Legislative Update, FINAL, June 12, 2010

 LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT   

June 12, 2010  
 
Tennessee General Assembly information and contacts: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select House or Senate, then ‘Members’.
Don’t forget that you can now watch on your computer the committee meetings and the floor sessions: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/livevideo/

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).

We are the most free and most educated, creative, talented, energetic, and healthy people on earth---and we are now operating at less than half our potential, perhaps less than a third our potential! There’s no telling what we can accomplish if only the government would get out of the way and let us load the wagon. The American Dream is not a sniveling, envious hope that everyone be leveled with everyone else. It is the freedom and encouragement to climb as high up the ladder of opportunity as possible, and obtain a just reward based on our efforts and abilities.
~~An American Renaissance: A Strategy for the 1980s, Jack Kemp


FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
To a joyous celebration and a big ‘welcome home’ banner on their fence, Jenna Hensley, 8-year-old daughter of Rep. Joey Hensley, M.D. (R-Hohenwald), went home on Thursday. Please continue to remember her as she recuperates from the significant injuries she suffered when she was hit by a truck. She still has a long way to go to complete recovery. Also remember, Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis). He underwent an emergency appendectomy this week. Our sympathy to Rep. Lon Lundberg (R-Bristol) in the loss of his stepmother and to Suzanne Cobb, wife of Rep. Jim Cobb (R-Spring City), in the loss of her step-father, “father of her heart” for over 30 years.
 
gavelThe House and Senate adjourned Sine Die after one a.m. on Thursday morning when the 106th Tennessee General Assembly completed their work. HOORAY!!
 
 
 
NOTE: I have had inquiries about legislators who were ‘excused’ this week from the legislative session. When the General Assembly is in session far longer that anticipated, it bumps up against plans that have been made that cannot be altered. When that happens, the legislators are ‘excused’. In addition, some legislators had family deaths and health problems.

PLEASE HELP US CLOSE OUT THE LEGISLATIVE YEAR:
If this unique service has been helpful to you during this legislative session, would you give a donatespecial gift to help with the significant expenses associated with putting into your hands the information you need to be an effective participant in YOUR government? [Example: I just received the $2500.00 invoice for VoterVoice, our email distribution and alert system.] You can help us close out this legislative session in good shape and prepare for the campaign season ahead by making your check payable to TN Eagle Forum and sending it to 3216 Bluewater Trace, Nashville, TN, 37217 or going to the website, www.tneagleforum.org and clicking on the PayPal button. [NOTE: Donations are not tax-deductible.]
 
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
This was the week of ‘good byes’ to a number of legislators.
SENATE: Sen. Dewayne Bunch (R-Cleveland) retiring; Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) retiring, running for Knoxville mayor.
HOUSE: Rep. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) running for State Senate District 9; Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) running for State Senate District 7; Rep. John Litz (D-Morristown) retiring; Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Lebanon) running for State Senate District 17; Rep. Joe McCord (R-Maryville) retiring; Rep. Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) retiring; Rep. Donna Rowland (R-Murfreesboro) retiring; Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) retiring.

SOME CLARIFICATION:
The choice of words used in Thursday’s post evidently caused some undue confusion, so I want to clarify. When the term ‘original’ bill was used, that referred to the term used in the caption of the bills (see below) not the sequence, internal text, or importance of the bills.
         As you know may know, a resolution and several bills were introduced in response to Congress passing ObamaCare. The resolution handily passed both houses. The two bills that were run did not fare as well (bill descriptions below). SB3489 passed the Senate 26-1-5; HB3433 failed by one vote in the House Budget Subcommittee.
           SB2560 originally sponsored by Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin), was never moved in the Senate. HB2622 had a very difficult journey but finally made it to the House floor were, after an extended and contentious debate, it passed 53-32 (you have to scroll down the find that vote). Sen. Black used a Senate Rule to pull SB2560 out of the closed committee straight to the Senate floor. The vote was 22-10 (Senate votes on this bill are not yet posted on the legislative website).
           Sen. Black turned the SB2560 over the Sen. Mae Beavers and the senate amended into the bill the language from SB3498 and sent it back to the House. What happened then is way too complicated and long to include here, but let’s just say it was ‘sausage making’ at its finest. [“There are two things you should never watch being made: one is sausage, the other is Law”.]
          After all the maneuvering, objecting, and the two houses being unable to reach agreement and in an effort to get something out of all this expended energy, a Conference Committee was appointed. After more confrontation and debate, much of which centered on the Constitutionality of the of the original text of each (the Attorney General had opined that SB2560-HB2622 was Constitutional, see opinion HERE; and that SB3498-HB3433 would likely be preempted by federal law, opinion HERE), and what might be vetoed by the Governor, the Committee issued a report – can be seen HERE. The House failed to adopt that compromise report 44-39 (50 votes needed).
          You can be sure that this issue will be ‘front and center’ in the 107th General Assembly in January.

