Legislative Update, April 12, 2014

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).


Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.  Thomas Jefferson, 1823

Well, the days really are dwindling now.  As we got to mid-week, there was talk of just staying through the weekend to complete this year's business, which was a terrible idea. Everyone is exhausted (you can see it on faces) with the intense level of work taking place, the speed at which things are expected to move and very long hours in committee and on the respective floors.  On Thursday morning I kept telling folks they didn't need to be at the Capitol over Palm Sunday weekend, that they need to go home and go to church!!  Well, finally they took a vote in the caucuses and cooler heads did prevail and the lawmakers left Thursday afternoon and will return on Monday.  Please pray that each of them will enjoy some good rest over the weekend, and will come back to Nashville refreshed, ready to thoughtfully complete the state's business. 

As the legislative season comes to a close so does my internship.  With this being the case I feel that I should take some liberties in this article and thank those who were the most influential.  I have learned more in these last few months then I may ever be able to express with words and I know that I can never repay all the kindness shown to me, however hard I may try.  First of all I would like to thank my Mom, Melissa Neel, as well as my brothers, who have been so supportive of my endeavor, thank you all for showing me that I have a family who will support me despite the sacrifice. Next I would like to thank Mrs. Francis Arthur, who thought of me when she learned of this opportunity, thank you Mrs. Arthur, it means a great deal to me.  I would also like to thank Rep. Judd Matheny, he has been wonderful in making me feel as wanted as anyone else in the plaza and has shown me that, no matter the consequence, what's right is right. Now Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Mrs. Bobbie Patray for allowing me to have this opportunity to learn and grow, she is not only a wonderful teacher but also a wonderful Christian. 

MY RESPONSE: Jacob, thank you for our kind comments. You were a real joy to spend the Session with and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I loved your interest, engagement, curiosity, and eagerness to learn as much as possible about the legislative process and the different political issues. I am looking forward to watching as your future unfolds!! Many blessings, Bobbie

"Do whatever is necessary to get Tennessee out of PARCC".
There are legislators who ARE listening to their constituents and who are working on a plan to get us out of PARCC [The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers creates a standard set of K-12 assessments in math and English based on the Common Core Standards and is scheduled to be put in place for the 2014-15 school year in Tennessee.]
and to identify other test options.  Let's help them out by contacting every Senate and House member POLITELY urging each lawmaker to support this effort.  We have ONLY MONDAY AND TUESDAY to accomplish the goal.  You can send emails and leave phone messages over the weekend, you don't have to wait until Monday.  Click on the respective pictures below to find the contact information. 







SB 2559 by *Bowling, Hensley, Bell, Tate, Green, Dickerson, Burks, Crowe, Gardenhire,
( HB 2453 by *Matheny),Holt, Dunn, Hill M, Moody, Butt, Womick, Casada, Faison, Carr J, Matlock, Shipley, White D, Carter, Doss, Pody, Weaver, Kane, Williams R, DeBerry J, Alexander, Spivey

Requires local boards of education to make policies that will authorize parents or guardians to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids, as well as all tests developed and graded by the teacher of their student.
 Such teaching materials shall be made readily available upon request. Local education agencies (LEAs) shall make policies that authorize parents or guardians access to review all surveys, analyses, or evaluations, prior to these instruments being administered to their student. Such policies shall authorize parents or guardians to opt their student out of participation in such instruments.
Requires LEAs to disclose the purpose of any surveys, analyses, or evaluation materials and the persons that will access the results.
STATUS: SB2559 was on the Senate Floor on Thursday, where I am very pleased to report that it passed 27-0.  HB2453 will be on the House floor either Monday or Tuesday where it is expected to pass.

SB 1602 by *Bell , Gresham, Stevens, Yager, Johnson, Tracy, Hensley, Crowe, Tate

HB 2249 by *Casada,Womick, Butt, Dunn, Sargent, White D, Matheny, Evans
Textbooks - As introduced, restructures the textbook commission and the textbook selection process.
NOTE: This is an exceptionally important bill. Dozens of volunteers worked all summer to review textbooks and evaluated the textbook adoption process. This is our chance to improve the process and give more control legislators and parents.
STATUS:  HB2249 was voted out of Government Operations but is STILL in the Finance Subcommittee. This can be the 'killer' committee, members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact the members of this committee and urge them to support this important bill.

SB 2596 by *Norris ( HB 2501 by *Sargent)
Appropriations - As introduced, makes appropriations for fiscal years beginning July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014.
STATUS:  On April 10, SB2596 passed the Senate Floor 28-3; HB2501 passed the House Floor 68-27.


