House Unanimously Passes Ethics Legislation
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NASHVILLE – On Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives unanimously passed ethics legislation that formally establishes and reaffirms the ethics code for the chamber.

“I know every Tennessean strives to live his or her life by a strong ethical code, and this legislation reaffirms our commitment, as legislators, to doing the work of the people in that same way,” said State Representative Stratton Bone (D-Lebanon). “While I believe my fellow colleagues on both sides of the aisle each follow their own personal ethical code in what they do, this bill allows us to show our public commitment to serve with high ethical standards.”

House Resolution 229 is a nine-page document that details the standards expected of each House member, those actions which could be considered violations and the procedures to be used by the House Ethics Committee. The purpose of the resolution is to establish clear guidelines for evaluation of potential ethical violations, as well as possible discipline if members are found of have violated the code.

“Just as most work places have a code of conduct policy, this resolution helps clarify the standards that all elected members should abide by and also clearly state the consequences for members who choose to violate those policies,” said Bone.

The resolution will stand until the end of the 106th General Assembly and be taken up after the swearing in of the 107th General Assembly in January 2011. The entire document can be found online by going to www.capitol.tn.gov and typing in HR229 in the FIND LEGISLATION search box at the bottom.

BIPARTISAN BILL TO ALLOW INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS ON PROPERTY TAXES MOVING SWIFTLY THROUGH HOUSE COMMITTEES

This week a bill that would allow local municipalities to offer its citizens the option of paying property taxes in installments rather than in one lump sum passed out of subcommittee and is set to be heard by the House State and Local Government Committee next week.

“Many of our seniors and disabled Tennesseans live on a fixed income that doesn’t allow for a lot of savings or planning for future payments like property taxes,” said Bone. “With this legislation, citizens could have the option of paying their property taxes with installment payments over the course of a year and not be caught short when it comes due.”

House Bill 2870 is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representative Mike McDonald (D-Portland) and Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) that would authorize a municipality that collects its own property taxes to accept partial payments of property taxes. The local municipality would be required to create a plan for collecting the payments and accounting for them accurately.

“In this tough economy, we need to find ways to help citizens make ends meet and sometimes that means helping spread out their payments over the course of a year,” said Bone. “While we have taken steps in the past to freeze property taxes for seniors, this legislation goes one step further to allow residents the opportunity to break those payments up over time.”

The legislation is set to be taken up by the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday, February 23, at noon in room HHR16. The committee can be followed online at www.capitol.tn.gov by clicking on VIDEOS.
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