Legislative Update, March 26, 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).

O Father, who spared not thine only Son that Thou mightest spare, me, All this transfer Thy loved designed and accomplished; Help me to adore Thee by lips and life.  O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise, my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed, Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed, sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood, hell's gates closed, heaven's portal open  Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save. 
Love Lusters at Calvary, Valley of Vision.

My husband, Ron, has been in the hospital since last Saturday evening. He is a long term diabetic who somehow got a wound on his big toe that I did not see until mid-day last Saturday. 
Last Sunday morning, the doctor removed all the dead tissue right down to the bone.  His Neuropathy is so extensive that he did not even feel the surgical procedure. Biopsies revealed that the infection is in the toe and in the bone. He has been on IV antibiotics since then.  A PICC line was implanted on Thursday so he can get six more weeks of a very expensive IV antibiotic.  Let the insurance company debate begin about this needed medication and where he can get the infusion.  Prayers appreciated. (I am doing this from my husband's hospital room, so if you see any typos, please excuse.) Sen. Mark Green, who recently completed a course of chemo, is now cancer free!!!  Many of the Legislative Committees are now closed, or will close in the coming week.  Once again I ask your prayers for all the decisions are being made.


We are in the final stretch at the Legislative Plaza, committees are into their final calendars and things are moving very quickly. On Tuesday we heard debate on the National Popular Vote and the resolution that reminds the federal government of our 10th amendment rights. Both bills wound up being rolled one week, making next week extremely important for our state. We are hoping and praying that the NPV is defeated and the resolution is passed out of committee.


This week was a bit more relaxed because all the bills we have been focused on already went through committee and rolled a week. We spent the day leisurely going to different committees to check on some of the other issues we haven't had time to focus on. We also had a few follow up visits making sure everyone was on the same page. The plaza is definitely an interesting place that never fails to teach you something new even on the slow days.

SB 1657 by *Tracy,(HB 1728) by *Sexton C
Election Laws - As introduced, adopts the interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote.

You will not want to miss the brief excellent video:
The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College

STATUS:  I hardly know where to start.  The House Local Government Committee met on Tuesday.  They got to HB1728 about 9:25am with the State Coordinator of Elections, Mark Goins, telling the committee that one thing wrong with this bill was that the caption didn't open the proper parts of the TN Code Annotated and that, should it pass, it would go to court. Strangely, Chairman Tim Wirgau called on the opponents of the bill testify first.  (Normally proponents of the legislation before the committee testify first.)  John Ryder, Legal Council for the Republican National Committee and TN National Committeeman; Linda Knight, a local attorney, Hans A. von Spakovsky, Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, and Sean Parnell, President, Impact Policy Management, LLC., Alexandria VA., did an excellent job of explaining why the NPV is a terrible idea. When their time was up, the proponents testified:  Sherry Phillips (Judson Phillips' wife), Michael Steel, former Republican National Committee Chair and former Lt. Governor Maryland, Rob Johnson, former State Senator in OK.  After their time was up  opponents were given another opportunity to speak, this time including a young man, Steven Puckett (a democrat) if I got his name right.. Then the proponents including Pat Rosensteel from the National Popular Vote, were given a few more minutes.  By then, the time in the committee had expired, so sponsor, Rep. Sexton made a few remarks and rolled the bill until next week, then the committee adjourned.
So.......HB1728 is back on the Local Government Committee on
Tuesday at 3:00pm
SB1657 is in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday at 10:30am.

ACTION:  Please contact these legislators and URGE them to vote NO on this legislation:
sen.richard.briggs@capitol.tn.govsen.ed.jackson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.marc.gravitt@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tim.wirgau@capitol.tn.gov

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
STATUSAs amended, SB2387 passed Senate Education Committee Ayes 7, Nays 2 PNV 0, and was sent to Senate Finance Ways and Means.
HB2414 was given new life and a second chance of passage and will be on Education Administration and Planning Committee Calendar on April 5.
ACTION: Please start now by contacting the committee members urging them to pass this important legislation.

March 24, 2016
Editor'€'s Note: Last night The Tennessean reported, on Wednesday, March 23, the '€"Bathroom Bill'€ was given new life in the House and advanced in the Senate. Although the House Education Administration and Planning Committee voted against the bill on March 22, when the committee reconvened on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, made a motion to force the committee to reconsider its action. Tennesseans can still call their legislators to express their views on this bill.
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE  A bill that would require students in public education institutions in Tennessee to use restroom and locker rooms that are assigned to their biological sex is currently circulating in the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 2387 and House Bill 2414 are commonly referred to as the Bathroom Bill.
David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a former state senator, has been monitoring the progress of the bill.
"€"Legislation is now working its way through the legislative process that would prohibit our public educational institutions from having policies that would allow students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice based on what sex the student chooses to identify with,"€ Fowler said.
"In other words, it would require our educational institutions to provide a bathroom and locker room that students can use without fear of being exposed in that kind of setting to someone of the opposite biological sex. The legislation would allow institutions to make other facilities available for transgendered students and those students for whom privacy is not an issue, 'he continued.

