Legislative Update, March 7

LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT                   
March 7, 2009                                                               
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).

"If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except for the State."                    President Harry Truman

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis) unexpectedly lost his father this week. Please keep this family in your prayers. Please pray for Connie Givens (Dir., Office of Coordinated School Health), wife of Commissioner of Agriculture Ken Givens, who is completing treatment for cancer. You will want to continue to pray for Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis). It was announced on the House floor on Wednesday that former Rep. Zane Whitson (R-Unicoi) had a stroke on Monday, another on Tuesday and passed away--another family that needs our prayers.
I spoke with Phyllis on Monday and, as you might imagine, she is not happy to be “out of circulation”. She has been moved to a re-hab center where she will undergo therapy for a couple of weeks when she anticipates returning to St. Louis. Please continue to pray for her complete and uneventful healing. Cards can be sent to: Phyllis Schlafly, Herrick Hospital, Room 5129, 201 Dwight Way, Berkley, CA 9704.
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There is still time for you urge Senators Alexander and Corker to OPPOSE this terrible nomination for the Department of Justice.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send your message to our senators.

Constitutional Amendments - Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion; states that the people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother. 

This proposed amendment will be in Senate Judiciary at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. It is not expected to have any problem in the committee.

Speaking of ‘Life Issues’ the House Health and Human Resources Committee is holding a Public Hearing on legislation related to reproductive health in Room 16, on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. This hearing was NOT something proposed by the pro-life community. 
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.

SUPPORTERS of this bill were all over the Plaza this week. Those who oppose this proposal MUST make their voices heard. Note: Supporters are asking why not pass a “law that will increase retail sales and state revenues?” Guess what, that means they expect the sale of alcohol to INCREASE. Common sense says whatever you legalize or expand, you get more of.

Porch encourages Tennesseans to oppose Senate Bill 120

ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE to send an email.

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.

Voting aye were: Burchett, Ketron, Norris, Tracy, Faulk, Yager – 6.

Voting no were: Finney, Harper, Haynes – 3. 

Bill would make Tennessee voters show photo ID at polls

Last April a U.S. Supreme Court decision validated the right of states to require voters to produce photo ID. According to the National conference of State Legislatures, of the 24 states that have a voter-ID requirement, seven states specify a photograph be shown to prove identification, including neighboring states Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. In no state is a voter who cannot produce identification turned away from the polls.  All states have some recourse for voters without identification to cast a vote or provide for a provisional ballot.

ACTION ITEM: Contact YOUR senator and urge him/her to vote for SB150 HERE.

Both these bills passed in the subcommittee and will be in the full Judiciary committee next week, but the large fiscal notes may impair their final passage.
Immigrants - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Immigration Compliance Act."

Requires all state and local government programs that provide certain benefits not mandated by federal law to verify immigration status prior to awarding such benefits. Requires law enforcement officials to check the citizenship status of any individual charged with a felony or DUI and if verification of lawful status cannot be obtained, to forward that information to the United States Department of Homeland Security. Also included in this proposal is a requirement that each agency and political subdivision of the state is to verify the lawful presence in the U. S. each person 18 years of age and older who applies for state, local, or federal public benefits.

Voting aye were: Coleman, Dennis, Fincher, Kelsey, Lundberg -- 5.

Voting no were: Stewart -- 1. (He was concerned about the fiscal note.)

Immigrants - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act."

Enacts the Tennessee Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. Requires, in most circumstances, all identification documents issued by state and local government to be issued only to United States citizens, nationals, and legal permanent resident aliens. Denies eligibility for any postsecondary education benefit or resident tuition for any individual who is not lawfully present in the United States.

Voting aye were: Coleman, Dennis, Fincher, Lundberg -- 4.
Voting no were: Kelsey, Stewart – 2

The potential for abuse of government power in cases of eminent domain has been a growing concern for citizens nationwide in recent years, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Kelo v. New London, which opened the floodgates.  The 5-4 high court decision condoned the rights of local governments to take private property for public use in the name of economic development. Both these bills provide additional protection for property rights.
Eminent Domain - As introduced, requires county and municipal legislative bodies to approve the exercise of eminent domain by two-thirds vote prior to any property being condemned and taken by such bodies.

Voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Faulk, Jackson, Marrero B, Overbey, Stanley – 8
Present and not voting were: Kyle -- 1

Eminent Domain - As introduced, grants property owner whose land is taken by eminent domain the right to repurchase such property if the condemning entity does not use the property for the purpose for which it was condemned or if the entity sells the property within 10 years of condemnation.

Voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Faulk, Jackson, Marrero B, Overbey, Stanley – 8
Present and not voting were: Kyle -- 1

Bills Call for local votes on eminent domain



Rep. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has introduced a proposed amendment to the State Constitution to establish once and for all, the prohibition of a State Income Tax.


Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to clarify the constitutional language that currently prohibits the levying of a tax on any class of income, other than income derived from stocks and bonds, and to prohibit any tax levied on or measured by employer payrolls



Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, extends terms of members of the House of Representatives from two to four years and terms of members of the senate from four to six years. The State Government Subcommittee thankfully made quick work of this proposal by defeating it strictly along party lines:

Representatives voting aye were: Cobb T, Litz, Pruitt -- 3.
Representatives voting no were: Carr, Haynes, McCormick -- 3.



Employees, Employers - As introduced, enacts the "Pay Equity in the Workplace Act."

Thankfully, this ‘lawyer’s dream’ bill was removed from the Commerce Committee Calendar and put in ‘general sub’, which usually means it will not be heard. Just to be clear, equal pay for EQUAL work is the law of the land both at the state and federal level. This bill is a way to promote ‘comparable worth’, something very different and something very subjective and would be the object of multiple lawsuits.

At least a couple of our legislators do.
Taxes - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Modernization and Economic Stimulus Act."

Since the previous battle over this subject resulted in a lot of new anti-income tax candidates being elected to the General Assembly, we will see how far this things get.  We WILL be ‘taking names’.