Legislative Update, January 21, 2012


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going
HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).


A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.  
                                                  John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
"First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."  I Timothy 2:1-2.  I urge you to continue to pray for our lawmakers, their families, and their staff.  The pace of the session will pick up shortly and many important decisions will be made that will impact your day-to-day life.  Let's be obedient and faithful.

COMMENT AND CHALLENGE:
It always takes awhile to 'feed the Beast' (get bills moving into the committees for action) to get the session really underway. The hottest topic this past week has been the consequences of redistricting and "who is running, who isn't, etc."  This update will address much of that. 
Now on to the 'CHALLENGE".  One of our subscribers had a GREAT idea.  She sent Tennessee Eagle Forum a check for $25.00 to mark my 25th  year at the legislature and challenged other subscribers to do the same.  Now, I have to say, I loved the idea.  Starting the new year with additional needed resources would be WONDERFUL!! So....if you are inclined....you might take up her challenge.  (Donations are not tax deductible.)

WHAT CONSTITUTES A REALLY BIG OOPS?
TN county's omission may mean redistricting revote

Thought Tennessee’s arduous redistricting process was over? Not so fast.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris confirmed Tuesday that Tipton County was inadvertently omitted from the upper chamber’s redistricting measure passed last week. The missing county is part of Norris’ redrawn Senate district.
The Legislature will need to pass the measure again to correct the error, Norris said.
The Collierville Republican said the mistake was caught before the measure was sent to the governor for his signature, meaning lawmakers can move to reconsider their previous action.The language of the bill lists the areas of Shelby County that Norris would represent, but fails to mention Tipton County.  Read more here.

Tipton County restored to TN redistricting Plan
The Senate has voted to restore Tipton County to the upper chamber’s redistricting plan.The West Tennessee county that is in Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ redrawn district, had been inadvertently omitted by the upper chamber when it passed its plan last week. Read more here.
STATUS:  SB 1514 by *Norris ( *HB 1557 by *McDaniel) The bills were brought back to both chambers.  The Senate passed the bill 22-10; the House passed it 75-19-1.


HOUSE PASSES PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO PREVENT AN INCOME TAX:
      Note the process:  A proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution must be passed by one General Assembly by a simple majority then the exact language is brought back to the next General Assembly (after an election cycle) where it must be passed by a two-thirds majority.  Then that language goes before the people for a vote at the next gubernatorial election where the amendment must receive 50% + 1 of the votes cast in the Governor's race to be added to the Constitution.     
      Last May 18th, the Senate voted 26-4 for the measure  and moved it to the House. The action for the 107th General Assembly was completed on Thursday, January 19, when SJR221 was on the House floor where, after a lengthy debate, it passed 73-17-3. The good news is not only that it passed, but you will note that the votes in both chambers are more than the two-thirds that will be required in the 108th General Assembly.

*SJR0221 by *Kelsey, *Berke, *Johnson, *Gresham, *Beavers, *Stewart, *McNally, *Ramsey, *Tracy, *Southerland, *Watson, *Crowe, *Yager, *Ketron, *Bell, *Campfield, *Summerville, *Faulk, *Norris, *Woodson, *Overbey, *Roberts.
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes additional language in Article II, Section 28 to explicitly prohibit the general assembly from levying, authorizing or otherwise permitting any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income. -
          Ayes...............................................73
          Noes...............................................17
          Present and not voting.......................3


Representatives voting aye were: Alexander, Bass, Brooks H, Brooks K, Butt, Campbell, Carr, Casada, Cobb, Coley, Dean, DeBerry J, Dennis, Dunn, Elam, Eldridge, Evans, Faison, Fitzhugh, Floyd, Ford, Forgety, Gotto, Halford, Hall, Harrison, Hawk, Haynes, Hensley, Hill, Holt, Hurley, Johnson C, Johnson P, Keisling, Lollar, Lundberg, Maggart, Marsh, Matheny, Matlock, McCormick, McDaniel, McDonald, McManus, Miller D, Montgomery, Niceley, Odom, Parkinson, Pody, Powers, Pruitt, Ragan, Ramsey, Rich, Sanderson, Sargent, Sexton, Shipley, Sparks, Swann, Tidwell, Todd, Watson, Weaver, White, Williams K, Williams R, Windle, Wirgau, Womick, Madam Speaker Harwell -- 73.

Representatives voting no were: Camper, Cooper, Curtiss, DeBerry L, Hardaway, Harmon, Kernell, Miller L, Moore, Naifeh, Pitts, Richardson, Shaw, Stewart, Tindell, Towns, Turner J -- 17.
          Representatives present and not voting were: Armstrong, Gilmore, Sontany -- 3.


NO SQUATTING ON PUBLIC PROPERTY:
Well, it is about time!!  Citizens have the Constitutional right to assemble and the Constitutional right to free speech.  They DO NOT have any right to live on Legislative Plaza and the idea that they are still there is appalling. Tennesseans have a beautiful Plaza that provides a lovely view of the State Capitol.  All the tents, to porta-potties, garbage, people urinating on that expensive marble, the homeless joining the 'occupiers', have created an ugly mess and there is no reason for it!!  Thankfully, a bill has been introduced that will speak to this travesty. 

