Saturday, April 24, 2021

Metro Trustee Erica Gilmore explains the reappraisal process and property taxes. "Will I Get My Refund?"


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Friday, April 23, 2021

Lee's criminal justice reform focuses on re-entry, imprisonment alternatives

By Jon Styf, (The Center Square)  April 16, 2021- Gov. Bill Lee has promised criminal justice reform in Tennessee, and several of his proposed bills that are set to move forward in coming weeks could have a significant effect on those in the state’s prison system. 

“I've been thinking about it for 20 years,” Lee said recently during a roundtable he held on the subject last week. “Now, we're in spot in Tennessee to really make substantive change.” 

Many of the changes proposed in the bills and in Lee's amended budget aim to reduce the prison population while focusing on re-entry for nonviolent offenders. The Reentry Success Act – House Bill 785/Senate Bill 768 – would create a mandatory supervision program for those released from prison while also creating an assumption that a prisoner will be released when the parole date is reached. The program is budgeted to cost the state $20 million a year but also is estimated to save $1.6 million in the first year and $74 million annually over the next 10 years by housing fewer prisoners. 

“To conservatives in the legislature, I'd say, this is the smart way to deal with crime,” Pat Nolan, who started the Nolan Center for Justice, said during the roundtable. “And by the savings from reducing the prison population intelligently, you can fund other programs that help prepare the inmates while they're inside to be better neighbors when they get out.” 

HB 785 is scheduled to be discussed Thursday on the House floor, and SB 768 is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Lee’s amended budget proposal included funding for these bills and several programs related to them, including Men of Valor ($499,500), Next Door, Inc. ($400,000) and Lipscomb correctional higher education ($121,100). 

Men of Valor is a faith-based nonprofit with the goal of having prisoners become believers and “equip them to re-enter society as men of integrity.” Next Door provides addiction services to women in crisis, and Lipscomb provides a LIFE program where traditional students learn beside prisoners from the Tennessee Prison for Women. 

“I got involved in the subject of criminal justice reform because I got involved in a prison ministry, called Men of Valor, that many of you've heard me talk about,” Lee said. “Worked with re-entry, with mentoring men coming out of prison, employed formerly incarcerated individuals. I really saw firsthand beginning 20 years ago the tension and the push and pull between retribution and rehabilitation. I also saw what I thought was a system that wasn't really working for anybody. It wasn't working well for the victims. It wasn't working well for those that were incarcerated.” 

Another part of Lee’s plan, a community corrections bill that would look for alternatives to imprisonment, also is scheduled to be discussed Thursday on the House floor and in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday. That legislation, House Bill 784 and Senate Bill 767, is estimated in Lee’s budget to save the state $9 million annually while keeping people out of prison and putting them in community-based alternative programs. 

House bill co-sponsor Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, said that the two bills took into account victims’ rights groups' opinions from a roundtable conducted during the process of creating the bills. Curcio said HB 784’s goal is to help those normally sent to jail after mental health or substance abuse issues by giving them the help they need to prevent them from returning to jail. 

Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, said the cost savings could be used for more programs. “We could invest more in people who could have more wraparound services versus the savings just going back into the general fund,” Camper said. 

Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference President Amy Weirich said the group generally is supportive of the bills' goals but voiced concern over some of the sentencing requirement changes that limit district attorneys from making their own decisions on whether prison or treatment are the best options for a defendant. 
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry commended Lee’s plan, saying similar programs have worked in Texas. “You can call me a lot of things, which I have been called a lot of things in my political life, but soft on crime is not one of them," Perry said. "And in Texas, we believe in dispensing justice. But there's nothing just when the system is broken in the sense of you're either putting people in prison that don't deserve to be there. And my hat's really off to you from the standpoint of your Republican members and, for that matter, your Democrat members of the Tennessee Legislature, can go home to their constituents and say, 'We were really smart on crime.' ”

Rod's update and comment: On April 22, HB 785 passed the House by a vote of 90 to 1. The Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee approved SB 768 and passed it on to the Calendar Committee. On April 22, HB784 passed the House by a vote of 90-1 and SB767 passed the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee and was referred to the Calendar Committee. 

