Legislative Update, April 16, 2016

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).

 "Decrease the belief in God, and you increase the numbers of those who wish to play at being God by being "society's supervisors. Such "supervisors deny the existence of divine standards, but are very serious about imposing their own standards on society . . . .   Once we remove belief in God from the center of our lives, as the Source of truth and as a Determiner of justice, a tremendous vacuum is created into which selfishness surges, a condition which governments delight in managing. Trends become a theology. A religion of regulations emerges in which tens of thousands of regulations seek to replace the Ten Commandments." --Neal Maxwell, Ensign, October 1978

So glad to report that Rep. Bryan Terry, MD, was recovered enough to be back at the Capitol this week.  It is looking like next week may wrap up the second session of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly, so prayers are certainly needed.  My husband, Ron, had a partial toe amputation on Tuesday (April 12) and seems to be doing well after the surgery. He is still receiving IV
antibiotics every 12 hours. At this point we expect him to be in Hickory Woods until the end of next week.  He has appointments with the surgeon and with the infectious disease doctor on Tuesday so we will know more then. This has been along journey (starting March 19th) that has been stressful and exhausting to say the least, especially coming during the legislative session.  Prayers appreciated for Ron's complete healing. One note of warning to the diabetics out there:  When the doctors urge you to frequently check your toes.  DO IT!  Ron is now the 'poster child' for what happens when you don't!

Once again I was at the Plaza on Wednesday instead of Tuesday this week, and we had a fairly leisurely day of going to different committee rooms. Most bills that we are interested in were not heard in their committees. Without a doubt the highlight of our day was when we had the opportunity to attend a lunch for the Pro-Life Women's Day on the Hill. It was inspiring to see so many other Pro-Life people on the hill fighting to protect life. The session is coming to a close and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

We started off trying to calculate votes for a bill we worked on my first day not knowing if it would even be put on notice. The bill was indeed put on notice. Before committee started we were catching people in the hallways with no time to actually discuss any issue. Everything is down to a yes or no question with next week possibly being the last week of session. Then after our few quick encounters with legislators committee started and to our surprise and delight the bill was taken off notice for this year.

The Division of Elections has updated its list of candidates qualifying for this year's elections, HERE, following passage of the withdrawal deadline Thursday.

Democratic female candidates face challenges, opportunities
Analysis: Running nearly two dozen Democratic women has potential but logistical, political hurdles

SB 2109 by *Johnson,(HB 2105) by *Marsh
AMENDMENT #2 rewrites this bill and establishes licensing requirements for fantasy sports operators.
SB2109-HB2105 is now composed of these:
Amendment # 2 that is 20 pages long.
Amendment # 4 that is a half page.  

STATUS:  If there was any question about it, the Tennessee Attorney General has clearly answered it:  Fantasy Football IS GAMBLING. Now the question is, will the members of the House vote to establish more gambling in our state.   Tennessee is not the only state grappling with this gambling proposition.  I am truly shocked that this bill has sailed through the supposedly 'conservative' legislature the way it has this session.  This is GAMBLING, just as the Attorney General said.  A YES vote is a vote to LEGALIZE gambling.
Do the readers of this update really think that  expanding gambling in the state is a good idea??  HB2105 is on the House floor Monday. Do we care?
ACTION:  Please contact the House members and urge them to VOTE NO!!! 

SB 2387 by *Bell, (HB 2414) by *Lynn
Students - As introduced, requires students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students' birth certificates.   ADF Opines: Tennessee attorney general wrong about student privacy law

STATUS:  This bill has now been amended and THIS is the current language.
SB2387 is in Senate Finance Ways and Means on Monday; HB2414 is in House Finance Way and Means on Monday

Corporations concerned over Tennessee transgender bathroom bill

60 businesses sign letter opposing bathroom bill

ACTION:   Without YOUR help this bill will not pass. As you can see from the links above, this is an uphill battle.
PLEASE contact the members of both committees and URGE them to vote YES.

SB2387 is in Senate Finance Ways and Means on Monday; HB2414 is in House Finance Way and Means on Monday.
Without YOUR help this bill will not pass.  PLEASE contact the members of both committees and URGE them to vote YES.

SJR 0467 by *Ramsey , Norris, Ketron, Beavers, McNally, Roberts, Green, Bailey, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Gardenhire, Haile, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Niceley, Southerland, Stevens, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Hensley
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Urges the commencement of legal action, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, from the federal government's mandated appropriation of state revenue and noncompliance with the Refugee Act
STATUS: I am thrilled to report that SJR467 is scheduled for the House floor on Monday where it is expected to pass. This is definitely one of the most important accomplishments for the 2016 legislative session.

Tennessee State Legislature on Track to Sue Federal Government Over Refugee Resettlement NASHVILLE, Tennessee
The Tennessee General Assembly is on track to sue the federal government over the refugee resettlement program on Tenth Amendment grounds after Senate Joint Resolution 467 cleared its last substantive hurdle in the Tennessee House Finance Committee
The resolution sailed through the committee on a voice vote, and is now headed to the Calendar and Rules Committee, which will schedule a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives some time during the next seven days. The resolution is expected to pass in a landslide, as 74 of the House's 99 members have already signed on as sponsors.

