Welcome to Tennesseniors.com where information for "senior citizens" is readily available.
We have accomplished much in the last few years, such as setting up a credit freeze system to protect you against identity theft and enacting the property tax relief for those 65 and over.
As for the future, I continue working to reduce the sales tax on food, improve home and community-based care as an alternative to nursing homes, improve senior citizen centers, and find incentives for long term care insurance.
I hope this site will be useful to you as these things develop. Please check back often and stay in touch with me.
Senator Mark Norris
Demand Tax Relief
As our counter shows, more local governments have adopted the senior citizen property tax freeze. I commend those that have enacted this important program. Now, I need your help to encourage other counties and municipalities in Tennessee to adopt the freeze. We should lead them to see that this plan is simple, affordable, and makes sense. I ask that YOU contact your County Commissioner and/or City Councilman or Alderman today and let them know that the property tax freeze is awaiting their action to benefit your community. The time is now!
To find the addresses of your city and county officials, you can look them up at the following web sites:
For city/municipal officials, click here.
For county officials, click here.
The General Assembly passed several bills during the 2016 legislative session to protect senior citizens from both physical harm and financial exploitation. Starting with the budget, sponsored by Senator Norris, funds were allocated this year to support staff training on elder abuse through the District Attorneys General Conference.
Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigation Teams -- The General Assembly passed a law, sponsored by Senator Norris, to create a Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigation Team (VAPIT) in each judicial district in Tennessee. The purpose of the measure is to coordinate the investigation of suspected instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult. The information generated by the multi-disciplinary adult protective services team can then be reviewed to determine what further action can be taken to protect these citizens. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever come to the attention of authorities.
Senate Bill 2588 by Norris, Gresham, Haile, Massey, Roberts / Status: Public Chapter 1006 / Effective Date: upon becoming law on April 27, 2016
Elder Abuse / Elder Exploitation-- Several new laws were approved this session to tackle the growing problem of elder abuse in Tennessee, including legislation stemming from recommendations of the General Assembly’s Elder Abuse Task Force. The task force was formed two years ago to study Tennessee’s current system for protecting, preventing and prosecuting crimes of abuse for its older and more vulnerable adults. This includes legislation to keep the state's elderly safe by setting up checks on the people who are working in direct contact with vulnerable adults in home healthcare and hospice.
The new law lays out requirements that must be met before an employee may be hired. Applicants must supply fingerprint samples, submit to a background check and provide past references. These requirements apply to third party vendors that have direct contact with the patients.
Senate Bill 2484 by Gardenhire, Crowe, Niceley, Norris / Status: Public Chapter 1044 / Effective Date: Sections 4 (background checks) and 8 takes effect on July 1, 2016 with the remaining sections becoming effective upon becoming law on April 28, 2015
Financial Exploitation -- Following another recommendation of the task force, a resolution was passed to address financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. The measure resolves that the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability will work with the Tennessee Bankers Association, the Tennessee Credit Union League and other appropriate organizations to develop a list of recommended changes to current law that would assist financial institutions in protecting vulnerable adults from fraudulent and other questionable transactions.
Senate Joint Resolution 678 by Crowe / Status: Signed by the Governor on May 12, 2016
Aging Caregivers / Persons with Disabilities – Legislation passed this year to help aging caregivers who care for a child or ward with an intellectual disability. The new law will allow eligible people having an intellectual disability (ID) who are on the waiting list for services from the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) with custodial parents or caregivers aged 75 and over to enroll into the Self-Determination or similarly capped waiver.
In 2015, the original “aging caregiver” law was passed by the General Assembly requiring DIDD to enroll all eligible people whose caregivers are 80 and over into the Self-Determination Waiver. However, the average life expectancy in Tennessee is only 76.30 years of age. The new law gives aging caregivers who are facing their own healthcare challenges the peace of mind that their child or family member will be cared for after they pass away. At the same time, it provides individuals with disabilities with basic support prior to a “crisis” to help them adjust to being supported by people other than their primary caregiver.
Senate Bill 2003 by Ketron, Haile, Crowe, Niceley, Yager / Status: Public Chapter 707 / Effective Date: July 1, 2016
Conservators / Wards – State lawmakers approved a new law this year to restrict the ability of a conservator to isolate their ward from visitation by family members or loved ones without just cause. A conservator is a legally appointed guardian of a disabled person. Under previous law, a conservator could restrict visitation and communication with the ward in Tennessee without going to court, even when it involves communication or visits by a family member. Due to the growing number of divorces, this became a problem when there is conflict between children of an incapacitated adult whose spouse has been named the conservator.
