Legislative Update, March 27, 2010

March 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: 
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).

“History and common sense affirm the superiority of conservatism over liberalism, family over feminism, freedom over socialism, lower taxes over government programs, and the spending of money by individuals rather than politicians.” Phyllis Schlafly

While out walking on Wednesday evening, the niece of Rep. Stratton Bone (D-Lebanon) and her friend were victims of a hit-and-run driver. As I understand it, Sue Ann Bone suffered significant injuries including several broken bones; don’t know the condition of her friend, but let’s pray for complete healing for both. A man has been arrested for DUI. Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) is progressing with her torn ACL. She has traded her wheelchair for a crutch. Please continue to pray for complete healing. Rep. Dennis Ferguson (D-Harriman) is completely out of his leg brace and is walking in tennis shoes. As the subcommittees begin to close down, the legislature is at a ‘full, rolling boil’ in terms of activity as legislators push their bills. Please pray that our lawmakers will be thoughtful and attentive as the bills come before them. In addition, TN State employees to get layoff notices in mail this week. Please pray for these folks as they deal with the realities of the economy and the budget shortfall.
With only one week remaining until the deadline to file to run for office (noon on April 1st), House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower (Bristol) announced on Thursday that he would not run for re-election.

HJR 0030 by Hill
General Assembly - As introduced, rescinds three specific resolutions from 1977 and any other resolutions passed at any time that call for a federal constitutional convention.
                **EXTREMELY IMPORTANT**

      If you really want to protect our US Constitution and our form of government, you will fully engage in the effort to repeal the previous TN calls for an ‘Article V’ Federal Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). Article V of our Constitution provides two ways to amend. An amendment generated in Congress and sent to the state for ratification or 34 states call for a Con-Con where delegates are elected to form a convention. Please go HERE for why we should repeal the ‘calls’. Go HERE for vital background information to understand this issue.
          You may be told that once a Con-Con is initiated, the delegates will only be able to address the issue that was the subject of the ‘call’. That is the crux of the debate. A majority of legal scholars, and two former U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Warren Burger and Arthur J. Goldberg, have stated there is no assurance that an Article V convention can be limited to a particular amendment once it is convened. Any claim that Congress could, by statute, limit a convention’s agenda is pure speculation. More over, once convened, a convention could reject any, or all, Congressional restrictions on its activity. Congress, therefore, may not be any more effective in restricting the agenda of a modern-day convention than was the Continental Congress in 1787 when its directives to the original constitutional convention were totally ignored. And don’t buy into the ‘safe harbor’ argument that whatever the Convention proposes must be ratified by 38 state legislatures. The Convention could direct that the ratifications take place in state conventions, not legislatures and just at the original Convention did, change the number of states needed for ratification and/or the ratification process.
          Because of the high level of frustration with the federal government, a Constitutional Convention may seem like a ‘way to take back our government’ but it is actually a way to lose the Constitution, as we know it.
STATUS: HJR 30 will be in the Civil Practice Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION: Please email
rep.jim.coley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.stewart@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kent.coleman@capitol.tn.gov, and politely ask them to protect our Constitution by supporting HJR30.

*SB 3740 by *Bunch ( HB 3768 by *Dennis) Civil Procedure - As introduced, establishes that contracts based on the law of any foreign state or country that incorporates substantive or procedural law that would violate rights and privileges granted under the U.S. or Tennessee constitution are against the public policy of this state and are void and unenforceable in this state.
This is one of our most important bills for the legislative session. This bill provides, subject to provisions of superseding federal treaties, that any otherwise enforceable contract that incorporates any substantive or procedural law, legal code or legal system of another state, foreign jurisdiction or foreign country that would violate rights and privileges granted under the United States or Tennessee Constitution is declared to be against public policy of this state and is unenforceable in this state.
          With the increasing globalization and interactions with foreign legal systems, we are very excited about this legislation. It will offer Tennesseans some protections from legal pluralism when fundamental constitutional liberties are involved.
STATUS: On March 23, SB3740 was introduced, amended and rolled a week in Senate Judiciary. On March 24, HB 3768 went through a similar process.

ACTION: Please go HERE to send an email of support to the members of both committees.
[System connects on the basis of constituency--if your senator or represenative is on the targeted committee.] If you want to contact others, Senate Judiciary Committee members found HERE; House committee members found HERE.

