FIRST Legislative Update - January 18, 2020

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).
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
-----President Ronald Reagan

I believe that this will be an interesting legislative session following all that happened last year and having new leadership.  In addition, it is an election year. which always means, they will be in a hurry to get out.  That being said, I ask that you faithfully pray for the legislators, their families, and their staff as they carry out the important work of the state. On a personal note, most of you probably know that my husband nearly died in September.  He was in Vanderbilt Hospital 10 days and then in Skilled Nursing Care for 80 days.  He was discharged on December 9th and is now home with some significant limitations.  PLEASE, PLEASE pray that he will be all right while I am at the Capitol. I will be depending on those prayers as I begin my 33rd year! (How can that be??)

Ahead of legislative session, House speaker's chief of staff to resign, enter private sector
Joel Ebert, Nashville TennesseanPublished 11:59 a.m. CT Jan. 10, 2020 
Days before the start of the 2020 legislative session, Scott Gilmer, who serves House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s chief of staff, is stepping down to take a job in the private sector.
A legislative employee since 2007, Gilmer has served as chief of staff under three House speakers, including former Rep. Beth Harwell and Rep. Glen Casada, totaling seven years.
His resignation is effective Friday.

I am so happy for Scott as he begins a new opportunity and certainly wish him well, but I will greatly miss my friend. 

HOW COOL IS THIS? The latest edition of the Blue Book is YELLOW
Published January 13, 2020 | By Erik Schelzig
This year’s version of the Tennessee Blue Book honors the 100th anniversary of the state’s ratification of 19th Amendment granting women  the right to vote. The book’s cover is yellow — the color of the women’s suffrage movement. It’s the first time the bianniel volume has appeared in a non-blue cover since the 2013-2014 edition, which was orange to honor Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit. About half of that year’s edition appeared with the orange cover, while almost all of the newest version will appear in yellow.
Blue Books had white covers for much of the 1960s and early 1970s. They changed over to the familiar blue covers for in 1975.
Plan a visit with your Senator or House member and get your copy.

Greetings! My name is Lily Beall, I am 15 years old and have the pleasure of being Mrs. Patray’s Tuesday intern. I'm a homeschooler from Brentwood, Tennessee, and I believe God has called me to go into politics when I'm old enough. This past Tuesday was my first day with Mrs. Patray, and during my time at the Capitol, I had the opportunity to witness, first hand, the rigors of politics. From watching debates on the Senate floor, to meetings with legislators in their offices, the day was an amazing learning experience and so fun! I can't wait to go deeper more as the session progresses!

My name is CJ Watkins , I am 16 years old and a junior in high school and the oldest of 7, having been homeschooled all my life. The highlight of my educational career  thus far was attending the Washington Journalism & Media Conference last summer, where I interviewed federal Rep. Scott DesJarlais. In my spare time I play guitar and practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This past Wednesday, I began my internship with Mrs Bobbie Patray, a highly respected woman who imbues her seemingly endless energy into her passion for lobbying and people. She defies the current stereotype of polarized politics in that even when she disagrees with someone she remains polite and classy. I am looking forward to next week and following the progress of bills through the Legislative process.

EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton on Upcoming Legislative Session and Hot Topics
January 13, 2020 Laura Baigert

As the 111th Tennessee General Assembly is set to enter its second session, newly elected Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton gave an exclusive interview to The Tennessee Star to discuss legislative priorities and current issues.

The General Assembly is set to reconvene on Tuesday, January 14 at 12 noon with Sexton (R-Crossville) at the dais as Speaker, having just been elected into the position on August 23, 2019, replacing Glen Casada (R-Franklin) who served as the House leader for the first year of the 111th General Assembly.

Of the upcoming session, Speaker Sexton expressed optimism, the reason for which he attributed to those who came before him.

“We have been blessed by having many great leaders for our state, giving the opportunity for this upcoming session to be in a place where our state really hasn’t been in before. We have a great opportunity to even further propel our state and make Tennessee’s torch shine even brighter for all Tennesseans.”


Speaker Sexton then offered a preview as to what high-level priorities would be addressed through this year’s legislation.

‘We’re hoping to put some focus this session on meaningful healthcare reforms that will help promote a freer marketplace and more competition.”

