Legislative Update, April 15, 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).


"Lead me to the cross and show me his wounds; the hateful nature of evil, the power of Satan; May I there see my sins as the nails that transfixed him, the cords that bound him, the thorns that tore him, the sword that pierced him.  Help me to find in his death the reality and immensity of his love. Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in his, 'It is finished'. Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of atonement achieved, expiation completed, satisfaction made, guilt done away, my debt paid, my sins forgiven, my person redeemed, my soul saved, hell vanquished, heaven opened, eternity made mine. O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons,  Write them upon my heart, that my walk be sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving;  And suffer no devil's device to beguile or deceive me."  The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Page 31 [excerpt]


Please remember Sen. Paul Bailey. His wife's horse kicked him this week and he has a broken tibia. Not a good position to be in during the hectic, last few weeks of the legislative session. And speaking of that - increasingly important decisions are being made and waiting to be made.  The gas tax increase bills will be on the floors of each chamber on Wednesday.  The lawmakers need great wisdom on all their decisions.
Also please be praying for Sen. Mark Green as different liberal groups line up to oppose his confirmation.  This will be a difficult time for him and his family. Islamic Group Aligns with LGBT Advocates to Oppose Tennessee’s Mark Green Appointment as Army Secretary

Two important things happened this Tuesday. First, HB0863, a bill that gives illegal aliens in state tuition, was killed in Education Administration and Planning committee this week. The vote was so close that Mrs. Bobbie was texting representatives who left to make sure they were coming back to vote. The second thing, was the Finance Ways and Means committee, and the gas tax. There was so much debate, as there always is,  that it lasted the whole committee, and they had to resume later in the day. Unfortunately, the bill was passed out to calendar and rules.

Committees, committees, and more committees. That’s what this week was made of at the Legislature. Several times on Wednesday Mrs. Bobbie and I had to split up and go to separate committees. Since everyone is trying to finish their committee calendars, the committees are all jammed in at the same time. This, however, has been rather exciting due to the controversial topics that have come about spanning over many topics including The Gas Tax (SB1221), Term Limits (SJR92), and The Instate Tuition bill (HB660).

In the 30 years I have been at the legislature, I don't believe that I have ever seen as many bills increasing the availability of alcohol and I find this very troubling and disappointing.   About a month ago when my husband went to a movie and I was shocked to see that alcohol was available at the concession counter.  How did that happen?? Especially where so many children come!!

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

Conservative Tennessee lawmakers decry in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants
, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee 5:26 p.m. CT April 10, 2017
A group of conservative Tennessee lawmakers on Monday slammed a bill that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at the state's public colleges and universities.
Members of the Conservative Majority Caucus held a news conference outside the Tennessee House chamber to announce their opposition.
Flanked by a dozen Republican members of the House, Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, decried the legislation sponsored by Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, as "unconstitutional" and a drain on Tennessee taxpayers.
"Our state cannot afford to subsidize public college tuition for illegal aliens nor should it," Matheny said.

NOTES:  Defeating the effort to give instate tuition to illegal aliens has been a priority for us this session. Unfortunately, on March 22nd, SB1014 passed Senate Education 7-2.  However, thankfully, companion HB863 met a different outcome in the House Education Administration and Planning committee on April 11th. Rep. Judd Matheny, leading the Conservative Majority Caucus held a press conference to show their opposition and constituents responded.  When the vote was taken, HB863 FAILED on a 6-7 vote.  Thank you to ALL who made their voices heard!! 

Just wanted you to know who the heroes were. It would be wonderful if you would find the contact information HERE and call or email your gratitude to them and to Rep. Matheny.
Representatives voting no were: Kane, Lollar, Matlock, Moody, Smith, Weaver, White D -- 7.

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


STATUS:  This bill is another thing entirely!! On April 5th, SB635 just barely got out of the nine member Senate Education Committee 5-1-1. (Senators voting aye were: Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, Tate -- 5; Senators voting no were: Hensley -- 1; Senators present and not voting were: Kelsey -- 1.) It is now sitting in the Senate Calendar Committee awaiting placement on the Senate floor calendar. There was NO discussion about nor mention made of Section 5, so as it stands, this bill WILL GIVE instate tuition to illegal aliens.

On April 11, HB660 was in the Education Administration and Planning committee. After some discussion and the sponsor's commitment to remove Section 5 of the proposal, the vote was taken.  Rep. John DeBerry was not in the committee room and the vote was  6-6. A tie vote means the bill stays in committee.  Rep. White has asked that it put back on the calendar for Tuesday.  As I understand the situation from the Research Analyst: It now requires a motion by someone on the prevailing side of the vote for the committee to reconsider its actions.
If Education Committee Follows House Rules Mark White’s Bill Will Fail Again.

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:  The debate in the Senate has not been nearly as contentious as it has been in the House. On March 21st, SB1221 was voted out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee 9-0 and on April 12, it was voted out of the Finance Ways and Means Committee 10-1, Sen. Joey Hensley being the lone NO vote. It is scheduled on the Senate Floor on Wednesday.

