Legislative Update, March 28, 2009

LEGISLATIVE ACTION  ALERT                   

March 28, 2009                                                                           
Tennessee General Assembly information here.

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).

If the next century does not find us a great nation...it will be because those who represent the...morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."                                                                                                      President James Garfield , July 1876


Rep. Ben West (D-Nashville) suffered a heart attack on Wednesday and had open-heart surgery on Thursday. Apparently he came through the surgery with no appreciable damage to his heart. Please keep him in your prayers. Also continue to remember Speaker Pro-Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis). Both of Speaker Kent Williams parents continue to have health problems.   Please add to your prayer the passage of SJR 127 and the Mental Health Screening bill.



Tuesday is March 31st. I have my red envelope ready, do you?

Eagle Forum is excited about the Red Envelope Project and how fast the word is spreading about this simple way to hold President Obama accountable to his own words: "Responsibility begins with conception." Address the envelope to President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20500. On the back write:
This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception”.

*SB 0850 by *Black, Burks, Gresham, Beavers, Ketron, Crowe, McNally, Burchett, Tracy, Ramsey, Yager, Southerland, Stanley, Bunch, Norris, Johnson, Faulk, Watson
HB 1552 by *Harwell , Campfield, Bell, Brooks K, Shipley, Maggart, Lundberg, Matheny, Eldridge, Montgomery, Lynn, Hawk, Swafford, Cobb J, Hensley, Dennis, McCormick, Rowland, Harrison, Evans, Floyd, Tidwell, Dean, Hill, West, DeBerry J, Weaver, Dunn, Lollar, Johnson C, Brooks H, Matlock, Coley, Sargent, Kernell, Niceley, Rich

As introduced, places restrictions on universal mental health testing, or psychiatric or socioemotional screening of juveniles; requires certain consent by a juvenile's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or caregiver before such testing can occur.

UPDATE: I am just thrilled to report that SB 850 passed the State Senate 31-0 on Monday evening on the Consent Calendar!!

ACTION ITEM: It will be in a House subcommittee on Tuesday. PLEASE go HERE to send a email of support to your State Representative. This just HAS to be the year that we are finally successful in protecting the rights of parents to make health care decisions for their children.

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.

UPDATE: As you probably know by now, SJR 127 passed the Senate Floor Monday 24-8. HOORAY!! It has now been transmitted to the House and is expected to be in the Public Health Subcommittee on April 7th

ACTION ITEM: NOW is the time to contact your State Representative and urge him or her to vote YES on SJR 127. Go HERE to send an email.

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 except in cases involving rape, incest, or health of the mother.

          Rep. Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville) presented this proposal that would not only put into the State Constitution exceptions for abortions, but also put into that document the funding for abortions. (Even many pro-choice people don’t support taxpayer dollars going to fund abortions.) He tried mightily to defend his proposal but, ‘felt the cold wind blowing’. In closing he quipped that he was glad he could bring everyone (pro-choice and pro-life) together as the entire committee voted against HJR 61. Representatives voting no were: Cobb C, Cobb J, Curtiss, Dennis, Hensley, Jones S, Maggart, Richardson


As introduced, creates an additional class of licenses allowing the sale of wine at certain retail food stores; requires person purchasing wine at certain retail food stores to present photo identification.

It appears that the opponents of expanding the availability of alcohol are finally making their collective voices heard. ‘Wine is not Food” stickers were all over Legislative Plaza on Tuesday. They filled the room for the Senate State and Local Government Committee where SB 120 the last bill on the Calendar. The committee ran out of time just before getting to this proposal, much to the frustration to the audience. It was postponed until the last calendar.

Even though HB 1158 was not on the calendar, the House State and Local Government held a well-attended hearing. You can go HERE to view the hearing and move the blue slide over to 28:10. 

Grocery wine sales could generate $27 million

“The Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee found that allowing wine sales in grocery stores would generate more than $16 million for the state and $11 million for local governments.”

          This article makes my case – if there is going to be this much more revenue, then a lot more people will be consuming more alcohol with all its attending problems.

ACTION ITEM: Go HERE to make your voice heard.

Adoption - As introduced, enacts the "Embryo Donation and Adoption Act of 2009."

There are many frozen embryos left over from in vitro fertilization procedures awaiting their fate.   They can remain frozen, they can become a commodity and be destroyed for research, or they can be adopted, and become a ‘Snowflake Baby’.

If you are unfamiliar with this term, you can find more information HERE.

The National Embryo Donation Center, located in Knoxville, TN is the nation’s largest provider of embryo donation and adoption services, coordinating all aspects of this process for both donors and recipients. The NEDC is a leader in embryo adoption/donation and nationally known for a higher than average success rate. The NEDC is unique in the world in its organization and provision of services; therefore, receiving international recognition for embryo donation, as well as recipient and donor couples from around the U.S. 

Currently, there are no laws in Tennessee, which address this increasingly common reproductive procedure.

Without such laws, due to the growing number of couples participating in this process, there is an increasing chance of litigation arising from donors or recipients.

ACTION ITEM: What a wonderful opportunity to give life. SB 2136 is in Senate Judiciary on Wednesday; HB 2159 is in the Family Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Go HERE to send an email of support. 

Religion and Religious Organizations - As introduced, prohibits a government entity from substantially burdening a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates the application of the burden is essential to further a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

          In a culture that is continually trying to restrict our religious freedoms, this excellent bill introduced by Family Action Council of Tennessee endeavors to provide much needed protection.  For background information, go HERE.

ACTION ITEM: SB 1283 is in Senate Judiciary on Wednesday, HR 1598 is in House Civil Practice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Please go HERE to send an email of support.

Education, Curriculum - As introduced, prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8

Are your students using BrainPOP? When Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) presented this bill in the K-12 Subcommittee, he referenced BrainPOP. This is definitely something parents need to know about. This legislation was sent to the State Board of Education for them to make a report on this and other bills that address curriculum issues.

Dad’s complaint ends home access to online text for kids.    "I believe the sexual stuff is totally inappropriate" for younger children, Mahathy stated in an e-mail…Mahathy said BrainPOP also contains information about AIDS, gay and lesbian sex, and various religions, including Wicca. That nature-based religion has been linked to witchcraft…. The school system has had the subscription service for three years, and millions of students nationwide have accessed it” Green said.

BrainPOP Fact Sheet, BrainPOP Order Form for Tennessee

General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Urges Congress to enact Employee Free Choice Act.

Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) had a resolution that would urge Congress to pass the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, better known as the ‘Forced Choice’ Act. This federal legislation would subvert the secret ballot and require union arbitration with in a set number of days. Fortunately it failed on a tie vote.

Representatives voting aye were: Jones S, McDonald, Moore -- 3.
Representatives voting no were: Bell, Campfield, Kelsey -- 3.


Volunteers from across the state are asking legislators Thursday to protect state pre-kindergarten education funding. Mobilized by groups including the Tennessee Alliance for Early Education, Tennessee Stand for Children and United Ways of Tennessee, about 100 people are at the state capitol today to ask for commitments that Gov. Phil Bredesen's proposed budget for pre-kindergarten education will be preserved. Read more here

To learn about the lack of preschool results, go HERE

Friend of Eagle Forum and former State Rep. Tom DuBois of Columbia was unanimously elected to a seat on the State Election Commission last Monday evening during the joint House-Senate session before Gov. Bredesen’s budget address. Republican DuBois, who lost to Democrat Ty Cobb last November, succeeds former Rep. Mark Goins, who is now the state coordinator of elections.
Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
I heard Steven Malloy interviewed on the radio recently and this sounds like a ‘must read’ book.