Disabled Tenn. vets property tax relief one of final bills

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(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A few bills and one in particular, are keeping state lawmakers from finishing their session this week.

“We just have a couple of bills that are in Conference Committee, which means the Senate and House are negotiating fine details,” Rep. Glen Casada told News 2.

One of the issues is tax relief for disabled vets and seniors.

Keeping an eye on Tennessee lawmakers from the gallery above the house chambers Thursday were members of several retired military groups.

like Sherry Pickering of the Montgomery County Veterans Coalition.

“The bill would completely reverse what was done last year,” Pickering said.

She and others hope to see changes to property tax relief for disabled veterans and senior citizens.

“For some reason last year, they decided they were going to lift or raise the income levels and property tax levels on fools being charged for property tax levels,” Don Bailey Jr. with the American Legion said.

The vet group members have been hoping lawmakers will restore eligibility changes last year that have cost them money.

A House member put it into hard dollars for the cost of his disabled father.

“He served in Saigon during the Tet Offensive and last year he got $674. This year he got $374. He is not a rich man,” Rep. Darren Jernigan said.

The often loud debate on the House floor centered around fighting where the estimated $6 million for the tax relief would come from since it’s not in the state budget that was passed just last week.

“Opening the budget back up can be a disaster because everyone is going to run forward and saying this or we start earmarking it like this,” Rep. Bill Dunn said.

Rep. Antonino Parkinson added. “I am not even sure why we are having this discussion. We are talking about seniors and veterans.”

The House did pass a small amount of additional tax relief for the disabled veterans and seniors but it must be approved now by the Senate.

But lawmakers did resolve one issue late Thursday.

Late this afternoon, both chambers agreed on a bill that diverts more than 400 thousand dollars from the University of Tennessee Office of Diversity into scholarships for minority engineering students.

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