published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Tennessee House approves amendment to ban state income tax

NASHVILLE — Following a fierce debate, the state House today approved a proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution banning a state income tax.

The 73-17 vote is not the end of the issue. The action simply sends Senate Joint Resolution 221 to the 108th General Assembly, whose members will be elected in November. Those lawmakers would have to approve the resolution by a two-thirds majority before it could go on the 2014 ballot for voters to decide.

Senators approved the resolution last year.

Republicans and some Democrats jousted today over the proposed amendment. Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, who sponsored the bill in the House, said that, while the Tennessee Constitution already bans a general state income tax, previous governors and a former state attorney general have maintained such a tax would be constitutional.

“I did not agree,” Casada said. “That’s why we’re putting it in our Constitution.”

Democrats pointed out that a decade ago, it was a Republican governor, Don Sundquist, and prominent businessmen pushing for a state income tax. The plan came before the then-Democratic-run House and failed.

“I think the legislature spoke clearly about this subject in 2011,” Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said. “I think if there’s one thing you can say with certainty, an income tax won’t pass in Tennessee.”

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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