Legislative Update, February 26, 2011

February 26, 2011              
Tennessee General Assembly information, click
HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going
HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

On Monday, my husband and I will celebrate our 52nd Anniversary. I want to ‘publicly’ thank Ron for the encouragement and support he has provided through over 35 years of political activism. In more recent years that has included many hours away from home and many missed meals when I didn’t make it home from the Capitol in time to fix supper.
We are now getting deep into the legislative session with many significant pieces of legislation in motion and tensions are rising. The decisions made and the votes cast will have great impact on our daily lives. Please pray that the lawmakers will have great courage, wisdom, and insight as they debate each proposal. 
The Tennessean reporter challenged the accuracy of one of the comments made in Thursday’s post about the“Material Support” legislation. Subscribers know that we go to great lengths to be FAIR and ACCURATE with our newsletters and in that spirit we are happy to clarify the time line. 
          Before I arrived home from the Capitol on Tuesday, the Tennessean had put on their website the
first article about SB1028. It was later in the evening when the reporter called and I verified that SB1028 was our bill and that a Constitutional expert had been involved in the drafting the bill, end of conversation. So that statement about not being contacted was about the first article, not the expanded one that ran the next day. In the original post, I linked the second article and not the first. I am very happy to set the record straight.
*SB 0016 by *Ketron ( HB 0007 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: Pleased to report that after a lively debate and the defeat of a number of amendments, SB 16 passed the Senate floor 21-11:
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Campfield, Crowe, Faulk, Gresham, Haile, Henry, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, McNally, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Woodson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 21.
Senators voting no were: Barnes, Berke, Burks, Finney L, Ford, Harper, Haynes, Herron, Marrero, Stewart, Tate -- 11.
HB 7 will be in the State and Local Subcommittee on Wednesday
ACTION: Please contact these members and urge them to support this important, common sense bill.  
rep.tommie.brown@capitol.tn.gov, rep.larry.miller@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.turner@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.kent.williams@capitol.tn.gov.

*SB 0102 by *Gresham ( HB 0565 by *Hensley)
As introduced, changes the method of selection of trustees of TCRS representing teachers and retired teachers from election by the representative assemblies of the Tennessee Education Association and the Tennessee Retired Teachers Association respectively to appointment by the speakers of the senate and the house.
STATUS: After a lively conversation and opposition from Jerry Winters, lobbyist for the TEA, SB 102 passed Senate Education 6-3;
Senators voting aye were: Crowe, Gresham, Kelsey, Summerville, Tracy, Woodson -- 6.
Senators voting no were: Berke, Burks, Tate – 3
HB 565 has not yet been scheduled in the House.
SB 102 is on the Senate floor on February 28 where it is expected to pass.

SJR 0023 by *Beavers
Attorney General and Reporter - Proposes a constitutional amendment to provide for the popular election of the attorney general and reporter for the state.
STATUSSJR 23 was heard in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday where it passed 5-6.
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Campfield, Kelsey, Yager -- 5.
Senators voting no were: Barnes, Ford, Marrero, Overbey -- 4.
It will be in Senate Finance on Tuesday. 
ACTION: Please contact these Senators and urge them to support this legislation.
sen.lowe.finney@capitol.tn.gov, sen.joe.haynes@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jim.kyle@capitol.tn.gov, sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov, sen.douglas.henry@capitol.tn.gov.

