Legislative Update, March 23, 2013

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).

“If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad man to make and administer the laws.”     ~~Noah Webster

Rep. Mike Carter has been a bit under the weather.  Glad to report that Rep. Billy Spivey's mother is continuing to heal well from the colon cancer surgery she had.  Rep. Andy Holt and his wife are expecting their fourth baby any day.  Rep. and Mrs. Tim Wirgau' grand baby should be here by now. The 'grand rush' continues at the Plaza.  Legislators are having difficulty even getting from one committee to another, bills in more than one committee meeting at the same time, etc. It is taking a toll on everyone including those who have to stay longer to complete the day's business and then get ready for the next day. Please continue to pray for wisdom and discernment as very important decisions are being made.

People often ask Mrs. Patray why she is so tired at the end of a day at the Capitol.  The reality is that while we're not doing manual labor, seeing a bill work it's way through sub-committees and then full committees and then before the whole legislature is tiring work to say the least. As Mrs. Patray has conveyed to me, because you are so invested mentally and emotionally into a piece of legislation, by the end of the day you are quite fatigued. Wednesday was no exception. I'm sure that Mrs. Patray has shared the good news that our data gathering bill passed the house sub-committee by one vote. Those two hours in committee were stressful but in the end it was rewarding. Still, there is much to be done and although it is a tiring process, we can count on Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman to give sharp focus on the legislation through to the end.

A large number of Teen Eagles invaded the Plaza this week and had a ball.  They shadowed Senators and House members, getting to go to various committee meetings, listen to the debates, take notes, observe and LEARN. There were lots of groups having their 'day on the hill'  and, of course, there are hundreds of lobbyists moving through the halls, so the teens got to see how all this activity takes place.  Our Teen Eagle Leader, Frances Arthur, did a wonderful job of making all the arrangements with the lawmakers and their staff. From the reports I have had from both the legislators and the teens, it was a very positive experience for everyone.  I think that some of the teens even 'caught the political bug'!!  A few of the teens were able to stay to the very end of the a very long day and saw Rep. Womick present his bill and get it out of the subcommittee.

SB 1325 by *Ketron ( HB 1326 by *Womick)

NOTE:  As amended, SB1325-HB1326 simply requires private federal contractors that voluntarily sponsor and resettle refugees in Tennessee to provide certain data that they have or can obtain, to the legislature’s fiscal review committee, which will allow the state to determine the cost impact on some of Tennessee’s public services.  Tennessee legislators have a fiduciary duty to know how public money is being utilized and this bill will assist them in executing that duty to see what the federal program costs the state of Tennessee.
The bill asks for data about how many clients the agency has enrolled in TennCare and how many students they have helped enroll in public schools who receive English Language Learner services which are paid for primarily by the state and local governments.

Rep. Rick Womick and our attorney, Joanne Bregman, did an excellent job presenting this proposal.
As a "bona fide citizen" of TN (you will have to watch the video to understand) you really owe it to yourself to watch the committee interaction.  Click HERE, then on left side of screen, scroll down and click on HB1326. I PROMISE, you will be astounded!!
HB1326 barely survived the House State Government Subcommittee on a 2-1-2 vote.  It DOES NOT get any closer than that. Reps. voting aye were: Butt, Evans -- 2. Reps. voting no were: Shaw -- 1. Reps. present and not voting were: Sanderson, Williams K -- 2.
This clearly shows the INTENSE opposition we are encountering.  That is why we must have ALL HANDS ON DECK for this bill.
HB1326 is now in the House State Government Committee and these members need to hear from you in a polite and respectful manner.  Urge them to support this important legislation:  rep.ryan.haynes@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.sanderson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curry.todd@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kent.williams@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eric.watson@capitol.tn.gov.
SB1325 is scheduled in Senate State and Local Committee on Tuesday, March 26th, at 10:30.
ACTION: Committee members need to know that you support this legislation.  As always be
polite and respectful: sen.ken.yager@capitol.tn.govsen.mark.norris@capitol.tn.gov, and sen.reginald.tate@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 1158 by *Beavers ( HB 0970 by *Matheny)
General Assembly - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Balance of Powers Act."
NOTE:  The text of this proposal has been COMPLETELY rewritten from what is posted on the legislative website. As it was amended in committee, the purpose for the legislation is to serve as a resource of impartial and objective review regarding questionable federal actions that impact the rights and privileges of Tennesseans;  to assist elected state representatives in fulfilling their oath to support the Constitution; to support the constitutional principles of the citizens’ right to self-governance;  and to support the foundational system of governmental checks and balances. This is a VERY important effort to provide a method by which questionable federal law, mandate or executive order affecting the rights of Tennesseans, can be reviewed.

STATUS:  HB970 was in House State Subcommittee on Wednesday where, because of the good job Rep. Judd Matheny did presenting the legislation, it was voted out 4-1. Reps. voting aye were: Butt, Evans, Sanderson, Williams K -- 4. Reps. voting no were: Shaw -- 1
ACTION:  HB970 is also in the State Government Committee.  Please contact these members and urge them to support this legislation which will enable the lawmakers the carry out their responsibilities and to fulfill their oath to the Constitution: rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.govrep.ryan.haynes@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curry.todd@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eric.watson@capitol.tn.gov.

SB 0804 by *Kelsey ( HB 0937 by *Durham)
TennCare - As introduced, prohibits Tennessee from participating in any Medicaid expansion authorized under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  Tennessee should block TennCare expansion
            Action on this legislation has been postponed a number of times, but it remains on the respective committee calendars and the delays give us more time to make our support for this bill known.

Gov. Bill Haslam against bill to block TennCare expansion

Haslam Looking to AR for TN Medicaid Expansion Ideas

STATUS:  SB804 is in Senate Commerce Committee.  Members can be found HERE.
STATUS: HB937 is scheduled in House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. Members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  Please, please go to THIS LINK  to automatically connect with your Senator and House member to send him/her a message of support and then contact the respective committee members and urge each to SUPPORT this important bill.

SB 0283 by *Ketron ( HB 0373 by *Womick)
Public Utilities - As introduced, establishes standards for electric and natural gas utilities for smart meter gateway devices.
STATUS: This very important bill (HB373) was in the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee on Tuesday.
Unfortunately it failed on a voice vote with Curtiss, Todd, Wirgau requesting to be recorded as voting Yes.  However, It is clear that the effort to resist the use of Smart Meters in Tennessee will continue because of all the grassroots support the issue enjoys.

SB 0199 by *Norris ( HB 0193 by *McCormick)
Taxes, Sales - As introduced, lowers the state sales tax on food and food ingredients for human consumption from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.
A bill which seeks to lower the sales tax on groceries from 5.25% to a flat 5.00% passed out of the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee this week with unanimous support from lawmakers. This bill is part of Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative agenda for the year, will take effect beginning July 1, 2013.
This year’s legislation builds on the success of a law adopted by the legislature in 2012 that lowered the sales tax on food from 5.5% to 5.25%. In total, the sales tax reduction this year will provide Tennessee taxpayers with over $25 million in tax relief.  It is expected to  pass easily.

Jobs – Tennessee has created nearly 80,000 new jobs since 2011, according to Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Haggerty. The Commissioner told committee members his department had held approximately 6,000 meetings with companies looking to locate or expand jobs here and attended over 12,000 meetings with community leaders over the past two years. Thanks to increased legislative efforts by lawmakers to bring new and better paying jobs to the state, Tennessee was recently ranked first in the Southeast in new manufacturing jobs created in 2012.