Legislative Update, March 20, 2010

March 20, 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).

“A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is ALWAYS a virtue. But moderation in principle is ALWAYS a vice.” Thomas Paine

In a skiing accident last weekend, Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) tore her ACL. Please pray for healing. Occasionally I check with his assistant to see how Rep. (Lt. Col.) John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) is doing in Iraq. She reports that so far he is doing well.

As we anticipate the health care vote on Sunday, I think of what Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country.” This bill will be the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, raises taxes, and contains many other objectional provisions. Please take a minute to watch this brief spectacular video HERE that explains where we are with the health care bill, then I urge you to pray God will raise up men and women of principle and valor who will firmly oppose this legislation. 

SB 3498 by *Beavers ( *HB 3433 by *Bell)
Health Care - As introduced, enacts "Tennessee Health Freedom Act."
As amended, This bill provides that it is the public policy of this state that every person within this state is and will be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty, and this bill provides that with this bill the state is exercising its sovereign power to declare this public policy. It also states that it is the duty of the attorney general and reporter to seek injunctive and any other appropriate relief as expeditiously as possible to preserve the rights and property of the residents of this state, and to defend as necessary this state, its officials, employees and agents in the event that any law or regulation violating the public policy set forth in this bill is enacted by any government, subdivision or agency thereof.

STATUS: SB 3498 passed the Senate 26-1-5 on February 17th. HB 3433 has been held up in the Industrial Impact Committee where it is on the calendar Wednesday.

ACTION: In view of what is transpiring in Washington, this bill deserves our full support. Please email these committee members and URGE them to do their duty in supporting states’ rights and to provide some protection to Tennesseans: rep.charles.curtiss@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.roach@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joanne.favors@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.ferguson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.mccord@capitol.tn.gov, spk.eme.jimmy.naifeh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.shepard@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.towns@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 3589 by *Ketron ( *HB 3300 by *McCormick)
Judgments - As introduced, specifies three reasons why a foreign judgment would not be conclusive, and further states that a foreign defamation judgment shall not be recognized if the defamation law of the foreign court adjudicating the case provided less protection for freedom of speech and press than the United States and Tennessee constitutions.
          This is one of our most important bills for the legislative session. It authorizes Tennessee courts to not recognize a foreign defamation judgment unless the court sitting in Tennessee before which the matter is brought first determines that the defamation law applied in the foreign court's adjudication provided at least as much protection for freedom of speech and press in that case as would be provided by the constitutions of the United States and Tennessee. We MUST protect the Free Speech rights of our citizens.

STATUS: Great news – HB 3300 was voted out of the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and out of Calendar and Rules on Thursday. It is scheduled on the House Floor, Thursday, March 25. SB 3589 will be in Senate Judiciary April 14th.
ACTION: Please go HERE and urge your House member to support this important bill.

*SB 3740 by *Bunch ( HB 3768 by *Dennis) 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.
          This bill provides, subject to provisions of superseding federal treaties, that any otherwise enforceable contract that incorporates any substantive or procedural law, legal code or legal system of another state, foreign jurisdiction or foreign country that would violate rights and privileges granted under the United States or Tennessee Constitution is declared to be against public policy of this state and is unenforceable in this state.
          With the increasing globalization and interactions with foreign legal systems, we are very excited about this legislation. It will offer Tennesseans some protections from legal pluralism when fundamental constitutional liberties are involved.
STATUS: SB3740 is supposed to be in Senate Judiciary in Tuesday. HB 3768 is in the Civil Practice Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION: Please go HERE to send emails of support for this important.

HB 2059 by *Lynn ( *SB 0153 by *Ketron)
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, classifies as a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine only, the unauthorized implantation of an electronic identification and/or tracking device or mark placed on any human being.

STATUS: I am very sad to report that after weeks of working diligently with all the interested parties on this very important bill, it died on a tie vote with one abstention in House Judiciary on Tuesday. I am committed to bringing this bill back next year.
Voting aye were: Camper, Matheny, Sontany, Stewart, Watson -- 5.
Voting no were: Eddie Bass (D-Prospect), Kent Coleman (D-Murfreesboro), Vance Dennis (R-Savannah), Henry Fincher (D-Crossville), Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) -- 5.