I am pleased to see these reforms pass. Favoring second chances and redemption and reform is not the same as being soft on crime.  I am proud of Governor Lee for embracing prison reform and making it happen. 

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DUI Checkpoint Planned for Friday, April 23rd

by Rod Williams- I am posting this Metro press release as a public service: 

Metro police officers will be staffing a sobriety checkpoint on Lebanon Pike in the Hermitage area late Friday night/early Saturday morning as part of the MNPD’s effort to enhance traffic safety. The checkpoint will be staffed by the DUI Unit along with extra-duty officers working through a grant from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. 

In 2020, 55% of fatal crashes in Davidson County involved impairment, an increase from 2019 when 41% of fatal crashes in Davidson County involved impairment.

So, if you get caught in this sobriety checkpoint tonight you have no one to blame but yourself.  If you have a spouse or boyfriend who tends to drink and drive and they will be traveling in the Hermitage area, warn them. These sobriety checkpoint checks are not surprises.  The city post where they will be.

For more helpful hints from The Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving, follow this link

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mayor John Cooper announces property tax rate cut for Nashville but you likely will pay more in property taxes.

by Rod Williams - Mayor John Cooper has been bragging that he was planning to cut tax rates, this to some praise and applause.  Don't be fooled.  Cooper is required to cut tax rates and it is very doubtful the property taxes you pay will decrease.  Here is why.

Every four years all real property must be reappraised.  However, by law the aggregate of the new values cannot result in more tax revenue for the city than before the reappraisal.  The reason for the reappraisal is "equalization."  Not all properties appreciate in value at the same rate.  Also as new properties are put on the tax role, sometimes they are put on at a higher rate than existing properties, even though they are supposed to be put on the tax roles at a value with comparable existing homes.  So over time, values get out of whack. So, the reappraisal looks at sales data anew and puts properties on the roles at what is reasonably the current value. 

Since property is appreciating, if the property tax rate stayed the same, property tax revenue would increase.  So, by law, the tax rate has to be adjusted so that the new higher appraisals do not result in more tax revenue.  The new tax rate is called "the certified tax rate,"  This rollback in the tax rate is not something Mayor Cooper has any control over.  The city is required to do it. It is dishonest of Mayor Cooper to act as if he is doing people a favor by lowering the tax rate.

 What often happens, is that administrations raise taxes in the same year as the reappraisal.  Usually this is done at the same council meeting.  The council will approve the "certified tax rate," then the next order of business may be to pass a new higher tax rate.  Since this new rate is usually lower than the old rate, politicians can still claim they voted for a lower tax rate than previously existed.  Since most people don't understand what happened, when they get their tax bill, they blame the higher taxes they must pay on the reappraisal rather than the mayor and council for increasing their taxes.

When the city adopts the "certified tax rate," and assuming then that they do not pass a higher tax rate than that, some people's taxes will go down and some will go up and some will stay about the same.  Generally, if your property appreciated more than the average appreciation; your taxes will go up.  If your property appreciated less than the average; they go down.

Don't be fooled.  Cutting the tax rate as required by law is not a tax cut. 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021


…but worthy of consideration 

by Ralph Bristol, reposted from Facebook - Before Derek Chauvin is sentenced six weeks from now, the defense will likely file a motion to declare a mistrial, based on both the judge’s failure to sequester the jury to shield jurors from prejudicial news coverage and the statements made by President Biden and Rep. Maxine Waters in the final days of the trial. 

There will, without question, be an appeal.  

