Legislative Update, February 13, 2010

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February 13, 2010

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).
Tennessee General Assembly information and contacts: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select House or Senate, then ‘Members’.

Don’t forget that you can now watch on your computer the committee meetings and the floor


For God so loVed the world, 
      That He gAve 
            his onLy 
                That whosoever 
      Believeth In Him 
        Should Not perish, 
      But have Everlasting life."

Rep. Dennis Ferguson (D-Harriman) is looking forward to having his cast removed in the next few days. Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) is having back problems, contemplating surgery. Sen. Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis) continues to be absent from the Capitol. Former state Rep. Joe Kent, who represented parts of East Memphis and Germantown in the state House of Representatives from 1978 through 2004, died late Tuesday in Nashville. He was 72 years old and suffered from lung disease, according to former colleagues. Further information HERE. Be in prayer for his family. Inskip Elementary School Principal Elisa Luna, the daughter of former state Sen. Jerry Cooper (D-McMinnville) was one of two Knox County educators shot on Wednesday at Inskip Elementary School in Knoxville. Read more HERE. Please be in prayer for Elisa and her family. Thankfully, later reports show her make progress.


PLEASE NOTE: The various ACTION ALERTS are set to target specific legislators.


*SB 2480 by *Gresham ( HB 3105 by *Harwell)

Education - As introduced, requires local boards of education to give preference to parent's request in classroom placement of multiple birth siblings.

          One never knows what issues will present themselves. A friend of mine with twin boys was initially emphatically denied the opportunity for her six-year-olds to stay together in the first grade—‘the government knows best!’ She contacted me and a bill was born. Further investigation has demonstrated that this is a hot topic among parents of multiples. Some schools consider the parents wishes (after all, who knows the needs of the children best?) and some schools refuse to place the children same classroom. Some states have passed legislation supporting parental rights in this area – we want Tennessee to join those states.
          Twins who are allowed to be together in preschool and as long as they want to be in the early elementary years seem to make a much better adjustment both academically and socially than those who are arbitrarily separated. Four and five year-olds are simply not ready to make the transition from home and parents to school and achieve separation from their lifelong companion simultaneously. Twins who are separated too soon become so anxious about each other's whereabouts and welfare that they can't concentrate on learning and socializing. Once the adjustment to school is accomplished, separation in later grades happens naturally and easily. We have found that the development of individuality in twins is delayed, not enhanced, by too early school separation.

STATUS: SB 2480 will be in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

ACTION: Please go HERE to send the members an email urging them to support this important ‘parental rights’ legislation.


SB 3498 by *Beavers ( *HB 3433 by *Harwell)

Health Care - As introduced, enacts "Tennessee Health Freedom Act." would protect a citizen's right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person's decision. It does not seek to "nullify" any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program; however, it would also acknowledge the right of individuals to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program. The bill also calls on the state's Attorney General to take action in the defense or prosecution of rights protected under the legislation.

STATUS: Passed Senate Commerce Committee 8-0-1. Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bunch, Burchett, Burks, Johnson, Ketron, Southerland, Stewart -- 8.
Senators present and not voting were: Tate – 1

ACTION: Please go HERE to send your State Senator an email in support of SB 3498.


*HB 2622 by *Lynn ( SB 2560 by *Black)
Health Care - As introduced, prohibits the legislature from requiring any person to participate in any health care system or plan. This bill is similar to the bill above.
STATUS: HB 2622 will be in the House Industrial Impact Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION: Please go HERE to send an email of support to the members.

