Legislative Update, February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010 
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 sessions: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/livevideo/
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).
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” ~~Abraham Lincoln

The mother of a lobbyist friend, Beth, fell and broke her hip. After undergoing surgery, she suffered several complications. Please remember her. Dave, husband of Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) is recovering from back surgery. Rep. Dennis Ferguson (D-Harriman) was out of the wheelchair and on crutches this week, so he is making progress. Assistant Chief Clerk of the Senate, Alan Wittington, suffered a calf injury that required surgery and will be in a splint and on crutches for a while. 
On a personal note, Ron and I will celebrate our 51st Anniversary on Sunday. I want to publicly express my appreciation to him for his support and encouragement in the work that I have been doing for many years. 
The Democratic primary contest for governor narrowed to a one-man and one-woman race Friday as state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, announced he is dropping out. His decision leaves former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan, D-Clarksville, and Jackson, Tenn., businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, the only candidates remaining in the Democratic contest.
*HJR 0369 by *Bell, Curtiss, Bass, Harmon, DeBerry J, Bone, Casada, Weaver, Dunn, Floyd, Shipley, Cobb J, Swafford, Mumpower, Hawk, Haynes, Niceley, Matlock, Harwell, Halford, McManus, Lynn, Maggart, Eldridge, Evans, Rich, Dean, Lollar, Carr, Brooks K, Hensley
Memorials, Congress - Urges United States Senate to reject ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
          After waiting for nine months to complete the deed (it passed the House during the last legislative session then there was a debacle on the Senate floor the last day of the session), with little debate, the State Senate passed our resolution 26-3-1. It is sad to me to think that Senators Berke, Harper, Marrero and Haynes don’t seem to have a problem another treaty that would supercede our Constitution and with the United Nations trying to tell us how to raise our children.
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Burchett, Burks, Crowe, Faulk, Finney L, Ford, Gresham, Henry, Herron, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, McNally, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Stewart, Tracy, Watson, Woodson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 26.
Senators voting no were: Berke, Harper, Marrero -- 3.
Senators present and not voting were: Haynes -- 1.
Each year at our annual fall Eagle Council meeting, awards are announced to honor individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to conservative principles and worked to support pro-life, pro-family values. The 2009 winner for Tennessee for this prestigious tribute, personally signed by Phyllis Schlafly, is Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Lebanon). On Tuesday with a number of our Teen Eagles on the Hill for the day, we made a surprise presentation to Rep. Lynn.
SB 3812 by *Johnson ( *HB 3301 by *Lynn, Evans, Matlock, Lundberg, Hill, Watson, Niceley, Johnson C, Ford , Casada, Halford, Swafford, Dunn, Dean, Bell, Carr, Weaver, White, Maggart, Hensley, Bass, Curtiss, Brooks K, Campfield)
Abortion - As introduced, enacts the "Freedom from Coercion Act."
          Tennessee Right to Life has introduced a very important bill that would prohibit any girl or woman from being forced or coerced to have an abortion. And, in case you are wondering, girls can be forced or coerced by their parents or boyfriends to have abortions and the same thing can happened to adult women. This bill would force abortion facilities to prominently post non-coercion policies; impose penalties against facilities which do not comply; reassure vulnerable women and girls that help and support are available; provide for damages against any provider participating in a coerced abortion.
          HB 3301 was in the Public Health Subcommittee on Wednesday. During the discussion Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) expressed concern that some women may not know what ‘coerced’ means. Opposition to the pro-life bill was also voiced by the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA), in part because of the bill's "burden" on abortion providers to post required signage in waiting areas and procedure rooms where abortions are performed. It would seem that another concern is that such signage would alert pro-life patients that their physician or facility participates in the practice of abortion. 
Click here to view the sub-committee hearing and select HB3301 below the video screen.
HB 3301 will be in predominantly pro-life Public Health Subcommittee again on Wednesday.

