Legislative Update, February 20, 2016

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).

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools...and He has not been disappointed....If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia - You will be greatly missed.  Rest in Peace.


Rep. Rick Womick's mother continues to need our prayers.  Sen. Mark Green has one more chemo treatment and he will have completed the course

Tuesday started off with a bang, at 8:30 sharp we were in the Senate finance committee for a big day as they were hearing the refugee resettlement resolution that Eagle Forum supported. The senators presenting did a masterful job and the resolution passed 9-1-1. After that we were off for a busy day of meeting with legislators about different issues. It's always great to see your hard work pay off, and we got to experience a little bit of that on Tuesday, now we hope and pray that it continues to pay off.

This session has been ripping at everyone’s heartstrings around every corner. Nowhere is safe. We have yet to come across anything that is cut and dried -- every issue has two sides that both have pros and cons. One of these being HB1728 by Sexton C. (SB1657 by Tracy) this bill is for the National Popular Vote. We started by going to see everyone on the committee to see where they stood. We did make progress on seeing where the votes would fall and made meetings with the committee members we did not have a chance to meet with. But a nice pause from the frenzy
was getting to sit in on the Senate hearing about TN Ready testing not being ready. Time was running out so we did not actually get to hear from Measurement Inc. (the company hired to deliver the test) which was disappointing.

SB 1657 by *Tracy , Briggs
HB 1728 by *Sexton C , Marsh, Lundberg, Brooks K, McManus, Travis, Powers, Johnson, Casada
Election Laws -As introduced, adopts the interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote.
Indeed, the money flowing into NPV tells a very different story about who wants this “reform” and why. Koza—who hit the jackpot when he patented the scratch-off lottery ticket and then convinced states to sell them—has reportedly pledged $12 million to his organization. Koza has given tens of thousands of dollars to various Democratic Party committees and liberal candidates; he was an Al Gore elector in 2000. New York businessman Tom Golisano, who has also pledged millions to NPV, is quick to point out that he is a registered Republican—even though he supported John Kerry and gave a cool $1 million to the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
George Soros and his son Jonathan really like it.  The Heritage Foundation has written an excellent paper AGAINST it.  The Republican National Committee, the State Executive Committee of the TN Republican Party, the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women have all passed strong resolutions AGAINST it. Attorney John Ryder, Tennessee's National Committeeman and legal counsel for the RNC has written an excellent article AGAINST it.  Do we see a pattern here?

Heritage Foundation: Destroying the Electoral College: The Anti-Federalist National Popular Vote Scheme
Key Points
  1. The National Popular Vote scheme is an unconstitutional attempt to eliminate the Electoral College, because the proposed state compact would require congressional approval.
  2. The NPV scheme would elevate the importance of urban centers and diminish the influence of small states and rural areas.
  3. It would lead to closer elections, more recounts, increased litigation over provisional and other ballots, and conflicts over the results of presidential elections.
  4. It would allow the election of individuals with unprecedented small pluralities, raising grave issues about the legitimacy of a winner and any actions he took as President.
  5. It would encourage voter fraud since fraudulent votes cast anywhere (especially in one-party states) could change the outcome of a national race.
  6. The NPV scheme strikes directly at the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic that balances popular sovereignty with structural protections for state governments and minority interests.

STATUS:  SB1657 was postponed in the Senate Committee until the last meeting, so the battle now moves to the House.  HB1728 has been assigned to the Local Government Committee.

ACTION: The legislators are receiving a lot of contacts generated by the National Popular Vote website.   Opponents MUST make their voices heard in order to STOP  this legislation.  PLEASE contact each of these committee members and urge them to vote NO!!

SJR 0467 by *Ramsey , Norris, Ketron, Beavers, McNally, Roberts, Green, Bailey, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Gardenhire, Haile, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Niceley, Southerland, Stevens, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Hensley

General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position - Urges the commencement of legal action, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, from the federal government's mandated appropriation of state revenue and noncompliance with the Refugee Act.

Click on graphic, then look below and click on SJR467

We arrived early because The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) had called for a rally to oppose SJR 467. By the time the committee started, there was standing room only in the Senate Committee hearing room.  The TIRRC folks held signs that said: "Welcome Refugees".

What was a bit sad is that these folks were being used as 'pawns in a drama'.  This resolution has NOTHING to do with whether or not Tennessee is 'Welcoming'.  This is about the LAW and whether or not the Federal Government can be FORCED to follow the law and whether or not states have any remaining Constitutional 'states rights'!

When chairman Randy McNally called for the resolution, Sen. Mark Norris [left] took the podium starting his speech with: "The purpose of SJR 467 is to initiate legal proceedings for declaratory relief in light of federal government's failure to consult regarding the settlement of refugees in TN and mandatory spending of state funds under a program from which the state has withdrawn." And from that time on, Sen. Norris presented a brilliant argument for this effort and the provisions of resolution. Committee member Sen. John Stevens [right] was excellent 'legal wing man' when he spoke in favor of the proposal and pointed out how the "Welcoming" folks had been misled.

Because of the importance of this issue, I cannot urge you strongly enough to listen to the entire testimony. Tennessee may be making history here. 
When the vote was taken, SJR467 passed 9-1-1.  Senators voting aye were: Watson, Tate, Stevens, Overbey, Norris, McNally, Ketron, Hensley, Haile -- 9. Senators voting no were: Dickerson -- 1.  Senators present and not voting were: Harper -- 1.