The judge practically handed the defense an appeal argument when he scolded Waters in the courtroom for urging protestors to “get more confrontational.” He further said he wished all politicians would refrain from commenting on the trial, an admonishment that would include President Biden, who said he was "praying that verdict is the right verdict" and that "I think it's overwhelming, in my view."  

The jury was not sequestered until their deliberations began, and that took practically no time at all. During the trial, they went home and had full access to all news, which included the vandalism of a home thought to be that of one of the defense witnesses. It was smeared with blood and a pig’s head was left as a calling card. The intimidators hit the wrong home, but if they will do that to a witness, what might they do to a juror responsible for the “wrong” verdict. It would not be unreasonable to conclude that the jury was both prejudiced and intimidated by the news to which they had full access until the trial was “all over but the verdict.”  

BUT – JUST BECAUSE IT WASN’T A FAIR TRIAL…. …doesn’t mean the verdict was wrong.  

I was neither intimidated nor prejudiced by the news coverage, and based on the whole of the evidence and testimony, I would have found Chauvin guilty of at least one of the charges.  For the record, Chauvin was convicted of the following: 
  • Second-degree unintentional murder – which means he caused Floyd's death "without intent" while committing or attempting to commit felony third-degree assault, defined as “the intentional infliction of substantial bodily harm.” 
  • Third-degree murder – meaning he caused Floyd's death by "perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and displaying a depraved mind, without regard for human life." • 
  • Second-degree manslaughter – meaning Chauvin caused Floyd's death by "culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm." 
I would have found Chauvin guilty of the last charge. I have some doubt about the other two, but I don’t find it unreasonable that the jury would find otherwise, even without access to a daily diet of prejudicial and intimidating information. 

My guess is that the justice system will not give Derek Chauvin a new trial, in part because the judges will conclude the jury intimidation was not a significant factor in the verdict, that it likely would have been the same without the jury’s access to the prejudicial information and intimidation. 

Since a new trial would likely produce the same result, the judges will not allow a new trial.

Ralph Bristol is a former popular local conservative radio talk show host with Super Talk 99.7 (WTN 99.7) where he worked for 11 years. He is now semi-retired.

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Americans for Prosperity - Tennessee was live. Taxpayer funded lobbyists & TN Legislature updates.


 Americans for Prosperity provides excellent coverage of the State legislature.  

This week the AFP-TN team discusses the problem of taxpayer-funded lobbyists. We give some updates on bills that moved through the state legislature. Lastly, we cover the following federal topics and ways to take action: Biden's outrageous infrastructure plan, The PRO Act, H.R.1 & S.1, and the "personal option" health care plan. Full Show Notes Here:

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Tennessee lawmakers to consider reducing eligibility time for unemployment benefits. One should not get paid more for sitting home doing nothing than for working.

by Vivian Jones (The Center Square) – A bill that would change how long Tennesseans can receive unemployment benefits is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday in a House subcommittee. 

House Bill 1039, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, would reduce the number of weeks that eligible unemployed workers can receive benefits from 26 weeks to 12 weeks.  

“The notion of us, week in and week out, just paying unemployment when there are jobs readily available from one end of the state to the other is really bad government,” said Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby.“ And we’re encouraging people to sit still instead of being productive.”  
“I mean this is some real Ebenezer Scrooge type of stuff here,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, told Fox 17 News. 

While the bill reduces the number of weeks people can receive unemployment benefits, National Federation of Independent Business Tennessee State Director Jim Brown said an amendment is set to be introduced Wednesday that will increase the weekly pay by $25 a person. Tennesseans on unemployment currently receive a maximum of $275 per week.  

That increase is expected to affect 65,000 people. Brown thinks "everyone is a bit more comfortable" with the bill after the amendment to increase the amount of benefits was broached since Tennessee’s unemployment benefits haven't been updated for 15 years.  

Tennessee’s average duration for unemployment is second worst in the southeast behind Kentucky at 15 weeks. Brown said 250,000 jobs are on Tennessee’s jobs website and many NFIB members are having a hard time having applicants show up for interviews for a variety of reasons, from the COVID-19 pandemic to a fear of losing the current unemployment benefits.  

