(NASHVILLE, TN), June 29, 2012 — Sunday, July 1, marks the beginning of a new 2012-13 fiscal year in Tennessee as the state’s budget passed by the General Assembly in April becomes effective. The new budget and several other key government efficiency and public safety laws set to take effect as the new month is ushered in, were sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).
The 107th General Assembly adjourned on May 1 after four months of deliberations. However, enactment dates of laws passed by the legislature earlier this year most commonly become effective on July 1 or January 1 if they are not enacted upon the Governor’s signature.
The 2012-2013 budget spends $31 billion, nearly $1 billion less than the almost $32 billion estimated for the current budget year. It incorporates $50 million in tax cuts for Tennesseans. It also provides funding for several major public safety initiatives sponsored by Norris, including tougher sentences for certain gang-related crimes and gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions, along with mandatory incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders.
“The tax cuts were a tremendous victory for those of us who had pushed for passage of relief legislation for years,” said Leader Norris. “We were able to accomplish a reduction in sales tax on food, the phase out of the ‘death tax’ and elimination of the gift tax. This is in addition to the Hall Tax relief for senior citizens passed last year. We will continue to look for ways to relieve tax burdens in the next General Assembly.”
The safety legislation sponsored by Norris bumping up penalties for gang violence was part of Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package. The new law increases penalties by one classification if “a crime of force or violence is committed while acting in concert with two or more other persons.” This is in addition to the new “felons with firearms” law he sponsored for Governor Haslam that toughens sentences for gun possession for those with prior violent felony convictions which also takes effect on Sunday.
“The new gang violence law addresses certain types of serious crimes not covered by the state’s ‘Crooks with Guns’ law,” added Norris, who also sponsored the laws passed on this matter in previous years. “A person robbed by a gang has a much greater chance of suffering severe injury or death than a person robbed by an individual attacker. The Crooks with Guns laws were designed to curb gun-related violence and focus resources on keeping these criminals behind bars longer to protect the public. The gang violence and felons with firearms laws are a continuation of those efforts to give law enforcement authorities stronger tools to curb violence in Tennessee.”
Officials have said about thirty percent of those arrested in Memphis for firearms had been previously convicted.
Other bills sponsored by Norris which will become effective July 1 include:
A new law to curb domestic violence by requiring mandatory jail time and stiffer fines against repeat offenders.
Legislation that gives the State Department of Corrections the authority to supervise probation and parole services to provide a seamless one person contact for offenders throughout the entire criminal justice system.
Cost-efficient legislation reconstituting the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) with part-time directors and a full-time executive director to manage the agency’s day to day operations.