Legislative Update, May 30, 2009


LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT                  
May 30, 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).

In 1858, the United States House of Representatives declared, “It [religion] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests…Christianity; in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions.”

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Is there something odd in the water at the Plaza? Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) had his gall bladder out on Friday. He is the third legislator to undergo that surgery in the past couple of months. Please remember him as he recovers. Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) remains absent as he recovers from open-heart surgery.
 
 
PLEASE DON’T FORGET: YOUR HELP IS NEEDED:
          With your support we have seen some significant victories this year. After four years of work, the bill requiring written, informed parental consent for prior to mental health screening of their students has become law. We were able to stop a bill requiring ‘comprehensive sex education’ before it was ever heard. We played a supporting role in the passage of SJR 127. We are expending a lot of time and energy trying to assure that the election of judges is put back into the hands of the people and not left to the lawyer groups.
As you might imagine, this work comes at a cost. We are completely dependent on donations (not tax deductible) for our existence. If you have been a subscriber for any length of time you know that Tennessee Eagle Forum offers a unique service to the families of our state – background information, educational materials, state and national alerts, and these Legislative Updates.
Last week I received a notice that my annual ‘professional privilege tax’ is due – it is a ‘privilege’ to represent YOU at the capitol, but the state charges me $400 a year for that privilege, plus $300 to lobby. In addition, our annual $2,000 bill for VoterVoice (our wonderful email delivery/contact service) will be due soon. Other costs include parking, office supplies, copier contract, etc. Will you make a donation TODAY? We really need the support. Checks can be sent to 3216 Bluewater Trace, Nashville, TN 37217, or go to the website Tennessee Eagle Forum and use PayPal.
 
 
 
CHANGING THE JUDICIAL PROCESS
This was so complicated and lengthy, it could not be covered appropriately in a regular update, so you will receive a SPECIAL EDITION which includes all pertinent vote and details of the ‘behind the scenes’ story. Here are links to some news stories:
 
 
*YOUR PRIVATE MEDICAL RECORDS IN GOVERNMENT HANDS?*
 
 
Insurance, Health, Accident - As introduced, exempts utilization review agents who are accredited by National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) from payment of annual fee; authorizes utilization review programs for the mental health and chemical dependency care to comply with either NCQA standards or Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) standards.
          This is a perfectly terrible bill that needs to be stopped in its tracks. It creates a database of your private medical records with questionable guarantees of privacy, contains no ‘opt out’ for your or your physician, contains many terms not defined, and could cost a lot of money.
For more detailed information, go HERE.
 SB 2239 is in Senate Finance this week; HB 2289 is in Budget Subcommittee this week.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email of opposition to this legislation.
 
 
 
OPPOSING THE U.N. CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD:
 
Memorials, Congress - Urges United States Senate to reject ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Anything coming from the United Nations is suspect on its face and certainly the UN should not be telling us how to raise our children. This Resolution urges our Senators to reject the ratification of the treaty.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email of support.
 
 
 
PROTECTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM:
 
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.
GOOD NEWS: On Thursday HB 1598 passed the House 89-1. SB 1283 is in Senate Calendar Committee. Go HERE to send an email of support to your Senator.
 
 
DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD:
 
Public Health - As introduced, establishes a new methodology for disposition of family planning funds that disburses funds to public women's health services programs before other providers are funded.
SB 470 is in Senate Finance on Tuesday; HB 1756 is in Budget Sub.
ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE to send an email to committee members.
 
 
 
PROTECTING STATE SOVEREIGNTY:
Memorials, Congress - Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee's sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution passed the House 85-2
and is now in the Senate.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email of support to your Senator.
 
 
KEEPING TENNESSEE FIREARMS FREE FROM FEDERAL LAWS AND REGS:
 
Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act."
This bill states that federal laws and regulations do not apply to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured in Tennessee and remains in Tennessee
On Thursday, HB 1796 passed the House 87-1; SB 1610 is in the Senate Calendar Committee.
 
 
NO GUANTANOMO PRISONERS IN STATE:
 
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Expresses opposition to the use of any local jail, state prison, or private detention facility in Tennessee to house any prisoner currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
          Closely watching what is happening at the national level, Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Murfreesboro) introduced a resolution opposing bringing any of the prisoners to Tennessee.
It passed the Finance Committee 11-0 and is on the Senate Floor Tuesday.
 
 
OPPOSING THE ‘CAP AND TRADE’ SYSTEM:
 
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Declares that Tennessee will not participate in a Federally-mandated carbon cap-and-trade
The measure comes after senior U.S. administration officials indicated that if Congress does not pass comprehensive legislation providing for a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas emissions they will press ahead unilaterally with proposals using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s existing authority under the Clean Air Act.
This resolution passed the Finance Committee 11-0 and is on the Senate Floor Tuesday.
 
 
YOUR WEAPONS CAN’T BE CONFISCATED:
 
Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, prohibits confiscations of lawfully possessed firearms and ammunition during periods of martial rule; clarifies firearm and ammunition restriction prohibitions during any state of emergency, major disaster, or natural disaster.
          Supporters correctly pointed to the weapons seizures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as a reason to pass this proposal.
SB 1992 passed the senate 25-1; HB 1778passed the House 88-4-3.
 
 
GOVERNOR VETOS RESTAURANTS CARRY BILL:
 
Firearms and Ammunition - As introduced, allows person with handgun carry permit to carry in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages as long as such person is not consuming alcoholic beverages and such restaurant is not an age-restricted venue.
SB 1127 passed the Senate 26-7: HB 962 passed the House 71-18.
          Unlike other states, in Tennessee it takes only a simple majority to override a gubernatorial veto. However, on principle, some legislators will not vote to override a veto, but with the large margins in both houses it is hard to think that the veto won’t be overridden.
Veto of guns-in-bars bill may not stick
Gov. Phil Bredesen vetoed a bill Thursday that would have allowed handgun carry permit holders to take their weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, sending a message that may prove only symbolic.
Read more here.
 
 
 
GUNS IN PARKS:
 
Handgun Permits - As introduced, allows any resident who has a valid handgun carry permit to possess a handgun while within the boundaries of any state park.
Passes Senate 24-8; passed House 71-22.
 
 
 
HORSE RACING IN TENNESSEE?
 
Pari-mutuel Betting - As introduced, re-establishes the Tennessee state racing commission to implement and administer the provisions of the Racing Control Act of 1987
This bill would have reinstituted the Racing Commission. The good news is that there was no senate companion, the better news is that is didn’t even get a motion when presented in committee on May 6.
 
 
 
PROVE CITIZENSHIP TO VOTE:
 
Election Laws - As introduced, requires citizenship status to be proven prior to registration to vote and requires certain procedures to ensure identity and citizenship status prior to voting
Unfortunately, HB 1823 failed in a House Subcommittee.
 
 
 
ENGLISH IN THE WORKPLACE:
 
Employees, Employers - As introduced, clarifies it is not a discriminatory practice under state law for an employer to institute an English-only policy in the employer’s workplace based on business necessity. Once again, something good failed in a house subcommittee.
 
 
DRIVER LICENSE EXAMS IN ENGLISH:
 
Driver Licenses - As introduced, requires all written driver license examinations be given in English. SB 11 passed the Senate; HB 293 failed in a House subcommittee.