Legislative Update, March 21, 2009


March 21, 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).

Father, Cause me to be a mirror of thy grace, to show others the joy of thy service. May my lips be well-turned cymbals sounding thy praise. Let a halo of heavenly-mindedness sparkle around me and a lamp of kindness sunbeam my path. Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent on things eternal.                             Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
We were very sad to learn that former Governor Winfield Dunn lost his grandson on Sunday. William Warren, 22, apparently lost control of his vehicle on a wet road and was not wearing his seat belt. Please be in prayer for this family. Rep. Matthew Hill’s (R-Jonesborough) dad has had some health struggles lately. You will want to remember him. Some legislators and staff members have been sick with various colds/congestion/flu-like stuff. Continue to remember Speaker Pro-Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis). Please be in prayer for the trial of abortionist George Tiller in Kansas. (See details elsewhere in Update.) Thinking about issues of Life, you will want to pray for Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) as she presents SJR 127 on the Senate Floor Monday evening.
*SJR 0127 by *Black , Gresham, Southerland, Crowe, Overbey, Faulk, Woodson, Yager, Stanley, Burchett, Beavers, Ketron, Tracy, Ramsey, Johnson, Norris, McNally, Watson, Henry, Bunch
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.
UPDATEIt all comes down to Monday evening in the State Senate. Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) will present SJR 127 on the Floor for its third reading and vote. If you have not yet gone HERE to either watch or read Constitutional expert Paul Linton’s testimony you will want to do that.
ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE and send email of support to your legislators.
*SB 0850 by *Black, Burks, Gresham, Beavers, Ketron, Crowe, McNally, Burchett, Tracy, Ramsey, Yager, Southerland, Stanley, Bunch, Norris, Johnson, Faulk
 HB 1552 by *Harwell , Campfield, Bell, Brooks K, Shipley, Maggart, Lundberg, Matheny, Eldridge, Montgomery, Lynn, Hawk, Swafford, Cobb J, Hensley, Dennis, McCormick, Rowland, Harrison, Evans, Floyd, Tidwell, Dean, Hill, West, DeBerry J, Weaver, Dunn, Lollar, Johnson C, Brooks H, Matlock, Coley, Sargent, Kernell
As introduced, places restrictions on universal mental health testing, or psychiatric or socioemotional screening of juveniles; requires certain consent by a juvenile's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or caregiver before such testing can occur.
First I hope you will note the number of co-sponsors who have signed on to this very important parental rights bill.
UPDATE: In Senate Education on Tuesday, Sen. Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) grilled Sen. Black about one section of the bill. He was concerned about schools being limited in dealing with unruly children. Dr. Bruce Opie, Department of Education, testified that they were satisfied with the language and that it did not interfere with their policies. (Thank you Lord!) It was voted out of the committee 8-0 and is on the Consent Calendar Monday evening. Hopefully no one will ‘bump’ it off that calendar, it will pass undebated and we can move to the dreaded House where it has been put into an odd committee. (Nothing here is ever easy.)