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Oust Occupy Nashville
State lawmakers have proposed making it illegal to squat on public property – a move to get rid of the “Occupy Nashville” protesters, whose tents line the War Memorial Plaza just outside the General Assembly’s offices.
Eric Watson, a Republican from Cleveland, filed a House bill to make it a misdemeanor to “maintain living quarters” on publicly owned property not designated for residential use.
It also makes it a misdemeanor offense to “pose a health hazard or threat” to public safety. Violators could be thrown off the property and be liable for any damages.
Read more here.
SB 2508 by *Gresham ( *HB 2638 by *Watson)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, prevents people from living on publicly-owned property not designated for residential use and prohibits people using publicly-owned property from posing a health hazard or threat to the safety and welfare of other.

LAWFUL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT ACT:
*SB 0780 by *Ketron ( HB 1380 by *Carr)

Immigration - As introduced, enacts the "Lawful Immigration Enforcement Act."
Generally, this bill:
(1) Revises the present law prohibition against local officials interfering with the ability of a local governmental entity, official or employee of a municipality or county to comply with federal law pertaining to persons who reside within the state illegally and revises a person's remedies when the person believes an official is violating this prohibition;
(2) Requires any law enforcement officer who makes a lawful stop or detention of a person for a violation of a state law or local ordinance and who has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person stopped or detained is unlawfully present in the Untied States, to request verification of the immigration status of such person from federal immigration authorities;
(3) Revises the materials that the curriculum requirements of the Tennessee peace officer standards and training commission must include;
(4) Creates the lawful immigration enforcement fund to provide grants to law enforcement agencies for reimbursing the agencies for enforcement costs under this bill that are associated with housing and transporting persons who are unlawfully present in the United States; and
(5) Enacts other provisions regarding immigration.
STATUS:  HB1380 will be in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 25th. Please contact these members and urge them to vote for this legislation:
Curtis Johnson, Vice-Chair,Lois DeBerry, Craig Fitzhugh, Gerald McCormick, Steve McDaniel , Jimmy Naifeh,Gary Odom, Dennis Roach, Charles Sargent,Harry Tindell, Johnny Shaw

AG Says Legislature Could Impose Special Restrictions on Senior Citizen Driving

The Tennessean has a lengthy story today on the possibility of Tennessee imposing extra restrictions on senior citizens' drivers licenses.
The idea has been floated in the past, but not for years. If memory serves, former Rep. Frank Buck of Dowelltown once filed a bill calling for vision testing of older drivers when their licenses came up for renewal, but it caused such an uproar he backed off.
As the story notes, Rep. Eddie Bass recently sought an attorney general's opinion on the subject and it basically gives a green light to laws imposing special restrictions on older drivers. But it is suggested that filing of any such bill is highly unlikely in this election year. Read more here.

Harry Tindell Won't Seek Reelection; Sees 'Coin Toss' Election for Successor

State Rep. Harry Tindell said today he will end his 22-year career in the state House rather than seek reelection to a seat that will require an intense, vigorous campaign after redistricting.
"It's going to take a lot of work and long hours for campaigning, the fundraising," said Democrat Tindell, 51. "I'm not sure I'm going to have the ability to do it all with all the commitments I've already made.'
The House District 13 seat that Tindell now holds was transformed by a Republican-drafted redistricting bill approved last week into what he described as 'a coin-toss district."
"I think it's going to be the most competitive district in the state," he said "I think people want two choices. I think all districts in the state should be this way." Read more here

Rep. Hensley Makes It Official: He's Running for the Senate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Republican state Rep. Joey Hensley says he plans to run for a new state Senate district in southern Middle Tennessee.
Hensley, a 56-year-old Hohenwald physician, noted Wednesday that the Senate seat created through the state's redistricting plans includes Lewis, Lawrence and Wayne counties, which he has represented in the House for nearly 10 years. Read more here.

Rep. Harmon Eyes Run for State Senate

Democratic Rep. Bill Harmon says he might run for the state Senate rather than for reelection to a state House seat that has been redistricted to pair him with Republican Rep. Jim Cobb.
The Senate seat in question is District 16, currently held by Democratic Sen. Eric Stewart, who has announced plans to run for the 4th District Congressional seat. Before and after redistricting, district 16 includes Sequatchie County, Harmon's home. Most rate it as leaning Democratic, though not dramatically so.
In the House, redistricting pairs Harmon and Cobb in new District 31. The House district stretches from Sequatchie and Bledsoe through Rhea County, Cobb's home, and into southwestern Roane County. Most rate it as leaning Republican, though not dramatically so.
"Probably," replied Harmon when asked whether he could win against Cobb. "I'm first going to look at (running for) the Senate." "Can I win in that district? Yes," said Cobb.  Read more here.