SB 3589 by *Ketron ( *HB 3300 by *McCormick)
Judgments - As introduced, specifies three reasons why a foreign judgment would not be conclusive, and further states that a foreign defamation judgment shall not be recognized if the defamation law of the foreign court adjudicating the case provided less protection for freedom of speech and press than the United States and Tennessee constitutions.
          It authorizes Tennessee courts to not recognize a foreign defamation judgment unless the court sitting in Tennessee before which the matter is brought first determines that the defamation law applied in the foreign court's adjudication provided at least as much protection for freedom of speech and press in that case as would be provided by the constitutions of the United States and Tennessee. We MUST protect the Free Speech rights of our citizens.

STATUS: Great news – As amended, on March 25, HB 3300 passed the House floor 97-0 and picked up a number of new co-sponsors. SB 3589 will be in Senate Judiciary on March 30.
ACTION: Please go HERE and urge your Senator to support this important bill.

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."

          This is such an important bill -- obviously no girl or woman should be forced or coerced to have an abortion against her will. This bill would require abortion facilities to prominently post no-coercion policies; impose penalties against facilities, which do not comply; reassure vulnerable women and girls that help and support is available. This proposal has been amended to clarify some questions that were raised.
STATUS: SB3812 passed Senate Judiciary
7-1. HB3301 will be on the House floor March 31.
ACTION: Find your House member HERE. If you don’t know his/her position on this bill, call or send him /her an email of support.

SB 3498 by *Beavers ( *HB 3433 by *Bell)
Health Care - As introduced, enacts "Tennessee Health Freedom Act."
As amended, This bill provides that it is the public policy of this state that every person within this state is and will be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty, and this bill provides that with this bill the state is exercising its sovereign power to declare this public policy. It also states that it is the duty of the attorney general and reporter to seek injunctive and any other appropriate relief as expeditiously as possible to preserve the rights and property of the residents of this state, and to defend as necessary this state, its officials, employees and agents in the event that any law or regulation violating the public policy set forth in this bill is enacted by any government, subdivision or agency thereof.

NOTE: Because of the expected crowds on Wednesday, extra Capitol Hill troopers were on duty and extra Sergeants-at-arms were in the committee room. They were not disappointed—the room and halls were packed. Of all people, I greatly appreciate passion, zeal and commitment to an issue by people who are engaged in the political process. However, those attributes need to be combined with wisdom and respect. As I was trying to explain the committee process to supporters standing in the hall, two men started screaming at me. That is not the way to do business with me or anyone else.

STATUS: SB 3498 passed the Senate 26-1-5 on February 17th. HB 3433 was heard and amended in committee, and as is THEIR NORMAL PROCEDURE on an amended bill, moved the it to next Wednesday’s calendar, March 31.

ACTION: These are the members who need to be contacted. rep.charles.curtiss@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.roach@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joanne.favors@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.ferguson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.mccord@capitol.tn.gov, spk.eme.jimmy.naifeh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.shepard@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.towns@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 3189 by *Kelsey ( *HB 3286 by *Casada)
Vital Records – As introduced, establishes a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.

          This legislation calls for the state to acknowledge the birth of a stillborn infant by issuing a birth certificate if the parents request one.  “This is to acknowledge for basically psychological reasons, you know, and grieving and that sort of thing,” said Beth Barnett of Cordova.  “But it’s also like a kick from the state when you find out you’re going to walk out of the hospital with almost nothing; and then you find out that the state doesn’t even recognize that you even gave birth, period.” Barnett said present law calls for a birth certificate if the infant lives for at least one minute.  If they do not, there is only a fetal death report, which is for research gathering purposes.  The legislation, calls for issuance of a birth certificate, upon the request of parents for stillborn infants if they are 20 weeks or more gestation or 350 grams.
STATUS: SB3189 passed the Senate Floor 29-0; HB3286 is in House Finance March 30.

The study, conducted by Strategic Research group, continues to confirm earlier reports showing any gains made from Pre-K are short-term and do nothing after second grade to bridge the achievement gap between children who are at-risk those from a higher socio-economic background. “As previous reports in this series have found, there are positive effects on these outcomes associated with participation in Pre-K, although they are for the most part limited to economically disadvantaged students (those who received free or reduced-price lunch) and are evident primarily in Kindergarten and First Grade,” the report said.  “Among students who completed the Second Grade in 2007-2008, there were no significant effects for any assessment associated with Pre-K participation.  This general pattern of results is consistent with any pattern of convergence noted in previous reports, such that effect associated with Pre-K participation tend to diminish over time.”
          In the 1998, Governor Don Sundquist pushed the creation of 30 Pilot Pre-K classrooms, serving approximately 600 students.  Since then the program has grown to over 934 classrooms under Governor Bredesen, serving approximately 17,000 children at a cost of $83 million. 
Read more here.