Legislative Update, March 28, 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).


"Statesmen...may plan and speculate for liberty, but is is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand..."  President John Adams

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) had is fifth chemo treatment last Friday (Mar 20).  Thankfully by Tuesday he was improving from the side effects. Please to continue to pray as the last treatment and a scan comes in about three weeks.  A sure sign that this legislative session is in 'wind down' is that committees are beginning to shut down.  However, a lot of very serious business of the state is awaiting legislative action.  Please pray for wisdom and discernment for each bill still waiting to be heard and debated.


Speaker Beth Harwell and her team defeated Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and his team in the Corn Shucking contest.  A good time was had by all.
Agriculture in Tennessee:
Tennessee has 76,000 farms representing 10.8 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee's top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $66 billion a year impact on the state's economy and supports nearly 337,900 jobs.

This Tuesday was Agriculture or "Ag" day on the hill. The sights and smells of farm animals filled the area outside the entrance to Legislative Plaza.  The highlight of Ag day was the corn shucking contest between the House and Senate.  Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey's group went first and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell's group learned from the Senate's turn and won the competition.  After that it was back to work.  We quickly moved about, delivering information on bills and meeting with legislators.  In the afternoon it was time to watch some bills in committee.  We attended Government Operations committee, quickly followed by Health and Education sub committees as well.  The main issue in Health was abortion.  A bill requiring informed consent and a 48hr waiting period cleared subcommittee. Rep Matthew Hill did a excellent job answering questions and defending his bill.  Another bill, which mandates licensing and regulating by the Department of Health for abortion clinics that perform more than 50 abortions a year, was sent to full committee as well.  From the light-hearted corn shucking contest to more weighty matters this day was yet another bustling day on Capitol Hill.

Skipping our usual meet up time in the cafeteria, Mrs. Bobbie had me come straight into a committee room which stood as just a preview of what was to come for the rest of the day.  Once again education was hot on The Hill but it was hardly the only thing that there was to watch go through its cycle in the hands of our legislators. This "cycle", as I am coming to realize, is a lot more winding than is initially thought. The adoption of a bill goes through many steps which we are most all familiar with, if not by a formal education on the matter, then at least with the understanding of hearing the catchy song from School House Rock. But with every two steps forward it seems to take a step back with last minute amendments, tweaks and perks, lobbying for the votes in committee, and more. You find there's not a laid back moment to just watch a bill run its course because there's not a set course for it to follow. They say there's two things that you should never see be made: sausage and law, because they are both a messy processes. I think we could most all agree on the sausage part of that, however I personally rather enjoy watching the long uneven staircase that law climbs, and being so close to it is such an unbelievable privilege.

SJR 0093 by *Overbey, Yarbro, Briggs, Kyle
Health Care - Authorizes implementation of Insure Tennessee substantially as described in TennCare Demonstration Amendment
          Senators voting aye were: Briggs, Crowe, Jackson, Massey, Overbey, Yarbro -- 6.
          Senators voting no were: McNally, Watson -- 2.
          Senators present and not voting were: Hensley -- 1.

Fiscal note found HERE. Committee members were assured that the Hospitals will pick up the cost of this program. Will some of those costs be passed on to their paients?  Only time will tell.
STATUS: SJR93 will be in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on 3/31/2015
House companion HJR 0085 by *Fitzhugh is scheduled in Insurance and Banking Subcommittee on 4/1/2015
ACTION:  Please contact the committee members and URGE them to vote NO on these resolutions. 'Insure Tennessee' Back in Action

SB 1163 by *Bell, Massey (HB 1035) by *Spivey, Forgety, Harwell, Lollar, Coley, Todd, McManus, Sanderson, Hulsey, Matheny, Shepard, Wirgau, McDaniel, Calfee, Kane, Womick, Powers, Hawk, Matlock, Sexton J, Casada
Bill, as amended HERE. A second amendment was added to remove the phrase "college-and-career ready" and replace with "post-secondary and workforce ready"
STATUS:  SB1163 passed Senate Education 8-1:  Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Kelsey, Tracy -- 8. Senators present and not voting were: Tate -- 1. It has been referred to Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. HB1035 passed the Education Instruction & Programs committee on a voice vote and has been referred to Finance Ways and Means.   Spivey: Latest Common Core 'repeal' proposal a compromise

"This is not a standards bill, but a process bill," said Sen. Bell.  "It sets up a very robust process to develop Tennessee-specific standards that are high standards.  This process is not to rebrand Common Core, nor is it set up to reaffirm Common Core.  It is set up to replace Common Core with Tennessee standards and Tennessee values."

SB 1193 by *Beavers, (HB 1348) by *Weaver
Education, Curriculum - As introduced, revises the provisions governing curriculum standards for K-12 students, such as prohibiting the implementation of the common core state standards and allowing the state board of education to come up with a new set of state academic content standards; creates the academic standards steering committee as a review authority for all legislation and proposals related to academic standards.