SB 1108 by *Southerland, (HB 0615) by *Sexton J

State Government - As introduced, designates the Holy Bible as the official state book .
STATUSTennessee governor vetoes bill making Bible the official state book
Haslam lobbying against override of Bible bill veto


SB 0612 by *Gardenhire, (HB 0675) by *White M
Students - As introduced, exempts certain students from payment of out-of-state tuition at state institutions of higher education.
    You may recall from last year, this bill, as amended, for some unexplainable reason, passed the Senate floor 21-12
Senators voting aye were: Yarbro, Tate, Southerland, Overbey, Niceley, Mr. Speaker Ramsey, McNally, Massey, Kyle, Kelsey, Jackson, Harris, Harper, Haile, Gresham, Green, Gardenhire, Dickerson, Crowe, Briggs, Bowling -- 21; Senators voting no were: Yager, Watson, Tracy, Stevens, Roberts, Norris, Ketron, Johnson, Hensley, Bell, Beavers, Bailey -- 12. This was even after it was 'explained' that even though these students WERE illegal, they were LAWFUL under federal law.  Huh???    When the bill hit the House floor on April 22, 2015, thankfully, it DID NOT PASS!  The vote was 49-47! (fifty votes are required to pass a bill on the House floor.)
Representatives voting aye were: Womick, Wirgau, White M., Turner, Towns, Todd, Stewart, Sparks, Smith, Shepard, Shaw, Sanderson, Ramsey, Powell, Pitts, Parkinson, Miller, McManus, McDaniel, McCormick, Marsh, Love, Kumar, Jones, Johnson, Hulsey, Hazlewood, Haynes, Harrison, Hardaway, Gravitt, Gilmore, Fitzhugh, Favors, Farmer, Eldridge, Dunn, DeBerry, Cooper, Clemmons, Carter, Carr, Camper, Calfee, Brooks K., Brooks H., Beck, Armstrong, Akbari -- 49.
          Representatives voting no were: Windle, Williams, Wilburn, White D., Weaver, Van Huss, Travis, Terry, Swann, Spivey, Sexton J., Sexton C., Sargent, Rogers, Reedy, Ragan, Powers, Pody, Moody, Matlock, Matheny, Lynn, Lundberg, Lollar, Littleton, Lamberth, Keisling, Kane, Howell, Holt, Holsclaw, Hill T., Hill M., Hawk, Halford, Goins, Forgety, Faison, Durham, Dunlap, Doss, Daniel, Coley, Casada, Byrd, Butt, Alexander -- 47.
House sponsor Mark White send the bill back the the Calendar and Rules Committee.

    Fast forward to this session - we were confident that this would return and it was actually the first bill we started working on in January. On Tuesday, I received a tip that it had been put on notice for the the C&R committee for Wednesday, so we started working on it again.  I was waiting to speak with a representative and sent my wonderful interns to the committee meeting.  Just shortly after, Noah sent me a text that White had 'taken it off notice', which meant that it would not be run.  HOORAY!!

    I suspect that Rep. White put this back 'on notice' because of the rally held at the Plaza on Tuesday (see article below), but I already KNEW that at least three of last year's Yes votes were now No votes, so I didn't see him getting it off the floor. Clearly, if he had had the votes he would have run it.  This immigration case will soon be before the US Supreme Court and with the loss Scalia, who knows what will happen:  United States v. Texas, the biggest immigration case in a century, explained.

Undocumented TN students rally for lower tuition
reports The Tennessean.
Wearing placards that described their career aspirations ” some said they were future educators or entrepreneurs ” more than 100 students chanted their demand for tuition equality on the steps of War Memorial Auditorium. Without it, some of them said, the prohibitive cost of higher education would keep them from pursuing their dreams.Undocumented students from across Tennessee came to Legislative Plaza Tuesday to try to convince lawmakers to give new life to a bill that would slash their tuition at public colleges,
Under state law, undocumented immigrants who want to go to public colleges must pay out-of-state rates that are often two or three times higher than those offered to Tennessee citizens.
A bill that would have given some undocumented students in-state tuition last year won support from Gov. Bill Haslam and dozens of lawmakers, including some conservative Republicans who had been vocal opponents in the past. The bill (SB612) ultimately failed by one vote in the House of Representatives, where critics said such a change would give undocumented students an unfair advantage over U.S. citizens.
But the students gathered Tuesday, who had been recruited and trained to share their stories by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, hoped lawmakers would bring the bill back to the floor before the session ends later this month. They held about 50 meetings with lawmakers in hopes of winning over opponents and resuscitating the bill's chances.

Harwell Announces Creation of Healthcare Task Force
Cuthbert Langley
2:12 PM, Apr 12, 2016, 10:43 PM, Apr 12, 2016
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Alongside Governor Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell has announced a new task force that aims to increase access to health care across the state.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Harwell said she began talking to medical policy experts at Vanderbilt University following the defeat of Insure Tennessee. That was the plan endorsed by Governor Bill Haslam to expand Medicaid coverage.
The "3-Star Healthy Project" was created by Harwell after those conversations.
Four Republican House members have been appointed to lead the task force, which is the focal point of the project. They will hold meetings and discussions to develop a list of possible pilot programs to increase care.
The task force has until June to put ideas together and present them to the Governor as well as the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.