With regard to education, Speaker Sexton said the focus would be on fourth grade reading proficiency issues. Calling reading “the backbone that propels the academic journey,” he acknowledged that “if you can’t read, it’s very hard to write and do math, science and other subjects.”

As Governor Bill Lee has also alluded to, Speaker Sexton confirmed, “Criminal justice is also a big thing this year.”

Speaker Sexton specifically emphasized “truth in sentencing,” and getting to a point more like the federal system where five years means five years and not two years.

“We want to make sure we continue to keep all Tennesseans safe and our communities safe,” Speaker Sexton added.

As he travels the state and talks with law enforcement, judges, district attorneys and public defenders, Speaker Sexton has found they all agree in unison that they’d like the state to go to more of a truth in sentencing model than the current system we have.


Last month, Speaker Sexton joined the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to weigh in on Governor Lee’s decision to allow refugees into Tennessee. At the time, Speaker Sexton, who was not involved in the decision, advised that here was ongoing research into whether the decision would be harmful to the lawsuit initiated by the legislature in 2016 against the federal government for costs forced on states resulting from refugee resettlement..

SB 1304 by *Rose , Pody (HB 0836), by *Rudd , RAGAN, SHERRELL, HULSEY, JOHNSON C, CARTER Adoption - As introduced, prohibits a private licensed child-placing agency from being required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions. - Amends TCA Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1.
As amended, HB836, passed the House April 1, 2019, 67-22-3, and created some controversy when SB1304 was the only bill on the Senate floor for the opening session on Tuesday. As you might imagine, the bill was quickly labeled at being 'anti-LGBT', and railed against. It is simply a bill of protection that prohibits government action against private licensed child-placing agencies that would force them  violate their religious convictions.
It passed the Senate 20-6-5:
Senators voting aye were: Bailey, Bell, Bowling, Crowe, Haile, Hensley, Johnson, Kelsey, Niceley, Pody, Powers, Reeves, Roberts, Rose, Southerland, Stevens, Swann, Watson, White, Yager -- 20.
 Senators voting no were: Akbari, Dickerson, Gilmore, Kyle, Robinson, Yarbro -- 6.
 Senators present and not voting were: Briggs, Gardenhire, Lundberg, Massey, Mr. Speaker McNally -- 5.

This is a very 'hot' issue in Tennessee and rightly so. President Trump issued an Executive Order in September that was understood to give states the opportunity to get out of the Refugee Resettlement program.  In fact, the title of EO13888 is Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement​​​​​​​. Well, I can only wonder what he thought when 19 Republican governors quickly spoke up volunteering to take more refugees. 

This is a very important issue that TN Eagle Forum has been working on for eight or nine years.  The ground work we did finally led to a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the Federal Government for violating our State Constitution. It is being pursued right now and we are expecting it to go to the US Supreme Court. We are VERY CONCERNED that the Governor's voluntary action undercuts an argument based on coercion.

Gov. Lee decides Tennessee will continue accepting refugees .
Gov. Bill Lee parts with state legislature on refugee decision .​​​​​​​
Cameron Sexton Weighs in on Governor Lee's Decision to Allow Refugees into Tennessee .
Bill Lee's refugee decision could perpetuate disingenuous international cycle .
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chooses his taxpayers and truth over special interests and virtue-signaling .
How the White House Is Trying-and Failing-to Keep States from Resettling 
Federal judge blocks Trump order allowing states to refuse to settle refugees 

Grassroots activists quickly reacted to the decision and have expressed their concern appropriately by contacting their Senator and House member. You can go the links provided here, find your lawmakers, and then call or send them an email.  Please be polite.

In addition we think that a Resolution passed by COUNTIES is the best way to respond to the present circumstances.
Several TN counties have already passed the resolution and several more are in process of taking this action. 

The resolution IS NOT anti-immigrant or anti-refugee - see details .​​​​​​​

The leaders and members of the Tennessee General Assembly are carefully examining this issue to see what options are appropriate. STAY TUNED and be ready to respond.

Other State News of Note:
Embattled Rep. David Byrd confirms he isn’t seeking reelection .
Tennessee governor says he will sign anti-LGBT adoption bill .
More voucher advocates join Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s administration .
Gov. Bill Lee claims 'executive privilege,' denies public records .

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