*SB 0079 by *Beavers ( HB 0115 by *Weaver)
As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act."
This bill prohibits the state government from interfering with a citizen's right to purchase health insurance or with a citizen's right to refuse to purchase health insurance. This bill declares any law passed in violation of the policy expressed in this bill to be void ab initio. This bill prohibits any public official, employee, or agent of this state or any of its political subdivisions from acting to impose any penalty in Tennessee that violates the public policy set forth in this bill.
STATUS: On Wednesday, SB 79 passed the Senate floor 21-10-1.
Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Campfield, Crowe, Faulk, Finney L, Gresham, Haile, Henry, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, McNally, Overbey, Southerland, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Woodson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 21.
Senators voting no were: Barnes, Berke, Burks, Ford, Harper, Haynes, Herron, Marrero, Stewart, Tate -- 10.
Senators present and not voting were: Kyle -- 1.
Also on Wednesday, HB 115 passed the House Commerce Committee 8-1-3.
Representatives voting aye were: Curtiss, Haynes, Lundberg, Marsh, McManus, Roach, Sargent, Williams K -- 8.
Representatives voting no were: Favors -- 1.
Representatives present and not voting were: Harmon, Pitts, Shepard -- 3.
HB 115 will be in full House Commerce on Tuesday, March 1.
ACTION: Please contact these members and urge the to support this legislation.
rep.joanne.favors@capitol.tn.gov, rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ga.hardaway@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.harmon@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.shepard@capitol.tn.gov,
rep.janis.sontany@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.towns@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 0893 by *Watson ( *HB 0368 by *Dunn)
Teachers, Principals and School Personnel - As introduced, protects a teacher from discipline for teaching scientific subjects in an objective manner.
This bill prohibits the state board of education and any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or principal or administrator from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warning. This bill also requires such persons and entities to endeavor to:
(1) Create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues; and
(2) Assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.
STATUS: HB 368 was heard in House Education Subcommittee and, as you might imagine, generated an interesting debate. You can watch it
HERE, move the slide to 23:30. [You will especially want to hear Rep. Dunn’s report on the comments of a high school student at 48:30.] Naturally, ACLU’s Hedy Weinberg testified against the bill bringing up the famous Scopes trial; TEA lobbyist opposed it –surprise, surprise. Rep. Jimmy Naifeh and Rep. Lois DeBerry want to bring in other scientists to testify.  Dr. Robin Zimmer, from Knoxville, testified in favor for the bill pointing out that the US is 31st in the world in science education and that this bill would improve science education. The bill was rolled until March 2nd.
ACTION: Please contact these members and urge them to support this bill that would support real academic freedom in the science classroom.
rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.lois.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, spk.eme.jimmy.naifeh@capitol.tn.gov, and rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov.

Lawmaker Questions Appropriateness of Justices Lobbying Legislators
       Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said Monday he believes it would be improper for members of the Tennessee Supreme Court to lobby the Legislature against efforts to move the state toward the election of Supreme Court judges.
, Bell has a meeting scheduled with Chief Justice Cornelia Clark on the issue later this week.
      Clark told a group of journalists last week that efforts in the legislature to pull back from the state’s retention election system are misguided, and she said she has been
involved in discussions with lawmakers voicing her objection to the legislation.
     Bell has three bills dealing with judicial elections. He wants to see the state revert to where it was before the
Tennessee Plan, which currently seats judges, was implemented. 
Read more here.

In Bill Numbers, Sen. Ketron is TN's Leading Legislator
On average, the 99 members of the state House have filed about 23 bills this year while the 33 senators average about 63 each.
       But there are some well above average and some well below, numerically speaking, in filings of 2,124 bills in the House and 2,082 in the Senate before last week's deadline for introductions.
           Of the more than 2,100 bills filed in this year's General Assembly, Sen. Bill Ketron State legislators have proposed more than 2,000 bills for the 107th General Assembly with introductions by individual lawmakers ranging from zero to 152, according to a review of legislation following passage of last week's deadline or bill introductions.
Read more here.

A List of All Bills in the Haslam Legislative Package
There follows a list of legislation in Gov. Bill Haslam's package of proposals presented to the General Assembly, using House bill numbers and the caption from the Legislature's website.
To read the text as posted on the website (it's in pdf), click on the bill number. A few of the measures, including the one on lottery scholarships, have been filed as 'caption bills' - basically a placeholder -- that will be amended later to provide the real substance.
See list HERE.