Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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New Law Honors Allons Man, Prorates Tag Refunds

New legislation requires the Tennessee Department of Revenue to offer registration fee refunds to families of deceased freight vehicle operators.

District 41 State Representative Ed Butler said he worked to pass the Ethan Wade Walls Act after working with the Allons-based family. He said Walls and his brother borrowed money in April, 2023 to pursue their dream of owning a trucking company. He said Walls was living out that dream when, on June 27, his truck veered off bluffs in Bledsoe County and he was killed. Butler said as the grieving family pursued a prorated refund on the inoperable vehicle’s tags, the statute in place did not allow it.

“The money portion of it, I’m sure, is helpful,” Butler said. “But, I think it’s more than just the dollars. I think it’s the state of Tennessee says, ‘We understand. We empathize with your situation. You’ve lost a loved one.’ It could be a brother, father, son, uncle, etcetera.”

Butler said the tags for these vehicles often cost some over $1,000. This law will apply to companies with up to three commercial freight trucks. He said he is honored to help Ethan’s legacy live on through helping families of future generations with the same dream he had.

“As a legislator and sometimes as government, we forget that we serve the folks in Tennessee,” Butler said. “And I don’t mean that, necessarily, as a legislator. I’m talking about the government, in general, forgets that it’s serving the folks. Serving the people.”

He said he told the Department of Revenue that while this is a practical solution to an issue, more importantly, it is the right thing to do. He said as a business owner, he was touched by the story because he understands how challenging it is to start a company from the ground level.

“I don’t know that there’s something that we couldn’t do that’s more important than helping grieving families and folks that have put everything on the line, so to speak, to start their own business and fulfill their dreams, when we can help them in this way,” Butler said. “And I know it’s a small way, but we can help them.”

Butler said the law will be effective statewide and those looking to pursue a refund can go through their local clerk’s office to file an application in the event of a tragedy like the one the Walls family experienced.

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