Don't miss this article:

Tennessee One Step Closer to Filing 10th Amendment Lawsuit to End Refugee Resettlement Program
STATUS:  SJR467 by *Ramsey , (Norris, Ketron, Beavers, McNally, Roberts, Green, Bailey, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Gardenhire, Haile, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Niceley, Southerland, Stevens, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Hensley, Crowe) is scheduled to be on the Senate floor Monday evening.  If your senator is not one of the co-sponsors, find him or her HERE and urge him or her to join their colleagues in challenging the federal government.

Computer crash halts TNReady online tests — back to paper & pen
The good news is that when TNReady collapsed, Sen. Mike Bell (Government Operations Committee Chairman)  and Sen. Dolores Gresham (Education Committee Chairman) wasted no time in scheduling a hearing to fully explore this debacle. Both committees met in a joint session on Wednesday at 11:00am to a packed room.

TNReady — In K-12 education, the Senate Government Operations and Education Committees heard testimony from Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen regarding the failure of the state’s vendor, Measurement Inc., to support statewide testing of Tennessee’s new online TNReady Test. Lawmakers have heard from many parents and teachers who were upset about the failure of the test to launch after months of work went into preparing students for online testing.
McQueen said the state tested the capacity of the vendor’s system in October and January and made recommendations for improvements regarding server capacity and software glitches, but were reservedly optimistic that the test would be launched successfully. “The vendor experienced a failure we have not seen before during any of our stress tests or work to date,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Multiple operational and procedural errors by the vendor combined to overload network infrastructure in the vendors’ online platform data center.”
McQueen went on to say, “It is clear now, and it was clear on February 8, that Measurement Inc.’s platform could not meet our needs for statewide online testing this year.”  More HERE - scroll down.

As I listened to the testimony, it seemed to me that in all of the pre-testing of the system that had taken place since last October, not a single one had been trouble free. If you look back over the history, there were lots of cautionary concerns.  The folks from Measurement, Inc., were at the hearing, but time ran out before they could be called to testify.  I suspect another hearing will be held where they will appear.  They certainly have a lot to answer for, so stay tuned as the investigation continues. It certainly appears that this was a disaster waiting to happen.

November 14, 2014
Measurement Inc. inks $108 million testing contract

November 18, 2015
Is district technology ready for TNReady?

December 3, 2015
TNReady sparks concerns for some parents

February 15, 2016
McQueen: Tennessee Department of Education takes ‘full responsibility’ for online testing debacle

SB 1769 by *Beavers, (HB 1459) by *Womick
Abortion - As introduced, requires that an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion, with an exception for medical emergencies
STATUS:  In the House Health Subcommittee Rep. Rick Womick presented his re-written ultrasound legislation. Now one has to understand that this is a sincere heart issue with Rick and something he has been working on and wanted to do for a number of years. What he wanted to accomplish was to make sure that the mother was given the opportunity to view the ultrasound should she choose to do so. There were concerns about the impact that this bill might have on the lawsuits that are ongoing with the pro-life laws that were passed in the wake of the passage of YES on 1 amendment.  There were some other concerns that were clearly going to split the strong 'pro-life' vote in the committee. As the discussion continued, Rep. Womick stopped the debate and took the bill off notice. While he wanted to accomplish this goal, he did not want to put his colleagues in that difficult position, even though this is his last year.  That is a man of great honor and dignity and I am blessed to call him my friend.
Tennessee abortion ultrasound bill pulled by sponsor
Rep. Womick won’t seek reelection; endorses political ally

Rep. Holt won’t run for Congress
News release/statement from Rep. Andy Holt
Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has announced that he will not seek the 8th U.S. Congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Stephen Fincher.
“I am completely overwhelmed by the show of support we received while considering a run for Congress,” said Holt. “I received countless phones calls and emails from all over West Tennessee, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in pledges should I decide to get into the race.”
Holt said that after praying over the decision with family and friends, for the last two weeks, he felt like there was still work for him to do on the state-level.
“Ultimately, my prayerful petition was answered and a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders. I love West Tennessee so much, and I feel that I can be most effective as a conservative leader here on the state-level. I’m going to focus on my re-election to the State House of Representatives and continue raising my family.”
Holt said that he is not ruling out a potential run for Congress in the future, and isn’t currently prepared to endorse a candidate to replace Fincher.

House approves ‘heritage protection’ of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust and such
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House has passed a bill that would make it more difficult to remove statues or rename streets dedicated to historical figures, including a state Capitol bust of a prominent Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader.
The chamber voted 71-23 on Thursday to approve the measure, titled the “Tennessee Heritage Protection Act.”
Calls to remove Confederate imagery from public places multiplied rapidly across the South after the slaying of nine black churchgoers last June in Charleston, South Carolina. A white man espousing racist views and who posed in a photo with a Confederate flag has been charged with murder in the killings.
The Tennessee bill would require a vote of two-thirds of the 29-member Tennessee Historical Commission to gain a waiver from a statewide ban on changing or removing historical markers. That’s an increase from the current law that requires only a majority vote. It would also prevent any changes for at least six months from the date of the petition.