Legislative Update, February 28, 2009


February 28, 2009                                                                       bobbie@tneagleforum.org
Tennessee General Assembly information here.
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select Legislators then select House Members or Senate Members, or ‘Find My Legislator’.
Phone calls can go to the Legislative Switchboard: (615) 741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1+ last four digits of office phone number (available at the same location).
A point of personal privilege: Today my husband and I celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. When I was 13 years old I had a ‘crush’ on the handsome, blue-eye senior football play at Bradford High School in Starke, Florida. After graduation he went into the Air Force and I didn’t see him again until he came home on leave in 1957, when I was a senior. He asked me for a date and, as they say, ‘the rest is history’. I want to publicly thank Ron for his continued support and encouragement, which has enabled me to do the ‘political work’ I have been involved in for more than 30 years. We anticipate having a great time this afternoon celebrating with friends and family. We were very honored to learn that Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) has sponsored a resolution to mark this special occasion, SJR 65.


Speaker Pro-Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) continues to need our prayers. Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville) continues to improve from his knee replacement. Rep. Chad Faulkner (R-Luttrell) had a death in his family. Mrs. Faulkner’s grandmother passed away last week.
I spoke with Phyllis on Thursday. She is resting comfortably and the doctor is very happy about how the surgery went and the progress she is making. She expects to be moved to a recovery unit in a few days. It appears that she will be in the hospital for three weeks before she can fly back to St. Louis. Please continue to pray for complete and uneventful healing for Phyllis. This nation simply cannot afford to have this valiant warrior off the battlefield for long!!  Would you send her a Get Well card? Phyllis Schlafly, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2450 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
Wine, Wineries - As introduced, creates an additional class of licenses allowing the sale of wine at certain retail food stores; requires person purchasing wine at certain retail food stores to present photo identification. Assigned to the State and Local Government Committee.

Move to put wine in Tennessee grocery stores unwise
By Lonnie Wilkey, editor
2/18/2009 Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine.  Wine, by the way, has twice the alcohol content of beer and gets people intoxicated twice as fast, according to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Tennessee currently allows wine to be sold only in liquor stores, according to an article in the Feb. 11 issue of The Tennessean.
What is sad about this whole matter is who is pushing legislators to pass the bill. You would guess that it is the liquor industry who wants the bill passed, but it is not. In fact, they are working hard to oppose the legislation. I find it ironic (even funny) that Baptists would be on the same side as the liquor industry, but it is true in this case, even though for totally different reasons.
Read more here.
A LOT of money is being spent to pass this bill because a LOT of money is as stake. The principle here is the dramatic expansion of the availability of alcohol. Alcohol is legal and is available in a variety of locations. The Alcohol and Beverage Commission estimates this bill could increase the number of new high proof alcohol venders in Tennessee from 525 to 6,000 additional locations. This is an increase of nearly 1200%. Common sense tells us that there will be consequences to this change.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email to the committee members.


There was some excitement at the Plaza this week as two proposed constitutional amendments were on the Public Health Subcommittee Calendar. However, Chairman Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) announced that he would set a special calendar to hear all the proposed amendments at the same time.
The good news: The numbers for Senate Joint Resolutions are up to 116, meaning only eleven more to go to get to the magic number: 127!!
For background information on this important subject, go HERE.
NOTE: It seems that other Democrats have signed on to the Fincher bill that would not only put ‘exceptions’ into our State Constitution, it would also put taxpayer funding for abortion into that document.
*HJR 0061 by *Fincher  Turner M, Pitts, Jones U, Bone, Fitzhugh, Bass, Harmon, Litz, DeBerry J


“Article VI, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution declares, “The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.” Though this system of judicial election provided the state’s courts with competent, qualified justices for 140 years, state legislators stripped Tennessee’s voters of their Constitutionally protected right to vote for members of the Supreme Court in 1993.
The legislation, called the “Tennessee Plan for Judicial Selection and Evaluation,” created a 17-member commission of individuals appointed by the Speakers of the Tennessee House and Senate to evaluate potential Supreme Court candidates. This Judicial Selection Commission offers a slate of three finalists to the Governor who picks one to fill a vacant seat on the State Supreme Court.
  Status of the Judicial Selection Commission: Last year when this Commission was up for re-authorization, that bill did not pass. When commissions are not re-authorized, they are given a year to ‘wind down’ then they cease to exist. So at this point, if the legislature does nothing, this commission just goes away. 
Interestingly, the judicial selection system WAS put to the voters in 1977 and the voters rejected it by a margin of 55% to 45%. It appears the voters liked following the Constitution and electing their judges.
The choice seems fairly clear: We should either abide by the State Constitution or we should decide what process we want to use and change the Constitution. Stay tuned – this promises to be a very ‘hot topic’ this session.
On the calendar of the Senate State and Local Government this week are a number of good bills. Since some are duplicates, at this point we will just follow the action and keep you updated.
Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots
SB 1681 by *Ketron ( *HB 0641 by *Maggart)
Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
SB 0587 by *Beavers ( *HB 0585 by *Weaver)
Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
SB 0191 by *Bunch ( *HB 0267 by *Watson)
Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
*SB 0173 by *Ketron ( HB 0640 by *Maggart
Election Laws - As introduced, requires citizenship status to be proven prior to registration to vote and requires certain procedures to ensure identity and citizenship status prior to voting.


In a recent Legislative Update, it was noted that several Tennessee lawmakers had signed onto a legal action intended to force President Barack Obama to turn over his birth certificate and other documents to prove his citizenship. It was suggested that we express our appreciation to these lawmakers for taking a public stand FOR the US Constitution. Let’s do just that. Take a moment, click on their name to express your appreciation:
Rep. Glen Casada (R-College Grove), Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), Rep. Eric Swafford (R-Pikeville), and Rep. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains).
The who's-the-real-kingmaker soap opera surrounding House Dems has taken yet another turn as discontent grows over House Democratic Leader Rep. Gary Odom's comments that he — and not former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh — was the architect key Democrat in the Kent Williams Plan

Rep. Mike Turner, the House Democratic Caucus Chairman, and Rep. John Litz of Morristown sat down with reporters to give a new timeline, one that leaves Odom almost completely out of the picture. In this version, Litz begins asking around about a Republican candidate who could play the foil to Rep. Jason Mumpower. By the second week of December, Williams comes to Litz to see if the Democrats can deliver, but Litz only tells "Speaker Naifeh and one other individual that day," according to a timeline he released. Read more of the fascinating story here


State Republicans hoping to tackle everything from education reform to passing an anti-abortion constitutional amendment this legislative session appeared eager to roll out the party's social agenda after they gained control of the House and Senate in the November elections.
But then last month's surprise election of House Speaker Rep. Kent Williams — voted in by Democrats and later thrown out of the state GOP — left Republicans wondering how such bills will fare in a split chamber.
Now they're going to get a chance to find out.
In the coming weeks, legislators will vote on several previously killed bills, but split committees could make things harder for Republicans hoping for sweeping changes. In many cases, House Democrats have offered compromise legislation that they hope brings hot-button topics closer to the political center.
Regardless of whether or not Bredsen is a good choice, this is a fascinating story. 

Mugging Phil Bredesen

"You have the spotlight shined on you and then come along and get mugged." That's how Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, describes his recent ambush by MoveOn.org after his name was floated as a possible secretary of Health and Human Services.