January 2022 • Issue 1• Travis Close, 2022 President • Angela Shields, CEO
Government Affairs Corner
Tennessee receives historic $130.4 million for home energy assistance – a record amount thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Jan. 7, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that due to passage of the American Rescue Plan, Tennessee has received a record $130.4 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) available this fiscal year (October 2021 to September 2022). As part of a state-by-state breakdown of funding, the Administration reported that in addition to an annual appropriation of $66.1 million for Tennessee, the state received an additional $64.3 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan – close to double the state’s typical annual funding. The total of $130.4 million is the highest amount Tennessee has ever received in LIHEAP to help families struggling with the costs of home heating. • The American Rescue Plan More Than Doubled LIHEAP Funding Nationally: In 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration and Congressional Democrats delivered $8 billion in LIHEAP funding nationally, more than doubling typical annual appropriations due to $4.5 billion provided by the American Rescue Plan. This is the largest appropriation in a single year since the program was established in 1981. These resources are already allowing states across the country to provide more home energy relief than ever before. • The American Rescue Plan Provided Additional Historic Resources for Utility Relief Including the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program and State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund: The American Rescue Plan provided other critical resources that states and localities can use to address home energy costs. ERA programs, which received an additional $21.5 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan, can provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses. State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can also be deployed to help deliver energy relief to families.
The Tennessee REALTORS® have been getting our legislation finalized and talking with stakeholders to ensure we have sound legislation. The Tennessee REALTORS® Government Affairs Committee voted to bring two pieces of legislation this session: removing costly ARELLO certification for synchronous continuing education courses (virtual courses where students are separated by distance but offered in real-time) and removing discriminatory language in deeds. As the bills are introduced and progress in the legislature, we will update you with essential details. This year is the second year of this general assembly meaning there are pending bills from last year; legislation filed this year will start at number 1634 in the House and 1655 in the Senate. In 2021, there were over 1,600 bills filed; this year, it is anticipated we will see a lower amount filed. Upcoming big topics that the legislature will be discussing: redistricting, ongoing COVID-19 issues, and education funding formula and of course since the legislature is constitutionally bound to pass this every year – a budget.
Budget: The legislature’s only constitutional requirement is to pass a yearly budget. The State finished out the 2021 fiscal year $3.1 Billion ahead of projections (approx. $1.1 Billion in franchise and excise tax revenue and $2 Billion in-state sales tax revenue). Expectations for the surplus are capital improvement projects, tax relief, and one-time investments. With a budget surplus this size, due to tax revenue collections and the federal relief funding under the American Rescue Plan and CARES Act, the legislature and administration will be charged with how to spend that money and what is an appropriate number to place in the rainy day fund or account for inflation costs.
Redistricting: The redistricting process happens every ten years with the Census. It is a duty of the legislature to approve the new House, Senate and Congressional districts that will stand until 2032. The House and Senate Ad Hoc Committees on Redistricting recently released a proposed redistricting map that can be viewed here: Senate, House, and Congressional. The proposed maps will go through the legislative process and will have to be approved by the General Assembly.
January 17-21 Standing committee deliberations to begin of redistricting
January 31 Governor Lee’s fourth State of the State Address
February 1 Committee budget deliberations begin
February 2 House bill filing deadline
February 3 Senate bill filing deadline
Late March Committee closures begin
Late March Senate floor Wednesday sessions resume.