families who already sacrifice so much to serve our state and our country,” Finney said.

The bill passed a Senate committee Tuesday. The House version of the bill is in subcommittee. The text of the bill can be found here.