Legislative Update, April 11, 2009

April 11, 2009                                                                            
Tennessee General Assembly information here.
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select Legislators then select House Members or Senate Members, or ‘Find My Legislator’.
Phone calls can go to the Legislative Switchboard: (615) 741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1+ last four digits of office phone number (available at the same location).
“Show me the shame, the agony, the bruises of incarnate God, that I may read boundless guilt in the boundless price. May I discern the deadly viper in its real malignity, tear it with holy indignation from my breast, resolutely turn from its every snare, refuse to hold polluting dalliance with it. Blessed Lord Jesus, at thy cross may I be taught the awful miseries from which I am saved, ponder what the word ‘lost’ implies, see the fires of eternal destruction; then may I cling more closely to thy broken self, adhere to thee with firmer faith, be devoted to thee with total being, detest sin as strongly as thy love to me is strong and may holiness be the atmosphere in which I live.” The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, page 100  
Pause to celebrate by watching, ARISE, MY LOVE, and ALIVE, FOREVER, AMEN

Rep. Sherry Jones’ (D-Nashville) administrative assistant had a real tragedy in her family this week. Sharon Peter’s 7-month old granddaughter was found dead in her crib. SIDS is suspected. Please pray for this dear family. Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) is finally home recuperating from his recent open-heart surgery.
In addition, please pray for our excellent House sponsor Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) as she continues to shepherd SJR 127 down the bumpy road to final Victory.
The White House mail office has confirmed it received a "deluge" of as many as 2.25 million red envelopes symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion in a massive campaign that was larger than most White House mailing movements in the last 35 years.
Read more here. Thanks so much to all who participated!!!!
, Campfield, Bell, Brooks K, Shipley, Maggart, Lundberg, Matheny, Eldridge, Montgomery, Lynn, Hawk, Swafford, Cobb J, Hensley, Dennis, McCormick, Rowland, Harrison, Evans, Floyd, Tidwell, Dean, Hill, West, DeBerry J, Weaver, Dunn, Lollar, Johnson C, Brooks H, Matlock, Coley, Sargent, Kernell, Niceley, Rich, McManus, Ford, Johnson P, McCord
As introduced, places restrictions on universal mental health testing, or psychiatric or socioemotional screening of juveniles; requires certain consent by a juvenile's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or caregiver before such testing can occur.
HB 1552 was also in the Health and Human Resource Committee on Tuesday and was heard after SJR 127 had been voted out. Rep. Harwell stepped to the lectern, presented the bill—a motion and a ‘second’ were made. Chairman Joe Armstrong (D-Knoxville) verified with Rep. Harwell that this proposal was in no way an attempt to restrict access to mental health treatment in any way. Rep. Harwell confirmed that it was not, and in fact, by assuring parental involvement would actually would increase the chances of a child getting the help he or she needed.
          With that, on a unanimous voice vote, HB 1552 was moved to Calendar and Rules Committee where it will be heard at 8:00 on Tuesday morning. Assuming that it will be voted out of the committee (and believe me, after 22 years at the Capitol, I don’t take ANYTHING for granted) I am hopeful that it can be put on the Consent Calendar for the House floor where it would be among a list of bills voted on all at once. Barring that it will be put on a regular floor calendar where it will be heard separately. Despite that fact that 40 co-sponsors plus additional names that haven’t yet been turned in, there are some legislators that could give us problems on the House Floor.
Would you please pray that these last two steps will go smoothly? This legislation has been a top priority for four years – it is so important that we assure the right of parents to give written, informed consent for these screenings and they not be coerced to put their child on the powerful, dangerous and sometimes deadly psychotropic drugs.
ACTION ITEM: Thank you for your faithful involvement. Particularly if your House member is a democrat, would you please go HEREsend to him or her an email of support for this important bill?   
*SJR 0127 by Maggart
Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion; states that the people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
For more information, go HERE.
          As I said in the update on the April 8th, the abortion is never treated the same as any other issue. SJR 127 was in Calendar and Rules on Thursday morning. Apparently there had been discussions prior to that time about the fact the language in the bill called for it to be published on the Secretary of State’s website instead of the newspapers which has been the way amendments have always been published. The traditional newspaper publication requirement carries a fiscal note of $20,000, which would have meant a trip through the Finance Committees. Secretary of State Tré Hargett had even issued a memo that his office would absorb the cost of the required publication.
          As the committee convened, Calendar and Rules Chairman Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) made a statement explaining the problem saying that to be consistent there had been an agreement to send SJR 127 back to the Budget Subcommittee (otherwise known as the ‘black hole committee’ because many things that go into that committee that never see the light of day again). Dunn said that he has been assured by the Chairman of the Budget Subcommittee, Rep. Harry Tindell (D-Knoxville) and the Chairman of the full Finance Committee, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), that SJR 127 would come through their committees and be sent back to the Calendar Committee. Nothing about this issue is ever easy!!
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to continue to make those very important contacts.

