Legislation to Shed More Sunlight on Land Deals

State Sen. Tim Burchett says he will introduce legislation this session requiring that full ownership of any property bought or rented by the state be disclosed. At present all the owners of a limited liability company (LLC) are not disclosed, so there is no way to determine if land sold for road right of ways or industrial parks is owned by people with a conflict of interest—such as elected officials or their families. The same holds true for buildings rented for federal, state, and local offices.

The House sponsor will be state Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, who said the present system is "a recipe for corruption."

Corporate officers or individual property owners are on record at the courthouse. But with an LLC only one name and an address to send the property tax bill is required.

Recently, LLCs have purchased, or are trying to purchase, land for a major West Tennessee industrial site and land for a major transportation hub in East Tennessee.