Capitol Hill Review
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 8:01 pm
By: Rep. Andy Holt, Special to The Press
Republican legislation that caps non-economic damage awards at $750,000 and at $1 million in cases where victims suffer certain catastrophic injuries was given final approval by the House on Monday.
The bill is a central focus of the Republican legislative agenda. Proponents of the legislation believe these reforms will bring stability to the legal environment companies have to account for when considering relocation to Tennessee or doing business here.
The Republican Majority Leader has talked about the fact this reform will drastically improve the business prospects for Tennessee. “Leveling the playing field so Tennessee is more competitive with other States in the region is the smart thing to do for our citizens,” he said recently.
The Floor debate on the legislation was wide-ranging and covered many of the bill’s highlights. One Republican proponent stated, “In my opinion, we have a lot going for our State—right to work, low-taxes—but we can add an additional feather to the cap and make sure we are at least on the same footing as our sister States in the South. Ultimately, this means more and better jobs for our citizens, and that is something we should all support.”
Another conservative Member speaking in support of the legislation remarked, “When relocation teams from various companies are considering Tennessee, factors they seriously weigh are litigation risk and cost. Let’s pass this bill and take away a reason for them to exclude Tennessee.” He concluded, “We will inspire more confidence in those businesses looking at Tennessee for relocation. This bill is about predictability for businesses—and jobs for Tennesseans.”
The bill also caps punitive damages meant to punish accidental negligence by businesses or individuals. Awards for injuries that can be quantified, such as medical care, rehabilitation, or loss of income, are not capped.
GOP Passes Tough Legislation Cracking Down on Meth
On Thursday, the House passed HB 1051, GOP legislation that adds new criminal acts for meth production and enrolls pharmacies in a national drug exchange program that tracks pseudoephedrine purchases.
The bill is a strong reaction to the outbreak of meth use and addiction that is hurting Tennessee families. Recent news reports have detailed the numerous instances where meth production has cost lives throughout the State.
During the discussion on the legislation, one conservative House Member stated, “We cannot sit here and pretend this meth problem will go away. There are far too many families who are losing loved ones because of the ease in which meth can be created.” After passage of the legislation, a Republican proponent of the bill added, “This bill represents a smart and strong step towards stopping the creation of meth. That drug is hurting our citizens and we need to be doing all we can to put an end to its destructive effects.” The bill passed the House by a unanimous vote.
Judicial Accountability Measure Passes Full House
In a move that many view as a way to restore accountability to the judicial system, the House passed HB 694 on Thursday. The bill consolidates the methods for deferral of criminal proceedings and removes an avenue that criminals could use to delay their sentence or avert taking responsibility for their actions.
Rep. Andy Holt R-Dresden represents the 76th district in the Tennessee General Assembly House of Representatives. The 76th district is comprised of Weakley County and a portion of Carroll County.