FINAL Legislative Update, April 20, 2013
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).
"Biblical Principles of Government”
The Sovereignty of GodIntercessors For America Newsletter, February 1999
Covenantal Union Under God
The Sanctity of Human Life
Individual Liberty of Conscience and Freedom of Religion
The Sanctity of Marriage and Family
The Political Equality of the People, Free Speech and Press
The Power of the People to Freely Elect and Oversee Representatives
Limited Government and Separation of Powers
Free Enterprise and Fiscal Responsibility
Protection of Private Property and Right to Bear Arms
The Rule of Law, an impartial System of Justice and Trial by Jury
Education for Self-government and Civil Government Based on God’s Law-Word
FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Pleased to report that Rep. Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) came back to the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon, but please keep her on your prayer list as she continues the treatment for pancreatic cancer. Now that the lawmakers are going back to their 'real' lives, pray that they can get quickly re-integrated, catch up on all they had to ignore while in Nashville, get some well-deserved rest and have some quality time with their families.
It's rather hard to believe that my time at the State Capitol has come to an end. I have observed and learned so much in just a few months about the workings of our state government and those who serve the state of Tennessee. I have witnessed the sacrifice, hard work, and determination that is involved in working for a worthy cause. Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman have been wonderful teachers in these areas. They have taken time to mentor and guide me in the way I should go as it relates to a proper interaction with our elected officials. It has also been my privilege to meet and observe some of the legislators and the governor as well. It is indeed encouraging to know that many of those serving at the Capitol are men and women of integrity and are guided by a set of core principles based on biblical standards that inform how they make decisions on issues. Every man has a reputation, and it is certainly preferable to be known as a person of integrity. Most of all, I will always be indebted to Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman because they have thoughtfully invested in me as a young man and my education as a student intern.
The first session of the 108th General Assembly adjourned on the 33rd Legislative Day, April 19, 2013.
First of all, I want to say what a JOY is has been to have Nate with us this year! He is a remarkable young man and it is very clear that many of you (including many legislators) have enjoyed his weekly 'CORNER'. At the Homeschool Rally Day, April 16th, he received the Christian Communicators of TN Outstanding Senior Award. He got to meet and talk to the Governor at an event on April 17th, then later in the day Sen. Mark Green, M.D. (right picture) signed a copy of his book, A Night With Saddam, for Nate. Nate will be attending a Bible College in Orlando, FL, in the fall.
I was sitting in the House gallery when Rep. Jeremy Durham presented a bill (HB1055) that changes the definition of "home school student" for purposes of the Tennessee HOPE scholarship to require that a student be home schooled the last year of high school instead of the last two years of high school. It passed 32-0 in the Senate and 89-0 in the House with virtually no floor discussion. I couldn't help but recall that in years gone by, ANY bill that addressed home schooling in any way, shape, or form became a fight at every step of the process. My, how things have changed!!
While, for the legislators sake, I am glad that they have gone for this session, I still question the wisdom of all the emphasis on speed. The staff has been so overwhelmed, that pertinent information is still not posted on the legislative website. I am not sure that the state was well served, especially since several important issues were postponed until the 2014 session. We shall see.
On Wednesday, my very good friend, Pastor Lyndon Allen, was invited to do the opening prayer on the Senate floor. Prior to his prayer, he blessed the Senators by blowing his Shofar. You can go HERE, then on left side of page, click on PRAYER.
Just before adjournment, the House has a tradition of selecting a freshman to 'honor' for the 'paper drive', meaning that the lawmakers pile all their paper on his desk. This year the 'honoree' was Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville).
NO ANNEXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION:
SB 0279 by *Watson ( HB 0475 by *Carter) Annexation - As introduced, requires, prior to a municipality annexing within its urban growth boundary, the approval of a majority vote of qualified voters in the territory proposed for annexation.
STATUS: After a very long, hard fight literally coming down to the wire and with the House and the Senate failing to agree, the respective bills were sent to a conference committee met and issued a report. This report was adopted.
