Legislative Update, May 22, 2010


May 22, 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).

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People.”
George Washington from ‘”The Patriot Post.”

Virginia Southerland, 81, mother of Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown) died last weekend.
LaShun, wife of Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis) had surgery on Monday. Please remember both of these needs.

  ~~~One more important step toward VICTORY~~~

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

Anticipating the activities of the day, knowing that Sen. Black was out of town, making the vote in committee a little more ‘iffy’, I was so encouraged to open one of my daily devotion books to: Triumphing Over Giants. There are times when it seems like “we are grasshoppers in our own eyes.” I read the Triumphing message attentively. 

“These are the times that try [wo]men’s souls…” was never more true as I arrived at the Capitol early on Tuesday morning where the Budget Subcommittee was scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m.   HJR 30 was finally on the full Finance Committee Calendar, which was scheduled to meet after the subcommittee. Nine o’clock arrived, as did Chairman Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), to announce that committee would not meet until ten. (Now you need to know that the legislature never operates on the ‘clock’ but on what I refer to as ‘legislator time.’)

Finally at about 10:40, the committee convened, then the sparring began. Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) preceded to present his very own budget amendment, aided by Deputy Governor John Morgan (former Comptroller) who clearly pointed out that this was not a proposal from the administration but was from Sen. Kyle. At the end of the presentation no action was taken on Kyle’s proposed amendment, then at 11:30 a.m., they recessed until two.

Shortly after two o’clock, the subcommittee began hearing the proposed amendments filed by their colleagues asking for funding for specific pieces of legislation or projects. This continued until around five o’clock when the subcommittee finally adjourned and the full Finance Committee was convened. Although HJR30 was first on one calendar, at this time of year one never knows which calendar will be brought up first. Two bills taken up, the HJR30 was called.

Republican Leader Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) offered an excellent, succinct explanation of the resolution and the motive behind it. As I held my breath, Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) asked for any questions. Sen. Henry made a comment then McNally asked for further comment as I think I was not breathing at all at the point. No one said anything. When the roll call was complete the vote was 8-1.

Voting aye were: Burchett, Haynes, Henry, Overbey, Norris, McNally, Watson, Woodson
Voting no were: Kyle – 1

STATUS: One more time we need your help. We expect that HJR 30 is on the Senate floor calendar MONDAY (we are number 46). PLEASE, PLEASE go HERE to send your senator an email of support. Help us achieve this last step in total victory!! 

*SB 3880 by *Kyle ( HB 3796 by *Turner M)
Every year a bill is introduced that is referred to as the ‘technical corrections’ bill, originally designed to correct minor errors and clarify vague language in state tax law. However, it can become a vehicle for expensive projects: “Technical Corrections” is Code Name for a Tax Hike”. 

          The amendment that becomes SB 3880 contains language that would allow local governments to expand their control over Internet access, video programming, and even cable TV. Injecting government into broadband is a wasteful and inefficient use of taxpayer funds.

          Local governments lack the requisite experience, marketplace flexibility and constantly evolving understanding of Internet technology to compete in this arena. Click here for an Americans for Prosperity Policy Paper expanding on these issues.
          Tennessee already has first-hand experience with the wasteful and inefficient management of networks that occurs when local governments try to act as broadband providers. Memphis was entangled in a $28 million boondoggle when the books from the Memphis Networx public/private partnership were opened up. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the program was woefully mismanaged and had no financial viability going forward.

This is an all-too familiar tale when it comes to municipal broadband. These programs are always painted as revolutionary when they’re hatched but they invariably die quiet deaths, taking millions of taxpayer dollars with them. We need your help to make sure it doesn’t happen again in Tennessee.
STATUS: This proposal is in Senate Finance this week.
ACTION: Please go HERE to send your Senator an email opposing this section of SB3880.

HJR 1253 by *Carr , Campfield, Dean, Maggart, Lundberg, Matheny, Eldridge, Shipley, Swafford, Casada, Hensley, Johnson C, Weaver, Watson, White, Niceley, Brooks H, Matlock, Ford , Lollar, Dennis, Todd, Floyd, Bell, McManus, Faulkner, Evans, Bass, Hawk, Halford, Brooks K, Lynn, Rich, Cobb J, McDaniel, Roach, Harrison, Montgomery, Fincher
Commends the State of Arizona and its elected officials as it approaches its centennial celebration. STATUS: HJR 1253 was on the Consent Calendar House floor Calendar May 13th. An objection was lodged so it was placed on the regular calendar and reset on Monday’s regular floor calendar. Amazingly, Rep. Mike Turner (D-Memphis) has filed an amendment stripping out the entire text of the proposal inserting instead language ‘honoring’ Hawaii. This resolution is expected to pass, but the debate will probably be very interesting.
SB 0194 by *Bunch , ( *HB 0270 by *Watson)

With numerous co-sponsors in both chambers, you will recall that this legislation passed the Senate 20-12, and the House 92-1.
STATUS: The Senate version of this bill is different from the House version so it was sent back to the House for that body to concur with the Senate action and is scheduled on the House floor Monday evening. In the meantime, the TN Attorney General has stepped into the fray:

Voter citizenship bill would violate federal law, TN attorney general says

Legislation that requires new voters to show proof of citizenship when they register would violate a federal law meant to get more people to vote, the state attorney general said in an opinion released Wednesday. A voter-registration bill that has cleared the Senate would break the so-called Motor Voter Act, a 17-year-old law that requires states to let people register to vote at state agencies and by mail, Attorney General Robert Cooper said.

But the bill does not necessarily violate the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the bedrock federal law aimed at eliminating discrimination at the polls, Cooper's office said.
          ‘The speculation that an administrator of elections might exercise his or her discretion arbitrarily and capriciously without more is not enough to establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the bill as written would be valid," the opinion said.
Read more here. 

SB 2560 by *Black ( *HB 2622 by *Lynn , Maggart, Swafford)
Health Care - As introduced, prohibits the legislature from requiring any person to participate in any health care system or plan.

STATUS: The House Calendar and Rules Committee, which is responsible for setting the House floor agendas, considered Rep. Susan Lynn’s House Bill 2622 this week. Opponents attempted to refer the bill back to the House Health and Human Resources Committee essentially killing for it the year, but the proponents of the bill prevailed and it remained in Calendar and Rules.

          After a lengthy discussion, the legislation was deferred until the next Calendar and Rules Committee meeting. House members have fought all year to enact legislation to counter the federal health care takeover, believing that expanding government programs is rarely an effective solution to complex issues. Further, proponents have argued the federal government’s takeover of healthcare will only prove to balloon the cost of healthcare services to the states
ACTION: Please copy and past the message below to each of these legislators:
rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.harmon@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.turner@capitol.tn.gov,

Dear Rep.__________(fill in the blank)

Please notice this section from the federal health care bill.

SEC. 5000A. 
 individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual
, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered 
under minimum essential coverage for such month.
(1) IN GENERAL.—If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of
 subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013,
 … there is hereby imposed a PENALTY with respect to the individual in the amount
 determined under subsection (c).
(2) INCLUSION WITH RETURN.—Any penalty imposed by this section with respect
 to any month shall be included with a TAXPAYER’S RETURN under chapter 1 for the
 taxable year which includes such month.
It appears to me that the federal health care bill does indeed require individuals
 to buy insurance.I urge you to vote for HB2622.


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 24thRead more here.   Frankly I am a little surprised at the debate over this proposal--it seems a perfectly reasonable action to take when someone is arrested.