Legislative Update, February 10, 2018

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).

 
“Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”  ― Daniel Webster


FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Rep. Mary Littleton:  So glad to report that her hip surgery is now scheduled for March 2nd. She is so looking forward to being pain free.  Please pray for an uneventful surgery and recovery for her. Finally, bills have really started to move, so prayers are needed for clarity, insight, attention, and thoroughness as each piece of legislation is considered. 


JONATHAN'S CORNER:
This Tuesday we sought out co-sponsors for two of our bills  as well as lobbied against the casino bill. We were also able to sit in on some committee meetings. As always, it was a full day and a pleasure to learn from Mrs. Bobbie.



LUKE'S CORNER:  I am so sorry to report that Luke had the flu and was unable to join us on Tuesday.

LAURABETH'S CORNER: 
While getting into the capitol Wednesday morning was a doozy, I managed to meet Mrs. Bobbie in the gallery above the house chamber and watched Representative Vaughn get picked on by members of the house when introducing his first bill. It was, admittedly, very funny. Nonetheless, we managed to get appointments and talk with committee members, as well as sit in on several committee meetings. I've come to think of these meetings as going one of two ways: Either I'll get to listen in to the arguments around the most interesting and thoughtful bills, or it'll be like watching paint dry. I can never guess which one it'll be. We're slowly acclimating to this new building, and it seems like things are starting to pick up! I can't wait for the next Wednesday I'll get to spend at the capitol!
 

'HEARTBEAT' BILL (AMENDED):
SB 0244 by *Pody
HB 0108 by *VanHuss, ROGERS, LAMBERTH, GANT, FAISON, HICKS, TILLIS, SEXTON J, RAGAN, GOINS, HOWELL, HILL T, SPARKS, BUTT, HULSEY, HILL M, KEISLING, MATLOCK, CALFEE, HOLSCLAW, RUDD, BYRD, ALEXANDER, WEAVER, KUMAR, PODY, ZACHARY, SHERRELL
Abortion - As introduced, prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected; requires fetal heartbeat testing prior to an abortion; creates exceptions.
AS AMENDED:

The bill is now more of a reporting/data collection bill.  It requires that if a ultrasound was performed, the Dept of Health shall report the type of abortion done, note that the mother was offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound and inform the mother of the presence or absence of a fetal heartbeat and document that the patient has been informed.
STATUS: 
So pleased to report that HB108 overwhelmingly passed the House Health Committee on Tuesday.  Thursday morning it passed House Calendar and Rules and is scheduled for the House Floor on Monday evening, where it is expected to pass.  The most intriguing thing that happened in the Health Committee was a Democrat committee member asking Rep. Van Huss if there were any amendments added to his bill on the floor, would he commit to send it back to committee?  He quick response was, "NO!" Gotta love this guy!!


FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION:
SB 1800 by *Ketron, HB 2240  by *Faison
Health, Dept. of - As introduced, requires healthcare practitioners to report incidents of female genital mutilation to the department; requires the department to issue an annual report on the incidence of female genital mutilation in the state.
NOTE:  This is a very important step in the right direction to make sure that FGM ultimately does not happen in Tennessee.
STATUS:  HB2240 is scheduled in House Health Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION:  Please click on the Committee link, then the member's picture and let the members of this committee know that you support this important bill.



HORSE RACING AND PARI-MUTUEL GAMBLING:
SB 1908 by *Niceley, HB 2109 by *Tillis , TRAVIS, CALFEE, MARSH
Business and Commerce - As introduced, establishes the Tennessee horse racing commission to regulate horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Tennessee.
NOTE:  I am truly disappointed that this proposal has appeared once again. The 'Sport of Kings' isn't so much any longer.  We think about the Kentucky Derby and the other famous annual races, but in general, interest in horse racing is nothing like it used to be, especially among young people. It isn't fast enough, glitzy enough, etc., UNLESS the track becomes a BETTING PARLOR to bet on simulcast races from other states (which this bill puts in place) or it becomes a casino with lots of games to gamble on.

