Legislative Update, April 13, 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).


Unfortunately, Rep. Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) has suffered a recurrence of pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment.  She was first diagnosed in 2009. Please keep her in your prayers.  Representatives Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) lost their grandfather the end of last week. Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) last his father-in-law and Rep. Andy Farmer (R-Sevierville) lost his grandmother recently. The daughter of Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) is recovering from a car accident.  Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City) is still recovering from his broken rips.
For your PRAISE list:  Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) was back at the Plaza this week.

When the session at the Capitol winds down that also means that things seem to wind up at the same time. Indeed the last few weeks are just like the last few days before Christmas. Everyone is trying to meet the planned finish date, but this means that both the staff and the legislators are stretched pretty thin. But despite all of the rush, I think that this year's session has been productive. It's hard for me to believe that my weekly visits to the Capitol with Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman are almost over. I will always cherish these times which have taught me much about men and their governments.

This comes under the heading of 'what goes around, comes around'!  Rep. Matthew Hill, who has been the 'designated hazer' of freshman legislators presenting their first bill this session,  had is first bill "in the well" of this session on the floor Thursday. So Rep. John Lundberg and brother, Rep. Timothy Hill took advantage and did a little hazing of their own!! Really funny -- you can go HERE, scroll down to HB687 on left side of page and click on it to see the brief exchanges.

SB 0796 by *Beavers ( HB 0591 by *Van Huss) Search & Seizure - As introduced, enacts the "Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act."
STATUS:  HB591 passed the House 91-0; SB796 passed the Senate 32-0.

The senate will have to approve a amendment the House put on, then it will go to the governor.
This was Rep. Micah Van Huss' bill on the floor and he endured the traditional hazing from Rep. Matthew Hill.  Hill mentioned that fact the Micah was a Marine sniper who worked with drones while recently serving with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I know that drones are a very effective tool in fighting against the bad guys and I do not want them to be a very effective tool in infringing on the personal liberties of my constituents and Tennessee citizens," he said.  What a 'perfect first bill' for him!! Micah received sincere applause and a standing ovation both for his outstanding service to his country and for this legislation.

House, Senate Approve Drone Surveillance Bill
The House and Senate both unanimously approved Thursday a bill that sets rules Tennessee law enforcement agencies' use of unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft, better known as drones.
As approved by the Senate, the bill (SB796) says that drones can only be used to search for a fugitive or a missing person, in monitoring a hostage situation or when a judge issues a search warrant authorizing them. Any information gathered otherwise by a drone cannot be used in court and must be destroyed within 24 hours, the bill says.
The House added an amendment saying they can also be used "to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations." In debate, crowds and traffic during University of Tennessee football games was cited as an example of where drone monitoring might be desirable. Read more here.

SB 0279 by *Watson ( HB 0475 by *Carter) Annexation - As introduced, requires, prior to a municipality annexing within its urban growth boundary, the approval of a majority vote of qualified voters in the territory proposed for annexation.
STATUS:  After much very hard work by the sponsor and a lot of grassroots involvement, HB475 was voted out of House Finance Ways and Means Thursday afternoon, 13-0-1. The bill originally required that cities wishing to annex new territory must first hold a referendum for people living in the affected area. Under an amendment, that has been changed to a moratorium on all annexations through June 30, 2015, so officials can do a comprehensive study on the state of annexation in Tennessee and the impacts of the state’s 15-year-old urban growth law.
However, SB279 hit a snag in the Senate, Anti-annexation bill delayed in Tennessee Senate, and the final vote was postponed until Monday.
You can find your state senator HERE to let him or her know that you support this legislation.

SB 0108 by *Haile ( HB 0009 by *Lamberth)
Public Records - As introduced, makes confidential and not open for public inspection all information contained in and pertaining to a handgun carry permit application or renewal application and the status of a handgun carry permit.
STATUS: SB108 Passed the Senate 27-2-1; HB9 passed the House 84-10-1.

