FINAL Legislative Update, May 13, 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).

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. Ronald Reagan

Sen. Doug Overbey welcomed a grandson this week. I would URGE you to continue to pray for our lawmakers as they return home, get re-integrated into their families and their work. This life is not easy on them or their families. Also, we must pray for the President, his administration, the US Senators and Congressmen.  They have a lot of important work ahead of them.

Another session is over and I must say that I have, once again, been GREATLY blessed to have two outstanding young ladies spend the session with me.  I love being able to share this time with teens who are committed, eager to learn, responsive and who care about this state and nation. These ladies certainly fit that bill and I will greatly miss our time together.

This Tuesday was my last day at the plaza, and the whole thing was rather bittersweet. We had Finance Ways and Means again, and I always find it surprising how many things you can learn listening to bill presentations. For example one of the fun facts I picked up, it’s required that you have a license to wash someone’s hair at a salon.  So when I was asked what I had observed about the capitol, I explained how the capitol was like a high school. You have your freshmen, you have your seniors. They go to classes, or committees, that focus on one topic. Everyone looks at who you sit with in the cafeteria, and there is a lot of gossip. One of the main things about the capitol that is nothing like high school, is that I’m going to miss it.


Four months ago I started my Internship with Mrs. Bobbie and those four months sure did go by quickly. I showed up at the legislature with unknown expectations and I left with an experience that still never fails to amaze me. Week after week I’d arrive at the hectic, exciting legislature yet no two weeks were the same. I am honored to witness how the State of Tennessee runs. These last few months also brought a lot of emotions from happiness to sadness. I do have to say though that my favorite thing by far was the people. From Senators and Representatives to other lobbyists and friends, they were all wonderful and made my internship very special. I’m sad it’s over but I am overjoyed to have had this experience.

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: SJR92 was scheduled on the floor May 3rd.  Sen. Jackson was absent and it was moved to the 4th.  On the 4th it was moved to the 8th, and then on the 8th, it was moved to the 9th when is was finally taken up. Sen. Jackson read a statement that tried to counter some of the objections that we had been making.  [In trying to neutralize our contention that the 'bureaucracy is empowered', Jackson said that most new lawmakers bring in their own staff members.  What he neglected to say was that a lot of these 'staff members' just move from one office to another and the 'bureaucracy' goes several layers deeper than just office staff. Where do we think the office staff goes for their information??]

When he concluded, Senators Paul Bailey, Frank Niceley and Todd Gardenhire forcefully spoke against the proposal. [Thank you
gentleman!] One comment was later made that voting FOR the resolution was not voting FOR term limits, but to 'let the people decide.'   I would observe that in a Constitutional Republic we elect representatives and senators to do the business of their constituents.  Also, legislators are in a position to have more information on an issue than the general public. In addition, when legislators take the oath of offices, a part of that oath says:  "...that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people...".  So if term limits are not a good idea, then a legislators should not vote for this resolution.

As we sometimes hear in committee, there was a 'cold wind blowing' and Sen. Jackson moved the resolution until 2018.  Well, we will certainly continue to oppose this very bad idea.  More information can be found HERE.

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: As amended, SB1180 passed the Senate 27-3, then passed the House 69-18-3,when it is was sent to the Governor.  I am so please to report that Governor Haslam signed this legislation on Friday, May 12.

Haslam signs bill that, he says, is NOT a ’20-week abortion ban’

SJR 0366
by *Bowling , Southerland, Bailey, Beavers, Briggs, Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, Harper, Harris, Hensley, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Kyle, Lundberg, Massey, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Roberts, Stevens, Tate, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Yarbro, McNally
Memorials, Recognition - Senator Mike Bell, State Legislator of the Year for the United States by Safari Club International, a hunter advocacy organization. Passed both houses and has been signed by the Governor.  Well done, Mike, well deserved.