HB534 was presented by Rep. Barry Doss in House Finance Ways and Means on Tuesday.  The discussion and debate went on for about an hour.  Rep. David Hawk presented an amendment that he indicated was supported by Speaker Beth Harwell. As the discussion continued, it became clear that, if brought to a vote, it would probably be defeated.  Wisely, Rep. Hawk withdrew his amendment, but clearly promised that he WOULD introduce it on the House Floor. When the voice vote was taken, HB534, as amended, passed with Reps. Byrd, Crawford, Hawk, M. Hill, Williams requesting to be recorded as voting No.
On Thursday, it was in Calendar and Rules where is passed by a voice vote with  Reps.
Faison, Fitzhugh, Gant, T. Hill, Staples, Stewart requesting to be recorded as voting No. Rep. Love requested to be recorded as Present Not Voting. It scheduled on the House floor Wednesday.

ACTION:  Both bills are on the respective floors Wednesday.  The House meets at 9:00am and the Senate meets at 2:00pm.  The debates promise to be pretty intense, especially in the House.  This is a very fluid situation and this is your final chance to make YOUR voice heard. House members can be found HERE; Senate members HERE

Harwell 'leaning' toward support of Haslam's gas tax bill.

Transportation Coalition of Tennessee Set to Air ‘It’s Smart’ Ads to Promote Gas Tax Hike.

BREAKING: Majority of House Republicans Oppose Gas Tax Increase in ‘Secret’ Whip Vote, 37 to 30
 April 12, 2017 Tennessee Star Staff Earlier this week the House Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) conducted a secret poll of the House GOP Caucus members to gauge support for the Haslam IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017.” Williams distributed popsicle sticks to members of the Caucus for them to cast their votes in favor or opposition to the bill as it currently stands. The Tennessee Star has obtained a copy of the Williams vote tally, which shows a clear majority of the Caucus poised to vote against the IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” that was passed out of the Finance Committee yesterday by voice vote.

SJR 0092 by *Jackson , Harris
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to Congress for the purpose of calling a constitutional convention for proposing a congressional term limit amendment.

STATUS: On Wednesday, SJR92 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Obviously a lot of money is being spent on this effort.  David Guldenschuh, Heartland Institute, a leader in the nationwide movement of states to call a convention of states pursuant to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, was brought in from Rome, GA, to testify in favor of the 'call for an Article V Convention', but especially in favor of term limits and there were maybe a half dozen people in the room with orange t-shirts on supporting the effort.
It was clear from his testimony that he expected me to focus on opposing the Convention call, but I knew that was not wise.  Unfortunately, the General Assembly has passed a number of 'calls' -- that battle has been pretty much lost for the time being.  The REAL battle here is for or against Term Limits. In my testimony I focused entirely on that.  However, when the questions were over, the testimonies complete, by only ONE vote, SJR92 was passed out of the committee.   Senators voting aye were: Bell, Harris, Roberts, Stevens, Kelsey -- 5; Senators voting no were: Bowling, Kyle, Lundberg -- 3. I was disappointed, but we must 'soldier on.'

ACTION:  On Monday, please begin to contact the Senators and urge them to OPPOSE this unwise idea.

1.  We have 'term limits', they are called "elections", every two, four, and six years. Just because voters are derelict in their duty, does not mean we must change our process. 
2. 'Artificial' term limits means giving the bureaucracy a LOT more power; in addition, institutional memory and experience is no longer available.
3. Voters are prohibited from voting for the person they believe is best for that office.
4. We all know that in the last term any official serves, without re-election on the horizon, there is no longer the accountability that was once there.
5.  This would prevent legislators from gaining the experience they need to become skilled lawmakers.
6.  This would also interfere with legislators gaining seniority to gain committee chairmanships and leadership positions
7.  Term Limits give Lobbyists more influence.
The way to effectively reform Congress lies in supporting and voting for candidates who uphold the belief in a stronger local government rather than a stronger national government. Term limits will not achieve the reform that is needed in our federal government because term limits will NOT RESTRAIN the power of our federal government.

Why you're wrong about term limits.

States that have tried limiting lawmakers' time in office aren't better off.

Enough already with the foolish push for term limits.


SB 1180 by *Hensley,(HB 1189) by *Hill M,
, Matlock, Byrd, Lynn, Terry, Rudd, Eldridge, Weaver, Butt, Goins
Abortion - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Infants Protection Act," which prohibits abortion of a viable fetus except in a medical emergency and requires testing to determine viability if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant.

STATUS:  SB1180 is finally scheduled in Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, where it is expected to pass. HB1189 has passed the Health subcommittee, the Health full committee and was in the House Finance Ways and Means subcommittee last week.  In that committee it generated a lot of discussion, including reviewing a Attorney General opinion, and was finally postponed until this Tuesday.
ACTION:  Please contact members of this House committee and urge them to support this very important bill.

Reedy, Vallejos lead field interested in replacing Sen. Green
Mark Hicks , USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 8:51 a.m. CT April 14, 2017 |
Election offices in District 22's three counties are beginning preparations for a special election to select a successor