March 1, 2014

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).


The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.  Thomas Jefferson

Lots of payer needs this week. Rep. Susan Lynn's very sick two year old grandson  was rushed to Vanderbilt.  He was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes.  This will be a real life change for the family. Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) has been in the hospital for tests.  He is home now recuperating
. Rep. Harold Love has been out with his mother this week.  Rep. Ron Lollar's (R-Bartlett) mother had a heart attack about three weeks ago. Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Savannah) hurt his shoulder in a skiing accident and is hoping it will heal without surgery. 

This week I joined Mrs. Patray in the House Education committee where we heard a presentation from the Governor's office concerning the "Drive to 55" and specifically the "Tennessee Promise" which includes "The Last Dollar Scholarship.". The Last Dollar Scholarship will, for the first two years of higher education, pay the difference between the students family contribution plus scholarships and the total cost of tuition. The goal here is to remove the disincentive to go on to some form of higher education, however you can walk into any institute of higher education and tell which students are paying for their education themselves. There is a direct correlation between academic performance and personal expenditure (by percentage of income).  The Last Dollar Scholarship would provide tuition even for those students who fail to maintain the gpa necessary for the HOPE scholarship.  Consider, if there is a decline in incentive due to a decline in personal expenditure, how much further will it decline when there is NO personal expenditure?

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner announced today that he will not seek reelection to the House District 51 seat."This is a hard place to quit but I will not be running this time around," Turner said in a brief House floor speech.Turner, 59, who is has held the seat 14 years. A Nashville firefighter by profession, Turner has said he is eyeing a run for Nashville mayor next year. The current mayor, Karl Dean, cannot seek reelection because of Metro Nashville's term limits.

    The BAD NEWS is from House Education Subcommittee.  We are thrilled that the Cursive Writing bill and the re-written Future Standards and Data Collection bill was voted out of the Committee, however, the rest of the news is not that encouraging. Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) had requested that the Common Core Repeal Bill (HB2332) be rolled until March 4 and his others bills to March 11.  All was well.  However, later that day he was informed that all his bills would be rolled the 'final calendar'.  In addition, the remainder of the Common Core related bills were all rolled to the 'final calendar'.  As you might expect, this is NOT good news.  We don't know when the 'final calendar' will be. If the bills manage to get through the multiple steps of the process to the floor, will that be before Senate Education closes, meaning that the bills would be left hanging?  If we managed to get them actually passed by both houses, would the Governor veto some or all of them leaving no time for the General Assembly to override the veto if they were so inclined?  All these questions remain unanswered.
    The GOOD NEWS is that most of the bills that we are interested in are in Senate Education THIS WEEK. They meet on Wednesday at 3:30pm n Room 12.
    This will be the first opportunity that we have to 'take the temperature' of members on these bills in the Senate.  I ALL DEPENDS on YOU!  Last week I asked that Common Core opponents come to the committee meeting. What did I see when I went to the committee room?  It was standing room only -- filled with supporters of Common CoreThis is NOT the way to win.  If WE don't engage by making the proper contacts and showing up, don't expect to win!! 

SB 1835 by *Gresham ( HB1549 by *Dunn)
Education - As introduced, establishes requirements for the adoption of educational standards; prohibits use of student data for purposes other than tracking academic progress and educational needs of students.
Click on HB1549 above to see the new amendment.  HB1549, as amended, passed out of the House Subcommittee on Tuesday.  It is scheduled in House Education on Tuesday, members found HERE. SB1835 is in Senate Education on Wednesday, members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact the members of the House committee urging them to support the amended bill. Please contact Senate members, urge them to adopt the House amendment and support this bill.

SB 1881 by *Niceley ( HB 1697 by *Butt)
Education - As introduced, requires cursive writing to be taught in the third grade
One would hope that passing this legislation would be a 'slam dunk' but nothing in the Education Committees is guaranteed this year.What Learning Cursive Does for Your Brain
NOTE: The picture to the right is of a reproduction of the Constitution of the US -- written in cursive.  Perfect example of the need to be able to both read and write in cursive.
STATUS:  SB1881 is in Senate Education on Wednesday, members found HERE.
HB1697 is also in House Education on Tuesday, members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the members know that you support this important legislation.

SB 1602 by *Bell , Gresham, Stevens, Yager, Johnson, Tracy, Hensley, Crowe, Tate

( HB 2249 by *Casada)
Textbooks - As introduced, restructures the textbook commission and the textbook selection process.
NOTE:  This is an exceptionally important bill.  Dozens of volunteers worked all summer to review textbooks and evaluated the textbook adoption process.  This is our chance to improve the process and give more control to legislators. As you can see from the articles below, we are fighting a headwind.
STATUS: SB1602 is scheduled in Senate Education Wednesday afternoon, members found HERE.
ACTION:  It is VITAL that the members know how much support this bill has.  If you don't make the contacts, they will not know. 

