Legislative Update, June 6, 2009

June 6, 2009                      
Tennessee General Assembly information
To email legislators, look on the left side of the page, select Legislators then select House Members or Senate Members, or ‘Find My Legislator’.
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).

D-Day was JUNE 6, 19
D-Day landing44. 156,000 troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in the largest invasion force in history.
            Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower issued the order: "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade...The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you...Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely...Let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
           President Franklin Roosevelt stated JUNE 6, 1944: "My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation...I ask you to join with me in prayer: Almighty God, Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization...They will need Thy blessings...Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom." FDR concluded: "Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith to Thee."
               President Reagan's Normandy Speech: Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day 6/6/84

Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) lost her 17-month-old great granddaughter in a drowning accident on this week. Baby drowns in backyard swimming pool
Rep. Les Winningham (D-Huntsville) lost a family member this week. Please lift these families to the Throne of Grace during these difficult days.
After being gone since March 25, it was wonderful to have Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) back at the Capitol this week, looking fit and well after is open-heart surgery. West received an extended standing ovation as he recounted that being a ‘death’s door’ changes your outlook on life. Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland) was back at the Capitol on Wednesday after having gall bladder surgery last Friday.
September 12, 2009
September 12 is the day of Tennessee Eagle Forum’s “On Eagles Wings” biennial state conference in Nashville. We are quickly confirming nationally known speakers on the hot topics of the day for this special event and you will not want to miss it. Click HERE to see the list so far. To learn what others said about the 2007 conference, click HERE
There is a legislative tradition for freshmen lawmakers – a sort of light-hearted ‘hazing’. When their first bill is presented on the House floor, the other legislators will harass the freshman with lots of questions, sometimes completely extraneous, trying the ‘rattle’ the presenter. Freshman Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) was presenting a bill this week when Rep. Ben West sought recognition. When Speaker Williams called on him, he asked Weaver if this was her first bill. She replied that it was not, that is was her third bill, whereupon, West said, since he had been gone, he was going to pretend that it was and proceeded to start the questions that ended with him asking if she could set the bill to music. (For those that don’t know Weaver is a songwriter and very talented singer.) To the surprise of West and the rest of her colleagues, she sang to him, “You’ve got a Friend” and received a well-deserved standing ovation!! 
Memorials, Congress - Urges United States Senate to reject ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
          Finally HRJ 369 was on the House floor Monday evening where after some discussion, it passed 70-20. [By the way, I URGE you to check out the votes on bills you are interested in and if you are happy with the way your legislator voted, let him or know; if you are unhappy, then let him or her know that.]
          The United Nations has no business telling parents how to raise their children.
Family law has always been a 'states rights' issue and a UN treaty should not be overriding our state law. We must not transfer any of our state or national sovereignty. For more information, go HERE. This important proposal will be in Senate Finance Ways and Means on Tuesday where Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) will become the sponsor. 
ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE to send an email of support.
Public Health - As introduced, establishes a new methodology for disposition of family planning funds that disburses funds to public women's health services programs before other providers are funded. SB 470 is in Senate Finance on Tuesday; HB 1756 is in Budget Sub. 
          This extremely important bill is still pending and has run into a lot of opposition. YOUR HELP is needed. The late Sen. Everett Dirksen said, “When they feel the heat, they’ll see the light.” Let’s make it happen!!
ACTION ITEM: Please go HERE to send an email to committee members.
Insurance, Health, Accident - As introduced, exempts utilization review agents who are accredited by National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) from payment of annual fee; authorizes utilization review programs for the mental health and chemical dependency care to comply with either NCQA standards or Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) standards.
          This is a perfectly terrible bill that needs to be stopped in its tracks. It creates a database of your private medical records with questionable guarantees of privacy, contains no ‘opt out’ for your or your physician, contains many terms not defined, and could cost a lot of money.
For more detailed information, go HERE. THIS IS ANOTHER BILL STILL PENDING and needs your involvement. SB 2239 is in Senate Finance this week; HB 2289 is in Budget Subcommittee this week.
ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to send an email of opposition to this legislation.
SPECIAL NOTE: It really was a ‘Kodak Moment’ (too bad I did not have my camera) to see bill sponsor and retired law enforcement officer Curry Todd (R-Collierville) standing at the front of the chamber, surrounded by other legislators who are present or former law enforcement officers: Vince Dean (R-East Ridge), Eddie Bass (D-Prospect), Eric Watson (R-Cleveland), Chad Faulkner (R-Knoxville), Barrett Rich (R-Somerville), and Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville).
Immediately after Todd made the motion to override the Governor’s Veto, Speaker Williams made mention of the quickly developing long list of those who wanted to speak on the issue. He observed that they could be there for ten hours discussing the issue, rehashing the arguments, but that it would not change any votes and if there was anyone wanting to ‘grand stand’, this was not the place. Todd made the closing arguments and the vote was taken.
Tennessee House votes to override governor's veto of guns-in-bars bill
The House overrode the veto on a 69 to 27 vote Wednesday. The bill’s original and final versions had passed there, 70-26 and 66-23, respectively.  Read more here
Senate Overrides Guns in Bars Veto
The state Senate has joined the state House today in overriding the governor veto on HB0962, the so-called “guns-in-restaurants” bill. The vote was 21 to 9 for the override. The original vote for the bill in the Senate was 24-7. Read more here.
It is necessary to note how badly the Governor and the media have misrepresented this bill. If you would like to get the whole truth, go HERE, slide the button on the blue line until the counter is at 50 to see sponsor Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) explain the background of this legislation, what it DOES, and more importantly, what it DOES NOT do. 
On the Senate Floor for the vote was Nicki Goeser. Goesers’ husband, Ben, was shot and killed by Hank Calvin Wise in April in the Karaoke business he managed.  There were about 50 people inside the business when the shooting occurred. Nicki and patrons who watched as the crime occurred were prevented from carrying a weapon in the establishment under current Tennessee law.
Judges and Chancellors - As amended, makes changes in the judicial selection process.
            As you may recall the House unexpectedly added an amendment that removed the ‘reach down’ (details HERE) portion of the legislation. That necessitated it coming back to the Senate on a “message calendar’ for them to either “concur” in the amendment or to ‘non-concur’. It has been on a couple of calendars, but Majority Floor Leader Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has postponed action each time. On Thursday, Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) inquired about the postponements. Norris acknowledged that he and Kyle had talked privately about this and that he would not give all the details but that “we will take the bill up when we take the bill up”. It is now on Monday’s message calendar.
Constitutional Amendments - Adds new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion; states that the people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
            Finally the last action on SJR 127 has been completed for 106th General Assembly. The House put an amendment on the resolution to provide for public notification to go into the newspapers as done traditionally with proposed Constitutional amendments. It was brought back to the Senate for them to concur in that action where it passed  24 to 9. However, it was interesting that nine senators could not even bring themselves to support the proper notification.
Tennessee will tap reserve again
As much as $100M more could be needed to bridge tax shortfall
The state is making another major raid on its savings, signaling that layoffs and other planned cuts may not be enough to solve the state's budget crisis.
Finance officials said Wednesday they might have to take as much as another $100 million out of the state's reserve fund to deal with dismal tax collections in May — on top of the millions they already planned to withdraw to close out this year's books.
Read more here
Schools, Home - As introduced, requires that diplomas issued by home schools be recognized by all state and local governmental entities as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems.
            It is such a pleasure to report that on Monday, June 1, the Governor signed into law this important legislation. Now all home school diplomas will be recognized by state agencies.