Local lawmakers plan few bills
Sevier County’s two House members plan to sponsor few bills, while the state senator has at least two he’ll introduce when the new session begins in January.
Reps. Dale Carr and Andrew Farmer, both of Sevierville, are freshmen heading into their first session after winning election in 2012. Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville is a veteran of the House and Senate.
Carr will introduce a measure to name a bridge on Veterans Boulevard after Mike Rawlings, the longtime Sevierville fire chief who died a year ago. The bridge is close to Middle Creek and near property the Rawlings family donated to the city for establishment of a park.
Carr is a Sevierville aldermen who worked with Rawlings for many years. He will continue to serve as an alderman and House member until municipal elections in May.
Carr also will introduce a measure to amend the city of Sevierville’s tax on entertainment and food to match the rates charged by Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The request came from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Overbey held a hearing in November on a law that taxes online travel and lodging companies at a more favorable rate than what local business owners must pay. The request came from local hospitality and lodging groups. Overbey prefiled the bill last year but didn’t push it as he will this year.
Overbey said online travel companies have advantages over local hotels and motels in that they pay taxes at the wholesale rate for charges rather than the retail rate that customers pay when they register to stay at a lodging business. Overbey thinks that’s unfair. The online travel companies have hired a lobbyist to fight the change.
Farmer is considering legislation to require that candidates for constable in Sevier County must have at least one year of law enforcement experience. He said he’s been discussing the issue with Billy Seagle, head of the local constables association. For now Farmer says he’s only “bouncing around” the idea of introducing the bill.
Overbey has two lottery-related measures with statewide application he’ll sponsor:
n Allowing lottery scholarships for students with “intellectual disabilities”
n Removing the cap on credit hours covered by lottery scholarships. Now the scholarships cover eight semesters over four years, but those wo reach the cap and haven’t completed their degree requirements — often in their senior years — find out they no longer qualify for scholarship money. “I think that’s an unfortunate situation,” he said. He’d like to see the cap adjusted.