The new law provides the ward has a right to visit, communicate or interact with family and loved ones and that a conservator shall not restrict it unless specifically authorized by a court order. It also provides a process by which the conservator can petition the court to place restrictions upon communication or interaction by showing good cause. Some of the factors the court can consider are previous protective orders, whether the ward expresses the wish to visit and past preferences.
Senate Bill 2190 by Crowe, Kelsey, Johnson, Tate / Status: Public Chapter 1062 / Effective Date: upon becoming law on May 16, 2016
Grandparent Visitation Rights -- Legislation passed this year expanding the authority of a court to order grandparent visitation when the child is not in the custody of the parent and when the grandparent’s relationship has been significantly reduced, rather than severed.
Previously, if custody of a child is awarded to a set of grandparents, the judge could recommend, but not mandate, visitation for the other set of grandparents.
The new law allows a judge to grant those visitation rights and expands the authority of a court to order grandparent visitation when the child is not in the custody of the parent and when the grandparent's relationship has been significantly reduced, rather than severed.
Senate Bill 1670 by McNally, Haile, Tracy, Bailey / Status: Public Chapter 1076 / Effective Date: Upon becoming law on May 20, 2016
The Tennessee Yellow DOT Program, passed in the General Assembly in 2012, is designed to provide first responders with an individual’s medical information in the event of an emergency on Tennessee’s roadways. The information can mean the difference between “life and death” in the “Golden Hour” immediately following a serious incident.
Participants in the program will receive a Yellow DOT decal, a Yellow DOT folder, and a medical information sheet; a personalized photo will be taken and placed on the sheet. The participant will complete the medical information sheet which consists of their emergency contact information, medical information, recent surgeries, hospital preferences, current medications, insurance and physicians’ information. This information will be the sole responsibility of the participant and should remain in the glove compartment inside the yellow folder provided. The Yellow DOT decal will be placed on the driver’s side rear window of their vehicle.
More information can be found on the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s website at tdot.state.tn.us/yellowdot
Resources for Storm Damage Victims and Those Who Wish to Help
The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation is making home radon test kits available, free of charge, to citizens who apply for them through the Department's website. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Tennesseniors owe it to themselves to check their homes for improper levels of this naturally-occurring gas. Click here to learn more and apply for a free radon test kit.
Beginning August 24, 2010, the purchase of a new energy-efficient appliance for your home may qualify you for a special rebate. The TN Dept. of Economic & Community Development, through the U.S. Dept. of Energy, is taking applications for this money-saving, evergy-conserving program which is open to all home owners and renters in the state of Tennessee. To learn more, visit http://teearp.efi.org/
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Weatherization Assistance Program will make about $100 million available to eligible Tennesseans to help reduce energy costs by providing assistance to weatherize their homes. It will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $44,100 a year for a family of four, or $29,140 for a family of two. The improvements are estimated to reduce home heating bills by an average of 32%.
In Tennessee, the Weatherization Assistance Program is available in all 95 counties and is administered by local agencies. Eligible households with elderly, disabled, or young children are given priority for service.
If you have questions regarding eligibility or applying for the program, contact one of the agencies below.
For Shelby County residents:
Shelby County Community Services Agency
Memphis, Tennessee 38103-0513
Brenda Murphy, Coordinator
Fax: (901) 545-3592
For Dyer County residents:
Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council
231 S. Wilson Street
Dresden, Tennessee 38225
Don Ridgeway, Executive Director
Kathey Cooper, Coordinator
For Tipton and Lauderdale County residents:
Delta Human Resources Agency
P. O. Box 634 - 915 Highway 51 South
Covington, Tennessee 38019
Gloria Williams, Coordinator
Fax: (901) 476-5258
By STATE SEN. MARK NORRIS • Tennessean.com
May 15, 2008
In a poignant moment in his State of the State address last January, Gov. Phil Bredesen acknowledged his mother's desire to stay in her home:
"I've seen how much you want to be in your own home; I know how difficult that would have been … without some help. … If you want to stay in your home … this is the year we're going to start making it easier."