ACTIVE EFFORTS THAT ADDRESSED FEDERAL HEALTHCARE DEMANDS:
*HJR 0704 by *Lynn
Memorials, Congress - Expresses opposition to the institution of new federal review, oversight, or preemption of state health insurance laws, the creation of a federal health insurance exchange or connector, and the creation of a federal health insurance plan (public plan) option. HJR704 passed the House 66-29-1; passed the Senate 24-4-1.
 
Introduced: January 14, 2010
SB 2560 by *Beavers and others ;*HB 2622 by *Lynn and others
As introduced, prohibits the legislature from requiring any person to participate in any health care system or plan.
 
Introduced: January 28, 2010
SB 3498 by *Beavers and others; *HB 3433 by *Bell and others
As introduced, enacts "Tennessee Health Freedom Act."

                                             OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST:
 
PROVE CITIZENSHIP IF ARRESTED:
SB 1141 by *Gresham , Beavers, Tracy, Southerland, Watson, Crowe, Ramsey, Johnson, Ketron *HB 0670 by *Dennis , Rich, Evans, Watson, Carr, Bell, Haynes, cuffsMcCormick, Coley, Casada, Shipley, Fincher, Campfield, Hensley, Hill, Coleman, Hawk, Eldridge, Swafford, Lynn, Brooks H, Faulkner, Matlock, Halford, Williams
          Originally, this legislation required a keeper of a jail to notify the department of homeland security by facsimile transmission or other means of prisoners whose citizenship status in this country cannot be determined at time of arrest from documents in the prisoner's possession or if person is in this country illegally
          After much debate on the House and Senate floors, the versions were not identical, so the proposal was sent to a Conference Committee to resolve those differences. The compromise directed the Tennessee Peace Officer standards and training commission to develop a standardized written procedure for verifying the citizenship states of those arrested.
See Conference Committee Report HERE. This report was adopted by the Senate 24-7; and the House 57-30-1Bill Requiring Jailers Check for Illegal Immigrants Goes to Gov.

PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP TO VOTE:
SB 0194 by *Bunch , Johnson, Gresham, Kelsey, Beavers, Tracy, Black, Norris
*HB 0270 by *Watson
, Rich, Bass, Evans, Lollar, Maggart, Lynn, Campfield, Carr, Shipley, voteMcCormick, Yokley, Weaver, Fincher, Hill, Bell, Brooks H, Hensley, White, Coley, Brooks K, Halford, Roach, Todd, McManus, Ford , Shepard, Jones S, Moore, Floyd, Coleman, Fitzhugh, Shaw, Bone, Fraley, Matheny, Hackworth, Pruitt, Barker, Lundberg, Ferguson, Dunn, Sontany, Litz, Eldridge, Montgomery, Sargent, Faulkner, Harrison, Haynes, Cobb T, Dean, Maddox, Winningham, Hawk, Marsh, Niceley, Swafford, Dennis, Williams.
         
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.
STATUS: After much ‘sausage making’ the respective bodies could not reach agreement on language and each Speaker appointed a Conference Committee to work out a compromise. Unfortunately, it appears that the Committee did not issue a report thus leaving this important issue to be addressed in 2011.

LEGALIZING MARIJUANA:
leaf*SB 2511 by *Marrero B ( HB 2562 by *Richardson , Turner M, Jones S, Camper, Turner J, Kernell, West, Favors, Brown, Moore, Shepard, Stewart, Miller L, Cooper B, Shaw, Pruitt, Tidwell)
As introduced, enacts the "Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act."
STATUS: 
Although the House bill made its way through the system to the Calendar and Rules Committee, fortunately it went no further; the Senate bill was never run. I fully expect to see this raise its ugly head next year.


TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CAMERAS:
The issue of traffic cameras was one of the hottest topics during this legislative session. Numerous bills were filed this year to either ban or lessen the impact of traffic cameras in Tennessee, after public outcry reached a camerafever pitch. Cities and counties in Tennessee have increasingly turned to the automated systems for surveillance of intersections and roadways. The Tennessee General Assembly studied the use of traffic cameras over the summer and fall of 2009. Lawmakers echoed criticisms from constituents that in addition to a violation of rights, the motivation behind the cameras is money, not safety. Proponents of the cameras argue that safety is the priority in using the cameras.
SB 3586 by *Ketron ( *HB 2875 by *Curtiss
         
On the House floor, this bill was amended to address this volatile topic, text can be seen
HERE. Ultimately, nothing passed but this is another issue that will be back again next year. Bill to Restrict Red Light Cameras Quietly Killed.

 
LEGISLATURE PASSES A NO TAX BUDGET:
         
The $28.6 billion no tax budget, which funds state government for the 2010-2011 fiscal year beginning July 1, prioritizes education, jobs, public health and safety, and makes provisions for recovering from one of the worst disasters in Tennessee history.   
          The budget allocates $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund for flood relief to be used by cash-strapped county and city governments for recovery and to deter local tax hikes that might otherwise be proposed for that purpose.  It also provides $19.95 million in flood relief for sales tax rebates on major appliances, furniture and building materials purchased by victims certified by FEMA for federal assistance.  An additional $10 million was added to the state’s Agricultural Enhancement Grant funds to assist farmers who were especially hard it by flooding.