Legislative Update, June 13, 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).


We had a problem with our email provider on Saturday morning and I could not get our Legislative Update out until just now.  However, it is not too late to make your voice heard and I certainly hope you will do that.



 
 “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” The author of this quote was not Benjamin Franklin, but fellow publisher John Webbe


FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
It was announced Tuesday morning on the House Floor that Rep. Karen Camper's niece died and she left to go back to Memphis.  Please be in prayer for Rep. Camper and her family. For better or worse, it seems that the 111th TN General Assembly is quickly winding down.  The House is continuing do what they were elected to do - to take up bills and process them through committee system; the Senate is just not taking up the majority of their bills or deliberately moving them to December 1, 2020, when they won't be heard. Lots of frustration going on.  Please continue to pray for the lawmakers. In addition, please join me in praying earnestly for our state and national leaders. They certainly need great wisdom to deal effectively with the troubling times in which we are living today:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2




EVERYONE IN THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL LANE:
SB 2730 by *Bell , Pody, White, Gresham, Bowling, Lundberg, Crowe, Hensley, Rose, Reeves, Powers
HB 1929 by *Gant , Sexton C, Todd, Carter, Weaver, Hurt, Lynn, Halford, Keisling, Carr, Calfee, Vaughan, Terry, Lamberth, Boyd, Faison, Marsh, Van Huss, Reedy, Lafferty, Cepicky, Johnson C, Crawford, Holsclaw, Wright, Casada, Moody, Littleton, Williams, Hawk, Travis, White, Ragan, Doggett, Moon, Hazlewood, Grills, Hill T, Griffey, Zachary, Leatherwood, Byrd, Daniel, Smith, Kumar, Rudd, Garrett, Whitson, Hicks, Howell, Tillis, Helton, Eldridge, Bricken, Rudder, Baum, Russell, Sexton J, Hall, Cochran, Hill M

Purpose of the bill: to ensure that any expenditure of public money is made through Tennessee's Constitutionally mandated process
Why we need this bill: no federal law or regulation requires either consent from or consultation with the General Assembly before obligating state funds for the federal refugee program

As Rep. Gant commented in the State Committee:
"Leader Gant said in his presentation of the bill to the House State Committee on June 4 that the federal government has admitted that resettlement costs have shifted to states shortly after passage of the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980.
“ 'This involuntary cost shifting to the state creates an unconstitutional bypass of the Tennessee General Assembly’s exclusive power to appropriate public money,' Leader Gant explained.
"Majority Assistant Floor Leader Chris Todd (R-Madison County), who sits on the House State Committee, said he and Leader Gant met with the governor, during which they all agreed that refugee resettlement costs the state money and that the appropriation of funds is the responsibility of the General Assembly."

STATUS:  When HB1929 was finally in Calendar and Rules (C&R) on Thursday, because of what is not happening in the Senate, this bill was moved to the final C&R Calendar to see if the Senate might be willing to act.

When the Senate came back June 1st, this was in the newspaper: "Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said the Senate would focus on three types of bills: ones that effect the state budget, time-sensitive measures like appointment resolutions and legislation related to COVID-19".

Doesn't HB1929 meet two of these categories: the budget and time-sensitive?

IN ADDITION:  Passage of this bill would demonstrate  the continued legislative support for the lawsuit being appealed to the US Supreme Court.  I can promise you that not another single bill in the legislature is supporting a Supreme Court case!!