Actually, the General Assembly began the long process of making it easier for senior citizens on fixed incomes to stay in their homes three years ago. Unfortunately, the majority of local municipal and county governments in Tennessee have yet to do so.
I proudly sponsored the referendum to amend our state constitution permitting local governments to freeze property taxes in 2005. Nearly 1.4 million Tennesseans ratified the constitutional amendment in 2006. The following year, I sponsored the enabling legislation, the Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007, for cities and counties to put the freeze in place. Seniors with combined incomes below the median income of their county of residence qualify, but it is all to no avail if their local elected officials fail to adopt the program.
The recent state Senate passage of the The Long-Term Care Community Choices Act of 2008 is the latest chapter in "the graying of Tennessee." As we age, it is increasingly important our homes not be taken for taxes. This is especially true when it comes to health care and our efforts to provide more cost-effective and better care in that home as opposed to a nursing home.
Local officials should act
Despite the recognition that home- and community-based care are preferable to institutionalized care, and notwithstanding the fact that nearly 83 percent of Tennesseans voted to make local property tax freezes for senior citizens a reality, city and county governments are moving very slowly to embrace the need. As of this writing, only 14 local governments across the state have done so.
Some local governments' excuse for not adopting tax relief is a concern that doing so for seniors shifts tax burdens to younger Tennesseans. But consider the costs if they don't.
For every dollar that could be spent serving the elderly and people with disabilities at home, Tennessee currently spends $149 on nursing-home care alone. The annual cost of nursing-home care exceeds $58,000 per person compared to $36,000 for home and community-based care. Nursing-home care now costs Tennesseans nearly $1 billion per year. With the population of senior citizens projected to double to more than 1.5 million in the next 15 years, that is the cost that should concern local governments the most.
Adopting the property tax freeze for seniors should be a priority for local governments. It is an integral part of our effort to preserve the home, improve the quality of life for an increasing number of Tennesseans, and respect the dignity of those who have earned it.
by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
The Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007 is now law, and it is time to urge your local elected officials to adopt it.
For the first time in Tennessee history, 65 year olds earning less than the County’s median income for 65 year olds and older can qualify to have their city and county property taxes frozen against future increases – whether from reappraisals, reassessments or outright tax hikes.
There’s just one thing. Your city council or county commission must vote to participate in the program first. Property tax relief is available beginning January 2008 for those who act now.
For over six years, I lead the effort to amend our State Constitution to make it easier for senior citizens to keep their homes in later life. I believe seniors on fixed incomes should not have to sacrifice buying prescription medications just to pay increased taxes, nor should they otherwise worry over how to make ends meet without selling their home.
1.3 million Tennesseans supported my efforts last November when 83% voted in favor of Amendment 2. This year, with a clear mandate, we codified the procedure making the Property Tax Freeze Act reality.
Regulations governing the tax freeze will be adopted by the State Board of Equalization on September 17, 2007. But the Attorney General recently ruled that counties or municipalities may adopt the tax freeze even before the regulations are promulgated. Davidson County has already done so.
That’s why I am writing now; to encourage you to urge your city council members (if you live in Memphis), aldermen if you live elsewhere, and county commissioners to participate. Now is the time to ask candidates for election to city boards in upcoming elections whether they will vote to participate in the property tax freeze for seniors.
Some younger elected officials in Memphis don’t seem to care about tax relief for seniors. One was recently reported to have said, “I’m a long way from 65, but I have two kids to raise.” He worries what additional cost he might bear. But a recent study by the AARP Public Policy Institute confirms that senior citizens in Tennessee bear the brunt of the property tax burden.
With increasing emphasis on home and community based care, it only makes sense to do everything we can to respect the dignity and independence of our seniors by helping them keep their homes.
The proposed Rules governing eligibility and enforcement under the Property Tax Freeze Act will be considered on September 17, 2007:
Click here to read the Notice of Rulemaking Hearing Tennessee State Board of Equalization
Attorney General's opinion March 23, 2007 PDF
Attorney General's opinion July 17, 2007 PDF Introduction to the Property Tax Freeze
June 18, 2007
In November 2006, Tennessee voters approved an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution authorizing a property tax freeze for elderly homeowners. This amendment to Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution gives the General Assembly the authority by general law to authorize counties and municipalities to implement a local option property tax freeze for taxpayers 65 years of age or older.