AMENDMENT TO PERMIT GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ELECT ATTORNEY GENERAL:
SJR 0196 by *Green Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, proposes amendment of Article VI, Section 5 to provide for appointment of an attorney general and reporter for the state by joint vote of the general assembly.
STATUS: This excellent proposal passed the Senate floor 22-9, and will move to the House in 2014.
NOTE: Although Sen. Green is a freshman, he has shown himself to be a very skilled legislator this year.
TN lawmakers launch effort to let them pick attorney general
State lawmakers have embarked on the long process of amending the Tennessee constitution to give themselves the power to pick the attorney general, the latest in a lengthening string of efforts to revise the document that has governed the state for more than 140 years.
The Tennessee Senate voted 22-9 to approve a resolution that would take selection of the attorney general away from the state Supreme Court and give it to the General Assembly.
The question would not go before the voters until November 2018. But already some lawmakers are expressing irritation at their colleagues for constantly offering amendments to the Tennessee constitution, which until now has been amended 40 times since it was put in place in 1870. Read more here.
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE REFORM BILL:
SB 0891 by *Hensley ( HB 1078 by *Rich)
Forfeiture of Assets - As introduced, revises all asset forfeiture procedures to require the issuances of a forfeiture warrant prior to the seizure of real or personal property; provides more rights to the property owner and requires that the person from whom property is removed must be convicted of a criminal offense before the property can be forfeited.
STATUS: As amended, SB891 passed the Senate 28-0, and passed the House 95-0.
Beacon’s statement on the passage of policing for profit reforms
Statement from the Beacon Center on Passage of Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill:
The Beacon Center of Tennessee today commended the unanimous passage of legislation to limit the controversial practice of policing for profit.
The Beacon Center has called for several reforms to these laws, which allow police officers to seize Tennesseans’ property even if they have no proof that a crime has been committed. This has led to disturbing seizures of cash and other personal property on highways across Tennessee. Read more here.
SB 0780 by *Norris ( HB 0636 by *Lundberg)
Judicial Districts - As introduced, requires the administrative office of the courts to reassess the state's judicial districts every 10 years; requires findings of such reassessment and any suggested changes in the judicial districts or allocation of judges to be reported to the senate judiciary committee and the house of representatives civil justice committee
STATUS: SB870 passed the Senate 27-4; Surprisingly, HB636 FAILED on the House floor 28-66-1.
TN House rejects judicial redistricting
The Tennessee House of Representatives rejected a plan to redraw the state's judicial districts, dealing a rebuke to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on what is expected to be the last day of the legislative session.
The House voted 66-28 to defeat a proposal to eliminate two judicial districts statewide and reconfigure six others. The lopsided margin on a measure closely identified with the Senate leader surprised many in the crowd.
The vote also could jeopardize legislation giving the State Board of Education the power to issue binding decisions on charter school applications. That bill appears to have become linked to the judicial redistricting measure, with the Senate refusing to take up Speaker Beth Harwell's signature issue until the House approved Ramsey's judicial plan.
Ramsey has pushed judicial redistricting throughout the session, arguing that the current system is too expensive and displays the hallmarks of political compromises made in the early 1980s, when the current system was set.
Ramsey unveiled a plan in March that called for reducing the number of districts from 31 to 29 by eliminating districts that primarily served rural areas. Senate Bill 780 also would have redrawn districts affecting 22 of the state's 95 counties. Read more here.
CHARTER SCHOOL STATE AUTHORIZER:
SB 0830 by *Gresham ( HB 0702 by *White M)
Schools, Charter - As introduced, extends from 10 days to 20 days the time for appeal from a decision denying an application from the LEA to the state board of education.
STATUS: After Rep. White dealt with 29 proposed amendments, HB702 passed the House 62-30-1, but was never taken up in the Senate Wednesday.
SEX WEEK AUTHORIZATION:
HJR 0210 by *Floyd
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Urges the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to reconsider its actions and withdraw its authorization and financial support of "Sex Week."
STATUS: HJR210 passed the House floor on the last day of the session 88-2, it will go to Senate Education next year.
