Legislative Update, January 14, 2012


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE, January 14, 2012

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).

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. - Sir Winston Churchill.

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
As we begin the second session of the 107th General Assembly, many very important and volatile issues await the attention of legislators and activists alike. I believe that THE most important place to start is prayer for the session and for the lawmakers. We are living in perilous times and  I think 1 Chronicles 12:32 fits beautifully: "And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel [Tennessee] ought to do." Let us ask God to raise up men and women with the anointing of Issachar.  In addition, that they would have great wisdom and discernment as they go through the decision-making processes.
        Please remember Rep. Eric Watson's wife, Tenille, who is now home recovering after a hospital stay with a kidney problem.
       On a personal note, most of you know that I have significant scoliosis and stenosis in my back. Candidly, since last October, I have experienced a noticeable increase in muscle pain as the curve continues to get worse.  Aggravating factors are walking a lot and sitting a lot -- well, guess what lobbying requires the most? Your prayers will be greatly appreciated.

A POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE HERE:
When I showed up at the Capitol early in 1987, not having a clue about what I was doing, I would have never guessed that 25 years later, I would still be there and busier than ever. 
       Recently, just out of curiosity, I got out my 1987 picture book to see how many lawmakers are still serving that were serving in 1987 and I found 10*:  Senators Joe Haynes, Doug Henry, Randy McNally, Jim Kyle, Roy Herron (who was then in the House); Representatives Lois DeBerry, Mike Kernell, Jimmy Naifeh, Gary Odom, Les Winningham. Rep. Art Swann* previously served two terms in the House  including 1987 and was elected again in the 2010 election cycle.
       What a ride this has been and some of you have been with me every step of the way.  In those early years we distributed our information via a phone tree--can you believe that?  Then came glorious fax machines and we thought we had died and gone to Heaven.  And then,  Al Gore invented the internet and, man, were we in business! With a click of the mouse, accurate, timely information instantly went out to thousands of activists.  Gives new meaning to 'we've come a long way, baby'!  
        But, TOGETHER, we HAVE come a long way. We have made our voices heard and we have 25 years of victories to show for it. Because of your involvement, we have established an outstanding reputation for accuracy, integrity, and hard work with the lawmakers at both the state and federal level.  Believe, me, that is pure GOLD! 
        So --  together we can celebrate a SILVER ANNIVERSARY knowing that what we have done is important and has made a real difference in the political landscape while understanding that there is still much more to accomplish.

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO YOUR LOBBYING TEAM:
Joining me again this year, representing you and your family at the Capitol, is my precious friend and lobbying partner, attorney Joanne Bregman. Our intern is Veronica Scott.  She was 16 in November and is homeschooled by her mother and dad, Suzànne and Robert Scott. Suzànne was my first lobbying partner about 20 years ago prior to starting her family. Veronica has two brothers, Bennett and Garrett, and the family lives in Franklin.  So...I have the privilege of working on my second generation.  How cool it that? To mark my 25th year, Joanne, who is so thoughtful and creative, presented me with a tote bag containing 24 Eagle Pins.  She said I have to earn the 25th Eagle by getting all our bills passed this year!!


THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES:
      The beginning of new legislative session is always exciting and the start of the Second session of the 107th Tennessee General Assembly did not disappoint.  The Senate opened their floor session with a Marine color guard and a very moving video tribute to a fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Franklin Watson.  Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) sponsored
SJR 486 to honor his memory. 

REDISTRICTING DOMINATES FIRST WEEK:
      The legislature wasted no time in getting down to business as lawmakers passed redistricting plans for the Tennessee Senate, House of Representatives and U.S. Congress. It is an arduous task that is required every 10 years after the census is completed. Early passage of the redistricting plans was designed to give potential candidates sufficient time to review district lines before the April 5 filing deadline. 
     The purpose of redistricting is to assure citizens equal representation. This right is rooted in both the federal and state constitutions and has been repeatedly ruled upon by the courts over the years, setting additional standards that must be followed regarding minority district representation. The most famous of these rulings is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Baker v. Carr case, which laid the foundation for the "one man - one vote" standard required in redistricting nationwide. 
     Tennessee has a total population of 6.34 million citizens (up from 5.6 million in 2000), making the number of citizens per district to strive for 192,306 for each of the 33 State Senate districts and 64,102 for each of the 99 districts in the House of Representatives. The U.S. Congressional districts are simply divided by 9 among the state's total population for an ideal number of 705,123 citizens in each district

