Legislative Update, March 10, 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).


And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever..."  Thomas Jefferson

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Please continue to remember Rep. Tim Wirgau's (R-Paris) nephew, Conner.  The good news is that, despite the near death, horrendous car wreck he was in, he is making progress in Vanderbilt Hospital. He is experiencing periods of recognition and even doing some funny things like putting the napkin in his mouth when he didn't want any more food!!  Do pray for Conner's complete healing and for his family as they walk through this long journey with him. Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) has been suffering from a respiratory infection.
Would also ask that you continue to remember Ron and me.  The film from Summit is now in the hands of the cardiologists at Vanderbilt for their review. We expect more information next week and, based on that, will have important decisions to make.  It has been such a comfort for us to know that so many people have been 'holding our arms up' as we make this journey.  I am reminded of the Scripture about being surrounded by 'so great a cloud of witnesses'. I feel like we are surrounded by 'a great cloud' of prayer partners.  Situations like this are definitely where the spiritual 'rubber meets the road' and it is my desire that we walk in God's peace, plan, purpose, and provision.  We have already seen many answers to prayer as we have been connected to outstanding health care professionals that have given us great peace and comfort.


Don't forget that we lose an hour of sleep this weekend.  Ugh!







FULL FACE PHOTO ON DRIVER'S LICENSE:
SB 2613 by *Tracy ( *HB 2547 by *Hill)
Driver Licenses - As introduced, requires visible full face color photograph of a licensee.
This TN Eagle Forum proposal is a simple bill that, as a safety measure, puts into state law the same photo requirements used for passports.
STATUS: So pleased to report that this bill passed the House 93-0, February 27th; and passed the Senate 32-0, March 5, and will soon be sent to the Governor for his signature
.

PUTTING TENNESSEE FIRST ACT:
SB 3345 by *Ketron ( *HB 3540 by *Matheny)
Schools, Charter - As introduced, regulates charter schools' relationships with foreign entities and the use of non-immigrant foreign workers by charter schools.
The purpose of this important bill is to ensure that charter school policies promote employment of Tennesseans as a top priority and to ensure transparency in disclosure of funding sources for Tennessee charter schools.  It  requires disclosure of all sources of funding and  also puts a cap on the number of H1B visas (documents that allow foreign nationals to come into the state to take teaching and staff positions at these schools, displacing Tennesseans) that a charter school can utilize and allows for revocation if that cap is exceeded.
STATUS:  HB3540 will be in House Education Subcommittee on Wednesday.Please contact these member and URGE them to support this important bill.
rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.dunn@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov,  and rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov.


EMPOWERING FAMILIES THROUGH INFORMATION ACT:
*SB 3178 by *Bell ( HB 3539 by *Matheny)
Schools, Charter - As introduced, makes charter schools subject to open meetings law; requires charter schools to maintain a web site and post certain notices and information on the web site; makes charter school records open records to the same extent as records of public schools operated by LEAs.  This important  bill will provide for families interesting in a Charter School the same information available on the Public School in that LEA.  Information IS power and that information should be made as accessible as possible.
STATUS:  Excited to report that HB3539 (
as amended) is scheduled on the House Floor on March 15th.  Please go HERE and URGE your Representative to vote for this importnat bill.


UNWELCOME CHANGES IN ADOPTION LAW:
 SB 2835 by *McNally (HB 3197 by *Ragan)
Adoption - As introduced, states that either party to an adoption may enforce contract provision providing for open adoption or visitation; allows certain adopted children to be issued new certificate of birth upon reaching age of majority.
        In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an adoptive parent, so I have a personal interest in this process.
With all due respect to the two sponsors, there is NOTHING good about this legislation. It is an effort to solve a single problem that would effect every adoptive family and potential adoptive in Tennessee. The purpose of adoption is to create a family that is just like a family that is created through natural birth. This bill would make distinctions between adoptive families and natural families that are unnecessary, that are probably unconstitutional on an equal protection basis, and could be harmful to the whole process of adoption going forward.  In my opinion, there is no way to 'fix' this bill, it should just be defeated.
STATUS:  HB3197 was postponed last week and it is in the Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee on Tuesday and I URGE you to contact these members and ask them to vote No on this bill:
rep.kevin.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, mark.white@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.sherry.jones@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jeanne.richardson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.art.swann@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.johnnie.turner@capitol.tn.gov.




OPPOSING AGENDA 21:
*HJR 0587 by *Brooks K , Faison, Carr, Womick, Floyd, Miller D, Maggart, Rich, Weaver, Hill, Niceley, Lollar, Johnson P, Halford, Gotto, Matheny, Campbell, Evans, Casada, Sparks, Butt, Dean, Hensley, Harrison, Williams R, Matlock, Cobb , Alexander, White, Forgety.
Statement of Intent or Position - Recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21.
STATUS:  HJR587 will be on the House Floor on March 15th. 
ACTION:  If your House member is not a co-sponsor (see names above), please go
HERE, and URGE your representative to sign on this important resolution and to vote for it.
For background information:

RNC Passes Resolution Exposing UN Agenda 21
Agenda 21 In One Easy Lesson

Former Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh won't seek re-election
NASHVILLE -- State Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington, the son of Lebanese emigrants who served as House speaker longer than anyone in Tennessee history, won't run for re-election this year after 38 years in the legislature, he said Thursday.
Naifeh, 72, a Democrat, was elected to the House in 1974 and re-elected 18 times. The House elected him its speaker nine times, from 1991 to 2009, when Republicans won a House majority. He's remained a vocal member, trading the podium for a desk at the back of the House chamber from which he has assailed bills that he considered injurious to people.
Read more here.

Republican state Sen. Mike Faulk won't seek a second term in the General Assembly's upper chamber.
The Kingsport attorney said in a statement released Thursday that he is retiring from the Legislature to spend more time with his ailing mother and to attend to his legal practice.
Fifty-eight-year-old Faulk won the seat in 2008 by defeating incumbent Sen. Mike Williams, who had shed his Republican Party affiliation to become an independent. Williams has since been elected mayor of Union County.
Read more here.

Rep. Eddie Bass Won't Seek Re-election
PULASKI, Tenn. (AP) -- State Rep. Eddie Bass, a Democrat who had considered running for re-election as a Republican, is retiring from the General Assembly.
Bass, a former Giles County sheriff, told WKSR-AM on Monday that he is leaving the Legislature to attend to his growing private businesses. He is the eighth Democratic lawmaker to announce his retirement this year
Read more here.


BIG CHANGES FOR THE NEXT TN GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
With all the retirements and the open districts, when the 108th Tennessee General Assembly convenes in January 2013, both the House and the Senate will look very different.  We already know that six senators will be gone: Berke (D), Haynes (D), Herron (D), Stewart (D), Faulk (R), and Roberts (R) who lost his seat to redistricting.  On the House side, these Democrat Representatives are retiring:
Naifeh, Bass, Harmon, Sontany and Tindell. Combining these with the candidates who will win the open seats, the people and dynamics of the 108th Legislature will be dramatically different.  At the first of this year I pulled out the picture book to see how many lawmakers were still serving, who were in the 1987 session 25 years ago when I started and found only 10 out of 132. One legislator (Art Swann) was there in 1987, left, and came back as a freshman in 2011. It is very interesting to look at the Seniority Ranking in both the House and the Senate.  The times, they are a changing.   House Seniority Ranking   --   Senate Seniority Ranking