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.
UPDATE: Your contacts are making a difference. In Monday’s Tennessean, was a story noting “most legislators are undecided on supermarket sales”. However, SB 120 is in Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
Tennessee Lawmaker’s Stances -- contains a list of legislators who are supporting this expansion (you may be surprised at some of these names), those who do not and those UNDECIDED. Those of us who oppose the expansion of the availability of alcohol are up against a well-financed opponent. However, we CAN make a difference. The late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen observed, “If they feel the heat, they will see the light.” Let’s help them ‘see the light.”
ACTION ITEM: To contact your Senator and House member to OPPOSE this bill, go HERE and be sure to pass this on to others.
Adoption - As introduced, enacts the "Embryo Donation and Adoption Act of 2009’.
There are many frozen embryos left over from in vitro fertilization procedures awaiting their fate.   They can remain frozen, they can become a commodity and be destroyed for research, or they can be adopted, and become a ‘Snowflake Baby’.
If you are unfamiliar with this term, you can find more information HERE.
The National Embryo Donation Center, located in Knoxville, TN is the nation’s largest provider of embryo donation and adoption services, coordinating all aspects of this process for both donors and recipients. The NEDC is a leader in embryo adoption/donation and nationally known for a higher than average success rate. The NEDC is unique in the world in its organization and provision of services; therefore, receiving international recognition for embryo donation, as well as recipient and donor couples from around the U.S. 
Currently, there are no laws in Tennessee, which address this increasingly common reproductive procedure.
Without such laws, due to the growing number of couples participating in this process, there is an increasing chance of litigation arising from donors or recipients.
ACTION ITEM: What a wonderful opportunity to give life. This bill is on the Family Justice Subcommittee Calendar this week. Go HERE to send an email of support. 
Medicine, Practice of - As introduced, requires doctors and hospitals treating minor children to release the results of medical tests and procedures performed on the child to the child's parents upon request.
BACKGROUND: A 13-year-old boy was having some problems at school. His Dad took him to the doctor to be evaluated for possible ADHD.  With the Dad’s signed permission, a drug screen was done. As the Dad was paying the bill, he asked for the results of the drug screening. The doctor replied that he could not give that to him without the son’s permission. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up!!
          This bill has a huge fiscal note stating: The Department of Health could be in jeopardy of losing $6,500,000 in federal grant funds for non compliance with Title X family planning regulations. Assumptions:
The Department of Health receives approximately $6,500,000 in federal
Title X funding to provide family planning services. Federal regulations
specifically mandate that services be offered to minors without parental
notification or consent.
• Section 8.7 of the federal Program Guidelines for Project Grants for
Family Planning Services states that Title X projects may not require
written consent of parents or guardians for the provision of services to
minors, nor can the project notify parents or guardians before or after a
minor has requested and received Title X family planning services.
• Federal guidelines also require that all services are confidential and that
information may be released only with the individual’s written consent.
I suspect that most parents do now know this information. We don’t know if the fiscal note can be reduced or not, but we certainly do support the principle of this legislation.


This is one of the hottest topics on the ‘hill’.
Because of recent controversies, the Judicial Selection Commission was not re-authorized last year and it is presently in 'wind down.'  (When vacancies occur, this lawyer-heavy Commission meets and gives to the Governor a slate of three candidates. He is required to choose one of these nominees, or ask for another slate.)
There are a number of bills that propose to renew the commission or to renew the commission with changes.  If nothing is done, the commission will cease to exist this summer.
The State Constitution requires that the voters actually elect their Supreme Court judges.
A 'retention' vote, which we have now, with no competitors to chose between, is not an 'election', it is a highly controlled 'selection'.
That leaves the legislature with two choices. It can either abide by the Constitutional requirement and allow the voters to elect these justices or it should start the process to change the Constitution to permit the use of the Tennessee Plan or some variation thereof.
Our elected lawmakers should uphold the Constitution and oppose any legislation to renew the commission or the commission with changes, or start the process to change the Constitution
Lawmakers debating judicial selection system gives a good overview of this issue.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to contact your senator and representative to urge him or her to support the State Constitution.
Eminent Domain - As introduced, enacts the "Property Owners Bill of Rights."
Unfortunately, because of a huge fiscal note, this excellent bill was taken off notice in the House, however, three bills are still in the Civil Practice Committee. Go HERE to send emails of support.
Tiller faces 19 criminal counts of illegal late-term abortions. Apparently this is the first time since 1973 that an abortionist has gone to trial. Christians are urged to pray for the judge and ultimately to pray for justice for the pre-born children. Read more here.

U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter introduced legislation recognizing that life begins at conception.  The Right to Life Act, which has 43 original cosponsors, specifically acknowledges the personhood of the unborn as supported by the U.S. Constitution "Our primary obligation as elected leaders is to protect the fundamental rights and livelihood of the American people, especially those who are incapable of protecting themselves" said Congressman Hunter.  "In the years since abortion was legalized in Roe v. Wade, millions of children have tragically been denied their basic right to life under the Constitution.