Representative present and not voting were: Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) -- 1.

*SB 2511 by *Marrero B ( HB 2562 by *Richardson)
Drugs - As introduced, enacts the "Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act."
          From the US Department of Justice: Marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug that poses significant health threats to users. Marijuana has no medical value that can't be met more effectively by legal drugs. Marijuana users are far more likely to use other drugs like cocaine and heroin than non-marijuana users. Drug legalizers use "medical marijuana" as red herring in effort to advocate broader legalization of drug use. Read more here.
STATUS: HB2562 is in House Health and Human Services on Tuesday.
ACTION: Please contact committee members HERE and urge them to oppose this legislation.

SB 3812 by *Johnson ( *HB 3301 by *Lynn , Evans, Matlock, Lundberg, Hill, Watson, Niceley, Johnson C, Ford , Casada, Halford, Swafford, Dunn, Dean, Bell, Carr, Weaver, White, Maggart, Hensley, Bass, Curtiss, Brooks K, Campfield)
Abortion - As introduced, enacts the "Freedom from Coercion Act."

          This is such an important bill -- obviously no girl or woman should be forced or coerced to have an abortion against her will. This bill would require abortion facilities to prominently post no-coercion policies; impose penalties against facilities, which do not comply; reassure vulnerable women and girls that help and support is available and provide for damages against any person coercing an unwanted abortion. This proposal has been amended to clarify some questions that were raised and it is now ready to move forward.
STATUS: SB3812 is in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday afternoon. HB 3301 is in House Health and Human Resources on Tuesday morning.

ACTION: Go HERE to see Senate Judiciary Committee members. If your Senator is on the Committee and there is any doubt about how he or she would vote, click on their name and send an email of support. Go HERE and if you Representative is on the committee and you don’t KNOW how he or she will vote, click on their name and send an email of support.

*SB 0150 by *Ketron ( HB 0639 by *Maggart)
Election Laws - As introduced, requires a voter to present qualified photographic identification before voting; voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
STATUS: As amended, SB 150 passed the State Senate last year
. HB 639 is in House Elections Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION: Please email these members and urge them to support this common-sense bill:
rep.eddie.yokley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.moore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harry.tindell@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 2965 by *Beavers ( *HB 2768 by *Shipley)
DUI/DWI Offenses - As introduced, requires certain DUI offenders to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.
STATUS: SB 2965 is in Senate Finance; HB 2768 is in House Budget Subcommittee. 

SB 3699 by *Black ( *HB 3495 by *Evans)
Criminal 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: HB 3495 is now in House Budget Subcommittee; SB 3699 is assigned to Senate Judiciary.

*SB 2392 by *Jackson ( HB 2693 by *Shepard)
Capital Punishment - As introduced, adds murder committed against a pregnant woman as an aggravating factor for purposes of imposing death sentence in first degree murder cases.
STATUS: SB 2396 passed Senate Judiciary and will be in Finance Ways and Means. HB 2693 passed Judiciary and is assigned to House Budget Subcommittee.

SB 2753 by *Johnson ( *HB 2685 by *Hill)
Employees, Employers - As introduced, authorizes employers to require English be spoken in the workplace if necessary to conduct the employer's business.
STATUS: SB 2753 is in Senate Commerce this week. HB 2685 is in House Calendar and Rules. 

SB 3189 by *Kelsey ( *HB 3286 by *Casada)

Vital Records – As introduced, establishes a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.

            This legislation calls for the state to acknowledge the birth of a stillborn infant by issuing a birth certificate if the parents request one.  “This is to acknowledge for basically psychological reasons, you know, and grieving and that sort of thing,” said Beth Barnett of Cordova.  “But it’s also like a kick from the state when you find out you’re going to walk out of the hospital with almost nothing; and then you find out that the state doesn’t even recognize that you even gave birth, period.” Barnett said present law calls for a birth certificate if the infant lives for at least one minute.  If they do not, there is only a fetal death report, which is for research gathering purposes.  The legislation, calls for issuance of a birth certificate, upon the request of parents for stillborn infants if they are 20 weeks or more gestation or 350 grams.

STATUS: SB 3189 is on the Senate floor Wednesday; HB 3286 is in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday.