Legislative Update, March 16, 2013

Legislative Update, March 16, 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).

 “At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office…” Thomas Jefferson, 1823

We are sad to report that Speaker Beth Harwell lost her Mother on Wednesday.  The funeral is scheduled for today in Spring City, PA. Please remember Beth and her family during this time.  Regardless of our age, or theirs, we are never ready to lose our mamas! Cards can be sent to the Speaker at 19 Legislative Plaza, Nashville, 37243.
The cold germs are still active at the Plaza, lots of runny eyes and stuffed up noses!  The House clerk announced last Monday evening that all House bills had to be put 'on notice' in the committee by 3:00 pm on Wednesday. This could result in bill sponsors not knowing exactly when their bills will actually be heard in committees and could also result in sponsors having bills at the same time in multiple committees.  Certainly this has the capacity to create very hectic days on the hill.Please pray for clarity and wisdom. For your Praise List:
Rep. Ron Travis has a beautiful new granddaughter to rejoice over!


This week I had the privilege of spending both Tuesday and Wednesday at the Capitol with Mrs. Patray. Tuesday, in particular, was an eye-opening experience. The TN Equality Project, The TN Transgendered Political Coalition,Muslim American Center for Outreach, Planned Parenthood, and a new group, Healthy and Free Tennessee, designed to defeat the critical SJR 127 were all out in full form on Tuesday to garner support. Although it felt like us against the world, the day was still productive. We worked out some details regarding our upcoming bill and also got to sit in on the house committee hearing about the Medicaid expansion bill (SB804-HB937). The bill would ban an increase in the size of the program because of the Affordable Care Act, a move that has important implications for the future stability of Tennessee. Rep. Jeremy Durham and Sen.Brian Kelsey should be strongly commended for their hard work on this important legislation. Hopefully, the bill gets the support it needs to pass both the Senate and the House. 


Members can be found HERE

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

Immigration - As introduced, requires the Tennessee office for refugees to compile and report certain refugee resettlement information; requires refugee resettlement agencies to pay the state certain costs incurred by the state from resettlement activities; directs certain funds received to the department of intellectual and developmental disabilities   
NOTE:  The text of this bill has been rewritten from what is posted on the legislative website.  As it will be amended in committee, the purpose of the legislation is to enhance fiscal data gathering so that the state can better track how money is being spent; to identify federally induced costs shifted to the state and local districts as a result of private federal contractors operationalizing a voluntary federal program in TN; and to restore greater control over state and local budgets.
STATUS:  HB1326 is on the State Government Subcommittee calendar Wednesday afternoon.
ACTION: Please contact the committee members and urge them to support this legislation.

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 will be 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 is on the State Government Subcommittee calendar Wednesday afternoon.

ACTION: Please contact the committee members and urge them to support this legislation.

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.
Twelve Reasons to Say No to Medicaid expansion

On Tuesday, Chairman Steve McManus, House Insurance and Banking Committee, held an hour and a half hearing on the Expansion of Medicaid.  Guests supporting the legislation and opposing the expansion were two national experts: Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute and Grace Marie Turner, of the Galen Institute.  Guests supporting the expansion were Dr. Wright Pinson from Vanderbilt and Scott Raines respresenting the rural hospitals. If you would like to view the hearing, go to this LINK, and move the slide over to about 28:00.  It was very informative.
STATUS:  SB804 was in Senate Commerce Committee last Tuesday, but the vote was postponed until next week. Members can be found HERE.
STATUS: HB937 is scheduled in House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on Wednesday. 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 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:  HB475 is scheduled in the House Finance Subcommittee on Wednesday. Members can be found HERE.
ACTION: There is some significant opposition to this bill, so if you care about having a say in whether your property is annexed, you will want to contact the members of this committee to urge them to vote for HB475.

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) will be in the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee on Tuesday. 
ACTION: There is a LOT of opposition to this legislation, so the committee members MUST HEAR from you.  Members can be found HERE. Please contact them and urge the to support this protective legislation.  More information can be found at this link:

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:  Pleased to report that HB9 passed on the House Floor on Monday evening 84-10-1.
STATUS: SB109 is scheduled in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday. Members can be found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact committee member and urge passage of this privacy-protecting legislation.

House Votes to Seal Handgun Carry Records
The state House overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday night that makes secret virtually all information about Tennessee handgun-carry permit holders except non-identifying statical reports, reports Richard Locker.
If the Senate also approves the bill, individuals and media organizations would be unable to identify any of the 370,000 Tennessee residents with the state-issued licenses to carry guns in public. In the previous four years, lawmakers have been expanding the number of public places where permit holders may legally carry guns, including public parks and bars and restaurants serving alcohol.  Read more here.

SB 0895 by *Niceley ( HB 1180 by *Towns)
Racing and Motor Sports - As introduced, re-establishes the Tennessee state racing commission to implement and administer the provisions of the Racing Control Act of 1987.
STATUS: VICTORY!  So pleased to report that when HB1180 was in the State Subcommittee Wednesday, Rep. Joe Towns could not even get a motion or a second. That means that the bill failed!

SB 0837 by *Ketron ( HB 0610 by *Lundberg)
Wine & Wineries - As introduced, allows cities and counties to hold a referendum to authorize selling wine at retail food stores; creates permit to sell wine at retail food stores. - Amends TCA Title 2 and Title 57.

STATUS: HB610 failed in the House Local Government Committee 7-8.
Representatives voting aye were: Carr J, Dean, Durham, Faison, Mitchell, Parkinson, Stewart -- 7.
Representatives voting no were: Carr D, Eldridge, Floyd, Hall, Hill M, Holt, Miller, Sparks -- 8.

SB837 is scheduled in Senate Finance on Tuesday. Committee members can be found HERE. Please contact the members and urge them to vote No.
I have a feeling that, even though the House bill failed,the story isn't over.

Wine-in-groceries bill killed in House committee, could resurface
Proponents of wine in grocery stores had a bit of a buzz going into a House committee Tuesday only to be sobered later when their legislative effort to put the issue before voters was shot down.
With House Speaker Beth Harwell ready to cast the deciding vote, the decision fell on a 8-7 vote in the House Local Government Committee, rendering her vote useless to break a tie.  Read more here.

Senators Delay Win-in-Groceries to Cut a Deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A proposal to allow local referendums on whether grocery stores should be able to sell wine has been delayed in its final Senate committee to consider several changes desired by groups newly interested in negotiating over the measure.
A special subcommittee was appointed on Tuesday to work out a final version of the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro. A full Senate Finance Committee vote was rescheduled for next week. Read more here.