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: Once again the committee heard testimony that  had very little to do with the text and purpose of this resolution.  It was capped off with Holly Johnson, TN Office of Refugees (NOT a state agency) who closed with a fantastical statement.  She said that Mary and Joseph were refugees!  Huh???  That's not what my Bible says!! She added that here Bible told her to "welcome the stranger".  I would direct her to this article:  "Who is the Stranger?" written by my friend, former state senator Karen Johnson.
SJR467 is on the calender for the State Government Committee on Tuesday, March 29
ACTION:  Please encourage these committee members to support this vitally important resolution.

rep.darren.jernigan@capitol.tn.gov , rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov
The federal government oversteps it bounds and continues to push both unfunded mandates as well as cost shifting programs on states.  Perhaps this lawsuit could make a real difference.

SB 2568 by *Norris,(HB 2577) by *McCormick
Abortion - As introduced, establishes requirements regarding the disposition of fetal remains resulting from surgical abortions, including reporting requirements and requirements for interim inspections of and certain reporting by facilities where surgical abortions are performed.
NOTE:  This legislation is a response to the activities of Planned Parenthood and the gruesome videos we all saw last summer.
Tennessee Gov Bill Haslam Pushes Pro-Life Reforms to Hold Unlawful Abortion Clinics Accountable
STATUS:  SB2387 passed Senate Judiciary Committee Ayes 7, Nays 0 PNV 2 and was referred to the Calendar Committee. HB2577 was in the House Health Committee last week but was rolled until this coming Wednesday, where it is expected to pass.

SB 1738 by *Niceley  (HB 2029) by *Faison
Racing and Motor Sports - As introduced, creates the state horse racing advisory committee to develop recommendations for legislation related to the establishment of horse racing in this state.

NOTE: I am troubled to see this legislation even appear.  Back in the last 1990s, Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey was in the senate as a member of the Government Ops committee along with Tom Leatherwood, Rosiland Kurita and others.  We worked hard to get rid of the Horse Racing Commission.  I really don't want TN start down this road again.  I was assured that this is 'just a study' but why take the time and energy to study something unless it is going to be pursued??

The committee shall complete a comprehensive report that includes, but is not limited to, all recommendations for legislation on the establishment of horse racing in this state and shall file the report with the governor, the chair of the government operations committee of the house of representatives,and the chair of the government operations committee of the senate prior to July 1, 2018


According to Gural, horse racing hasn't been able to appeal to young people. "Frankly there's so many other things for people to do today that racing other than the big events like the Derby and Triple Crown and harness racing at the Hambletonian, by and large it just doesn't appeal to younger people, he said.
Gural said casinos are keeping horse racing alive since most racetracks have a casino component. He said tracks in Pennsylvania and New York have slot machines, which helps the racetracks.
Gural would like to have a racino ” a combination racetrack and casino ” in the Meadowlands. "I think what it really will help is we just built a $120 million building and it's a cool place, but people need various options, he said. He said a racino would let people in the same party participate in different activities, for example a husband who likes to watch races could do that while his wife who likes slot machines can gamble that way.
Here's more: Interest in Horse Racing Continues to Decline in North America, and

STATUSAs amended, SB1738 was voted out of Government Operations Ayes 5, Nays 2 PNV 1, and was referred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee
HB2029 is on the State Government Committee on Tuesday.
ACTION:  Please let the members of these committees know that there is no good reason to start down this road again.

SB 2017 by *Ketron, (HB 2584) by *Todd
Interstate Compacts - As introduced, authorizes Tennessee's participation in Article V conventions to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, through the adoption of the "Compact for a Balanced Budget

STATUS: FINALLY this bill is finished.  You may recalled that the Senate bill did not pass last week. Well, this week, the House bill was taken off notice.  However, I would not expect that these folks with all their funding will give up easily.  We must stay vigilant next year.

Agriculture Day on the Hill is always a fun day.  At one entered the Plaza, there were goats, piglets, a sheep and baby, a horse, some cows.  Then came the competition in the corn shucking contest.  A good time was had by all!!

House wins corn competition again
, jebert@tennessean.com 4:24 p.m. CDT March 22, 2016
The Tennessee House wins a corn shelling competition against the senate during Agriculture Day at Legislative Plaza on Tuesday.
House Speaker Beth Harwell and her bipartisan team of corn shellers have got a good thing going.
The three-member team, including Harwell and Reps. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, narrowly edged a Senate team led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to retain a golden trophy commemorating the annual competition.Although Harwell lost a coin toss resulting in her team going first, her squad bested Ramsey's, which included Sens. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains ” who was wearing coveralls on top of his regular garb ” after shelling 16 pounds of corn. The Senate team, who jokingly accused Harwell's team of cheating in last year's competition, managed to shell 15.8 pounds.

Randy McNally appears to have clear field in bid to succeed state Senate Speaker Ramsey
 March 25th, 2016 by Andy Sher   
NASHVILLE ” Republican state Sen. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge, Tenn., appears to have a clear field in his bid to succeed Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, who is not seeking re-election to the Senate.
During the chamber's personal order time at the conclusion of Thursday's floor session, McNally, 72, who is also the Senate's longest-serving member, made his run official while praising Ramsey's accomplishments.
McNally also said he has spoken with colleagues who had considered running, those being Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson; Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville; Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro; and Senate Commerce Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin.
Asked later if he had their approval, McNally said all were "supportive."
Watson said last week he would back McNally. Earlier this week, Norris told reporters he saw McNally as a consensus candidate who could play a transitional role as the chamber pivots after Ramsey, who led GOP senators from a minority to a dominant super majority and has held the powerful speaker's post for a decade.
Ramsey himself has said McNally would be a good fit for the speaker role.