Legislative Update, March 18, 2017

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).


 
It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. Samuel Adams


FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Thank you for your prayers for (Sen. Dolores Greshman's assistant) Linda Klingmann's mother, who had a stroke. Thanksfully, she was in the hospital for another reason and they got treatment to her so quickly she was not left with any impairment!  Praise the Lord!!
Some Senate Committees are already publishing their 'Last Calendar'.  That means the pace of activity will be picking up, so please pray for the lawmakers as they make very important votes.  Many times the most controversial bills are run toward the end of a session, which increases the opportunity for problems.  Having attended President Trump's Nashville Rally, I am all the more convinced of the need for prayer for him and his administration.


SARAH'S CORNER:
As I pulled up to the plaza I saw some odd crates, as I drew closer I saw they were full of potatoes, and then I noticed there were several farm animals! I found out later that it was agriculture day on the hill. There’s really no way to predict what’s going to happen at the plaza. Aside from that, it was a pretty relaxing day. The abortion bill we were going to watch got rolled, and the marijuana bill was taken off notice, so we got a chance to grow support for our other bills, and take half a breath.



MALIA'S CORNER:

As I walked through the front door on Wednesday, I could hardly believe how empty the halls were. It was no secret that President Trump was in town but it was as if everyone in Nashville stayed home. Because of the President’s visit most all committees were canceled and all appointments after noon were canceled as well which made the work day very short. Leaving the legislature early did allow me to get a spot among the thousands of people in line anticipating the arrival of President Trump. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to actually be able to see the President and hear his speech.


AG DAY ON THE HILL TUESDAY:
Always fun to enter the Plaza through cages with of animals we could pet!! The Senate finally won a competition!! (See article below.)









Tennessee Lawmakers Tip Their Hat To Agriculture Sector With Annual Competition 


BIGGEST POLITICAL NEWS OF THE WEEK, OF COURSE:
President Trump met with Legislators and others at The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home (on the 250th birthday) and then held a rally in Nashville
Thanks to the tireless and persistent work of my friend, Bill Giannini, I was able to attend through the VIP entrance  (with my really bad back, there was no way I could stand in that miles-long line) and we had seats in the VIP section, eventually being given the opportunity to move to the seats on the first row right behind the President. As you know, I have been around for a long time, but as I have thought about the experience of being a part of this history-making event, what I am left with is not so much seeing the President in person (an honor indeed) but the biggest impression was from the energy, the enthusiasm, the nearly 'electric' atmosphere that I felt in that building that if I had to put into one word, it would be HOPE!  Ironically, I was alerted that the Tweet the the President sent out "Thank You, Nashville" captured Bill and me in it. That was kinda fun!! You can check out the video on the President's twitter page, and scroll down to March 15.
 
 Huge Crowd at Trump Rally in Nashville ‘Optimistic About the Future’ 



THE 'OTHER' BIG TENNESSEE NEWS:

We learned this week that our very own Sen. Mark Green, MD, (who spoke at the rally) is under consideration for a very important position with the Trump Administration. 
Trump eyes former flight surgeon Mark Green as next Army secretary.




'FREEDOM TO REPORT ACT':
SB 0816 by *Green , Bell, Hensley, Beavers, Bowling, Ketron
(HB 1366)
by *Matheny,Holt, Rogers, Moody, Pody, VanHuss, Carter, Ragan, Faison, Reedy, Hill T, Hill M, Rudd, Butt, Weaver, Matlock, Gant, Sexton J, Sparks
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, gives immunity from civil or criminal liability to a person for making a report to law enforcement of suspicious activity or behavior if the report is based on articulable suspicion
The bill would provide (1) that individuals who report suspicious, potentially criminal or terrorist activity in good faith cannot be sued as a consequence, and (2) the intentional making of a report known to be false, or a report made with reckless disregard for the truth of the report it not protected. When it comes to suspicious, potentially criminal or terrorist activity, Americans are encouraged to, "report suspicious activity." But before they do so, they have a right to know that they won't be sued for their efforts. Similar legislation has passed in New York and Mississippi.
STATUS:
On Thursday morning HB1366 was voted out of House Calendar and Rules with no discussion and placed on the House floor calendar on Monday where it is expected to pass.  SB816 will probably be in Senate Judiciary the last week of March.




