Legislative Update, May 29, 2010


May 29, 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).

It is the Soldier
It is the Soldier, not the reporter crosses
Who has given us freedom of the press.  

It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

Marine chaplain Father Dennis Edward O’Brien               MEMORIAL DAY HISTORY

As we mark Memorial Day Weekend, let us never forget that Freedom is not free; it is very ‘expensive’.


On Tuesday, the 8-year-old daughter of Rep. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) was hit by a truck and was life-flighted to Vanderbilt.  Jenna has a broken pelvis, neck fracture; one leg is broken in several places and the other leg in one place. She had a lacerated liver, broken ribs and a punctured lung. She is in ICU where she has undergone surgery on the leg with multiple breaks. There had been concern about brain damage but the encouraging news is that on Friday morning she ‘woke up’ and was interacting with her family. The doctors seem to think that she will make a good recovery, but of course it will be a long, drawn out journey. Please pray for this precious little one and her family. The mother of Rep. David Shepard (D-Dickson) is ill and not doing well. His dad is also in bad health. Rep. Vince Dean (R-East Ridge) was under the weather this week.

Where to begin……THIS was the ‘week that was’!!

Monday, the Senate was scheduled to convene in the Chamber at one o’clock where HJR 30 was number 46 on the floor calendar. The floor session was short lived as they recessed for Finance Ways and Means to meet to debate the various budget bills and all the amendments. After some extended time in committee, the Senate reconvened and worked until about 9:40 p.m. but did not get to HJR 30.

Tuesday was spent waiting…waiting…the Finance Committee met a couple of times… and we waited again as negotiations continued.

Wednesday was more of the same…the committee meeting, taking testimony on various amendments to the budget bills with more periods of waiting.

Thursday morning the Senate floor session was scheduled for ten, finally convening at nearly 10:30 a.m. only to recess for caucus meetings until 11:30, which extended until twelve-thirty. The body took up Sen. Gresham’s bill SB 1141, then recessed so that Finance Ways and Means could meet. The hard, tiring and some times testy, work continued through the afternoon late into the evening. Finally the Committee completed its work on the three budget bills, passed each and went back to the Senate floor at 11:00 p.m. In order to work off the lengthy calendar, the senators took up only bills that they anticipated would not require lengthy debate, so at 11:34 p.m. when HJR 30 finally came up it was rolled until next Wednesday’s floor session.

The huge conflict for the coming week is ‘fishy’!! Among other things, the House seems to be ‘locked down’ on making sure the Speaker Kent William’s very expensive fish hatchery remains in the House bill to the tune of $17million.  'Quibbling Over a Fish Hatchery' Sends Budget Deadlock into Another WeekState budget status: Talking stops, fighting starts. You can’t make this stuff up folks!! Now we will wait and see if the House and the Senate can come to some sort of agreement next Tuesday and Wednesday.

There have been various proposals to provide some financial relief for flood victims. TN flood victims will get property tax break—This proposal will let county property assessors revalue properties damaged by this month's flood, regardless of when owners decide to rebuild. Flood victims may get tax relief –If this proposal stays in the legislation, it would, with proper proof, allow home owners to recoup the sales tax (capped at $2500) on appliances, building supplies and furnishings. 

Republicans are standing firm against the tax increases proposed by Gov. Bredesen.

NOTE: I am very pleased to report that the language reported on last week that would allow local governments to expand their control over Internet access, video programming, and even cable TV was stripped from the ‘technical corrections’ bill. A huge victory for the taxpayer. 

HJR 0030 by Hill, Moore
General Assembly - As introduced, rescinds three specific resolutions from 1977 and any other resolutions Constitutionpassed 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
STATUS:  HJR 30 is 35th on Wednesday’s Senate Floor Calendar.


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
        citizenship An amendment was adopted that rewrites the bill to require the Tennessee peace officer standards and training commission to develop a standardized written procedure for verifying the citizenship status of persons who are arrested, booked, or confined in a county or municipal jail or detention facility and report to the appropriate federal officials those persons who are determined to be in the country illegally or for whom the citizenship status cannot be determined. This amendment requires the keeper of a jail to use such procedure to verify the citizenship status of each arrested, booked, or otherwise confined person and report those persons who are determined to be in the country illegally to the appropriate federal officials. This amendment would not apply to any county or municipality that has entered into and is operating under a memorandum of understating with the U.S. department of homeland security concerning enforcement of federal immigration laws or any county or municipality that is participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Criminal Alien Program (CAP) or the state Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

          This common-sense bill became a bone of contention. It was debated three times on the Senate floor with numerous amendments added. However, when the dust settled, the language above proposed by Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) became the main provision.
STATUS: SB 1141 passed the Senate floor 28-3 and will go back to the House for them to concur in the changes.

*SB 3012 by *Jackson , Bunch, Gresham, Tracy, Ramsey, Black HB 3125 by *Todd , Dennis, Evans, Fincher, West, Eldridge, Faulkner
An amendment rewrites this bill and present law concerning possession of firearms in establishments where alcoholic beverages are sold for on-premises consumption. Under this amendment, it will be a Class A misdemeanor offense for any person to possess a firearm within the confines of an establishment that is open to the public where alcoholic beverages are served for consumption on the premises and such person is consuming any such beverages.
STATUS: On Thursday evening, sponsor Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) made the necessary doug motion to override the Governor’s veto of this bill. Jackson related that he had repeatedly asked the governor and the administration to work with him and to date, he had not received any response. He continued that the veto notice was filled with ‘cliches and conclusions…void of facts, data or statistics’. [At right, Jackson waits the vote.] At the end of his presentation, the vote was
23-10. The House is expected to follow suit next week.
Senate overrides Bredesen's latest 'guns in bars' veto

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.

flagSTATUS: The debate on this resolution was HOT and HEAVY. Go HERE to see the hostilities, scroll down and click on HJR 1253. [I could not help but think if some of the lawmakers got so exercised over this resolution just commending Arizona for protecting their state from illegal immigrants, just wait until next January, when I expect there will be a flurry of bills duplicating what Arizona has passed!! That will be a real fight!!] In the end, it passed 67-27. It has been sent to the senate where Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) will present it on the floor next week. Polls show that 61% of Americans support Arizona's action.


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: HB 2622 was to be heard in Calendar and Rules this week but that committee did not meet. SB 2560 is still Senate Commerce, which is closed. Rep. Lynn has stated that Sen. Black will run the bill if she can get it through the House. However, time is running out to re-open a committee and get something to the Senate floor.

*HJR0704 by *Lynn, *Campfield, *Lundberg, *Todd, *Hensley, *Swafford, *Rich, *Sargent, *Maggart, *Hill, *Evans, *Johnson C, *Faulkner, *Brooks K, *Johnson P, *Eldridge, *Lollar, *Weaver, *Niceley, *Shipley, *Halford, *Carr, *White
Memorials, Congress - Expresses opposition to the institution of new federal review, oversight, or preemption of state health insurance laws, the creation of a federal health insurance exchange or connector, and the creation of a federal health insurance plan (public plan) option.
STATUS: Passed the House 66-29-1; passed Senate Finance 6-1 and is scheduled for the Senate floor on Wednesday.

SB 3699 by *Black , Gresham ( *HB 3495 by *Evans), Shepard, Hensley, Rich, Curtiss, Fincher, Shipley
babyCriminal 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.

STATUS: SB3699 is scheduled for Senate Finance on Tuesday; HB3495 is scheduled in House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday. However, and unfortunately, the $71,300 fiscal note will probably doom this important legislation.