*SJR 0682 by *Beavers

Constitutional Amendments - Proposes a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote by the senate and a two-thirds vote of the house in order to approve legislation that seeks an increase in appropriations in excess of the Copeland spending cap for any fiscal year.
          In 1978, Tennessee legislators amended the constitution to attempt to prevent the problem of runaway spending, especially during times of economic hardship.  The “Copeland Cap” is a provision that says that state spending can grow no faster than the annual growth in personal income.  This move was supposed to make tax hikes unnecessary, and allow Tennessee to operate as a “pay-as-you-go” state with a balanced budget.  Yet, the amendment allowed the legislature to break the cap with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate, a provision that has allowed the cap to be broken fourteen times for a total of more than $3.6 billion dollars in overspending since 1978. This amendment is designed to restore fiscal accountability and would control the growth of state government.
The amendment failed 4-2-3
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Kelsey -- 4.
Senators voting no were: Jim Kyle (D-Memphis), Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis)-- 2.
Senators present and not voting were: Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill), Doug Jackson (D-Dickson), Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) -- 3.
*SJR 0025 by *Black
Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, proposes a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote by the senate and a two-thirds vote of the house of representatives in order to approve legislation that seeks an increase in appropriations in excess of the Copeland spending cap for any fiscal year. Please send Senator Black an email
urging her to run her resolution.

*HB 2768 by *Shipley ( SB 2965 by *Beavers)

DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.
          HB2768 was in House Criminal Practice Subcommittee on Wednesday.  Just as it appeared that it would be voted out to the full Judiciary Committee, Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) asked to address the committee. It seems that he has a similar bill that he wants to run stating that MADD is supporting his legislation because his bill has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 percent.
          The Shipley/Cobb bill has been through the summer study committee process, thoroughly discussed and carefully crafted. With all due respect to Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) The Shipley/Cobb bill started out with a .08BAC and the consensus was that it could not pass with that criteria. Reluctantly, they raised the BAC to 1.5 in order to move the bill forward. As Rep. Shipley stated, public safety is not a partisan issue.
          HB2768 remains in the subcommittee where it will be on the calendar again next Wednesday.

*SB 0257 by *Jackson ( HB 0624 by *Maggart)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, prohibits cable television or satellite television company from advertising or promoting material that it knows to be obscene or harmful to minors.
Family Action Council of Tennessee
has done great work to help Sen. Jackson pass the proposal that would prohibit obscene materials from being broadcast like the advertisements for videos that show young women disrobing and acting out other sexual situations. 
          SB257 passed the Commerce Committee on Tuesday, 8-0-1: Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bunch, Burchett, Burks, Johnson, Ketron, Southerland, Stewart -- 8. Senators present and not voting were: Tate -- 1. It will next be in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
*SJR 0763 by *Kelsey
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.
          For those of us who lived through the three years of fighting ‘tooth and toenail’ to prevent a state income tax and saw the makeup of our legislature shaped by the support or opposition to a state income tax, this proposed amendment to the Constitution is welcomed. Some folks took the position that our State Constitution did prohibit an income tax; others strongly disagreed. This, if passed, would settle the question once and for all.


SB 3812 by *Johnson ( *HB 3301 by *Lynn)
Abortion - As introduced, enacts the "Freedom from Coercion Act."
          This very important piece of legislation is being sponsored by
Tennessee Right to Life
. We know that many women, if not forced, are coerced, into having abortions and that is just wrong.  Among other provisions, this bill requires that a notice be posted in clinics, or other facilities that perform abortions notifying the patients that it is against law for them to be coerced to have an abortion against their will and that they have the right to contact law enforcement to receive protection. The patient will be informed that an abortion cannot be performed on her unless she provides her freely given, voluntary and informed consent.
*HB 3495 by *Evans ( SB 3699 by *Black)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, specifies that when a defendant commits a homicide or assault against a pregnant woman, the woman's fetus, regardless of viability, is also considered a victim of the offense.
          This is an issue that we have long been interested in and twice in years gone by have sponsored bills that would hold criminals responsible for killing an unborn baby in an assault against a pregnant woman. Note – this has nothing to do with abortion, but criminal assault.

HJR 0773 by *Hardaway
A RESOLUTION to honor the memory of Michael Jackson, the undisputed "King of Pop."
On February 3rd, the State House passed HJR 773 with only on vote to spare,
On February 11th, this resolution garnered only seven YES votes in the State Senate where it failed
Jackson joins Justin Timberlake in failing to meet standards