The State Constitution requires that the voters actually elect their judges. Article VI, Section 3: “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.”
          Despite this very clear language, our Supreme Court and Appellate Judges are not ‘elected’. The Governor chooses these justices/judges from a slate given to him by the Judicial Selection Commission. Then when they are ‘up for election’ the voter only gets to decide whether or not to ‘retain’ these men and women on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. This is referred to as the “Tennessee Plan.”
          This Commission was not re-authorized last year and is in a period of ‘wind down’ which will end this summer with the Commission simply going away.
The decision that the legislature must make is whether to actually follow the State Constitution or to change the Constitution to support some other plan. Remember, the people of have never consented to this ‘retention election’ plan.
          A flurry of bills are now in motion and the language and amendments are now under review.
On Tuesday testimony was heard on the Constitutionality of the “Tennessee Plan” in the Civil Practice Subcommittee. Several testified, but no one gave a more impassioned plea for following the Constitution that John Jay Hooker. I urge you to go HERE and move the blue slide over to 25:10. For more background on this very important issue, go HERE.

Wine, Wineries - As introduced, creates an additional class of licenses allowing the sale of wine at certain retail food stores; requires person purchasing wine at certain retail food stores to present photo identification.
The House bill, HR 1158, is in Local Government Subcommittee this week.
ACTION ITEM: Please go
HERE to send an email to your senator and representative.

Religion and Religious Organizations - As introduced, prohibits a government entity from substantially burdening a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates the application of the burden is essential to further a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
          In a culture that is continually trying to restrict our religious freedoms, this excellent bill introduced by Family Action Council of Tennessee endeavors to provide much needed protection. For background information, go HERE. Both bills were postponed from last week but are on the respective calendars for next week.
HERE to send an email of support.
Memorials, Congress - Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee's sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution.
From Rep. Susan Lynn’s (R-Mt. Juliet) Blog: State sovereignty is a big deal to state legislators; hopefully, it is to you as well. It is what keeps the federal government from over stepping its constitutional bounds. Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution. The history of the formation of our federal government is long and complex but what the framers sought was a government that protected man’s natural rights; declared by the Declaration of Independence to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness. Read more here.
ACTION ITEM: This important resolution was postponed but is in the Civil Practice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Go HEREto send an email of support.

Now you can track legislators per deim and travel reimbursements. For the Senators, go HERE.  For the Representatives, go HERE.
Since Republicans gained the numerical majority in the General Assembly, many of you have been very interested in the new make up of the County Election Commission. Those appointments have now been made and are available at the links below.
2009 – 2011 County Election Commissioners
(Posted 4/7/2009) Persons appointed to the County Election Commission shall qualify within twenty (20) days after their April 6, 2009 appointment date by filing their Oath of Office with the State Election Commission. New Appointments | Holdovers

The Tennessee Institute of Public Health has published the 2009 County Health Snapshot. This report contains a wealth of information about each of our 95 counties. Categories include Health Care, Health Behaviors (includes teen pregnancy, STDs, etc.), Socioeconomic Factors and Physical Environment.