Some businesses have had to significantly increase employee pay to combat the struggles in finding new employees, Brown said.  

“Forty-two percent of members have jobs to fill, and they can’t,” Brown said. The legislation stipulates if the state’s average unemployment rate is more than 5.5%, then payments would be extended at an increment of one additional week per every half a percentage point up to a new maximum of 20 weeks if the rate is higher than 9%.  

The most-recent data shows Tennessee had a 5.1% unemployment rate in January with some counties, including Shelby, Hardeman, McNairy, Bledsoe, Perry, Lake and Houston, having rates of 7.6% or higher. February estimates showed the state rate was around 4.9%.  

Before the amendment to add $25 per week to the maximum benefit, a fiscal summary estimated HB 1039 would save Tennessee more than $31 million a year in unemployment payments. The bill analysis also said the bill is expected to have an effect that will decrease revenue for some businesses since less in unemployment benefits would be paid out and then spent. The bill is not expected to have an effect on jobs. HB 1039 is on the calendar to be discussed in the Tennessee House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Wednesday.#

This needs to pass. Sitting at home doing nothing should not pay more than working.

Rod's Comment:  I guess I am an Ebenezer Scrooge because I do not believe one should get paid more for sitting at home doing nothing than for working.  Not only because it is wrong, but it hurts the economy and an underperforming economy hurts us all. If the government subsidizes unemployment, we will have more unemployment. We need to end this recession now and get people back to work.  This recession, at this point, is not caused by an economic downturn due to Covid-19, but is being prolonged by government policy.

With the additional $300 in federal unemployment subsidy, an unemployed person can receive $575 a week in unemployment.  If one works a 40 hour week one would have to earn $14.38 an hour to earn as much as unemployment will pay a person for not working.  Also, there is a cost to working which may include child care, gas, auto repairs, uniforms or work attire, and lunches. Many people are better off drawing unemployment than they are working.  Businesses are ready to reopen or gear back up but cannot find workers. 

Many people will sit back and enjoy their unemployment and not even start looking for work until the end of the unemployment period. They will ride that train till it runs out of track, and who can blame them?  I am pleased to see this bill.  It deserves to pass. 

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Candace Owens Show: Carol Swain

Dr. Swain shares her life story of a rise from abject poverty; nine siblings living with her mother and step father in a tar paper shack without running water, to becoming a tenured professor at Princeton University and Vanderbilt University.   At 16 she was married and a mother at age 17.  Going to college later in life she worked a 40-hour week and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in criminal justice. Her story is a remarkable one and should be an inspiration to anyone facing life's adversities.

She speaks of her personal spiritual journey and of her transition from being a Democrat to becoming a Republican. She tells of the attacks against her because she was a Black women who dared not fit the stereotype of what a Black person should believe and how she was labelled an apologist for White supremacy. 

She speaks about the racist past of progressives and how, still today, everything progressives do hurts Blacks more than any other group. She encourages Blacks to be bold, not be cowered, and to believe in their own abilities and to dare to be independent thinkers. 

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Congressman Jim Cooper presents, "Let's Talk - Gun Violence in America: A Raging Epidemic."

Event by Jim Cooper 
Tuesday at 6 PM CDT 
Price: Free Public · 
Anyone on or off Facebook 
Join #TeamCooper Tuesday, April 20 at 6:00pm CT for another staff-led session of “Let’s Talk: Conversations to Ensure Equitable & Just Policies.” The sixth in the series: “Gun Violence in America: A Raging Epidemic.” Register here:

As the author of A Disgruntled Republican I often post items which I think may be of interest to the conservative, Republican, libertarian or the greater community. Posting of a press release or an announcement of an event does not necessarily indicate an endorsement. A conversation is more interesting if there is more than one point of view presented. Rod

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