GOP Lawmakers Want Power To Appoint Boards; Gov. Haslam Says Not So Fast
Tennessee Lawmakers Grabbing Control Of Textbook Commission From Governor

SB 2057 by *Niceley ( HB 2290 by *Spivey)
Education - As introduced, requires the department of education to reimburse LEAs for the costs of implementing and the ongoing costs to use common core state standards and PARCC assessments.
NOTE:  Want to get a taste of just what Common Core and PARCC is costing the LEAs??  Take at look at the FISCAL NOTE on this legislation---VERY TELLING!!
STATUS: SB2057 is in Senate Education on Wednesday, members found HERE.

ACTION:  Please let the committee members know that you support this bill.

Two bills below: Withdrawing from PARCC will not solve the whole Common Core problem, but we would rather be out of PARCC than in it.  A number of states HAVE with drawn form PARCC, we hope that TN will join those. What States Have Pulled Out of their Common Core Assessment Consortium?

SB 1984 by *Campfield ( HB 1828 by *Womick)
Education - As introduced, prohibits adoption or use of PARCC assessments; requires the general assembly to make the decision as to the adoption of assessments to replace TCAPs; requires the state to withdraw from PARCC; prohibits state membership in any group that relinquished control over assessments to an outside entity.

STATUS:  SB1984 is scheduled in Senate Education on Wednesday, members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the committee members know that you support this bill.

SB 1882 by *Niceley ( HB 1696 by *Butt)
Education, Curriculum - As introduced, mandates that the state board of education and department of education shall immediately withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and common core state standards
STATUS: SB1882 is scheduled in Senate Education on Wednesday,
members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the committee members know that you support this bill.

SB 2153 by *Niceley ( HB 2237 by *Alexander)
Education, State Board of - As introduced, requires members of the board to be elected by congressional district for four-year term as current terms expire and vacancies arise.
NOTE: Right now, the voters have NO influence over the work of the State Board of Education, they are all appointed by the Governor.  If they had to stand for election, they might be a little more interested in what we think.
STATUS: SB2153 is scheduled for Senate Education on Wednesday, members found HERE.
ACTION: Please let members know that you support this proposal.

SB 1951 by *Gardenhire ( HB 1992 by *Floyd)
Education, Higher - As introduced, permits undocumented alien students who are Tennessee residents, who meet the academic requirements of HOPE scholarship and attend Tennessee schools for five years prior to graduating from high school, be charged in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education.
This legislation could incentivize illegal behavior. The laws of the United States prohibit illegal aliens from residing in our country. However, everyday illegal aliens make a conscious decision to ignore these laws. Should we be rewarding this behavior and, in addition, make TN a magnet for these students?
69% Oppose In-State Tuition To Illegal Immigrants
Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law
STATUS:  SB1951 is in Senate Education on Wednesday.  Members found HERE.  HB1992 is in House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. Members found HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact committee members and urge them to vote against the legislation.

SB 2464 by *Watson ( HB 2371 by *Carter)
Annexation - As introduced, abolishes annexation by ordinance at the initiative of the municipality
Rep. Carter wins the award for persistence and tenaciousness, regardless of the opposition,  in not giving up on providing folks with the right to vote on an annexation proposal.  
STATUS:  HB2371 is in the Local Government Committee on Tuesday, members found HERE.  SB2462 has not yet been scheduled in Senate State and Local Committee.
ACTION:  Please contact committee members let them know that you support this protective legislation.

SB 0869 by *Crowe
( HB 0590 by *Van Huss)
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:  As amended, HB590 passed the House floor  78-8-5. SB869 has not yet been scheduled in Senate State and Local Committee. 
An article on the issue: TN Senate to consider changing municipal annexation law

NFIB brought in Bill Furth from the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, who was very accomplished in having 'all the answers' to the questions that Eagle Forum has posed all these years.  The result of his efforts and the effort of others, the questionable 'assurances' have provided the lawmakers with a level of comfort that enables them to support the call for an Article V Constitution Convention. I still ask this question, if congress is not abiding by the Constitution now, what makes anyone think that they will abide by an amended Constitution and what can we do about it?.  I believe that we have a disobedient Congress, not deficient Constitution.
I urge you to read the piece I wrote in 2010, Why the Tennessee Legislature Should Rescind Its Calls For a Federal Constitutional Convention, as well as the letter from retired Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to Phyllis on the dangers of a Federal Con-Con.

SJR 0493 by *Kelsey
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to the U.S. Congress to call a constitutional convention for the sole purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment.
STATUS:  Despite testimony against it, SJR493
was voted out of the Judiciary Committee 9-0 and has not yet been scheduled for the Senate Floor.

HJR 0548 by *Powers
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to Congress for the purpose of calling a convention of states concerning balanced budgeting.
STATUS:  Again, despite testimony opposing this resolution, HJR548 was voted out of State Government Subcommittee and is scheduled in the State Government Committee on Tuesday, member found HERE.
ACTION:  Please let the committee members know that despite all the 'assurances' there are still important unanswered questions about this whole process.