Legislative Update, May 15, 2010
May 15, 2010
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.” ~~ President Abraham Lincoln
Shortly after eleven Thursday morning, Speaker Kent Williams slumped and collapsed while presiding in the House Chamber. Williams, a diabetic, was suffering from low blood sugar. After a few minutes, he was able to walk out and returned about an hour later to continue the session. Will, husband of Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) is recovering from hip replacement surgery. Learned this week the Sen. Joe Haynes (D-Goodlettsville) and Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) sustained some flood damage. Also, please continue to remember Rep. (Lt. Col) John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) as he serves in Iraq. His birthday is May 21st.
CONGRATULATIONS: Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) retiring from the State Senate to run for Knoxville mayor took a giant leap forward May 5th: Tim Burchett gets 85% of vote against Tim Hutchison in GOP mayor's race. He does have a Democrat opponent, but that opponent will have an uphill battle in the heavily Republican area.
ON THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010, WE MADE HISTORY!!
*SB 3740 by *Bunch Gresham, Tracy, Black ( HB 3768 by *Dennis) Lundberg, Campfield, Niceley, Coley, Evans, Weaver, Floyd, Brooks H, Lynn, Maggart, White, Rich, Lollar, Halford, Moore, Carr
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.
Tennessee became the first state in the nation to pass this piece of legislation. Weeks and weeks of what can only be described as grueling work finally came to a VICTORIOUS conclusion when the State Senate passed SB3740 32-0-1. [It had previously passed the House 96-0-1.]
Hours and hours were spent speaking with the lawmakers, sitting in committees waiting for the bill to come up – numerous times it was postponed or the committee adjourned before getting to it on the calendar. On March 27, the legislation finally made it out of Senate Judiciary 6-0-1.
On Thursday, the Senate floor session began shortly after nine o’clock. At 10:27 a.m. the clerk called up SB3740. Just prior to that, the leadership had been discussing a recess. Just as Sen. Bunch began to speak, Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) suggested since we will ‘talk about this a little bit’, why not wait and take it up first just after the recess. Our hearts just about stopped. At 10:30 a.m. the Speaker called for a 15-minute recess, which, in typical legislative fashion, stretched out to about 35 minutes.
During the recess we learned that Kyle had distributed to each senator an article that he apparently planned to use to oppose the legislation. The senate reconvened – Joanne and I could hardly breathe. Sen. Bunch started again explaining what the bill did. When the speaker asked if there were any questions, Sen. Henry had a couple of inquiries to which Sen. Bunch responded. The Speaker asked for further questions. As Joanne and I held our breath, the floor was completely silent. The vote was called and the GREEN lights popped up on the board (all except Sen. Beverly Marrero who voted ‘present’)—32-0-1. We could not believe our eyes. Never in our wildest imagination would we have predicted such overwhelming support, especially in view of the expected opposition of Sen. Kyle.
I believe that this outcome was due to a lot of hard work that was under girded with a lot of prayer being offered on our behalf. I just wonder if Angels were moving around the floor directing the vote. You never know!!
We want to thank our sponsors, Sen. Dewayne Bunch (R-Cleveland-left) and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah - right) for being willing to take on this groundbreaking proposal. Most of all I want to acknowledge with deep appreciation the work of my friend, attorney Joanne Bregman, without whose legal expertise, this bill would have never passed. It was Joanne who did the extensive research and prepared to answer the questions of the other lawyers in the General Assembly, responded to the TN Bar Association, testified before committee and before the Judicial Council. THANK YOU to everyone who contacted his or her legislator. We finally received the fruit of our labor and it was worth it all!!
WE NEED YOUR HELP:
As you can see from these legislative updates, Tennessee Eagle Forum offers a unique service to the families of our state and makes a real difference at the Legislature. To continue to do this your financial support is needed. Just this week the annual $400 ‘professional privilege’ fee had to be paid. [It IS a privilege to do what we do, but it also comes with a price!!] There are many other expenses to be met. You can help us close out this legislative session in good shape and prepare for the campaign season ahead by making your check payable to TN Eagle Forum and sending it to 3216 Bluewater Trace, Nashville, TN, 37217 or going to the website, www.tneagleforum.org and clicking on the PayPal button. [NOTE: Donations are not tax-deductible.]
PROTECTING OUR US CONSTITUTION:
HJR 0030 by Hill, Moore
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. For background information, please see these links:
Why the Tennessee Legislature Should Rescind Its Calls For a Federal Constitutional Convention.
Letter from retired Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to Phyllis Schlafly on the dangers of a Federal Constitutional Convention HERE.
STATUS: HJR30 passed the House 65-23-4 and has been sent to Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee. We are getting close to victory and we need EVERYONE to send an email.
Please go HERE and send an email of support to your Senator.
PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP TO VOTE:
SB 0194 by *Bunch , Johnson, Gresham, Kelsey, Beavers, Tracy, Black, Norris ( *HB 0270 by *Watson) Rich, Bass, Evans, Lollar, Maggart, Lynn, Campfield, Carr, Shipley, McCormick, Yokley, Weaver, Fincher, Hill, Bell, Brooks H, Hensley, White, Coley, Brooks K, Halford, Roach, Todd, McManus, Ford , Shepard, Jones S, Moore, Floyd, Coleman, Fitzhugh, Shaw, Bone, Fraley, Matheny, Hackworth, Pruitt, Barker, Lundberg, Ferguson, Dunn, Sontany, Litz, Eldridge, Montgomery, Sargent, Faulkner, Harrison, Haynes, Cobb T, Dean, Maddox, Winningham, Hawk, Marsh, Niceley, Swafford, Dennis, Williams
Lawmakers spent more than two hours debating the measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Dewayne Bunch of Cleveland before approving it 20-12. It is different than the companion bill that passed the House 92-1 last week.
That version would require prospective voters to check a box to affirm they are citizens.
The Senate version did the same before it was amended by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris to require proof of citizenship, which the Collierville Republican said satisfies election officials who want to see more evidence. Read more here.
STATUS: The Senate version will have to return to the House for the House to concur in the Senate amendment.
ENGLISH ONLY DRIVER’S TEST:
*SB 0063 by *Ketron , Bunch, Tracy, Beavers, Gresham, Black HB 0262 by *Watson , Carr, Rich, Shipley, Evans, Lollar, Lundberg
STATUS: The House Budget Subcommittee voted, 12-3, to defer the proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland until December 2010, essentially killing the measure. The companion bill passed the Senate, 22-10, earlier this week.
The proposal would allow individuals legally in the United States to take driver's license tests in one of four languages offered in Tennessee. Those who can't show proper documentation would have to take the test in English. Read more here.
REQUIRING AN INTERLOCK DEVICE FOR CERTAIN DUI OFFENDERS:
*HB 2768 by *Shipley, Cobb T, Weaver, Hill, Lundberg, Carr, Lynn, Watson, Mumpower, West, Bell, Lollar, Casada, Halford, Hensley, Dean, Cobb J, White, Todd, Rich, Eldridge, Johnson P, Maggart, Towns, Campfield, Fraley, Faulkner, Matheny, McManus, Brooks K, Tidwell, Evans, Shepard, Williams, Montgomery, Haynes, Hawk, Harwell, Jones S, Matlock, Johnson C, Brooks H, Dunn, Roach, Sargent, Marsh, Harrison, McDaniel, Coley, Ramsey, Floyd, Dennis, Coleman, Barker, Gilmore, Winningham, McDonald, Yokley, Ford , Harmon(SB 2965 by *Beavers)Black, Faulk, Southerland, Norris, Watson, Tracy, Yager, Gresham, Woodson, Crowe, Burks, Herron
As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.
STATUS: Finally, the bumpy journey for this important legislation is complete. HB 2768 passed the House Floor 95-0 and will now go to the Governor.
PROVE CITIZENSHIP IF ARRESTED:
SB 1141 by *Gresham , Beavers, Tracy, Southerland, Watson, Crowe, Ramsey, Johnson, Ketron *HB 0670 by *Dennis , Rich, Evans, Watson, Carr, Bell, Haynes, McCormick, Coley, Casada, Shipley, Fincher, Campfield, Hensley, Hill, Coleman, Hawk, Eldridge, Swafford, Lynn, Brooks H, Faulkner, Matlock, Halford, Williams
This bill has been amended to require a keeper of a jail to notify "the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations (immigration office)" instead of "the department of homeland security" of prisoners whose citizenship status in this country cannot be determined by the keeper of a jail from documents in the prisoner's possession or from other available documents or if the person is in this country illegally. Under this amendment, the keeper of the jail would send the immigration office a copy of the person's booking records within three business days of the person's arrest.
STATUS: HB 670 passed the House 67-24-4. On Thursday after a lengthy, intense debate with several Senators amending out their counties, the bill was reset on the Senate floor calendar for May 24th. Read more here
WE CAN STAND A LITTLE BIT OF GOOD NEWS:
Tennessee lawmakers working to hammer out the state's spending plan for the upcoming budget year finally have some good news: The state's monthly sales tax collections have grown for the first time in nearly two years.
General fund collections came in at $51 million above expectations in April, which reflect economic activity in the previous month.
Sales taxes, which account for two out of every three tax dollars collected by the state, grew by 5.6 percent in the month. By contrast, sales tax collections through the first nine months of the budget year shrunk by 4.1 percent. Read more here.
”The days dwindle down to a precious few…”. The Senate has only three of the allotted 90 Legislative days remaining; the House has seven. Therefore, the Senate will not hold any floor sessions next week while the Finance Ways and Means Committee hears the various bills, etc. No other Senate Committees will meet. Likewise, only the Finance Committees will meet in the House with floor sessions ‘to be announced’.