Legislative Update, February 22, 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).


"Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right." 
Charles Haddon Surgeon (1834-1892)

A couple of our lawmakers have been under the weather.  The mother of one of our senators fell and hurt her knee.  Please pray for her complete recovery.  Perhaps the saddest news of all....and since he has posted this journey on his Facebook page, I don't feel like I am invading their privacy...my friend, and fellow lobbyist, Andy Ogles (Americans for Prosperity) and his wife lost their son Lincoln this week.  The baby was due in five weeks and his heart just stopped. He was delivered on Wednesday.  Please pray for Andy, Monica and their two children as they deal with this terrible, heartbreaking loss.

Tuesday, I was reminded of the ever present special interest groups at the Capitol. Mrs. Patray and I made our way through seas of people as we went from committee to committee.  It seems as though every organization has their "Day on the Hill" in order to voice their needs and desires, the halls are always abuzz with activity. It is nice to know that there are still those who will enact their rights as put forth in our State Constitution. Article 1 Section 23: "That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address of remonstrance."

I hardly know where to start -- the coming week will be filled with committees hearing multiple pieces of legislation that we have a vital interest in.  I want to encourage you to read this update carefully and please engage the debate.  If legislators do not hear from you they have a right to think that no one cares about what they do.   In a Constitutional Republic, the voters have an OBLIGATION to make their voices heard and to hold the lawmakers accountable.

 I will highlight some of them, but you can find the complete calendar HERE.
All the work we have done for the past year comes down to Tuesday, February 25 at 3:00 pm in Room 30!!

SB 2405 by *Beavers
( HB 2332 by *Womick)
Education - As introduced, discontinues use of common core state standards
This bill is the result of a year of work -- educating the public and the legislators on the problems with the Common Core State Standards. Remember, we are fighting the 'business' community, the education establishment, and many others that are well funded and doing everything in their power to protect these standards and all the baggage that comes with them.
STATUS:  HB2332 is in the House subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION: PLEASE contact the committee members and URGE them to vote for this legislation.

Chairman:  Rep. Mark White:  Phone (615) 741-4415 rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. Dawn White: Phone (615) 741-6849 rep.dawn.white@capitol.tn.gov          
Rep. Joe Pitts: Phone (615) 741-2043 rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. Debra Moody: Phone (615) 741-3774 rep.debra.moody@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. Harold Love, Jr.: Phone (615) 741-3831 rep.harold.love@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. Roger Kane: Phone (615) 741-4110 rep.roger.kane@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. John Forgety: Phone (615) 741-1725 rep.john.forgety@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. John DeBerry: Phone (615) 741-2239 rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov
Rep. Harry Brooks: Phone (615) 741-6879   rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov

SB 1835 by *Gresham ( HB 1549 by *Dunn)
Education - As introduced, establishes requirements for the adoption of educational standards; prohibits use of student data for purposes other than tracking academic progress and educational needs of students
STATUS:  HB1549 is also in House Education Subcommittee.  We would like to have the standards that already know about named and
included in the text: the Next Generation Science Standards, the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, the National Health Education Standards, the National Sexuality Education Standards, or at the very least, be stated as a part of the legislative intent, it be made clear that the bill applies to these standards.
ACTION:  Please ask the committee members to support this legislation (see list above).

SB 1470 by *Gresham ( HB 1882 by *Dennis)
Education - As introduced, enacts the "Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act", which regulates the collection and release of data by the department and state board of education.
NOTE:  We support legislation that would truly protect student privacy.  The one concern that we have about this bill is this:

In 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties, including private companies, increased access to student data. It is significant that in 2008, the amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of "school officials" who have access to student data to include "contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties to whom an educational agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform."
The 2011 amendments allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undermine parental consent provisions. The changes also promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records.
So the question is:  EXACTLY what in this bill assures that the changes in FERPA do not provide a loop hole for the release of the data collected on TN students?
STATUS:  HB1882 is also in House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION:  You can email the note and question above urging that the question be answered before voting on this legislation.

SB 1881 by *Niceley ( HB 1697 by *Butt)
Education - As introduced, requires cursive writing to be taught in the third grade
One would hope that passing this legislation would be a 'slam dunk' but nothing in the Education Committees is guaranteed this year.What Learning Cursive Does for Your Brain
STATUS:  HB1697 is also in House Education Subcommittee this week.
ACTION:  Please let the members know that you support this important legislation.