ACTION:  Please contact SPEAKER: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, lt.gov.randy.mcnally@capitol.tn.gov , Phone: (615) 741-6806 and, based on the criteria above, URGE him to make sure that SB2730 is heard in the Senate.
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CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY, AUTHORITY AND POWER:
HJR 741 by *Weaver, Doggett, Todd, Hill T, Cepicky, Ragan, Gant, Reedy, Leatherwood, Van Huss, Moody, Hill M, Crawford, Rudd, Grills, Garrett, Wright, Byrd, Hawk, Casada, Hulsey, Carr, Williams, Eldridge, Marsh, Halford, Smith, Rudder, Keisling, Sexton J, Hicks, Terry, Griffey, Howell, Sexton C, Boyd, Lynn, Bricken, Littleton, Baum, Carter, Powers, Haston, Kumar, Sparks, Helton, Lamberth, White, Calfee, Lafferty, Zachary, Daniel, Russell, Hall, Cochran, Sherrell, Hurt 

•  this resolution is strictly about Tennessee’s Constitutional status as a sovereign state, AND, the status of the Tennessee General Assembly as a separate and independent branch of the state government as established by the state Constitution
•  to affirm that neither the federal government nor any other branch of the Tennessee State government have the authority to bypass the General Assembly when the expenditure of public money and the state budget is involved.
•  to affirm that the Tennessee General Assembly continues to object to the coerced expenditure of state funds by the federal government for its refugee resettlement program as evidenced by the history of federal funding for refugee assistance and federal reports which confirm that due to reductions in federal program spending, certain of those federal costs have been transferred to the state in violation of the Tenth Amendment and Supreme Court precedent

STATUS:  As you know HJR741 passed the House floor 72-25-2 on March 2nd. It was scheduled in Senate Judiciary  this past Tuesday. It was among those bills on the calendar that were not heard and marked:  Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to 12/1/2020, which means, after all our hard work, it won't be heard at all.  I don't even know what to say about this.



PROTECTING VULNERABLE CHILDREN FROM MEDICAL HARM
SB 2215 by *Bowling , Pody 
HB 2576 by *Ragan , VAN HUSS, WEAVER, GRIFFEY
As introduced, prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to prepubescent minors; prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to minors who have entered puberty unless a parent or guardian has written recommendations for the therapy from at least three physicians; punishes violations as child abuse; designates violations by healthcare professionals as professional misconduct.
Amendment #107769 completely rewrites the bill which improves the original language of the legislation.  

STATUS:  On Tuesday, Rep. Ragan presented HB2576 in the House Health Committee, where it passed and was sent to Calendar and Rules (C&R).  When is was on the C&R calendar, it, too, was put on the final calender to see if the Senate would act. In the Senate, SB2515: "Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to 12/1/2020".



WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
SB 2636 by *White HB 2615 by *Coley , HOLT, HILL T, REEDY, GRIFFEY
Juvenile Offenders - As introduced, expands the unruly act of illegal use of a communication device by a minor to include possessing or transmitting an image of sexual activity involving a minor.

STATUS:  On June 3rd, HB2615 pass the House floor 95-0. It was on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar and "Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to 12/1/2020" meaning it won't be heard and we will have to start all over again next year.




GIVING POWER TO THE VICTIM OF RAPE
SB 2354 by *Gresham HB 2616 by *Coley , HOLT, HILL T, REEDY
Child Custody and Support - As introduced, removes custody, visitation, or inheritance rights for a parent who has been convicted of statutory rape, aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, or lesser included offenses of rape, from which crime the child was conceived.

STATUS: On Wednesday, as amended, HB2616 passed the House Floor 90-0.
SB2354 was referred to "Senate Judiciary Feb 10th and there has been no further action", meaning it won't be heard and we will have to start all over again next year


NOTE:  I am particularly saddened that two bills mentioned above that Rep. Jim Coley was kind enough to sponsor for us DIDN'T GET a chance in the Senate.  Because he is retiring, this is his last year in the House. He has been a good friend and has been an outstanding legislator.
This is also Sen. Dolores Gresham's last year and I was so glad to have my friend sponsor this bill in the Senate. She has been a dedicated legislator too. Too bad she didn't get to run SB2354 in the Senate.




PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION:
HJR 0809 by *Keisling
Constitutional Conventions - Requests the United States Congress to convene an Article V Convention for the purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would restore the public's trust in our representative government by reforming our campaign finance system

STATUS:  Well, I could not be happier to report that when HJR809 was presented again on the House floor Monday night it was resoundingly DEFEATED 14-77-5.  Our hard work paid off. Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver again spoke eloquently against the resolution. Rep.Rick Tillis made some very cogent points: "What is the plan? House could be unleashing something they would not be around to see.  Putting the train on a track with no final destination." 