As Interest in Horse Racing Declines, Track Turns to Other Options

Interest in Horse Racing Continues to Decline in North America  

STATUS:  SB1908 is Scheduled in the Senate Government Operations committee on Wednesday.  That committee cannot 'kill' a bill, only send it out with a 'positive' recommendation; a 'negative' recommendation or no recommendation.  From there it will go to the Senate State and Local Committee. It is not too early to begin contacting committee members urging them to vote AGAINST SB1908.

 

CASINOS IN TENNESSEE??
HJR 0109 by *Miller , Akbari, Staples, Hardaway, Camper, Powell, Towns
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes amendment to Article XI, Section 5 to allow the legislature to authorize casinos and games of chance associated with casinos to be operated in Tennessee. 
STATUS:  After being on and off the House State Government Subcommittee calendar for literally a year (and us working against it all that time) Chairman Bill Sanderson sent this resolution to the Desk of the Clerk, which means it is pretty much DONE!  Praise the Lord!!! Thank you Rep. Sanderson.


MEDICAL MARIJUANA:
SB 1710 by *Dickerson, HB 1749 by Faison, Ramsey
Health Care - As introduced, enacts the "Medical Cannabis Act"; establishes medical cannabis commission for regulation of cannabis-related health care. - Amends TCA Title 4, Chapter 29; Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4; Title 50; Title 53, Chapter 11; Title 67 and Title 68
STATUS:  Well, neither bill has been scheduled in committee, but the supporters were out this week.

 

THOSE QUESTIONABLE FISCAL NOTES:
Proposal lets legislators challenge fiscal notes; adds 10 staffers to analyze state budget
Published February 8, 2018 | By Tom Humphrey

House Majority Leader Glen Casada and Sen. Ken Yager, who chairs the Fiscal Review Committee and the Senate State and Local Government Committee, have proposed to set up a process allowing legislators to challenge estimates of how much a bill would cost taxpayers if enacted.
Their bill (HB2096) requires Fiscal Review Committee staff to list all sources of information used in a cost estimate, known as  fiscal note, and establishes a formal procedure for a lawmaker to challenge an estimate – including calling state officials involved to testify. It also calls for hiring ten new legislative staffers to help analyze the governor’s budget proposal and prepare amendments for legislators.
From WKRN-TV’s report:
Casada calls his proposal one of the most important legislative bills this session. He said what happened with the bathroom bill a few years “a prime example” of the problem.
And that is just one,” Casada told News 2. “I and every member at some point — Republican and Democrat — have seen a number and saying, ‘How did this come about?’”




STATE SENATE OBSERVES VETERAN'S DAY ON THE HILL
    State Senators stopped to honor Tennessee’s veterans on Wednesday as they observed Veterans’ Day on the Hill. The day was set aside for lawmakers to speak to veterans about issues affecting them and to show appreciation for their sacrifices to this state and nation.
    “Today is ‘Veterans’ Day on the Hill’ and it’s a time when we, as a body, as an assembly, celebrate the men and women who have been willing to write that blank check payable to the people of our great state and our great country,” said Senator Green (R-Clarksville), a former US Army Special Ops Flight Surgeon. “The United States of America has been at war for 16 years and we have produced thousands of combat veterans. Many of these were wounded or came home with the unseen scars of war.”
    Each Senator wore a pin with the number 22 on it to honor, respect, and bring attention to the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day in America. Veterans in Tennessee are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than a non-veteran according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans between 35 and 54 and over age 75 have a higher suicide rate than other age groups.
    “It’s an unconscionable number and one that is tragic,” Green continued.
    The Senators had a luncheon where they got to meet and talk with a number of veterans. 
    Approximately 470,000 veterans live in Tennessee and Clarksville has the second highest concentration of veterans in the U.S.