By John R. Schirmer
Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville reviewed the 91st General Assembly with the Nashville Rotary Club April 19.
Teague discussed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan, saying he is “not voting for any plan until I get a solid commitment for rural highways. The director of the Highway Department assured me the plan would do that.”
Hutchinson’s plan calls for a sales tax increase on fuel. The measure likely will be placed on the ballot in 2018.
Teague said he favored a bill for the state to collect a use tax on Internet sales for companies with no in-state presence. As Budget Committee co-chair, he co-sponsored SB140 which required out-of-state vendors to collect a use tax on annual sales of more than $100,000.
“If you buy on the Internet, you owe the tax,” Teague said. “This wasn’t a new tax.”
The bill died in the House on the last day of the session. “We will deal with it again next time. Amazon is the only online vendor to collect the tax on its sales but not those of its vendors. It will be interesting to see the amount.”
Teague has said repeatedly that he supports local businesses which collect the sales tax over the Internet companies.
Teague said the state’s sales tax revenue forecast “is below where it should be. The revenue report scares me every time I see it. We’re behind the budget forecast $55 million for the fiscal year that ends in June.”
Hutchinson will “probably cut spending. It’s worrisome. I hope things will pick up.”
Teague said his role is “to keep the state from spending more money than we have. I told the governor that our first meeting of the session. He didn’t like it. Our system of Revenue Stabilization works. I worry about the state’s debt, including the colleges.”
Legislators dealt with 10-15 bills related to medical marijuana, according to Teague.
Teague looks for an omnibus bill to deal with marijuana and other issues in a special session coming up May 1.
Legislators will meet that day to adjourn the regular session sine die, then start the special session.
The Senate won the walking contest among the governor’s office, House and Senate. Teague walked 30 miles the last day of the regular session.