Legislative Update, March 30, 2013

Legislative Update, March 30, 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).

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy; cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as a enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell's worst that I might attain heaven's best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness that I might have eternal light.  My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed His head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might forever live.
Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in His, "It is finished.' O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons. Write them upon my heart, that my walk be sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving; and suffer no devil's device to beguile or deceive me.

Rep. Mike Carter is much better. Please remember Rep. Vance Dennis.  His 30-year-old sister, Gina Dennis, passed away recently, leaving a five-year-old son.
State Sen. Jim Summerville is recovering after undergoing an unexpected surgery.  Senate Republican Caucus spokeswoman Darlene Schlicher said in a news release this week that the Dickson Republican became ill at his home on Wednesday and was transported to Nashville. She didn't provide any details about the illness, but said the surgery went well and Summerville was expected to stay in the hospital for several days.

Rush to Adjournment Sparks Complaints
"I do think we're moving too fast," said Dunn. "We're making decisions that will affect people's lives and livelihoods. They need quality, not quantity."
"There's a time for speed and efficiency and a time for quality," he said. "I think we've gotten off balance and we need to get back in balance."  Read more here.

Due to a few developments regarding our Enhanced Fiscal Data Gathering bill, it was pushed back a week to allow for more preparation time for its hearing in the Senate State and Local Committee. While this was an unexpected twist, I'm confident it's for the best. On Wednesday I did have the uncommon privilege of sitting in the gallery during the governor's formal announcement of his recommendation on the proposed expansion of Medicaid. It was an exciting moment and an opportunity like that is one of the many reasons I am thoroughly enjoying my internship with the Eagle Forum. Mrs. Patray has related the details of his decision and it is my hope that this move will be a step in the direction of returning sovereignty to the separate states. As we are coming to realize they are the most accurate judges of what is best for themselves as regards to healthcare and a host of other issues.

SB 1325 by *Ketron ( HB 1326 by *Womick)

NOTE:  SB1325-HB1326 Amended language may be found HERE.
Tennessee legislators have a fiduciary duty to know how public money is being utilized and this bill will assist them in executing that duty.
This bill has been amended to simply require the federal contractors that voluntarily sponsor and resettle refugees in Tennessee, to report certain data that they have or can obtain, to the legislature’s fiscal review committee.  This data would enable the state to determine what the federal program costs the state of Tennessee.  The bill asks for data about how many clients the federal contractors have enrolled in TennCare and how many students they have helped enroll in public schools who receive English Language Learner services which are paid for primarily by the state and local governments.
This bill DOES NOT prevent anyone from resettling in Tennessee or prohibit the federal contractors from operating in Tennessee and it DOES NOT prevent anyone who is legally eligible to access publicly funded benefits.
We are simply  asking state legislators to please execute their fiduciary duty to know everything they can about how OUR state dollars are being spent.
STATUSSB 1325 is in Senate State and Local Committee on Tuesday. Members can be found HERE.
HB 1326 is in House State Government on Tuesday. Members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  We are getting a LOT of opposition on this bill and the opponents are flooding legislators with emails asking them to vote no on this bill. PLEASE send an email to each of the members of both committees.  You can use the info above in the body of the email. This is so important -- please be faithful.

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.
NOTE:  This bill has been re-written; new text can be found HERE.

SB279 is in Senate State and Local Committee on Tuesday. Members can be found HERE.
HB475 is in House Finance Ways and Means.  Committee members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact the members of both committees and URGE them to support this very important legislation.

Tennessee Right2Vote Coalition Forms to Support Annexation Bill
A coalition has formed to support the passing of HB 475, which returns to citizens the right to vote their consent to city annexations in Tennessee.
Founding organizations and individuals forming the Right2Vote coalition include Tennesseans Against Forced Annexation, Tennessee Eagle Forum, Concerned Women of America, Friends of Hamilton (a citizens’ effort to incorporate a new city near Chattanooga), the Ocoee Region Builders Association, Wilson County commissioners, Lawrence County commissioners, Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation, Ooltewah Citizens for Responsible Growth, Chattanooga Tea Party, Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham, political blogger Blue Collar Muse, tea party groups across Tennessee and others to be announced.  Read more here.

