Legislative Update, May 1, 2010

LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT

May 1, 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).

It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free well, even with some loss to the object, than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments of a political benevolence. The world on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.  ~~ Edmund Burke

 
FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
The brother of Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), Scott Stoner, died last week. The son of Ruth Adams, assistant to Representatives Nicely and Campfield, had open-heart surgery on Tuesday. Is now in recovery. The 83-year-old mother of Rep. David Shepard (D-Dickson) is in the hospital with cancer. Please pray for these needs.
 
TENNESSEE LAWS FOR TENNESSEE COURTS:
*SB 3740 by *Bunch ( HB 3768 by *Dennis, Lundberg, Campfield, Niceley, Coley, Evans, Weaver, Floyd, Brooks H, Lynn, Maggart, White, Rich, Lollar, Halford, Moore, Carr)
 
Civil Procedure - As introduced, establishes that contracts based on the law of any foreign state or country that incorporates substantive or procedural law that would violate rights and privileges granted under the U.S. or Tennessee constitution are against the public policy of this state and are void and unenforceable in this state.
                         ***THRILLED TO REPORT****
STATUS: HB3768 was on the house floor Monday evening where Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) did an excellent job of presenting this important legislation. Actually, he did such a good job, he received only minimal questioning which he handled deftly as he guided the proposal to a 96-0-l VICTORY!! We are VERY grateful to Rep. Dennis for his dedication to crafting and passing this ground-breaking legislation.
STATUS: We had been in Senate Judiciary Committee since March 23rd with SB3740. On Tuesday, April 27, the bill, in its final form, was presented by Sen. Dewayne Bunch. Joanne Bregman, our brilliant attorney presented her testimony. Please go HERE to see video, under “Items”, click on SB3740.
When the vote was taken, SB 3740 passed 6-0-1:
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Faulk, Overbey, Kelsey -- 6.
Senators present and not voting were: Marrero B -- 1.
ACTION: We expect this legislation to be on the Senate Floor Thursday, May 6. Please go HERE to send an email of support to your state senator.

 
**HOUSE VICTORY** -- PROTECTING OUR US CONSTITUTION:
HJR 0030 by Hill, Moore, White
General Assembly - As introduced, rescinds three specific resolutions from 1977 and any other resolutions passed at any time that call for a federal constitutional convention. For background information, please see these links:
Why the Tennessee Legislature Should Rescind Its Calls For a Federal Constitutional Convention.
Letter from retired Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to Phyllis Schlafly on the dangers of a Federal Constitutional Convention
HERE.
 STATUS:On Thursday, April 29, at 9:45 a.m. Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and Rep. Gary Moore (D-Nashville) took the ‘well’ (the podium at the front of the House Chamber) to present HJR30. This capable young legislator introduced the resolution and then the vigorous debate began.  
Matthew was peppered with questions by his colleagues –some relevant to the intent of the proposal, some not relevant. Regardless, Matthew was well prepared and calmly responded to each inquiry. Rep. Moore also spoke in favor of HJR30. In fact, I want to express deep appreciation to Rep. Moore. Without his principled support, this may have broken down into a partisan battle that we might not have won. There should be nothing partisan about protecting the integrity of the US Constitution.
Twice the ‘question was called for’ (if challenged, requires 2/3s to cut off debate), and twice these motions were defeated. Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) did his best to convince his colleagues to vote against this proposal; Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) offered an amendment to make the rescissions conditional – thankfully, his amendment was ‘tabled’ 69-19-1. Some 45 minutes later, when the dust settled, HJR30 passed the House 65-23-4. 
Best line of the day? In answer to a question about how long ago the original calls for a convention were issued, Matthew responded: “before I was born!” 

We are VERY grateful to Rep. Hill for his dedication and hard work and to the 64 colleagues who joined him to bring about this victory—now on to the Senate where it will probably be in committee the week of May 10. We will keep you updated as soon as we can.
 
TENNESSEE HEALTH CARE FREEDOM ACT:
*HB 3433 by *Bell , Weaver, Harwell, Carr, Williams, Dunn, McDaniel, Matheny, Maggart, Dean, Lynn, Campfield, Rich, Shipley, Brooks K, Watson, Floyd, Rowland, McManus, Coley, Lollar, Lundberg, Hawk, Eldridge, Johnson C, Cobb J, Mumpower, Niceley, Matlock, Faulkner, Hill, Halford, McCormick, Ford , Johnson P, West, Marsh, Haynes, Dennis, Swafford, White, Casada, Hensley, Evans ( SB 3498 by *Beavers)
STATUS: HB3433 was in the House Budget Subcommittee where, because of its fiscal note, was placed ‘behind the budget’.