SB 1984 by *Campfield ( HB 1828 by *Womick)
Education - As introduced, prohibits adoption or use of PARCC assessments; requires the general assembly to make the decision as to the adoption of assessments to replace TCAPs; requires the state to withdraw from PARCC; prohibits state membership in any group that relinquished control over assessments to an outside entity.
SB 1882 by *Niceley ( HB 1696 by *Butt)
Education, Curriculum - As introduced, mandates that the state board of education and department of education shall immediately withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and common core state standards
STATUS:  Both these bills are also in House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION:  Withdrawing from PARCC will not solve the whole Common Core problem, but we would rather be out of PARCC than in it.  A number of states HAVE with drawn form PARCC, we hope that TN will join those.
What States Have Pulled Out of their Common Core Assessment Consortium?

SB 1951 by *Gardenhire ( HB 1992 by *Floyd)
Education, Higher - As introduced, permits undocumented alien students who are Tennessee residents, who meet the academic requirements of HOPE scholarship and attend Tennessee schools for five years prior to graduating from high school, be charged in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education.
           This legislation could incentivize illegal behavior. The laws of the United States prohibit illegal aliens from residing in our country. However, everyday illegal aliens make a conscious decision to ignore these laws. Should we be rewarding this behavior and, in addition, make TN a magnet for these students?
69% Oppose In-State Tuition To Illegal Immigrants
Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law
STATUS:  SB1951 is in Senate Education on Wednesday.  Members found HERE.  HB1992 is in House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. Members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact committee members and urge them to vote against the legislation.

SB 2566 by *Bell ( HB 2467 by *Dunn)
Religion and Religious Organizations - As introduced, permits persons and religious or denominational organizations, based on sincere religious belief, to refuse to provide services or goods in furtherance of a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by the Tennessee Constitution.
STATUS:  SB2566 was the first bill on the Judiciary Committee calendar Tuesday. Sen. Mike Bell made an important and moving statement that I urge you to go HERE (move slide over to 7:40)  to see before he put the legislation in 'General Sub' (a place to 'park' a bill when it will not be run).  Let me be clear,  Sen. Bell DID NOT do this based on any 'pressure' he received.  As he says to the committee, he talked to three judges and several attorneys.  Because same sex marriage is still illegal in TN AND (very important) homosexuals are NOT a protected class under our state law, it seems that TN businesses CAN decline their business based on 'conduct'. The states where businesses got into trouble for refusing their services, as I understand it, were either states that had legalized same-sex 'marriage' or where homosexuals were a legally protected class in their statutes, or both. Now if our Constitutional amendment is overturned, the situation would change.  Regardless, I think we will see similar legislation brought back next year for consideration.
  TN lawmakers drop wedding vendors bill
COMMENT:  I often lament the fact that it is SO DIFFICULT to get conservatives to SHOW UP in committee rooms to support or oppose legislation.  On very short notice one-half of the committee room was filled with homosexuals and their supporters in a show of force against this legislation. These folks know the importance of engaging the battle.

HJR 0548 by *Powers

Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to Congress for the purpose of calling a convention of states concerning balanced budgeting.
NOTE:  I understand that this is being promoted by wonderful conservative folks that are truly frightened about the future of our country, as am I. However,  I hope you know by now we have grave concerns about calling for a Constitutional Convention for any reason principally because we have NEVER done it and despite what the national leaders are saying, there is no way to knowing what will happen if 34 states issue calls and CONGRESS convenes the convention, which is what Article V of the US Constitution provides for.   More information HERE.
I continue to ask:  If congress isn't abiding by the Constitution, what makes us think they would suddenly do so if it is amended?? And, do we really want to turn over a Convention to the very folks that got us into this mess??? 
BTW, there are three ways to balance a budget:  Raise taxes, cut spending or states could stop accepting federal funds for various programs!
STATUS:  HJR548 is in State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, members HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the members of the committee know that there are genuine concerns about this proposal.
SJR 0493 by *Kelsey
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to the U.S. Congress to call a constitutional convention for the sole purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment.
STATUS: SJR493 is in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday, members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the members of the committee know that there are genuine concerns about this proposal.

SB 2464 by *Watson ( HB 2371 by *Carter)
Annexation - As introduced, abolishes annexation by ordinance at the initiative of the municipality
Rep. Carter wins the award for persistence and tenaciousness, regardless of the opposition,  in not giving up on providing folks with the right to vote on an annexation proposal.  
STATUS:  HB2371 passed out of subcommittee and will be in the Local Government on Tuesday.
ACTION:  Please contact committee members, found HERE, and let them know that you support this protective legislation.

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:  HB937, as amended, was passed out of the Finance Committee and is scheduled for the House Floor on Monday.