Legislative Update, April 18, 2009

April 18, 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).

"The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America." – Ronald Reagan
Speaker Kent Williams has not been at the Capitol this week because of the illness of his father. Roby Williams did pass away. The funeral will be Sunday afternoon in Elizabethton.
Please remember this family. Continue to remember Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) in her health struggles and Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) as he continues to recover from his openheart surgery.
Education - 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.
Another thrilling VICTORY: HB 1552 was in Calendar and Rules Tuesday morning. Without discussion or debate, it was passed out of that Committee and placed on the Consent Calendar Monday evening, April 20. Now, the bill could be ‘bumped’ off the consent calendar and heard separately, but please join me in praying that it will stay on the Consent Calendar. It is so hard to believe that after four years of extremely difficult work, we are just one vote away from providing this protection of parental rights to be involved in the mental health care of their children.
SPECIAL NOTE: Frequently I ask the Lord to “let me know the things I need to know even if I don’t know I need to know them.” I cannot tell you how many times God has graciously answered that prayer and He did that again this week. I attended the State Board of Education meeting on Friday. On the agenda for ‘First Reading’, was “Mental Health Standards and Guidelines.” These will be reviewed and changed before being brought back to the Board at their October meeting. How perfect is the Lord’s timing!! This extensive proposal makes our bill even more important the make sure that parent’s rights are protected!!
Curtiss, Bass, Harmon, DeBerry J, Bone, Casada, Weaver, Dunn, Floyd, Shipley, Cobb J, Swafford, Mumpower, Hawk, Haynes, Niceley, Matlock, Harwell. Urges United States Senate to reject ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
          Without a doubt, this is one of the most important things we are doing this year. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed by the Clinton Administration in 1995, but, thankfully, has never been ratified by the United State Senate.  First, ANY United Nations treaty is suspect on its face.  Second, according to Article VI, any treaty ratified by the US Senate becomes 'law of the land'.
The United Nations has no business telling parents how to raise their children.
Family law has always been a 'states rights' issue and a UN treaty should not be overriding our state laws. Because of the Democrat control Sen. Barbara Boxer (California) wants to bring this treaty up for ratification.  Go HERE for more details.
          ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email of support to your State Representative.
*SJR 0127 by *Maggart
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.
UPDATE: SJR 127 has been assigned to the Budget Subcommittee where the vote is expected to be very close. Because of absences of various members, action on this proposal was postponed until April 29.
Religion and Religious Organizations - As introduced, prohibits a government entity from substantially burdening a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates the application of the burden is essential to further a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
In a culture that is continually trying to restrict our religious freedoms, this excellent bill introduced by Family Action Council of Tennessee endeavors to provide much needed protection. For background information, go HERE.           Both bills were postponed from last week but are on the respective calendars for next week.
ACTION ITEM: 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.
UPDATE: To you and me this seems to be so basic – you take you teen to the doctor, give permission for certain tests, you are required to pay for these tests, but you CANNOT have access to the results unless your teenager gives his or her permission. What is wrong with this picture??? Rep. Toney Shipley (R-Kingsport) has a constituent who ran head long into this situation. Dad Sid Daugherty told his compelling story to the committee this week. Also testifying in favor of this bill was Eric Potter, M.D., who is serving as the Tennessee Director for ParentalRights.org. Testifying against the bill was OB/GYN who supports Title X of the Public Health Service Act that calls confidentially for teenagers. This federal law permits your teen to be tested and treated for STDs, receive birth control, etc., confidentially.
ACTION ITEM: Please go HEREand urge committee members to support parental rights.
Schools, Home - As introduced, requires that diplomas issued by home schools be recognized by all state and local governmental entities as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems.
          HB 431 is in the K-12 Subcommittee this week. If your House member is listed here, please send him or her an email politely urging support for this important bill: Les Winningham,
Rep. Judy Barker, Tommie Brown, Mark Maddox.
Memorials, Congress - Urges Congress to recognize Tennessee's sovereignty under the tenth amendment to the Constitution.
From Rep. Susan Lynn’s (R-Mt. Juliet) Blog: State sovereignty is a big deal to state legislators; hopefully, it is to you as well. It is what keeps the federal government from over stepping its constitutional bounds. Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution. The history of the formation of our federal government is long and complex but what the framers sought was a government that protected man’s natural rights; declared by the Declaration of Independence to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; better interpreted to mean that all men, by nature are equally free and independent with the right to work, acquire property and pursue their own individual happiness. Read more here.
ACTION ITEM: This important resolution was postponed but is in the Civil Practice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Go HERE to send an email of support.
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: I am so pleased to report that the House bill was taken ‘off notice’, meaning that it will not be run this year. In the article linked here, Shepard pulls bill allowing grocery store wine sales, Shepard said that Senate sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron, (R-Murfreesboro) would announce a joint study committee between the House and Senate to investigate the issue in-depth this summer.
NOTE: There was an article in the Nashville Business Journal that the Fiscal Review Committee found that allowing wine sales in grocery stores would generate more tax revenue. This assertion makes my case in that “whatever we legalize or expand, we get more of”. This move would mean more people buying and consuming alcohol, which will result in more impaired drivers on the road with the risks that brings, increased possibility of more broken homes, etc. I am all for raising revenue for state and local government but not at the expense of our homes and families.

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.
UPDATE: After extended discussion and opposing testimony from Ms. O’Brien from the League of Women Voters that bills itself as a non-partisan group (it did start out that way but over time became a very liberal organization) and Patrick Willard representing the AARP, the bill failed on a straight party line vote. Since only American citizens are qualified to vote, it seems fundamental to require proof of citizenship.
Voting aye were: Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), Josh Evans (R-Greenbrier), Eric Watson (R-Cleveland). Voting no were: Gary Moore (D-Joelton), Harry Tindell (D-Knoxville), Eddie Yokley (D-Greenville).
If you want to voice your thoughts to the Department of Homeland Security, the phone number is 202-282-8000.
State Sen. Tim Barnes’s motion to dismiss an appeal filed by former state Sen. Rosalind Kurita seeking a reversal of the court’s decision to uphold the decision of the state Democratic Party to strip her of the nomination for state Senate last November has been denied.