Legislative Update, February 4, 2012


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

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).


"All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government... Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” Robert Winthrop, U.S. Speaker of the House, 1847-49


FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:

Gregory Gleaves, Chief of Staff for Speaker Beth Harwell, lost his father this week.  The funeral for Mr. Joe Clyde Gleaves was on Thursday.  Please remember this family as they walk through this valley.  There a number of people in the Plaza sick with colds and the such.  Rep. Eric Watson's wife is improving, as is Sen. Mae Beavers.



LAWFUL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT ACT:
*SB 0780 by *Ketron ( HB 1380 by *Carr)
Immigration - As introduced, enacts the "Lawful Immigration Enforcement Act."
STATUS: This bill was heard in the House Budget Subcommittee where Rep. Carr said he would continue to try to find money to fund his legislation and moved HB1380 'behind the budget'. [Increase State Expenditures – $2,965,800/FY11-12; $1,828,200/FY12-13 and Subsequent Years. Increase Local Revenue – $100,000/Recurring Increase Local Expenditures – Exceeds $1,961,600/FY11-12. $961,600/FY12-13 and Subsequent Years.]



Remember - when contacting your Senators and Representatives, always be polite and respectful. 




FULL FACE PHOTO ON DRIVER'S LICENSE:
SB 2613 by *Tracy ( *HB 2547 by *Hill)
Driver Licenses - As introduced, requires visible full face color photograph of a licensee.
This TN Eagle Forum proposal is a simple bill that, as a safety measure, puts into state law the same photo requirements used for passports.
STATUS: HB2547 is in House Transportation Subcommittee on Tuesday.  Please contact these members and urge them to vote for this bill: rep.bill.harmon@capitol.tn.gov, rep.michael.mcdonald@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.mike.stewart@capitol.tn.gov.


EMPOWERING FAMILIES THROUGH INFORMATION ACT:
*SB 3178 by *Bell ( HB 3539 by *Matheny)
Schools, Charter - As introduced, makes charter schools subject to open meetings law; requires charter schools to maintain a web site and post certain notices and information on the web site; makes charter school records open records to the same extent as records of public schools operated by LEAs.  This important  bill will provide for families interesting in a Charter School the same information available on the Public School in that LEA.  Information IS power and that information should be made as accessible as possible.
STATUS: SB3178 will be in Senate Education on Wednesday. Please contact these members and urge them to vote for SB3178: sen.dolores.gresham@capitol.tn.govsen.andy.berke@capitol.tn.gov, sen.brian.kelsey@capitol.tn.gov

STATUS: HB3539 will be in House Education Subcommittee on Wednesday. Please contact these members and urge them to vote for HB3539: rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.lois.deberry@capitol.tn.gov , rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov


CLEANING HOUSE ON THE PLAZA:
SB 2508 by *Gresham ( *HB 2638 by *Watson) Criminal Offenses - As introduced, prevents people from living on publicly-owned property not designated for residential use and prohibits people using publicly-owned property from posing a health hazard or threat to the safety and welfare of others.
STATUS: SB2508 is in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday. You will want to urge these members to vote for this bill: sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov, sen.tim.barnes@capitol.tn.gov, sen.ophelia.ford@capitol.tn.gov, and sen.beverly.marrero@capitol.tn.gov.

STATUS:HB2638 passed House Judiciary Subcommittee last week and will be in full Judiciary on Tuesday. You will want to urge these members to vote for this bill: rep.karen.camper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.moore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.janis.sontany@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.mike.stewart@capitol.tn.gov.

  
[Op-Ed] "Fight bill that will quash assembly rights"
[You will want to read this article if you can stand it!! The 'logic' is truly amazing!!]
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, and Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, have filed HB 2638/SB 2508, bills that would curtail the First Amendment rights of Tennesseans and deprive unhoused people of most of the few safe places where they may live.A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week presence is the signature expression of dissent against the status quo by Occupy groups across the United States and around the world. Occupation makes a powerful statement about the depth of one’s commitment to obtaining a redress of grievances that cannot be made in another manner.
Read more here.

HARWELL JOINS RAMSEY IN BACKING DELAY ON HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Republican lawmakers are building support for a plan to wait until the end of the year to take action on state requirements set by President Barack Obama's federal health care law.
House Speaker Beth Harwell said Thursday that it would make sense to allow legal and political challenges to the federal health care law to play out before addressing how or whether to set up a state health insurance exchange.
"I think that's prudent," said Harwell, R-Nashville. "It is a wise course of action to wait, and if we have to take action as a state, come back into special session."
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey first floated the idea of a post-election special session on health care in a speech to a Nashville business group in December.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has warned that failure to establish a state exchange by the beginning of next year would lead the federal government to create one for Tennessee. He has also raised concerns that a delay could cause to the state to lose federal money dedicated to establishing state exchanges. Read more here.