In its 2007 session, the 105th General Assembly enacted the Property Tax Freeze Act (Senate Bill 2 / House Bill 1033) which establishes the tax freeze. Under the Act, the legislative body of any county or municipality is authorized to adopt the property tax freeze program. The Act becomes effective on July 1, 2007.Provisions
Homeowners qualifying for the program will have the property taxes on their principal residence frozen at a base tax amount, which is the amount of taxes owed in the year they first qualify for the program. Thereafter, as long as the owner continues to qualify for the program, the amount of property taxes owed for that property will not change, even if there is a property tax rate increase.
In order to qualify, the homeowner must file an application annually and must:
- Own their principal place of residence in a participating county and/or cityBe 65 years of age or older by the end of the year in which the application is filed
- Have an income from all sources that does not exceed the county income limit established for that tax year
In counties and municipalities participating in the Tax Freeze Program, application may be made to the county Trustee or city collecting official.
The state Comptroller’s Office will calculate the income limit for each county annually using a formula outlined in state law.
Situations where the base tax amount would change for a homeowner are:
- When improvements are made to the property resulting in an increase in its value
- When the homeowner sells their home and purchases another residence
The tax freeze is available only on the principal place of residence of the qualifying homeowner located in a participating county or city. There are limitations on the amount of land that can be included for residential purposes in the program, and the program does not apply to portions of the property not used for residential purposes.
Tax Freeze Income Limits 2010 PDF Tax Freeze Income Limits 2010 Map PDF
- A public service of CrimeStoppers of Memphis to provide safety and peace of mind to seniors in our community.
The Property Tax Freeze for Tennessee's Senior Citizens has been adopted by:
In 2014 over 47,000 Tennesseans enjoyed over $2,600,000 in tax relief through this program
Tax Freeze Totals for 2015
Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, Division of Property Assessments
Tax Freeze Income Limits 2016 PDF
Tax Freeze Income Limits 2016 Map PDF
Complete Text of the Property Tax Freeze Act - PUBLIC CHAPTER NO. 581 PDF
Attorney General's opinion July 17, 2007 PDF
Attorney General's opinion March 23, 2007 PDF
Legislation attempts to fight elder abuse
July 1, 2016
More tax relief for seniors enacted in 2014 General Assembly!
Learn more here.
Two Counties Join State's Retire Tennessee Program
July 2, 2013
Tax relief available for seniors, disabled
June 16, 2013
Norris Legislation Providing Hall Income Tax Relief for Senior Citizens Passes Tax Subcommittee
March 5, 2013
State Sales Tax Holiday needed says Majority Leader Mark Norris
July 25, 2012
Tennessee Cuts Inheritance, Gift and Sales Tax
July 13, 2012
Governor Haslam Signs Bills to Eliminate Inheritance Tax, Reduce Grocery Sales Tax
June 6, 2012
March, 3, 2012
Governor Haslam Signs Legislation Providing Hall Income Tax Relief for Senior Citizens
June 21, 2011
WKNO to Premiere New Monthly Local Series for Viewers Aged 50+
November 21, 2008
Retirees are good for Cumberland County
November 13, 2008
More communities freeze property taxes for seniors
October 22, 2008
TennCare change aids seniors
July 19, 2008
The slender years Poverty is common specter for elderly
July 13, 2008
It's twins: TCCA receives two replacement vans through grant
July 3, 2008
Norris Praises Shelby County Leaders for Passage of Senior Tax Freeze
May 29, 2008
Freeze much-needed for our graying state
May 15, 2008
Senior tax relief program spreads
April 27, 2008
Norris Commends Local Governments for Pursuing Tax Relief Efforts for Seniors
April 11, 2008
Mark Norris Fills Aging Commission's Needs
March 21, 2008
DRMC celebrates annex addition
February 26, 2008
A little help for seniorsJanuary 13, 2008
Hatching a Nest EggSeptember 30, 2007
Senior issues topic at meeting
August 27, 2007
A welcome freeze, maybe
August 13, 2007
Local leaders like senior tax freeze
July 22, 2007
It's time to consider tax freeze for seniors
July 12, 2007
Law Freezes Property Taxes For Some Elderly Homeowners
June 29, 2007News of a surplus shifted lawmakers into overdrive
June 24, 2007
Shelby's leaders were just that
June 24, 2007
Mark Norris Official Web Site
Mark Norris Personal Web Site
Tennesse Senate Republican Caucus
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