Tenn. state worker, K-12 teacher pay raise plan re-emerges

Tennessee House passes budget without state raises

State Budget Sails Through Legislature
11 Apr 2014
Both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly have agreed on a state budget and sent it along to the governor. And it's pretty likely he'll sign it, since it's exactly what he asked for.
The appropriations blueprint passed Thursday by the Senate and the House calls for $32.4 billion in state spending from July 1 if this year through July 1, 2015. The current fiscal year's budget was originally approved at 32.7 billion.
"This is a budget that we hoped would be a lot better. But with $276 million in the hole, this is an excellent, excellent budget that we all can be proud of," said House Finance, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin.
The package was approved 68-27 in the House and 28-3 in the Senate. Those voting against the budget were mostly Democrats; Reps. Jeremy Durham of Franklin and Judd Matheny of Tullahoma were the only GOP lawmakers to give it a thumbs-down.
The biggest complaint Democrats voiced with the package - other than that it didn't include enough spending in general, and too much allocated to "rainy-day" reserves - was that the governor withdrew plans he'd put forward earlier to award pay increases to teachers and government employees.

SB 2597 by *Norris
( HB 2500 by *Sargent)
Public Funds and Financing - As introduced, specifies how proceeds from the sale and conveyance of surplus real property or improvements used for state forestry or other operations of the department of agriculture are to be used; revises other various statutory provisions required for implementation of the annual appropriations act.
STATUS:  On April 10, SB2597 passed the Senate Floor 31-0; HB2500 passed the House Floor 75-16-3. Evidently the Senate made some changes, that are not in the Senate bill as it is going back to the House on a message calendar for them to concur with those changes.

As was reported last week, the legislation that finally, after many years of work, that would end forced annexation, passed both houses.
Bill ending 'forced annexations' in Tennessee passes House, goes to governor.
In addition to recognizing the excellent work of Rep. Mike Carter, Rep. Micah Van Huss, Rep. Matthew Hill and other legislators, I especially want to recognize and commend Bill Haupt who has been a champion for this cause for many, many years.  Bill led the formation of Tennesseans Against Forced Annexation which involved many other activists in this important effort.  Thank you to Bill and all the other activists who cared enough to continue to battle until the victory was won

SB 1881 by *Niceley ( HB 1697 by *Butt)
Education - As introduced, requires cursive writing to be taught in the third grade
What Learning Cursive Does for Your Brain; Handwriting is critical to student literacy

STATUS:  On March 17, HB1697, as amended, passed the House Floor 85-6-1; on April 9, SB1881 passed the Senate Floor 27-0-4.

SB 2404 by *Hensley ( HB 2167 by *Butt)Education - As introduced, requires dissemination by the department of education and LEAs to parents of information concerning state and LEA mandated tests
STATUS: So pleased to report that on April 3rd, SB2402, as amended, passed the Senate Floor 30-0. On April 9, HB2167 passed the House floor 93-0!! 

In addition to rushing bills through committee and on to the respective floors for action, it has also been a week of 'good byes' when members honor the colleagues who will not be returning next year.
In the Senate, it will be a 'end of an era' on two counts.  Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) is retiring after serving four terms, winning election just after her husband, Sen. Tommy Burks, was murdered by his opponent.  This will mean that next year, the State Senate will be without a 'Burks' for the first time in 44 years.  Sen. Doug Henry (D-Nashville) who is truly an icon and has served the State of Tennessee since 1955 is also retiring. It was wonderful that his wife of 64 years, Lolly, who has been in declining health, was able to join him on the Senate floor along with other members of the family.  Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) is also retiring.








In the State House, there are nine members who are leaving for a variety of reasons, some retiring, some to run for other offices, etc. Rep. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta), Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas), Rep. Vince Dean (R-East Ridge), Rep. Josh Evans (R-Springfield), Rep. Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga), Rep. Barrett Rich (R-Somerville), Rep. Mike Turner (D-Nashville), Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland), Rep. Kent Williams (I-Elizabethton).

Notable quotes from from two of the members: As Rep. Floyd was being honored, he was described as a man who "loved Jesus and loved God and lived out his faith on a daily basis".  As Rep. Floyd responded, he said the most important thing he ever learned, he learned as a child - "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!"
Rep. Dean's parting (and may I say, much needed) advice to his colleagues:  "Don't 'strut' (get to the place where you view your position as an entitlement), Don't 'stray' (from your core principles, regardless of the pressure) and Don't 'stumble' (behave in such a way as to embarrass yourself, your family or your colleagues).  Folks, that is GREAT advice.