Legislative Update, January 17, 2015

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).


Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.  God will NOT hold us guiltless.  Not to speak out is to speak. Not to act is to act."  --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As you probably know, our friend, Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has been diagnosed with non-hodgkin's lymphoma. He has a wonderful attitude and a strong faith in God.  He had his second chemo treatment yesterday and is scheduled to have treatments every 21 days.  Yes, he has already lost all his beautiful hair, but not his sweet spirit and great smile. It is expected that he will complete the course of treatment about the time the session may be completed. Please pray for him and his family, pray for the effectiveness of the treatment and that he will be protected from all the germs that are all around us this time of year.  Please also remember Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parker's Crossroads). He fell on ice earlier this week and broke his arm.  When the swelling goes down some, he will have surgery. 

Adam Yardumian is an 18-year-old, homeschooled Senior from Normandy, Tennessee.  He is interested in local government and politics and also follows state and national affairs. In 2011,  Adam earned his Eagle Scout badge.  His Scout project was raising $7,000 and overseeing the construction of a granite monument in Tullahoma to honor veterans.  You can see his project HERE. He works at Chick-fil-a in Tullahoma and he also umpires baseball in Coffee, Franklin and Moore counties.  Adam is taking Public Speaking as a dual enrollment student at Motlow State Community College. He wants to know more about how our state government works and he thinks working on Capitol Hill would be an eye opening experience. Adam will be with me on Tuesdays.

Lauren Curtsinger is a founding member of Tennessee Legislator Research, a group of teens who seek to educate our state legislators on issues concerning international and federal control of state policy.  Her involvement in this group has afforded her the opportunity to meet with state legislators and actively seek to affect policy on many issues.  For several years Lauren has been attending meetings and actively been a part of the TN Teen Eagles.  She helped plan and organize an event to fund her trip to the 2014 Eagle Council in St. Louis where she was privileged to meet with national leaders such as Steve King, Michele Bachmann, and Phyllis Schlafly.  Lauren is a homeschooled high school junior who enjoys photography, art, writing and being a part of the solution to the many complex issues that affect public policy. Lauren will be with me on Wednesdays.

The legislative process may seem very imposing from the outside looking in.  However during the course of my first day on "The Hill" I found the various elected officials who I met to be very down to earth and willing to serve.  The people of our great state should be very proud of their 109th Tennessee General Assembly. Thank you for giving me this opportunity!

I'll be honest, my first day as Mrs. Bobbie's Wednesday intern is still something that my mind is trying very hard to comprehend.  My expectations of the legislature and the people that rushed up and down its hallways could not have been further from the reality.  In brief encounters in the hallways they shook each other's hands and asked how the family was.  The first things that I would see sitting on the desk when I walked into many Senator or Representatives office were the Bible, a picture of their family, and the flag of the United States.  Thankfully, it looks like at least some of them have their priorities straight. The respect they hold for one another is something that I greatly admire and I look forward to being around it this session.

    On Tuesday at high noon the Senators and the Representatives gathered with friends and family into their respective chambers where they were sworn in. Speaker Beth Harwell we re-elected unanimously; Speaker Ramsey was re-elected 30-3, with Senators Harris, Kyle, and Yarbro voting  'present'.
    One of the main events on Tuesday was a news conference held by the pro-life women of the legislature in support of the pro-life bills that will be introduced this session.
    On Wednesday, the main event was a joint 'Convention' for the purpose of electing the State Treasurer and the State Comptroller.  David Lillard and Justin Wilson were both re-elected unanimously.
    On Thursday and Friday, brief floor sessions were held in the respective chambers. The most interesting news was the plan to divide the House Education Committee into two Committees: Education - Administration and Planning and Education - Instruction and Programs. Each standing committee will have a subcommittee. Hmmmmm.....
    Today is the Governor's Prayer Service, Inauguration, etc.  More details can be found HERE. After the Inauguration, the House and Senate will re-convene where it is expected that the committees and their Chairmen and officers will be appointed.
      After that, the General Assembly will recess for two weeks in order to move all the offices around and get ready for the Special Session and then Regular 2015 session. The weekly Legislative Updates will resume on February 7th.  Don't forget to check out the 'new and improved' General Assembly website HERE. Stay tuned!!

