Legislative Update, February 16, 2013

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
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)

America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within. -Josef Stalin

Lots of prayer needs this week. The father-in-law of Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) had a heart attack on Friday.  Rep. Charlie Curtiss' (D-Sparta) mother passed away this week; Rep. Kent Williams (I-Carter County) lost a family member this week; Rep. Vince Dean's (R-East Ridge) intern lost his brother in a car accident. Continue to pray for wisdom and discernment for the lawmakers as they debate the important legislation before them.  Please continue to remember my husband.  His pneumonia has improved some, but he seems to have hit a plateau.

With Valentine's Day being the deadline for bill filing, everyone was rushing around on Wednesday making sure they had their "ducks in a row." We were certainly not excluded from that process. Thankfully, the Lord has directed the Eagle Forum as to what our priorities should be for this session. One interesting thing that Mrs. Patray did was give an interview to an independent filmmaker who is making a documentary about right-wing political activism. It should be interesting to see the final product. On a personal note, I've been interning for about a month and have come to realize even more the importance of my generation becoming involved in the political process. Twenty years from now, the leaders of our state and nation should be individuals with a thorough knowledge of the principles of God's Word and a respect for our Founding documents.

Haslam Letter Says 'No' to Health Care Exchange Partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee won't participate in a partnership with the federal government in establishing a health insurance exchange, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Friday.
The Republican governor said in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Resources Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the partnership model doesn't address his concerns over what he called "aggressive federal timelines, a lack of true flexibility for states, and misguided federal policies."
Exchanges are online markets required under President Barack Obama's health care law where consumers will be able to buy individual private policies and apply for government subsidies to help pay their premiums.
Haslam noted that he had the same complaints when he rejected a state-based exchange in December. His deadline decision means Tennesseans will participate in an exchange completely run by the federal government.
About 982,000 people lack health insurance in Tennessee. The state projects that about 300,000 people will participate in the exchange, through some estimates put that number as high as 600,000.

Gordon Bonnyman, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, a group that supports greater access to Medicaid, said the governor's rationale for rejecting the partnership was understandable. "The governor is not alone in expressing concern about the delays in federal guidance and some of the difficulties states are having meeting the timelines," he said.  Read more here.

SJR 0001 by *Kelsey
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution to explicitly prohibit any state or local taxation of payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income.
STATUS:  Pleased to report that SJR 1 passed the Senate floor 27-4; thus receiving more than the 2/3s vote needed to move toward the ballot in 2014. 
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Campfield, Crowe, Dickerson, Finney L, Ford, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Stevens, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 27.
Senators voting no were: Burks, Harper, Henry, Tate -- 4.

Anti-Income Tax Amendment Clears Senate

HJR 0035 by *Casada
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes additional language in Article II, Section 28 to explicitly prohibit the general assembly from levying, authorizing or otherwise permitting any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income
STATUS:  HJR 35 is scheduled in the State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday. Members can be found HERE

SB 0595 by *Johnson ( HB 0500 by *Casada)
Secretary of State - As introduced, creates office of the repealer for four-year period.
STATUS:  SB595 is scheduled in Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.  Members can be found HERE.

SB 0283 by *Ketron ( HB 0373 by *Womick)
Public Utilities - As introduced, establishes standards for electric and natural gas utilities for smart meter gateway devices. - Amends TCA Title 7, Chapter 82; Title 7, Chapter 83; Title 65, Chapter 4, Part 1; Title 65, Chapter 25, Part 2 and Title 65, Chapter 26.  [Picture is of the electric meter on my house!]
STATUS:  Normally, I do not highlight a piece of legislation until it has been scheduled for a hearing in committee.  However, it seems that this IMPORTANT legislation is already receiving a great deal of 'push back' from utility companies, who, of course, want no restrictions on this use of the devices.
Thank Sen. Ketron and Rep. Womick for sponsoring this important proposal.
SB 283 has been assigned to Senate State and Local Government Committee, members can be found  HERE.  HB 373 has been assigned to House Business and Utilities Subcommittee, members can be found HERE.
MESSAGE: When calling or emailing, use the bill numbers. Let the lawmakers know that you realize that the bills have not been calendared yet, but you want them to know how strongly you support the bill as written and ask that they vote for it as is.

Face Book: Tennesseans For "Smart-Meter" Choice

Stop Smart Meters!

Refuse Smart Meters

Expert: Stimulus project wastes about $1B in TN
Public utility officials in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis have preached the benefits of a new taxpayer-subsidized technology they say will lower their customers’ utility bills and reduce electrical outages.
Known as a digital smart grid, this technology uses computers to distribute electricity. Those benefits, however, are short term — and that makes this investment, funded with almost $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars nationwide, an unwise use of money, according to an expert in computer and communications engineering.
“The residents of Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis need to know that this is going to cost them a lot of money. They won’t get what they think they are going to get. I’ve researched this all over the country, and it has not delivered,” said Timothy Schoechle, a former faculty member of the University of Colorado’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.
Public utility representatives, however, say the technology makes the electric power grid respond more efficiently to supply and demand variations, thus saving money.
“Any improvements in operational efficiency that we’re able to gain with smart grids allow us to go longer without having to have an electric power rate increase,” said Danna Bailey, spokeswoman for the Chattanooga Electric Power Board, which received $111 million in federal stimulus funds to help carry out its smart grid project.
The Knoxville Utilities Board received $3.5 million in stimulus funds, while the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division received more than $5 million.
A digital electronic meter, otherwise known as a smart meter, is one component of the smart grid and is supposed to offer detailed information to consumers to help them better manage their utility bills.
The Knoxville Utilities Board, for instance, will deploy about 3,800 smart meters in the city, according to documents from the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more here.

SB 0142 by *Ramsey ( HB 0118 by *Faison)
Handgun Permits - As introduced, allows person with a valid handgun carry permit to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle in public or private parking areas under certain conditions.
STATUS:  SB142 passed the State Senate Floor 28-5.

Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Campfield, Crowe, Dickerson, Finney L, Ford, Gardenhire, Green, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Stevens, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 28. Senators voting no were: Burks, Harper, Henry, Kyle, Tate -- 5.
HB118 is scheduled in the House Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday.  Members can be found HERE.

SB 0549 by *Bell ( HB 0985 by *Matheny)
Election Laws - As introduced, prohibits persons who are not U.S. citizens from being admitted to polling places; requires appointed poll watchers to be U.S. citizens. - Amends TCA Title 2, Chapter 7, Part 1

SB 1014 by *Bell ( HB 0109 by *Butt)
Personal Property - As introduced, prohibits the state or any political subdivision from adopting or implementing any policy recommendation that intentionally or inadvertently infringes upon or restricts private property rights without due process of law. -

SB 0672 by *Beavers ( HB 0535 by *Pody)
Annexation - As introduced, requires a majority of property owners whose property shall be affected by a proposed amendment to an urban growth plan to be entitled to vote on whether such amendment becomes effective. - Amends TCA Title 6, Chapter 51 and Title 6, Chapter 58.

SB 0230 by *Hensley ( HB 0103 by *Carr J)
Eminent Domain - As introduced, revises the procedure for resolving just compensation issues when counties, cities and towns take property by eminent domain for a public purpose and grants an owner of property taken by eminent domain a right of first refusal. - Amends TCA Title 7, Chapter 31; Title 13, Chapter 20; Title 29, Chapter 17 and Title 29, Chapter 16