*SPECIAL*: Report on SB1028-HB1353
*VICTORY*: Large Grey Animals that eat grass....
The pro-family patriotic citizens of Tennessee scored a HUGE victory for safety and security yesterday when both the House Judiciary and the Senate Judiciary passed the Material Support for Designated Entities Act with bi-partisan majorities. Tennessee Eagle Forum is so pleased to have been part of making history.
The rain was falling but the adrenalin was pumping when I arrived at Legislative Plaza Tuesday just before eight o'clock to meet my wonderful lobbying partner, attorney Joanne Bregman, and our witnesses, Lt. Col. Joe Myers and the Honorable Joe Schmitz. Long months of the hardest work I have EVER done was on the line. We had faced an tsunami of deliberate lies and mis-representation in the media as well as the task of educating our lawmakers on a subject that most knew absolutely nothing about.
Primarily because of all the the lies in the media (that literally went around the world) the Muslim community came out in force to oppose a bill that they should have been supporting if they REALLY feel that their "peaceful religion has been hijacked by a few radicals." [In Senate Judiciary, one of the Sargent at Arms asked me what I had in committee that day. When I told him which bill was ours, he said teasing, "so all this is your fault?" gesturing to all the Muslims in the room. I pled guilty!)
When the language in the original bill (because of the mis-representation) became so toxic, we scrapped it and completely rewrote the legislation in a way that made it stronger and made it apply equally across the board. The way I explained it to the legislators was the the first version was an 'Elephant', the second version was a "Large Grey Animal that eats grass." We will get to exactly the same place but by a little different route!!
HEROES for the day are Sen. Bill Ketron [left] and Rep. Judd Matheny [right]. PLEASE take a moment to click on their names and THANK them for their their courage. Never once, even during the time when they were being hit from every side (locally, nationally and internationally), did they waiver in their commitment to us and to this ground breaking legislation.
THANKS to those who came out to support this very important effort. You don't know how much that meant to us and to the sponsors. Now, stay tuned, because this was just the first step in a lengthy process. Thanks also to those of you who cared enough the send emails of support to your Senator and Representative. Don't stop now!
House Judiciary started at 10:00 with the discussion on our bill starting about 10:10. The room quickly filled with supporters and opponents -- the tension was palpable. You can see the nearly two hour debate HERE and it is worth viewing. Rep. Matheny did a magnificent job of fielding questions. Our Constitutional authority, the Honorable Joe Schmitz, was called on to lend his expertise to the debate.
As the discussion, wound down and the vote was imminent, I am not sure Joanne and I were breathing. The roll was called and the bill passed 12-4 on a bipartisan vote. Democrats Bass and Moore joined 10 Republicans. Voting against our bill was one Republican, Jon Lundberg, and three Democrats.
Representatives voting aye were: Bass, Coley, Dennis, Elam, Faison, Gotto, Maggart, Matheny, Moore, Rich, Watson, Womick -- 12.
Representatives voting no were: Camper, Lundberg, Sontany, Stewart -- 4.
I simply cannot described the feeling -- finally seeing the fruit of months of labor -- it really was indescribable. But, we didn't have long to enjoy, as we had to prepare for Senate Judiciary in the afternoon. One thing the House debate did was to alert us to the questions that would also be asked in the Senate committee and gave us time to more thoroughly explore the answers.
Senate Judiciary started at 3:30 and once again, the room was packed with Muslims opponents and our supporters of SB1028. Our bill was down on the calendar, so it took awhile to get to it. You can go HERE, (scroll down and click on SB1028) to see the debate. Once again, as expected, the discussion was lengthy and our sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron, was terrific. Finally, the roll was called and SB1028 passed the committee with a bi-partisan vote of 6-3. Democrat Tim Barnes joined Republicans Beavers, Bell, Kelsey, Overbey and Yager. Voting against our bill was Republican Stacey Campfield, and Democrats Ford, Marrero.
Once again, it felt like the weight of the world was off our shoulders as we went to have a celebratory dinner. While this was a history making day, the is just the FIRST STEP in a still lengthy process and YOUR HELP and YOUR PRAYERS will be needed at EVERY step.
SENATE PROCESS: Because of the $88,600 fiscal note, SB1028 now goes to Senate Finance Committee, so getting it funded is the next task. Once through Finance, it will go to the Senate Floor for a vote.
HOUSE PROCESS: Again, because of the fiscal note, HB1353 will go to the Budget Subcommittee, then Finance, then to Calender and Rules, then to the House Floor.
As we were sitting in one of our many meetings planning strategy during this long and demanding process, one of our friends, looked around the room and commented: "So this is what making history looks like."
Well, folks, he was exactly right -- just like last year when we were the first state in the nation to passed TN Law for TN Courts (introduced in about 18 states this year, and a version has been introduced in the US Congress), when the Material Support is completely passed, Tennessee will have been the first state in the nation to provide this kind of protection to its citizens. Other states are already expressing an interest in this legislation.