I moved to Tennessee in August 1986 and started at the Legislature in early 1987.  That means that I am starting my 28th year. If I have counted right, there is only ONE legislator there now that was there when I started, Sen. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

Now there are three of us who have had hip replacements.  What is there about this place??? Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) and Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer).  We are doing very well!!!

Views on abortion clash as Tennessee legislature opens
NASHVILLE - The Tennessee legislature opened its 2015 session Tuesday while abortion-rights demonstrators chanted loudly outside the House and Senate chambers.
Their shouted chants accompanied by a loud drum beat were clearly heard inside the chambers as lawmakers re-elected Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.
The outcome of those elections was never in doubt given the huge Republican majorities. Harwell won 98-0, with all 26 Democrats joining 72 Republicans in voting for her.
Ramsey won 30-0 with three Democrats abstaining - Sens. Lee Harris and Sara Kyle of Memphis and Jeff Yarbro of Nashville. Two Democrats, Sens. Reginald Tate of Memphis and Thelma Harper of Nashville, joined all 28 Republicans in voting for Ramsey.
Two hours before the session opened, between 500 and 600 people joined the Women's March on the Tennessee Tower Plaza in favor of women's and family health services and against legislation to restrict abortion rights.
A group of about 50 protesters left the rally before its speakers had concluded and entered the Capitol, where they led chants with a bullhorn.
Troopers initially blocked the protestors from going from the ground floor up to the second where the legislative chambers are located, but after the floor sessions convened, troopers allowed several protesters to move upstairs.

Haslam wants deal as GOP heads fight over health plan

"I think the people of Tennessee want this to be heard. They don't want some procedural issue to stop this from being heard," Haslam said Friday morning. "I'm confident leadership will figure out a way to do that."
Thursday afternoon Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said the governor's Insure Tennessee plan to extend health care to 200,000 Tennesseans would take the form of a House Joint Resolution during the early February special session Haslam recently called to discuss the plan.
That would mean the House needs to pass, or not pass, the entire proposal before the Senate takes any action.
In a thundering announcement from the House floor Friday, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said the claim was a "silly notion" that would not happen.
"If they don't want to do it, then they just need to tell us and we'll go about our business and go into regular session. But we're not going to go through an exercise in futility if they're not serious about considering this legislation," McCormick said about Senate Republicans, adding later he thought the idea also was "preposterous."

House-Senate dispute developing over who goes first on Medicaid expansion

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Republican leaders in the state House and Senate are at odds about who should go first on taking up Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to more than 200,000 low-income Tennesseans.
The governor has called a special session starting Feb. 2 to consider the proposal that many Republicans are wary of because it would tap federal money available under President Barack Obama's health care law.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga announced at the start of Friday's floor session that he wanted to dispel what he called a "silly notion" among Senate Republicans that they would wait for the measure to clear several committees in lower chamber before taking up measure. That would put House Republicans in the position of having to cast politically difficult votes before their Senate colleagues.
"That will not happen," McCormick said.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told reporters that he has long held the position that the Senate shouldn't get involved in the measure until it gains traction in the House.
"I want to make sure it passes the House before we take it up," he said. "I think that's logical."


