Legislative Update, April 4, 2009

LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT                   
April 4, 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).
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.   ~~Ronald Reagan
Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville), who suffered a heart attack last week and had open-heart surgery is eager to go home but is having some arrhythmia problems. As soon as that is under control he will be released. Please remember him in your prayers. In addition, please pray that HB 1552 and SJR 127 will continue to move through the legislative process.
HB 1552 by *Harwell, Campfield, Bell, Brooks K, Shipley, Maggart, Lundberg, Matheny, Eldridge, Montgomery, Lynn, Hawk, Swafford, Cobb J, Hensley, Dennis, McCormick, Rowland, Harrison, Evans, Floyd, Tidwell, Dean, Hill, West, DeBerry J, Weaver, Dunn, Lollar, Johnson C, Brooks H, Matlock, Coley, Sargent, Kernell, Niceley, Rich, McManus, Ford , Johnson P, McCord
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.
HUGE VICTORY: I am thrilled to report that when our wonderful prime sponsor, Rep. Harwell (R-Nashville) presented HB 1552 in the Professional Occupations Subcommittee on Tuesday, a motion and second was made to move the bill out. Chairman (and cosponsor) Michael Harrison (R-Rogersville) asked if there were any questions. No one said anything. By unanimous voice vote the bill moved on to the Health and Human Resources where it will be on the Calendar Tuesday morning. Remember FOUR YEARS of work has gone in to this bill to protect parental rights. It has passed the Senate three times prior to this year only to be defeated in the House three times.
When my intern Meagan and I left the committee room, I was literally ‘weak in the knees ’ with joy. Two committees to go before it gets to the House floor.
ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE to send an email of support to your House member.
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 more information, go HERE.
                    This important Resolution is finally in the House for action and is on the Health and Human Resources Committee Calendar Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in Room 16. Please come and watch this historic vote!!
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send your State Representative an email of support.

Memorials, Congress - Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee's sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution.
From Rep. Susan Lynn’s (R-Mt. Juliet) Blog: State sovereignty is a big deal to state legislators; hopefully, it is to you as well. It is what keeps the federal government from over stepping its constitutional bounds. Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution. The history of the formation of our federal government is long and complex but what the framers sought was a government that protected man’s natural rights; declared by the Declaration of Independence to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness. Read more here.
ACTION ITEM: This important resolution is in the Civil Practice Subcommittee on Tuesday. GoHERE to send an email of support.
Religion and Religious Organizations - As introduced, prohibits a government entity from substantially burdening a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates the application of the burden is essential to further a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
          In a culture that is continually trying to restrict our religious freedoms, this excellent bill introduced by Family Action Council of Tennessee endeavors to provide much needed protection. For background information, go HERE.
          Both bills were postponed from last week but are on the respective calendars for next week. 
ACTION ITEM: SB 1283 is in Senate Judiciary on Wednesday, HR 1598 is in House Civil Practice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Please go HERE to send an email of support.
Adoption - As introduced, enacts the "Embryo Donation and Adoption Act of 2009."
UPDATE: After doing further investigation and meeting with interested parties, it has become clear that we need more time than remains in this session to make sure that regulating legislation is crafted in a way that adequately addresses all the nuances of this extremely complicated process. Therefore, the decision was made to schedule planning meetings prior to the 2010 session to iron out all the details and propose a bill that is as well crafted as possible. We remain firmly committed to working toward a successful and acceptable outcome.
Taxes - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Modernization and Economic Stimulus Act."
While this bill would repeal the sales tax on groceries and eliminate the Hall income tax, it would ENACT a state income tax. It is scheduled in the Senate Tax Subcommittee Wednesday whose members are Chairman Doug Henry (D-Nashville), Joe Haynes (D-Nashville, and Diane Black (R-Gallatin). I would be surprised to see it come out of the subcommittee. After the state-wide furor over this issue, support for a state income tax proved to be a very useful tool in helping conservatives re-shape the make-up of the Tennessee General Assembly.
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.
UPDATE: This common-sense bill is still moving through the process. Go HERE to send your Senator and Representative an email.
Medicine, Practice of - As introduced, requires doctors and hospitals treating minor children to release the results of medical tests and procedures performed on the child to the child's parents upon request.
          Rep. Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport) is still working on this important bill. Regardless of the value of the legislation, the potential for the state to lose over $6 million is proving to be problematic. However, the real issue here is one of parental rights. How did we ever get to the place where a parent can take a minor child to the doctor, give permission for a medical test, be required to pay for said test, yet not be given access to the results of the test unless the child agrees? 
Students - As introduced, instructs the state board of education to review LEA policies on school personnel recommending psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin to treat elementary and secondary school students for behavioral concerns; requires the state board to report its findings to the select oversight committee on education.      
            This is a very interesting bill that was initiated by a former client of attorney Sen. Joe Haynes (D-Nashville) who has obviously had some significant problems with this. SB 1925 passed the Senate Education Committee 9-0. HB 1823 is scheduled in the House K-12 Subcommittee next week. Just more clear evidence of the need for our parental rights bill.
Message from the Governor: “ The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will speed the nation's economic recovery, create and save jobs, and provide services to people affected by the recession. …These projects will help us accomplish things that we as a state need done – from road and bridge projects, to water and wastewater system improvements, to weatherization assistance for low income families to lower their energy costs and utilization. This act also contains rigorous requirements for accountability and transparency, and Tennessee's process for ARRA implementation will mirror those rigorous requirements. The one-time funds provided by the act, though temporary, will help us manage through the recession and put Tennessee on the right track for economic recovery and the future.” For more information go HERE.
The Tennessee Higher Education County Profiles 2009 provide basic information with respect to higher education for each county in Tennessee. The 2009 Profiles represent the third year for this report. In the demographic and enrollment sections, a few changes were made to better meet the needs of policymakers. This document explains those changes
Over one million, empty, red envelopes have poured into the White House mail room, symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion; and with Red Envelope Day planned for tomorrow, coordinators estimate that number could more than double. The Red Envelope Project is an idea sparked in the mind and prayers of a Massachusetts man, Christ Otto, who envisioned in January thousands of red envelopes sent to the White House, a visual expression of moral outrage over the president's position on abortion. Read more here. 
Eagle Forum, a leading conservative grassroots organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, condemns the activist decision of the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously today that the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  The case, Varnum v. Brien (2005), was brought by six same-sex Iowa couples who sued Polk County Recorder Timothy Brien after his office denied them marriage licenses on the basis that Iowa's decade-old state law recognizes marriage only between one man and one woman.
Because the justices ruled that gay marriage should be legal in Iowa, this means that out-of-state same-sex couples could flock to Iowa to get married, as Iowa has no residency requirements for a marriage license.  In May 2008, when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, homosexual marriage opponents quickly struck back by working to get a November ballot initiative (Proposition 8) which passed and effectively amended the state Constitution to uphold a one man-one woman law.  However, in Iowa, such a constitutional change would face additional hurdles, such as approval by the state legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions, with a subsequent ballot initiative, which receives a popular vote.