Legislative Update, March 14, 2009


March 14, 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).

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.  The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.  When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.  You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."  
The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis , TN


We want to continue remembering Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) with her on-going health problems. A number of folks at the Plaza have been sick with colds, virus, etc. It’s that time of year. Phyllis Schlafly, who fell and broke her hip in California on February 24th is expected to fly home to St. Louis today. Please continue to remember her as she is still experiencing significant pain and will still need therapy. Cards may be sent to 7800 Bonhomme, St. Louis, MO 63105
There is a move afoot to send red envelopes on March 31st, to President Barack Obama, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20500 with the following message on the back: This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.
red envelop

 For more information go HERE.




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.

BACKGROUND: There have been efforts in other states to go into schools and do mental health screenings to all the children that parents may or may not know about and some states have even tried to pass bills to require these screenings for all children. Mental health screening is being done in Tennessee schools and there is no requirement to secure parental permission to do so.
We want to make sure that if a student is screened for mental health problems that parents are informed and give permission. In some cases teachers are recommending that a child be given Ritalin or other psychotropic drugs. While teachers can suggest to parents that a child be tested, this legislation prohibits a teacher from recommending that a student be put on Ritalin or other psychotropic drugs and prohibits the schools from coercing parents to put their child on these powerful, and sometimes-deadly drugs. Please see details of bill HERE.
This bill has passed the State Senate THREE times overwhelmingly only to be defeated in a House subcommittee three times. Last year Dr. Tom Catron associate professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt and then director of Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, testified in committee that the parents should be involved only AFTER the screening. For full report on the plans the government has for your children, go HERE.
ACTION ITEM: This bill is in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Many of the committee members are co-sponsors. Please go HERE to contact the remaining members to urge them to support parent rights and stop the coercion.


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.

BACKGROUND: Paul Linton, Esq., gave an excellent presentation at the hearing on Wednesday on SJR 127 and related bills. This is MUST reading for anyone interested in understanding what this proposal DOES and what it DOES NOT do, regardless of how the opponents try to distract and misrepresent. Consider this your homework: Go HERE and read Mr. Linton’s testimony.
AMENDMENT PROCESS: After a proposed amendment is voted out of committee, it is read on the Senate floor three times and voted on at the final reading. The first reading will be Monday evening, March 16. 
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send emails of support to the Senators. To thank and encourage Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) for her tireless defense of life, go HERE.


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 except in cases involving rape, incest, or health of the mother.

Despite what Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) said in the hearing on Wednesday, Paul Linton, a Constitutional expert testified:
“First, it [HRS 61] would require public funding of abortion in circumstances not required by either the federal constitution (rape, incest and health of the mother) or the current version of the Hyde Amendment (health of the mother).
          Second, it would codify the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision in Sundquist and
permanently deny the General Assembly any flexibility in determining whether and under what circumstances abortions for rape, incest and the health of the mother should be allowed in the event Roe v. Wade is overruled. Moreover, even with respect to the
mandated exceptions for rape and incest, the language of HRJ 61 does not, by its terms,
allow the State to require that the rape or incest be reported to the proper authorities.
          As a consequence, HJR 61 could prevent the State from discovering the perpetrator in
circumstances when rape or incest has occurred and in detecting false claims of either.
Thankfully, his resolution is not expected to get out of the subcommittee where it will be heard this week.

Wine, Wineries - As introduced, creates an additional class of licenses allowing the sale of wine at certain retail food stores; requires person purchasing wine at certain retail food stores to present photo identification.

The good news is this bill has not yet been scheduled in committee, hopefully because of the vocal opposition.
ACTION ITEM: If you have not yet contacted your Senator to OPPOSE this bill, go HERE and be sure to pass this on to others.

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. This excellent legislation has been sent to the Senate Finance committee.

ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email to your Senator to support this common-sense legislation.


In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo, where the court held in a 5-4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, there has been great interest in trying to protect private property rights.
            Some may recall that Nashville had a local Kelo when the city began legal proceedings to seize the property of a Music Row landowner who has refused to sell to a Houston developer, setting up a fight that prompted the involvement of a national advocacy group.
            Fortunately the Institute for Justice stepped in and helped Mrs. Joy Ford win her case and she still has her business.

Eminent Domain - As introduced, requires county and municipal legislative bodies to approve the exercise of eminent domain by two-thirds vote prior to any property being condemned and taken by such bodies


Eminent Domain - As introduced, grants property owner whose land is taken by eminent domain the right to repurchase such property if the condemning entity does not use the property for the purpose for which it was condemned or if the entity sells the property within 10 years of condemnation


Eminent Domain - As introduced, enacts the "Property Owners Bill of Rights."


Eminent Domain - As introduced, limits authority of governmental entities to transfer to a private entity blighted property taken by condemnation.

ACTION ITEM: These bills are in the Civil Practice Subcommittee. Go HERE to encourage committee members to support these bills that will protect private property.
State top gainer in graduates 
Tennessee’s high school graduation rate improved more than any other state’s in a new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Tennessee’s high school graduation rate improved more than any other state’s in a new report by researchers at John Hopkins University. ….The Tennessee rate rose from 61 percent to 72 percent, according to the study.


Tax revenue collections in Tennessee are still seeing losses for the seventh month this fiscal year. Overall February revenue was down $69.7 million to $668.4 million. That was less than the amount budgeted for the month, says Dave Goetz, finance and administration commissioner. “February also marks the twelfth negative growth month for sales tax collections out of the last fourteen months, reflecting a continued weakness in consumer confidence and the state's overall economy,” he says. Read more here



Perhaps you have wondered in the congress to bills of interest. HERE in Eagle Forum’s report, you can see what happened to many of the bills you may have heard about.