Bill Closing Gun Permit Records Goes to Governor
The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday closing public and media access to Tennessee's handgun-carry permit records in most cases, making confidential the identities of nearly 400,000 Tennesseans licensed to go armed in public.
The House approved it 84-10 last month and the Senate followed suit on a 27-2 vote. Senators added an amendment providing limited circumstances when the public may ask if a specific individual who has some brush with the law has a permit, which sends the bill back to the House for concurrence with the amendment only. Approval there is expected, possibly Thursday. It then goes to the governor, who is expected to allow it to become law.
"This is a bill that protects the handgun permit carriers. It also protects the non-handgun permit carriers," the sponsor, Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, told his colleagues. "What we're doing here is prevent the publication of carry permit holders in a news media or on the Internet where that their name and address is put on a map, and that allows those that would come in and steal guns to know where those guns are. Read more here.

SJR 0001 by *Kelsey 
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution to explicitly prohibit any state or local taxation of payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income.
STATUS:  On February 14th, SJR1 passed the State Senate 27-4, then moved on to the House. After winding its way through the more extensive House process under Rep. Glen Casada's guidance, it was on the floor on April 8th, when the House concurred with a vote of  80-8-1.  It has been signed by both speakers and the proposed Constitutional Amendment will be on the ballot in November 2014.

TN House Action Puts State Income Tax Ban Before Voters
The House gave final approval Monday to a proposed constitutional amendment to ban a state income tax in Tennessee, which means the measure will go before the voters next year.
The chamber voted 88-8 in favor of the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Glen Casada.
Casada said he already believes an income tax is banned under the state constitution, but the amendment will give voters a  voice on “clarifying and making it even more clear that the income tax is unconstitutional.”
The vote completes a lengthy process for constitutional amendments, which must pass both chambers in consecutive General Assemblies before they can go before the voters in the same year a governor’s election is held.
The measure would also ban payroll taxes by the state or local governments.
“I think taxing earned income is a terrible public policy,” Casada said. “It runs off business and it’s a disincentive to produce.”

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.
STATUS:  SB804 has been amended to provide that the Governor will not obligate Tennessee in any way to the expansion of medicaid unless authorized by the General Assembly.
ACTION: It is in Senate Finance Monday.  Members can be found HERE.  Please urge them to support this amended bill.

SB 0196 by *Norris ( HB 0190 by *McCormick)
School Vouchers - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act."
STATUS:  Bill pulled by sponsors

Haslam's Voucher Plan Scrapped
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has axed his own school-vouchers proposal for the remainder of the legislative session.
Sen. Mark Norris, who was carrying Haslam’s “Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act,” told reporters Wednesday that the governor decided not to move forward with Senate Bill 196 because some GOP lawmakers refused to back down from their plan to amend the administration-backed measure.
Some Senate Republican have said they’d like to expand the number of students eligible for taxpayer-funded school-choice vouchers beyond what the governor’s legislation offered.
“As majority leader, I had tried to give as much time as possible for reason to prevail, but rather than fewer amendments we received word that there would be more amendments, all of which attempted to broaden the governor’s initiative beyond what he feels is appropriate,” said Norris, a Collierville Republican.
The governor “wanted a more measured approach to introducing vouchers to the state of Tennessee and he didn’t want it to become a political football at the expense of the children it was design to serve,” Norris continued. “If they won’t run their own bill, they shouldn’t try to hijack the administration’s.”  Read more here.

SB 0132 by *Campfield ( HB 0261 by *Dennis) Welfare - As introduced, requires the reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments for parents or caretakers of TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school

Campfield Drops Welfare Bill After Senate Debate
After about an hour of impassioned Senate floor debate, Sen. Stacey Campfield today abandoned for the year an effort to enact legislation that calls for cutting welfare benefits to parents of children who fail in school.
Several Republican senators declared during the debate that they intended to vote against the Knoxville lawmaker's bill (SB132). Campfield also acknowledged that Gov. Bill Haslam was opposing the legislation.
The senator acknowledged that critics of the bill had raised "good points" and the debate showed "we all have true passion to get parents involved" and "we have to do something." Read more here.

House passes Haslam's food tax reduction

Tennessee legislator rebuffs Georgia bid for water