*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.
          “We went shopping for a coat; left with a bikini and it is still cold outside!” So mom-of-twins Gwen Adams perfectly described our journey to assure some rights for parents of multiple siblings
After an extended period of discussion with the TSBA the only agreement that could be reached was on this language: AMENDMENT: In determining the classroom assignments of multiple birth siblings, no school or board of education shall separate such multiple birth siblings into different classrooms solely due to such children being multiple birth siblings. 
          It is disappointing that would could not also get included a positive provision for parental choice, but this is a start and in the future, if more problems surface, we can always come back to the General Assembly for a solution.
STATUS: SB 2480 Passed the Senate Education committee 9-0 and will be on the Senate Floor soon. HB 3105 will be in the House K-12 Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION: Please go
HERE to send an email of support to your Senator and your House member that serves on the K-12 subcommittee.

HB 2059 by *Lynn ( *SB 0153 by *Ketron)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, classifies as a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine only, the unauthorized implantation of an electronic identification and/or tracking device or mark placed on any human being.
          Another week, another period of time in the Criminal Practice Subcommittee!
Rep. Eddie Bass (D-Prospect) is still intent on putting into law the ability to implant Alzheimer
patients and convicted criminals. These RFID chips DO NOT broadcast like something with GPS tracking, but he and others want to make provision for some future advances. Obviously, we do not want to legalize RFID implantation for anyone.
The bill was deferred again as we try to work out the language without legalizing any type of implanting. An interesting side bar is that rarely are the ACLU and Tennessee Eagle Forum on the same side on the issue, but this is one we agree on.
Click here to view the sub-committee hearing and select HB2050 below the video screen.
SB 3699 by *Black ( *HB 3495 by *Evans)
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.
          Just before Christmas several years ago a young attorney was crushed against a light pole downtown by a drunk driver. She was five months pregnant at the time. The defendant could not be charged with the death of the baby because she was not considered ‘viable’. The mother was buried with the baby in her arms. A couple of times we have tried to require, unsuccessfully, that the unborn baby also be considered a ‘victim of a crime’ regardless of ‘viability’. The good news is that Sen. Black and Rep. Evans have introduced a bill that would do just that. The bad news is that it has a large fiscal note that, in this lean budget year, passage through the Finance Committee could be problematic. 
STATUS: HB 3495 is scheduled in the very pro-life House Public Health Subcommittee on Wednesday.
[The best description that can be offered is that there are ‘competing’ bills.]
SB 2965 by *Beavers ( *HB 2768 by *Shipley)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.
SB 2965 will be in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday; HB 2768 was deferred in House Judiciary until March 9.
SB 2897 by *McNally ( *HB 2917 by *Fincher)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. HB 2917 will be in House Judiciary on Tuesday; SB 2897 has not yet been scheduled in committee.
*SB 2681 by *Ketron ( HB 2799 by *McCormick)
Election Laws - As introduced, allows registrar to email a ballot to each member of the armed forces and each citizen temporarily outside the United States who is entitled to vote and who has submitted a valid application for a ballot.
This excellent bill authorizes a county Election Commission to e-mail a ballot to each member of the armed forces, as well as citizens temporarily outside the United States, who are entitled to vote and who have submitted a valid application for a ballot.  The move would expedite the process so the voter would have more time to make a decision and return their ballot so they will be counted. According to the Pew Center on the States, about half of overseas voters fail to vote or to have their votes counted because of current voting
STATUS: SB 2681 passed the State Senate 32-0; HB 2799 is scheduled on the House Floor on Monday evening.

Bredesen plan called necessary; critics say patients will suffer
When Tennessee launched its ideal of free health care for needy residents, the worry about how to pay for medical tests, drugs, surgeries or nursing care vanished for many people.
The relief didn't last long.
Gov. Phil Bredesen, who came into office in 2003 promising to "save" and "not dismantle"
TennCare, has managed to keep it alive. But he has moved at least 300,000 people off the program rolls, limited the most expensive home care and made it tougher to get on TennCare in the first place.
Still, the program is expected to consume about 24 percent of the state finances under Bredesen's
budget proposal next year, a drop from the ballooning 30 percent when he took office, but a long way from the years before TennCare when, state lawmakers remember, they dedicated about 10 percent of the budget to health care.
Read more here