Reported by Aaron Solomon
Severe Weather Awareness Week is under way in Tennessee, and the state government may take a step toward helping save more lives, thanks in part to a mid-state man who lost his wife and infant daughter in a tornado.
Video: Sen. Wants Tornado Shelter Supplies Tax Exempt
"If there's a reason for me to be here, it's to protect people from tornadoes," John Bryant of Murfreesboro said two years ago.
Bryant lost his wife and daughter to the same twister that carried him away.
"Why shouldn't you be able to get a tax incentive for a safe room?" he said last year.
Bryant has been fighting for tornado shelter progress in Tennessee.
"We've had a lot of tornadoes in the last few years in Rutherford County, and it's done a lot of damage, and I was an eyewitness to it, and I thought this was a good opportunity to give tax breaks to folks to get storm shelters," said Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.
The bill Tracy is sponsoring would create a tax exemption for the purchase of building supplies for construction of storm or tornado shelters for Tennesseans' primary residence.
"If we can save some folks and give them an opportunity to purchase one of these shelters and give them a tax break to do it, I think it's a great idea," he said.
To qualify, the purchases would have to be made between July 1 and Dec. 31 of this year, and in order to receive the tax rebate, it has to be applied for before February 2012.
"Any time you give tax breaks, it affects the revenue stream a little bit, and it'll have a fiscal note of some regards, but that's why we put a six-month window on it where it'll be short, a six-month time to get these shelters and get a tax break, and it won't be a long term," Tracy said.
Tracy said he thinks the bill has a good chance to make it through, and, if successful with the public, would be taken up again next year.
State Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna is sponsoring the companion bill in the House.
Click here to learn more about tornado safe rooms from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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