McNally seeks AG opinion on legal aspects of Medicaid expansion

Johnson Has More Questions Than Answers on Haslam's Medicaid Plan

Durham, Kelsey: Republicans Have No Business Expanding Medicaid

Fiscal Review names Rep. White as chair, confirms new XD questioned by Democrats
The Legislature's Fiscal Review Committee has elected Rep. Mark White as chairman and confirmed outgoing Chairman Bill Ketron's nomination of Jeff Spalding - whose current position as leader of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has prompted questions from Democrats - as the panel's new executive director.
White, R-Memphis, succeeds Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, as chairman in accord with recent tradition of rotating the chairmanship between House and Senate members of the joint House-Senate fiscal watchdog committee. Ketron becomes vice chairman - the position White held for the past two years.
On motion of Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, the committee also voted to make the rotating chairmanship part of the committee rules - and White raised the possibility of legislation being introduced to do the same thing.
In Thursday's meeting of the panel, Sargent noted that the late Rep. Shelby Rhinehart, D-Spencer, served 22 years as chairman of the joint committee and said that formalizing the rotation of chairmanship between House and Senate members would avoid a recurrence of such a thing. Legislative attorneys noted that Sargent's motion - basically to make rotation a rule of the committee - could be changed by a vote of the committee in a subsequent session. Still, Sargent's motion was unanimously approved. Ketron told the panel that he had invited Spalding to apply for the position of executive director during a dinner while attending a November gathering of Tennessee legislators in Phoenix, Ariz., hosted by the Friedman Foundation to promote its school choice programs.

Haslam Announces Members Of Council For Judicial Appointments Including Chattanoogan Rosemarie Hill

Monday, January 12, 2015
Governor Bill Haslam on Monday announced the 11 members of the Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments that will recommend candidates to the governor to fill vacancies for Tennessee trial and appellate courts.
The council was established by executive order following the November 4 passage of a constitutional amendment creating a method for selecting judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court in Tennessee. Members of the council include three each from the western, middle and eastern divisions of the state. Two members are at-large.
"This council will ensure that we continue to have a strong, independent and impartial judicial system in our state," Governor Haslam said. "I am grateful to these members for their willingness to serve and their work to maintain a strong judiciary in Tennessee."
Members of the council representing the Western Division of the state are:

Bill proposes 'informed consent' for abortions
Doctors would need to provide women more information about pregnancies and abortions before performing an abortion if a bill filed Wednesday in the Tennessee General Assembly becomes law.
The "informed consent" proposal comes from state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, and would restore a law that was in effect in Tennessee before a 2000 state Supreme Court ruling that drastically changed abortion laws in the state.
The ruling made a change to the state constitution necessary. That change became a reality in November, when Tennessee voters adopted Amendment 1, which changed the constitution to allow lawmakers to enact more restrictions on abortions.The proposal is the same law that was in effect before the ruling, according to Beavers' bill. It would require a woman to sign a form that confirms the doctor told her information related to the abortion and her pregnancy before carrying out the abortion.



Tennessee bill seeks to ban red-lightCameras
A state Republican lawmaker says he plans to file legislation that seeks to ban speeding and red-light cameras in Tennessee.
Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden says he's received hundreds of messages from Democrats and Republicans supporting his call to outlaw the controversial cameras.


Change constitution to allow election of AG
New proposals aim to change the Tennessee state constitution to allow citizens to choose the state attorney general through popular election.
The Supreme Court appoints the attorney general to an eight-year term, but the proposed constitutional amendment, from state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, would allow voters to start electing the attorney general in 2020 to four-year terms.
"It just makes the attorney general more accountable to the people of Tennessee," Beavers said Tuesday morning.
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, filed a resolution that calls for popular elections every eight years.
Tennessee is the only state where the state Supreme Court appoints the attorney general, said Marjorie Thorp of the National Association of Attorneys General. In comparison 43 states elect their attorney general, five states - Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming - allow the governor to appoint an attorney general, and in Maine the legislature chooses the attorney general via secret ballot, Thorp said.

"The Wall of Faces" Recognition Presented to Tennessee Senators
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Senator Mark Green, Senator Rusty Crowe and Senator Ken Yager
NASHVILLE - Tennessee State Senator Mark Green today honored his colleagues in their joint efforts in putting faces with the heroes of Tennessee's fallen listed on "The Wall" - the Washington, DC memorial constructed from black polished marble with the names of 58,300 men and women whose ultimate sacrifice was in service for the United States during the Vietnam War.
Senator Green, a US Army Veteran, joined fellow Tennessee Senators to locate photographs of the 1,295 Tennesseans who are listed on the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.  A national effort, "The Wall of Faces" was launched in June 2014 to collect personal photos of these veterans to be used in a multi-media exhibit at the VVMF Education Center for permanent viewing by visitors and a digital version at the organization's website.