JOE HAYNES RETIRING AFTER 28 YEARS ON THE TENNESSEE SENATE:
State Sen. Joe Haynes has decided to retire rather than seeking re-election this fall, ending a 28-year Senate run.
In a two-page statement, the Democrat from Goodlettsville said he was confident he could still win a new district drawn by the Senate's Republican majority last month. But he said he's ready to enjoy other pleasures.
"The sweet siren call of my family, a huge stack of unread books and a little used fishing boat demand my attention now," Haynes said in a written statement. Source HERE.
  

SEN. ROY HERRON WON'T SEEK RE-ELECTION (OR RUN FOR CONGRESS):
Dresden--Senator Roy Herron (D-Dresden) today announced plans not to run for office in 2012, but instead to lead the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development in expanded efforts to help young people go to college and create jobs for Tennesseans.
The senator expressed both great gratitude to constituents and high hopes for students and workers. Herron stated:
"I am blessed to represent the most wonderful people on earth. The people who have let me work for them as their representative and senator are my teachers, friends, and many are like family. I'm excited about working with them and other Tennesseans to help more young people go to college and help our state grow and gain good-paying jobs."
Herron said after he finishes his state senate responsibilities this year, he will work actively as the president of the McWherter Center, a non-profit, non-partisan, charitable organization. The McWherter Center provides scholarships and educational opportunities for Tennessee students. Read more here.

SEN. BILL KETRON TO PURSUE BETTER CYBERBULLYING LAW:
MURFREESBORO — Alarmed by the suicides of two teens in the last two months over constant abuse at school, state Sen. Bill Ketron says he is trying to strengthen a cyberbullying law to make sure it is constitutional.
Ketron sponsored a bill that passed in 2011 extending the state’s harassment statutes to offensive messages posted on the Internet. The law ran afoul of First Amendment defenders, including film critic Roger Ebert, so this session Ketron is backing two pieces of legislation to strengthen it.
“The main goal is to combat cyberbullying and prevent tragedies like the ones which have occurred recently in Tennessee from taking place,” Ketron said in a written statement.The Murfreesboro Republican committed to making the law stronger last year and said the new legislation was drafted to prepare for an amendment that will make its wording better. He said he is meeting with the attorney general, ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg and others to address legal issues. Read more here.

GOVERNOR'S LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE:
From the Governor's office: "Governor Bill Haslam's 2012 Legislative package is designed to move Tennessee forward by supporting his goal to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the southeast for high quality jobs through economic development efforts, meaningful education reform, a more efficient and effective state government and improved public safety." Full information HERE.

DEMOCRATS PROPOSE BIENNIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS:
If Democrats have their way, the Tennessee General Assembly would meet only every second year, lawmakers’ daily expenses would be capped and bill sponsors would have to divulge if their legislation originated with national groups.
Democratic leaders insist their proposals are designed to promote good government. But Republicans charge the measures are election-year games.
“I’d be glad to look at any suggestions they have, but they’re playing politics,” House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said in a recent interview.“When they had the power to do it, they didn’t do anything about that.” Read more here.

2012 GEOGRAPHIC REDISTRICTING DATA:
House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced that 2012 geographic redistricting data can now be accessed and downloaded online. Geographic information system (GIS) users can now download the redistricting data in either Esri .shp files or Google .KML formats. Offering the data in these formats will allow users to overlay the boundaries in certain programs and to extrapolate statistical and other data from each district.
The electronic availability of these data products, in addition to the street-level statewide Google maps unveiled last week, is another first in the history of the state of Tennessee redistricting efforts.
“The release of this data is in continuation of the House of Representatives’ commitment to provide the most detailed, accurate, and accessible redistricting information to the citizens of Tennessee,” said Speaker Beth Harwell. “All of this information can now be accessed from the General Assembly’s redistricting map website or from the State’s TNMap portal.”
Detailed individual district maps will be available in PDF format in the coming week.
Citizens can access the new GIS data here:
http://tnmap.state.tn.us/portal2/download.asp
The street-level statewide Google map data can be accessed here:
http://www.capitol.tn.gov/districtmaps/redist.html