SB 0864 by *Haile, (HB 1169) by *Swann Education - As introduced, changes from September 15 to October 15 the date by which a public institution of higher education operating a hearing center must submit a written report to the Tennessee higher education commission and the education committees of the senate and house of representatives regarding patient service.
AMENDMENT #2 rewrites this bill to require the state board of education to require a course in Tennessee history for students and named the bill the "Senator Douglas Henry Tennessee History Act." It passed the House 88-0 and the Senate 33-0.

SB 1086 by *Stevens,(HB 1020) by *Sexton C
Real Property - As introduced, enacts the "Short-Term Rental Unit Act" and revises other provisions concerning short-term rentals, including taxation.
STATUS:  This legislation became a very not topic during this session. As amended, it passed the House 53-35-3, but in Senate Finance Ways and Means it was move to 2018.
State intervention on short-term rentals now proposed for just 4 largest cities .

Short-term rental bill targeting Nashville dead for the year .

SB 0723 by *Overbey, (HB 0538) by *Smith
Education - As introduced, requires the Tennessee financial literacy commission to post its annual report on the website of the department of the treasury.
NOTE:  Don't pay any attention to the 'caption' on this bill.  It has been completely re-written and it now enacts the "Campus Free Speech Protection Act," which will apply to every public institution of higher education in this state.
This amendment requires the governing body of every institution to adopt a policy that affirms the following principles of free speech, which are the public policy of this state:
(1) Students have a fundamental constitutional right to free speech;
(2) An institution must be committed to giving students the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn, and discuss any issue, subject to measures that do not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution, such as constitutional time, place, and manner restrictions or reasonable and viewpoint-neutral restrictions in nonpublic forums;
(3) An institution must be committed to maintaining a campus as a marketplace of ideas for all students and all faculty in which the free exchange of ideas is not to be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the institution's community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed;
(4) It is for an institution's individual students and faculty to make judgments about ideas for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress free speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose;
Go HERE and click on Summary to read the entirety of this important legislation.
STATUS: As amended, SB723 passed the Senate floor 30-3 and on May 1st, it passed the House 85-7.

SB 0524 by *Massey,(HB 0462) by *Kane Education, State Board of - As introduced, requires the board to promulgate rules to adopt and implement books and curriculum for American sign language courses to satisfy foreign language requirements
STATUS:  As a former interpreter for the deaf, I was especially pleased to see this legislation brought forward. It passed both houses, has been signed and is now
Public Chapter Number 270.

SB 1355 by *Bailey, (HB 0026) by *Sanderson
Motor Vehicles, Titling and Registration - As introduced, requires all license plates to bear the language "In God We Trust" upon the existing inventory of the registration plates in that particular plate category being utilized by the department of revenue.
AMENDMENT #1 make issuance of the "In God We Trust" license plate optional based upon the choice of the vehicle owner to whom the license plate is being issued.
STATUS: As amended, on May 1st, SB1355 passed the Senate 29-1-1; on May 4th, it passed the House 85-0 and was sent to the Governor.


SJR 0035 by *Beavers
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Recognizes pornography as a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.
STATUS: SJR35 Passed the Senate 32-0, passed the House 89-0-1 and has been signed by the Governor.
Beavers’ porn resolution passes Senate .

Sen. Beavers takes on porn: It's a "public health crisis".

SB 0831 by *Yarbro, (HB 0841) by *Fitzhugh
Education - As introduced, enacts the "K-12 Block Grant Act," which distributes block grants to each LEA to improve the quality of education; appropriates $250 million from excess state tax revenues over collected in fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 for K-12 block grants.
STATUS:  As amended, HB841 passed the house 56-30-1.  When SB831 was presented in Senate Finance Ways and Means, it was rolled until 2018. 
Education Bill Passed By House, But Rolled to 2018 In Senate.


View From the Hill: Gas Tax Rancor Lingers as Session Coasts to Close .

Lawsuit challenges Tennessee's days-old 'natural meaning' law.

Knoxville lesbian couple get divorce after politically charged battle.

Feds to ask for dismissal of Tennessee's refugee lawsuit.

If you want to see the budget you can do so: 2018 Tennessee State Budget.