Legislative Update, April 25, 2009


LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT                   
April 25, 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).

The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been slumbering. …But [the American people's] virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvers, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But times and truth dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes.
~~ Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Lomax, 1799




Please continue the remember the family of Speaker Kent Williams and the loss of his Dad and continue to remember Sharon’s Peters’ family (assistant to Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville) as they mourn the loss of Sharon’s 7-month-old granddaughter.
FOR PRAISING:  Republican Caucus Leader Glen Casada (R-College Grove) became a granddaddy this week when little Audrey was born. Congratulations! More good news, Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) was recently promoted to Lt. Colonel in the Guard. Congratulations! Windle has served a tour of duty in Iraq.



Education - As introduced, places restrictions on universal mental health testing, or psychiatric or socioemotional screening of juveniles; requires certain consent by a juvenile's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or caregiver before such testing can occur.
Beth Harwell          After FOUR LONG YEARS, the right of Tennessee Parents to control the mental health screening and treatment of their children is now secure.
We want to express our deep appreciation to a host of co-sponsors and our prime sponsors, Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) and Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) for being our champions on this very important effort. (Would you click on their names and send them a “Thank You” note?)
          SB 850 passed the Senate Floor 31-0, March 23, 2009. HB 1552 was on the House Floor Consent Calendar April 20. (To save time, bills that have no fiscal note and no amendments are put on this calendar and voted on as a group.) Coming under the heading of, ‘nothing is ever easy’, a legislator, who shall remain unnamed, did bump it off. When Rep. Harwell learned of this move, she spoke with him and then talked to me. Fortunately I had with me some explanatory information that she was able to use to defend the bill. Ultimately he agreed to remove his objection and amazingly, it stayed on the Consent Calendar, passing 95-0.
          The timing of this legislation COULD NOT BE MORE IMPORTANT as the State Board of Education is in the process of launching “Mental Health Standards and Guidelines”. The Department of Education has received a grant from the US Office of Education to address the “integration of schools and mental health systems. The purpose of this grant is to create a seamless system where students are identified, referred and followed-up for needed social, emotional, behavioral and mental health services so that they may achieve strong academic outcomes.” Reading this makes one wonder what is left for parents and families to do. At least with our legislation, they will have to have parental permission for the screening and testing.


Don’t miss the newest addition to the Tennessee Eagle Forum website. Go HERE to see great TEA party pictures and articles.


In the wake of the revelation that the Planned Parenthood office in Memphis was caught on tape counseling a prospective client that they thought was a 14-year-old girl, to lie about the age of her boyfriend 31-year-old to a judge, we have an excellent opportunity to do something that we have wanted to do for a long time – remove the $1.1 million of our tax dollars now going to this organization.
Approximately $1.1 million in Title 10 funds are provided to Planned Parenthood for women’s health-related services like family planning, birth control, and exams.  Although current law bans the use of the money for abortion, the Title 10 funds supplement the organization’s operations.  Every tax dollar they receive frees up more money to promote abortion.
Fortunately, there was a bill waiting in the wings to do just that.
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. Tenn. bill seeks to divert state funds from Planned Parenthood
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE and send an email of support to your Senator and Representative.

Constitutional Amendments - Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in


Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an


abortion; states that the people retain the right through their elected state representatives and

state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. For background on this important issue, click HERE.
SJR 127 is on the calendar for the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION ITEM:If you have ANY doubt about where your State Representative stands on this issue, please click HERE and send him or her an email of support.

Criminal Procedure - As introduced, adds as an advisory enhancement factor to sentencing that defendant intentionally chose victim of crime based on gender identity or expression.

Gender identity (or core gender identity) is a person's own sense of identification as male or female, another gender, or identifying with no gender.
Gender Expression is the physical manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through clothing, mannerisms, and chosen names. Transgender people usually have a gender expression that matches their gender identity, rather than their birth sex.
This is the section of the Enhancement Factors statute being amended:
(17) The defendant intentionally selected the person against whom the crime was committed or selected the property that was damaged or otherwise affected by the crime, in whole or in part, because of the defendant's belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or gender of that person or the owner or occupant of that property; however, this subdivision (17) should not be construed to permit the enhancement of a sexual offense on the basis of gender selection alone.”
          The present law is already problematic because it requires knowing what was in the heart of the person committing the crime, his ‘belief or perception’ about his victim. This legislation would add to this list people who ‘identify’ themselves or choose to ‘express’ their gender differently from the gender they were born. (Is this confusing, or what?)
          Amazingly, this bill was moved out of the Criminal Practice Subcommittee on a voice vote with no debate, no discussion, and no questions. It is in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.         If your House member is among those here, please send an email asking them to oppose this bill: Jon Lundberg, Eddie Bass, Vance Dennis, Chad Faulkner, Brian Kelsey, Judd Matheny, Eric Watson.



Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.

The good news is that this bill had passed the Senate 29-3-1. The bad news is that it was defeated in the House Elections Subcommittee along party lines.
This seems such a common sense requirement: Only citizens of the United States are authorized to vote to elect our local, state, and national leaders. Requiring a new voter to prove their citizenship before registering to vote seems so basic. We know that there is rampant voter fraud – we have seen it occasionally in this state and we saw it all over this nation during the most recent election. This takes on even more importance with redistricting on the horizon after the 2010 election cycle.
Voting No Democrats: Eddie Yokley, Chair Gary Moore, Harry Tindell
Voting Yes Republicans: Eric Watson, Vice-Chair, Jim Coley, Joshua Evans

A Senate-passed bill to require most Tennesseans to present a photo identification before voting failed on a tie vote in a House subcommittee today.





Memorials, Congress - Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee's sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution.

BACKGROUND: In the face of what is happening at the federal level, this proposal takes on even more importance. The latest numbers I have seen reflect that 33 states have introduced similar resolutions, which demonstrates widespread concern about the loss of state sovereignty. Tenth Amendment Talking Points
ACTION ITEM: This bill has been on the calendar for a number of weeks, but the Civil Practice Subcommittee has had such a long calendar, they have not gotten to it. Hopefully, they will this week. Please go HERE to send an email of support to your House member.


This bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday by a vote of 15-12. 
The House is expected to vote on H.R. 1913 this coming Wednesday, April 29th. 
“Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) reinforced the notion that people could be prosecuted for having a particular belief. "We also need to protect those potential victims who may be the recipients of hateful words or hateful acts, or even violent acts," said the Democratic lawmaker.”
As you can see from the articles linked above, this is one of the most important issues to come before Congress. If this is imposed on our nation, we will see widespread application and enforcement and it will eventually apply to the pulpit as it has in other countries. If you doubt that, read the section of federal law below, especially (b).

Title 18: § 2. Principals

(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.
          That is where pastors who are intent and committed to preaching the WHOLE gospel will get caught. For instance, if a person hears a sermon on homosexuality, then goes out and commits some terrible crime, the pastor could be accused of ‘causing’ a crime.
ACTION ITEM: PLEASE go HERE and send an email to your congressman.



As introduced, allows any resident who has a valid handgun carry permit to possess a handgun while within the boundaries of any state park. This bill passed the House Floor 71-22 and will now be heard in the Senate. Tennessee House approves guns in parks