FETAL HOMOCIDE:
SB 3699 by *Black ( *HB 3495 by *Evans , Shepard, Hensley, Rich, Curtiss, Fincher, Shipley)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, specifies that when a defendant commits a homicide or assault against a pregnant woman, the woman's fetus, regardless of viability, is also considered a victim of the offense.
STATUS: SB3699 was voted out of Senate Judiciary
7-1 and moved to Finance Ways and Means. Because of the fiscal note of $71,300, HB3495 it has been put ‘behind the budget’.

 
ELECTING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL PASSES STATE SENATE:
*SJR 0698 by *Beavers , Kelsey, Johnson, Black, Tracy
Constitutional Amendments - Provides for the direct popular election of the state attorney general. Tennessee is the only state in the nation that allows the State Supreme Court to select the attorney general. 
STATUS: SJR698 passed the State Senate
19-14, and has been referred to House Judiciary.


REQUIRING AN IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE:
SB 2965 by *Beavers , Black, Faulk, Southerland, Norris, Watson, Tracy, Yager, Gresham, Woodson, Crowe, Burks, Herron ( *HB 2768 by *Shipley Cobb T, Weaver, Hill, Lundberg, Carr, Lynn, Watson, Mumpower, West, Bell, Lollar, Casada, Halford, Hensley, Dean, Cobb J, White, Todd, Rich, Eldridge, Johnson P, Maggart, Towns, Campfield, Fraley, Faulkner, Matheny, McManus, Brooks K, Tidwell, Evans, Shepard, Williams, Montgomery, Haynes, Hawk, Harwell, Jones S, Matlock, Johnson C, Brooks H, Dunn, Roach, Sargent, Marsh, Harrison, McDaniel, Coley, Ramsey, Floyd, Dennis, Coleman, Barker, Gilmore, Winningham, McDonald)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device
STATUS: SB2965 passed the Senate
31-0; after a lot of grueling hard work and being in the House Budget Subcommittee for several weeks, Rep. Shipley finally was able to get it out this week and moved on to the full Finance committee.

ENGLISH IN THE WORKPLACE:
SB 2753 by *Johnson ( *HB 2685 by *Hill)
Employees, Employers - As introduced, authorizes employers to require English be spoken in the workplace if necessary to conduct the employer's business.
STATUS: As amended, SB2753 passed the Senate
28-2-1; passed the House 80-14-2.


AMENDMENT TO PROHIBIT A STATE INCOME TAX:
*SJR 0763 by *Kelsey , Jackson, McNally, Black, Beavers, Ramsey, Gresham, Bunch, Burchett, Tracy, Ketron, Faulk, Southerland, Johnson, Watson, Norris, Yager
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to clarify the constitutional language that currently prohibits the levying of a tax on any class of income, other than income derived from stocks and bonds, and to prohibit any tax levied on or measured by employer payrolls
STATUS: Passed the State Senate
25-7; because of the fiscal note, it was placed behind the budget in House Budget Subcommittee.

 
MarijuanaTHE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF ‘MEDICAL MARIJUANA’:
*SB 2511 by *Marrero B ( HB 2562 by *Richardson)
Drugs - As introduced, enacts the "Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act."
STATUS: After a number of weeks in House Health and Human Services Committee which included a number of people testifying in favor of medical marijuana, it became clear that HB2562 was not going to pass. The proponents of the legislation turned it into a ‘study’ of medical marijuana use and it was passed.    Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail Rep.(s) Halford, Maggart, Rich, Shipley requested to be recorded as voting No. 
TN May study medical marijuana use. It is now in House Budget Subcommittee.
An interesting note, SB2511 has not been moved at all in the State Senate.
 
PROHIBITING THE REQUIREMENT TO PARTICIPATE IN HEATH CARE PLAN:
*HB 2622 by *Lynn , Maggart, Swafford ( SB 2560 by *Black)
Health Care - As introduced, prohibits the legislature from requiring any person to participate in any health care system or plan
STATUS: HB2622 has passed House Commerce Committee and will be in Calendar and Rules on May 4. SB2560 has not yet been heard in the Senate Committee.


DRIVERS’ EXAMS IN ENGLISH:
*SB 0063 by *KetronN Bunch, Tracy ( HB 0262 by *Watson)
Driver Licenses - As introduced, requires that all written examinations for driver license or intermediate driver license be in English; as amended, excepts out those in this country as authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.
STATUS: SB63 has passed Senate Transportation and Finance Committee and sent to the Calendar Committee; HB262 has passed House Transportation Committee and is now in House Budget Subcommittee.
 
GOOD NEWS FOR TENNESSEE:
The Nashville Business Journal reported this week that Tennessee is ranked as the 13th best state for business with regards to taxes in the country by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC). Contributing to Tennessee’s climb up the list is its lack of a state income tax and a capital gains tax. The SBEC also added that low property taxes, cheap diesel taxes and low gasoline taxes were contributing factors.
 
Governor Bredesen’s proposed budget HERE.