Bill seeks to give Tennesseans a say on whether cities can annex them

SB 0108 by *Haile ( HB 0009 by *Lamberth)
Public Records - As introduced, makes confidential and not open for public inspection all information contained in and pertaining to a handgun carry permit application or renewal application and the status of a handgun carry permit.
STATUS: SB108 is scheduled in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday.
One can never guess what direction a piece of legislation will take. I guess we will see what will happen now.
Bill Would Seal Handgun Permit Records -- Except for Political Purposes and Lobbying

SB 0804 by *Kelsey ( HB 0937 by *Durham)

TennCare - As introduced, prohibits Tennessee from participating in any Medicaid expansion authorized under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
STATUS:  In case you  missed it, click HERE to get a full update on the Governor's presentation on Wednesday about the expansion of Medicaid. Technically, we are in a 'holding' pattern -- waiting to hear if the Obama Administration will give Tennessee permission to carry out the proposal made by the Governor.
In the Senate Commerce Committee later that afternoon, Sen. Brian Kelsey amended his bill to prohibit the Governor from obligating the state in any way to medicaid expansion unless authorized by the General Assembly.  As amended, SB804 passed 7-1:
Senators voting aye were: Johnson, Green, Gresham, Southerland, Tracy, Watson, Yager -- 7.
Senators voting no were: Burks, Tate -- 2

HB937 has been postponed until 2014.

SB 1241 by *Beavers ( HB 1150 by *Pody)
Education, Higher - As introduced, prohibits operation and maintenance of a campus police force by an institution of higher education that otherwise has statutory authority to operate a campus police force, if the institution requires a student organization to allow any student enrolled at the institution to participate in the organization regardless of the student's beliefs or status

STATUS: Mark Pody Takes Vanderbilt Police Bill (HB1150) Off Notice
LEBANON, TN) – After much debate and input from constituents, State Representative Mark Pody (R- Lebanon) has taken HB­­1150 off notice in the House.  The intent of this legislation was to protect students against discrimination on the basis of religion.  Private institutions enjoy special privileges granted to them by the state.  Some receive millions of taxpayer dollars and they have been granted full police powers from the State of Tennessee. This would seem to make them state actors rather than merely private institutions.  With these state granted privileges should come a higher level of accountability and scrutiny. Based on the evidence, Rep Pody believes Vanderbilt University’s “all-comers policy” is a violation  of the Tennessee Constitution, Article 1 section 3 concerning religious freedom.
Rep. Pody has been working diligently on this bill to ensure that it does not exceed the State’s authority.  He has consulted with many people, including Speaker Beth Harwell, who have pointed out potential issues with this legislation in its current form. This resulted in a consultation with the State’s Attorney General.  Read more here.

SB 0837 by *Ketron ( HB 0610 by *Lundberg)
Wine & Wineries - As introduced, allows cities and counties to hold a referendum to authorize selling wine at retail food stores; creates permit to sell wine at retail food stores.

STATUS: SB837 in Senate Finance Ways and Means on Tuesday.  Members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  Especially with all these additional changes, please contact committee members and urge them to vote NO

Revised Supermarket Wine Bill Would Let Liquor Stores Open on Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee liquor stores would be allowed to be open for business on Sundays under changes to a supermarket wine bill adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.
The panel voted to make several changes to the measure seeking to allow cities and governments to hold referendums on whether to permit supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine.
The changes included ending a ban on liquor stores operating on Sundays and holidays, and linking supermarket wine sales to the hours they are currently allowed to sell beer. The measure would also allow liquor stores to begin selling items like snacks, beer and ice in 2014, regardless of whether a city or county had approved supermarket wine sales.
The panel delayed a final vote on the bill for a week so members could have time to think about the changes. The companion bill has failed in a House committee, but supporters hope it can be revived either this year or next.  Read more here.

This is always a fun day.  Lots of animals to pet, but the best part is the MILKING contest.  Speaker Beth Harwell will represent the House, assuming that Lt. Gov. Ramsey will represent the Senate. Last year they milked goats, understand that this year it will be cows.

NASHVILLE – Tennessee lawmakers will celebrate Ag Day on the Hill on April 2 at Legislative Plaza. The day will highlight the importance of farming and forestry to the state of Tennessee.
Ag Day on the Hill will feature a variety of exhibits and activities including:

  • A milking contest between Senate and House members
  • A cattle weighing contest
  • Live animals – cattle, goats, pigs, chicken, sheep, bees, mules and horses
  • Crops and farm equipment
  • Special presentations to the House Agriculture Committee
  • Ag Day on the Hill will begin at 8 a.m. with displays from agricultural organizations lining the halls while the contests, live animals, crops and farm equipment will be located at the courtyard entrance to Legislative Plaza. The annual milking contest will take place at 9:45 a.m. Special presentations to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee get underway at 10:30 a.m. The winner of the cattle weighing contest, to be announced during the committee meeting, will receive a Pick Tennessee Products gift basket.