NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican leaders coordinated in the recent legislative session to pass new laws spotlighting Tennessee's business friendly reputation, while a spurt of social issue measures from lawmakers have critics arguing the state looks so backward it will hurt economic development.
Republicans passed business-focused proposals eliminating the estate tax, restructuring regulatory boards and increasing the amount of cash grants available to companies looking to invest in Tennessee.
At the same time, bills that challenged evolution, required abstinence-focused sex education, prohibited students from wearing saggy pants and capped the number of foreign workers at Tennessee charter schools drew considerable negative notice.
The focus on social issues dismayed some at Capitol Hill. Democratic Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington said it made Tennessee the "laughing stock" in a lot of publications.
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