ABOUT THAT GAS TAX:
SB 1221 by *Norris,  (HB 0534) by *Casada,Doss, Dunn, Sargent, Swann, McDaniel, Whitson, White M, Marsh
Gas, Petroleum Products, Volatile Oils - As introduced, changes from July 20 to July 25 the date by which a commercial user of a vehicle propelled by liquefied gas or compressed natural gas must submit the annual report of miles traveled and tax due.

NOTE: This was the "Caption" bill that, with an amendment, was to become the IMPROVE Act, a.k.a, the Governor's bill.
STATUS:  SB1221 was in the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday. You and click on this LINK, then scroll down to the bill number and click on that to see the debate. After an extended discussion, a  104 page amendment was adopted and the bill was voted out of committee with Sen. Mae Beavers being the lone opposing vote. Sen. Norris indicated that the Governor was supportive of these changes which include reducing the tax on food from 5% to 4% and raising the gas tax 6 cents and diesel 10 cents, phased in.  State Senate Transportation Committee Passes Amended Gas Tax Hike .  SB1221 was moved to the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
HB534 will be in House Transportation again on Tuesday. Recall that the House bill is, at present, very different from the Senate version. It contains the "Hawk" language as well as removing the indexing provision.
The problem is that this bill still has so many others steps in front of it before landing on the floor of the respective chambers.
ACTION: NOW is the time to make your voice heard to members of both these committees. Remember you can send emails and leave phone messages 24-7, but do remember to be polite.



'BATHROOM BILL':
SB 0771 by *Beavers,(HB 0888) by *Pody
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

NOTE:  It is my understanding that an amendment will be written taking into consideration of the most recent events surrounding this issue.
STATUS: SB771 will be in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday; HB888 will be in the House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION:  This is such an important issue and it is being vigorously opposed by many groups. It will NOT pass if the grassroots doesn't get behind it. PLEASE contact the members of these two committees, especially the House committee, and URGE them to support HB888. Remember, you can call and email over the weekend, you need not wait until Monday.



MEDICAL MARIJUANA:
SB 0803 by *Dickerson,(HB 0495) by *Faison
Controlled Substances - As introduced, requires court clerks to forward, within six weeks instead of 45 days, information to the Tennessee bureau of investigation regarding convictions of persons to be included on the drug offender registry. [NOTE:  This is a 'caption' bill and the text of the actual bill will be added in committee as an amendment.]

STATUS:  This was a very interesting issue these past several days.  Rep. Faison took HB495 'off notice' (meaning it won't be run) on March 3rd, put it back 'on notice' on March 8th, then took it back 'off notice' on the 14th.  Now we see that  SB803 is scheduled in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday, where is appears to have even less chance of passing.
“Never take an open legalization position.  Change the image and build credibility.  After you do this, you can say whatever you want and people will believe you.”  Media Strategies Workshop, Drug Policy Foundation, 1992
“In California, marijuana has also been de facto legalized under the guise of medical marijuana.” Allen St. Pierre, NORML

ACTION:  Please contact members of the Senate committee and urge them to OPPOSE.




INSTATE TUITION:
SB 0635 by *Gardenhire, (HB 0660) by *White M
Education, Higher - As introduced, authorizes the governing body of each public institution of higher education to determine the qualifications that students must possess to be eligible for payment of in-state tuition
SB 1014 by *Gardenhire, (HB 0863) by *White M

Education - As introduced, exempts certain students from payment of out-of-state tuition at state institutions of higher education.

STATUS: Well, this is certainly interesting. Instead of running the two bills as companions, as is normally done, SB1014(HB863) will be in Senate Education on Wednesday and HB660 (SB635) will be in House Administration and Planning on Tuesday. The bill are similar, but not identical, but get to the same end.  Wouldn't the passage of either of these bills violate Federal law?
 Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law   Federal law prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State”—unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States
ACTION: Please contact the Senate Education Committee members and urge each to oppose SB1014 and contact the members of House Administration and Planning and urge each to oppose HB660.



Most GOP legislators try again to get involved in same-sex divorce case