Legislative Update, February 6, 2010

February 6, 2010         

Tennessee General Assembly information and contacts: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select House or Senate, then ‘Members’.
Don’t forget that you can now watch on your computer the committee meetings and the floor sessions: 
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).
Always vote your principles, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.  ~~John Adams


State Sen. Ophelia Ford of Memphis – whose district covers a broad swath from Whitehaven, through South Memphis, Downtown, North Memphis and Millington – is likely to miss much of and possibly the entire 2010 legislative session due to illness, her colleagues were told today. Ford’s family advised that her illness is severe and there is no expectation that she will return to her public duties soon. Read more here.

As the legislators begin to deal with the proposed state budget, please continue to pray that these lawmakers will have great wisdom to guide these important decisions. You can also remember me – actually I am writing this on Thursday while sitting in a hotel room in St. Louis preparing for a conference. I am due to fly home Sunday evening, weather permitting – so please pray!


HB 1916 by *Lynn ( *SB 1674 by *Johnson)
Labor - As introduced, enacts the "Secret Ballot Protection Act of 2009"

The federal Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 requires that all elections to determine whether a bargaining unit of employees will be represented by a union must be conducted by secret ballot. This bill creates a state statutory right for all employees seeking to select a bargaining representative to do so by secret ballot. This bill prohibits any waiver of the right to secret ballot elections. 

          I am disappointed to report that Susan’s bill failed on a tie vote. Secret ballot voting is one of the most fundamental rights afforded in our Republic and three Democrats chose not to protect that freedom--Reps. Sherry Jones (Nashville), Mike McDonald (Portland), and Gary Moore (Joelton). Without this legislation workers across our state will be left vulnerable to intimidation from union officials and company management wishing to unionize. Three Republicans, Stacey Campfield (Knoxville), Donna Rowland (Murfreesboro) and Mark White (Memphis) voted for the people.



Bredesen presents $28.4 billion budget to lawmakers

The cost of a driver’s license could double, TennCare recipients could face caps on their coverage and more than 1,200 state jobs could be eliminated, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Monday as he delivered a budget proposal that he said would help Tennessee weather the recession.
Bredesen presented a $28.4 billion spending plan that would tap the state’s reserve fund and raise some fees to deal with stagnate sales-tax collections and the loss of federal stimulus money over the next budget year.
His plan calls for cutting $200.7 million in state spending from TennCare, the state’s biggest program, and reducing the work force by about 2 percent. But the state would also set aside $202 million from reserves and other cash pools to help it avoid deeper layoffs and cuts, including some that would have been made to health, mental health and children's services.
Read more here.

TennCare - $6.79 B - 24%; Pre-K-12 - $5.36 B – 19%; Higher Ed – $3.71 B - 13%; Transportation – $1.76 B - 6%; Other – $10.79B - 38%. Total: $28.41 Billion (including federal dollars).

Bredesen's proposal for raising revenue worries lawmakers

Legislation was approved by the State Senate this week to allow law enforcement to act more quickly to protect children from sexual predators. The bill, Senate Bill 1529,
sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Harry Tindall (D-Knoxville) authorizes district attorneys general or assistant district attorneys general to issue a subpoena for the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a suspected child sexual predator.  The bill mirrors federal law on the matter. Companion HB1257 passed the House last year.
In the Senate Transportation Committee this week, representatives from AAA shared some very good news with committee members. The officials praised the law passed by the General Assembly in 2000 to
implement graduated licenses for teen drivers. From the law’s effective date in 2001 through 2008, while the number of licenses issued had gone up six percent, the rate of teen driver deaths per 100,000 licensed teen drivers dropped 20 percent.  Similarly, they cited the passage of a primary seat belt law in 2004 as having improved the number of Tennesseans who “buckle-up” by 9.5 percent to reach 82.5 percent compliance.  In addition they said that the 2004 law requiring child passenger booster seats have reduced the five- to nine-year-old child passenger fatality rate by 48 percent in deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
*HB 0270 by *Watson ( SB 0194 by *Bunch)
Election Laws - As introduced, requires citizenship status to be proven prior to registration to vote and requires certain procedures to ensure identity and citizenship status prior to voting.

          Since only ‘citizens’ are Constitutionally authorized to vote, wouldn’t it just seem like common sense to require that one be required to prove citizenship to register to vote? Well there is not law to require that.

STATUS: HB 270 will be in the Elections Subcommittee on Tuesday.

ACTION: Please urge the members to vote for this bill: Eddie Yokley, Gary Moore, Harry Tindell

*HB 2768 by *Shipley ( SB 2965 by *Beavers)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.

          With Rep. Ty Cobb (D-Columbia) standing his side, Rep. Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport) successfully guided HB 2768 through the Government Operations Committee this week.

STATUS: HB2768 is in Criminal Practice Subcommittee on Wednesday.

ACTION: Please contact these members and urge them to support this bill:  Janis Sontany, Eddie Bass, Karen Camper

SB 3498 by *Beavers ( *HB 3433 by *Harwell)
Health Care - As introduced, enacts "Tennessee Health Freedom Act." This bill provides that it is the public policy of this state that every person within this state is and will be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty, and this bill provides that with this bill the state is exercising its sovereign power to declare this public policy.

STATUS: SB3498 is in Senate Commerce on Tuesday

ACTION: Contact these committee members and urge them to support this bill. Charlotte Burks, Eric Stewart and Reginald Tate.



Education - As introduced, creates an electronic high school.

Highways, Roads and Bridges - As introduced, makes it a Class E felony, punishable by fine only of $10,000, for the department of transportation to enter into a contract for the design, construction, survey, or maintenance of any portion of I-69 or any other interstate or highway project that is designed to link Canada, U.S., and Mexico

DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.

Taxes, Excise - As introduced, allows franchise and excise tax credit for donations to certain charitable organizations that provide scholarships to Tennessee residents to attend Tennessee nonpublic elementary and secondary schools

*SB 2962 by *Beavers ( HB 3192 by *Evans)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, creates misdemeanor offense of possessing open container of alcoholic beverage within passenger area of motor vehicle on public highway.


*SJR 0698 by *Beavers
Constitutional Amendments - Provides for the direct popular election of the state attorney general. [Note: Tennessee is unique in that we are the only state in the nation where the State Supreme Court appoints the Attorney General.]


*SJR 0747 by *Kelsey
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes a constitutional amendment to provide for popular election of Tennessee's attorney general.

*SB 2748 by *Kelsey ( HB 3083 by *Coley)
Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, provides that the publication requirement mandated by Article XI, Section 3, is satisfied if the proposed constitutional amendment is timely posted on the official web site of the secretary of state or on the official web site of the general assembly.


HJR 0782 by *Evans

Constitutional Amendments - Establishes a Constitutional Spending Limitation to restrict the rate of growth of state tax revenue expenditures and provides certain procedures for creating exceptions thereto; imposes certain requirements for enactments of the general assembly that mandate increased expenditures by cities or counties.