 Representatives voting aye were: Boyd, Bricken, Calfee, Carter, Crawford, Holt, Keisling, Kumar, Lamberth, Moon, Ramsey, Todd, Van Huss, Windle -- 14.
          Representatives voting no were: Baum, Beck, Byrd, Camper, Carr, Casada, Cepicky, Chism, Clemmons, Cochran, Coley, Curcio, Daniel, DeBerry, Dixie, Doggett, Dunn, Eldridge, Faison, Farmer, Freeman, Gant, Garrett, Griffey, Hakeem, Halford, Hall, Hardaway, Haston, Hawk, Hazlewood, Helton, Hicks, Hill M, Hodges, Holsclaw, Hulsey, Hurt, Jernigan, Johnson C, Johnson G, Lafferty, Lamar, Leatherwood, Littleton, Love, Lynn, Marsh, Miller, Mitchell, Moody, Ogles, Parkinson, Potts, Powers, Reedy, Rudder, Russell, Sexton J, Shaw, Sherrell, Smith, Staples, Stewart, Terry, Thompson, Tillis, Towns, Travis, Vaughan, Weaver, Whitson, Williams, Wright, Zachary, Mr. Speaker Sexton C -- 77.
          Representatives present and not voting were: Powell, Ragan, Rudd, Sparks, White -- 5.

After the resolution was defeated the Speaker stated that the floor was open for a Motion to Reject, meaning that NO resolution on that subject (of that "substance" per the Constitution) could be presented for the rest of the session. Rep. Mike Stewart made that motion and the resolution was moved to the heel of the next floor calendar. On Wednesday, the Motion to Reject was heard.  After extended discussion  about what 'substance' meant, that rejection motion failed 25-65, which is fine.  The Resolution failed and failed dramatically!! 


LIBERTIES AND FREEDOMS:
SB 2368 by *Pody -HB 2291 by *Hulsey
In the  House State Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Hulsey amended a bill he had to address the authority of the governor, chief executive officer to enforce a provision of an executive order

STATUS:  On Monday, Rep. Husley presented HB2291 on the House Floor, and after he spoke he asked that it be held on the desk pending Senate action.  In the Senate: "Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to 12/1/2020"


HONORING THEIR OWN:
Our good friend, Rep. Jim Coley was honored on the House floor on the occasion of his retirement. 
HJR 1086 by *Faison  Memorials, Public Service - Representative Jim Coley. HJR1086 passed the House and the Senate with a unanimous vote and was signed by the Governor on Friday.  As part of his extensive legacy, Tennessee has some of the best laws in the nation opposing sex trafficking.  Jim will be missed.


The House also honored Rep. Ron Lollar who died unexpectedly in July 2018.
HJR 0474 by *Coley  Memorials, Death - Representative Ron Lollar passed both houses unanimously and has been signed by the Governor. A touching video was presented which included interviews with some close friends.  Ron was always a friend to us and he is missed. When he died, a flag (he was a Marine earlier in his life) and his picture were placed there.



OTHER ARTICLES OF INTEREST:

Tennessee Senate passes budget bills that authorize Lee to make funding decisions .

Tennessee Senate approves scaled-back $39 billion budget with employee buyouts, significant cuts .

Nashville will stop giving coronavirus patient names to police, first responders .

Watch: Tennessee to allow limited visitation at long-term care facilities .

Tennessee lawmakers want rioters to pay restitution, serve mandatory 30-day sentence .

State sales tax collections drop $106M in first full month of coronavirus .

TN Department of Education Reopening Guidance .

TennCare postpartum insurance expansion axed in governor's new budget proposal .

Gov. Bill Lee's latest budget cuts pay raises to state employees, offers buyouts for workers

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