STATUS SB1193 was voted out of Senate Government Operations Committee 8-1: Senators voting aye were: Bailey, Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Crowe, Jackson, Kelsey, Roberts -- 8. Senators voting no were: Harris -- 1.
HB1348 failed in  Education Instruction & Programs Subcommittee on a voice vote.

SB 0612 by *Gardenhire,(HB 0675) by *White M
Students - As introduced, exempts certain students from payment of out-of-state tuition at state institutions of higher education. See Summary HERE.

NOTE: On March 24, Asso. Attorney General Bill Young was brought before the Senate Finance Ways and Means to answer questions about Sen. Gardenhire's illegal immigrant bill. He seemed to say that, with significant changes in the legislation, while referencing a couple of court cases, and because about 20 other states have done so, the bill would be 'defensible'.  Sen. Norris drew Gen. Young's attention to the fact that TN is now a part of coalition suing the Obama administration's over their executive action on immigration. Norris, who is an attorney noted that, based on this fact, he thought it was ill advised for us to get involved in passing this legislation while this case is still pending.

Tennessee Joins Texas Led Immigration Lawsuit
STATUS: SB612 is in Senate Finance Ways and Means again on 3/31/2015. HB675 is scheduled in Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee for 3/31/2015.
ACTION: PLEASE contact the members of these committees to oppose this legislation. Just because other states have granted this benefit to illegal immigrants, that is no reason that TN sh
ould follow in their footsteps.

SJR 0067 by *Bell , Jackson, Stevens
Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, makes application for the calling of an Article V convention under the United States Constitution to consider amendments to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.
NOTE: For a variety of reasons, Eagle Forum has historically opposed an Article V Convention and in fact, in 2010, led the effort to rescind the 'calls' that Tennessee had issued in the 1970s. Despite those concerns being expressed last year, the General Assembly passed HJR548 which issues a 'call' for a Convention for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment. I certainly understand the heart and motive behind this effort.  All of us are horrified at what is happening at the federal level the lack of restraint. That being said, although proponents have worked hard to provide answers about controlling the activities of such a convention, since we have never done this, these assurances are still speculative.   
Unexpected Suggestions for Constitutional Changes.
SJR67 goes even further than HJR548 when it widens the call to take up other subjects and we still don't know if the convention, once called, can be limited to certain issues, especially, when the 'calls' are of a general nature and not specific.
Once the US Constitution is opened, we must remember that it won't just be conservatives sitting around the table.  A number of very liberal organizations are also pushing for a Convention for their own purposes.

If we REALLY want to balance the budget and reduce the deficit, one of the things we could do is stop taking federal dollars:
New data reveals amount of federal aid to states in 2012
According to this, in 2012, TN received the third highest amount of federal funds representing a little over 41% of the state budget.
Excellent info on how Delegates can't be limited
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 Article V Convention.

STATUS:  SJR67 is scheduled in Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on 3/31/2015
ACTION:  Since the General Assembly has already passed HJR548 and SB 1432 that proposes to limit the actions of delegates, PLEASE contact the committee members and request that we not widen the 'call'.  The truth is, we have a disobedient Congress, NOT a deficient Constitution.

SB 1108 by *Southerland, Bailey, Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Crowe, Gresham, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, Ketron, Kyle, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Roberts, Tate, Tracy
(HB 0615) by *Sexton J, Weaver, Goins, VanHuss, Hill T, Holt, Lollar, Matlock, Matheny, Spivey, Holsclaw, Hill M, Lamberth, Womick, Rogers, Sparks, Brooks K, Dunn, Shepard, Butt, Reedy, Powers, Calfee, Doss, Shaw, Ragan, Eldridge, Keisling, Hawk, Windle, Wirgau, Halford, Moody, Kane, White M, White D, Wilburn, DeBerry, Faison, Casada, Carr , Johnson, Littleton, Marsh, Haynes, Williams, Sargent, Harrison, McDaniel, Forgety, Howell, Brooks H, Kumar, Swann, Pody, Lynn, Coley, Lundberg, Terry, Carter, Towns, Parkinson
NOTE:  Just because it has all these sponsors does not mean it will pass.  It has to go through the committee system just like any other bill.  Only one  of the subcommittee members (Littleton) is signed on as co-sponsors. In the Senate, Dickerson, Green, Harper, Norris, and Yager are not signed on.
STATUS:  This will just be fun to watch.  SB1108 will be in Senate State and Local Government Committee calendar on 3/31/2015. HB615 will be in State Government Subcommittee on 4/1/2015
ACTION:  Ask the non-sponsor members of the committees to support this bill.

History for Kids / Senate -- An educational booklet written and designed by Tennessee History for Kids is now available through a partnership with the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Tennessee Senate.  The 36-page book was created for K through 12 students.  The book contains information regarding the purpose of state government, how to be a good citizen, the Senate and its members, State Senate districts, how a bill becomes law, parliamentary procedure and language, and the State Capitol grounds and highlights of events that have occurred there.  To order the book go HERE.