Tuesday, September 2, 2014 · 2:50 a.m.

Chamber leaders want legislator to consider business impact of bills

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Leaders of chambers of commerce in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville announced their support Thursday for legislation that would require lawmakers to consider the financial impact of proposed bills on businesses and jobs in the state.

“Tennessee already has a mechanism in place to measure the fiscal impact of proposed legislation on government,” Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement, referring to the production of fiscal notes produced by the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee. “This bill takes the Fiscal Review Committee’s analysis one step further.”

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, are sponsoring the bill—SB 116/HB 220—which directs the Fiscal Review Committee to include an “impact-to-commerce statement” in its fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to in some committees, officials said in a news release.

“This bill is about making better-informed decisions by ensuring that our elected officials understand the effect new laws will have on our state’s employment and economic well-being,” Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber, said in a prepared statement.

If approved, the law would require some fiscal notes about the immediate net and long-term effect bills would have on commerce and jobs in Tennessee.

The impact-to-commerce statement could include an estimate in dollars of the expected change in cost or savings to commerce, also according to a news release.

“Our elected officials want to play a key role in creating jobs and economic prosperity,” John Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said in a prepared statement. “An analysis of a bill’s impact on business will give our legislators another tool to help accomplish that goal.”

The new analysis would only apply to bills that have a direct impact on commerce and would be limited to certain committees. If a piece of legislation impacted multiple industries in different ways, the analysis would focus on the overall net impact to commerce in the state, according to the news release.

“A recent survey of our members found that 88 percent of respondents believe that new legislation should be evaluated for its financial impact on business,” Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement. “Every year, the Tennessee General Assembly considers proposals that have a bottom-line impact on our businesses. We believe every Tennessee business will benefit from a more informed legislative process.”

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