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• Knox County Register of Deeds Sherry Witt recently announce the County’s new project with Document Technology Systems designed to protect citizens from identity theft. This project will allow the Register of Deeds to create a publicly searchable file of electronic records with social security numbers redacted.

In an attempt to protect Knox County citizens, Witt sought the introduction of House Bill 1840 by state Rep. Ryan Haynes (District 17) and Senate Bill 2105 by state Sens. Jamie Woodson (District 8) and Tim Burchett (District 7) granting permission to the Register of Deeds offices in Knox, Blount, Shelby and Sevier counties to redact social security numbers on recorded documents maintained on computers or removable computer storage media. The bill passed March 26, 2009.

The entire project will be funded by a special data processing account that was created by the Tennessee General Assembly for such projects in the Register’s Office. This account is funded by a $2 per document computer fee that can only be used by the Register for relevant applications such as this.

• NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s nearly 800,000 satellite customers are being unfairly penalized, simply because they chose satellite over cable, say representatives of the state’s satellite retailers.

For the past 11 years, cable companies and their customers have been exempt from paying sales taxes on the first $15 of their monthly cable bills. That tax exemption is not available to satellite customers — approximately one-third of the state’s population — who must pay taxes on their entire bill. The tax also harms satellite dealers who are competing against cable for customers.

Gov. Phil Bredesen’s budget proposal calls for eliminating cable’s tax exemption, which would produce nearly $21 million in badly needed new revenue for law enforcement, higher education and agriculture. Without the new revenue, critical services will be eliminated. The state’s district attorneys estimate that at least 17 prosecutors, 20 victim witness coordinators and 25 other law enforcement positions could be cut if new revenue is not found.

If the tax exemption were eliminated, consumers would pay a mere $1.35 extra per month on their cable bill. That amount is equal to the price of a soft drink, something many Tennesseans purchase on a daily basis.

The state’s satellite companies have filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee because the state unfairly penalizes their customers with a tax that cable customers don’t pay. If the state loses the lawsuit, and the claim is fully awarded, taxpayers may be on the hook for nearly $100 million in tax refunds to satellite subscribers.


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