General Assembly Wraps Up, Major Ed Items Left Undone
The GOP-run Tennessee Legislature called it a year Friday, closing up shop on the earliest date in over two decades.
And in typical fashion, the ebbing hours of the session were a whirl of harried debate and last-minute spatting between the House and Senate.
One of the big items on the Tennessee General Assembly’s education agenda for the year was unceremoniously tossed aside in the waning hours of the session with signs that the proposal failed as a result of a legislative game of chicken between chambers. Read more here.
Wrapping Up: A Last Contentious Day for the 2013 Legislature
The 2013 session of the Tennessee General Assembly ended Friday with a contentious House-Senate clash that left dead Republican-sponsored bills on subjects ranging from charter schools to choosing judges.
The two chambers, both controlled for the first time by a Republican "supermajority," did reach final-day agreement on imposing a 13-month month moratorium on cities annexing residential or agricultural land.
Gov. Bill Haslam said his two biggest disappointments in the day's events were the failure of two measures dealing with charter schools, especially a "charter authorizer" bill (HB702) that would have allowed a state board to override local school boards when they turn down a charter school application.
The bill, a top priority of House Speaker Beth Harwell, cleared the House despite criticism that it wrongly let an appointed state board override decisions of local elected officials. But it stalled on the Senate floor until the final day, when it became entangled in what some characterized a "hostage" situation.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey's top priority on the last day was passage of a judicial redistricting bill (SB780) that reduced the number of judicial districts statewide from 31 to 29. That had easily passed the Senate, but touched off impassioned criticism when it hit the House floor on Friday. Read more here.
TN Senate agrees to let some teachers carry arms
The Tennessee Senate approved legislation Thursday that would let some teachers carry arms, and the House of Representatives approved a bill that would give the State Board of Education final authority to rule on charter schools.
In a busy day as lawmakers enter the home stretch for the 2013 legislative session, senators voted 27-6 to approve House Bill 6, a measure that lets teachers who have worked as police officers in the past carry their guns with them at school. They also added an amendment that would make information about which teachers are carrying — or even if a school has any armed teachers — confidential.
House members signed off on the amendment later in the day, sending the measure to Gov. Bill Haslam. Read more here.
Gov. Bill Haslam outlines $32.7 billion spending plan
NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam's plan for spending $32.7 billion in the next year — more state money than this year, but less in federal funds — encompasses expansion in some areas, reductions in others and two small tax cuts.
The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, outlined in Haslam's third "Stateofthe State" speech to a joint session of the House and Senate on Monday evening, provides housing for prisoners and technology for education as perhaps the most notable areas for increased spending as compared to recent years.
But the biggest increase, as usual, is in TennCare, up about $350 million. A new budgeting maneuver is used to offset a reduction in federal TennCare funding. Basically, managed care organizations will begin paying the state's tax on insurance premiums and the money raised will be used in TennCare.
For K-12 education, Haslam proposes giving schools statewide $51 million toward "technology transition upgrades" and $34 million for "increased security measures. Read more here.
House, Senate adopt Haslam's $32.8B budget plan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lawmakers in both chambers of the General Assembly on Wednesday approved Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's $32.8 billion budget proposal.
The Senate unanimously approved the spending plan on Wednesday afternoon, and the House later followed suit on an 83-14 vote. The bill goes back to the Senate to weigh minor changes before it can head for Haslam's signature.
The House vote came after the chamber rejected a Democratic proposal to include a provision to allow for the state to spend up to $3 billion in federal Medicaid money should the governor succeed in negotiating an expansion under the federal health care law.
House Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, rejected those arguments.
"If the governor thought this was something he needed to do, he would have put the language in the appropriations bill," Sargent said.
Haslam has sought a special deal to allow the state to use the money to subsidize private coverage for the uninsured and to have more flexibility on benefits and co-pays. Sargent said the indications are that the federal government "at the present time is not inclined to do this" and that any agreement could take at least four months. Haslam has assured lawmakers he would seek their specific approval for any deal on Medicaid expansion. Read more here.