Three bills  were used to finalize the process:
State House Districts
1.
SB1513 by *Norris. (*HB1555 by *McDaniel.)
Redistricting, Legislative - As introduced, updates references to 2010 TIGER system and geography; clarifies provisions concerning districts, terms and vacancies prior to November 2012 elections; clarifies that house districts are not affected by reapportionment of county legislative bodies. - Amends TCA Section 3-1-103.
State Senate Districts
2.
SB1514 by *Norris. (*HB1557 by *McDaniel.)
Redistricting, Legislative - As introduced, updates references to 2010 TIGER system and geography; clarifies provisions concerning districts, terms and vacancies prior to November 2012 elections; clarifies that contiguity by water is sufficient. - Amends TCA Section 3-1-102.
State Congressional Districts
3.
SB1515 by *Norris. (*HB1558 by *McDaniel.)
Redistricting, Congressional - As introduced, updates reference to 2010 TIGER system; clarifies contiguity by water is sufficient. - Amends TCA Section 2-16-103.

SENATE ACTION:
SB1513 passed 23-10 -- see vote
HERE.
SB1514 passed 21-12 -- see vote
HERE.
SB1515 passed 24-9 -- see vote
HERE.

HOUSE ACTION:
HB1555 passed 67-25-3 -- see vote
HERE.
HB1557 passed 60-29-1 -- see vote
HERE.
HB1558 passed 68-25 -- see vote
HERE.

Congressional Redistricting Map   

Senate Redistricting Map

House Redistricting Map

Redistricting Maps Approved By Legislature
        Dispensing with the heavily politicized process of redistricting in its first week in session, the Legislature on Friday has approved a set of maps for state House and Senate and U.S. Congressional seats.
        The maps, which will go to Gov. Bill Haslam for his sign-off, dictate the political makeup of voting districts throughout the state for the next 10 years.
        “I think it’s the best we can do. It’s the fairest and most legal redistricting plan upon which we could agree,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who sponsored the Republican maps in the Senate. “There’s something about this plan that just about everyone can dislike a little bit, and some dislike a lot.”
        The Senate approved its GOP map, 21-12, with two high-ranking Democrats, Minority Leader Jim Kyle and Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga, voting in favor of the plan in exchange for a few concessions. Republican Sens. Kerry Roberts, of Springfield, and Mae Beavers, of Mt. Juliet, voted with Democrats.
        “It was part of our negotiating,” Kyle, one of the GOP plan’s toughest critics, told reporters as Norris stood behind him to listen in. “The process of congeniality, accommodating. Folks need to be supportive of the process, and it came to pass, and I voted for the bill.”
        The new Senate map lumps Kyle into the same Shelby County district as fellow Democrat Beverly Marrero. The plan also pairs Roberts and Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, in the same district. Roberts’ term is up in 2012, while Summerville’s is up in 2014, meaning Roberts would likely have to wait for another senate run. Read more here.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROHIBITING INCOME TAX:
*SJR 0221 by *Kelsey
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes additional language in Article II, Section 28 to explicitly prohibit the general assembly from levying, authorizing or otherwise permitting any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income.
STATUS: SJR 221, which passed the Senate on May 18, 2011, had been scheduled for a House floor vote on Tuesday, but the vote was postponed until January 19th. You can go HERE to find and contact your House member.


DRIVER LICENSES IN ENGLISH:
*SB 0010 by *Ketron ( HB 0454 by *Butt)
Driver Licenses - As introduced, requires that all written examinations for a driver license or intermediate driver license be in English
STATUS: SB10 is scheduled in Senate Transportation on Wednesday. Committee members are
Jim Tracy, Chair,Steve Southerland, Vice-Chair, Ken Yager, Secretary;Tim Barnes, Mae Beavers,Andy Berke ,Douglas Henry, Bill Ketron, Becky Massey

FIVE LEGISLATORS TO WATCH IN 2012
By
Tom Humphrey, posted January 8, 2012
Some East Tennessee legislators outside of official leadership who may play a noticeable role in shaping the course of events during the 2012 session of the 107th General Assembly: [You will want to read this article about Senators Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga), Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville); Representatives Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville).] Read more
HERE.