Legislative Update, February 6, 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).

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
President Ronald Reagan

It was good to have Rep. Curry Todd back this week, doing well after surgery. You will want to remember Mary Ellen Tate and her family as her father died Monday evening.  She is Rep. Bill Dunn's legislative assistant. You will want to remember Sen. Janice Bowling, whose mother is not doing well and Rep. Rick Womick whose mother is also not doing well.   Also, please be praying for all our lawmakers who have important decisions to make every day, especially the three new men who had to catch a train that had already left the station while learning the unique legislative process.

As soon as I came into the Plaza this week we were off, with Mrs. Patray meeting me in the hallway to begin another busy day of meeting with legislators and sitting in committee meetings. The highlight of the day for me was a meeting with the Secretary of State of Tennessee Tre Hargett, I was a little star struck but Mrs. Patray was right in her element along with the heavyweights at the Capital. There is good work being done everyday in Nashville and I hope to continue learning about how that good work is done.

What a day it was Wednesday. With SJR0067 on the floor Thursday morning we had a lot to accomplish. We visited every legislator we could, to see where they stood on this issue. This resolution weighed heavy on everyone’s hearts weather they were for, against, or undecided. Many to our surprise stood with us on this issue who we did not expect. We know the hearts of the legislators behind this and know their reasoning. However, Eagle forum has been opposed to a constitutional convention for 40 years we have many concerns about this topic that have yet to be answered. We believe in our TN state legislators and their proposed amendments in their call but we do not have faith in congress or any of the other state’s calls we have no way to know their hearts and intentions. So after SJR0067 passed Thursday morning all we can do is pray.

SJR 0067 by *
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

STATUS:  You may remember the SJR67 passed the State Senate on April 16, last year, 23-5-2:

 Senators voting aye were: Yager, Watson, Tracy, Stevens, Roberts, Norris, Niceley, Mr. Speaker Ramsey, McNally, Massey, Ketron, Kelsey, Johnson, Jackson, Hensley, Haile, Gresham, Green, Gardenhire, Crowe, Briggs, Bowling, Bell -- 23. Senators voting no were: Yarbro, Overbey, Kyle, Dickerson, Beavers -- 5. Senators present and not voting were: Harris, Harper -- 2.

On January 26, SJR67 was in the House State Government Committee, where we had expected a tie vote, but the vote was 5-3 and it went out.  Representatives voting aye were: Sanderson, Littleton, Lamberth, Hulsey, Durham -- 5.  Representatives voting no were: Shaw, Powell, Jernigan -- 3.

On Thursday morning, 4 February, after a lively debate, SJR67 pass the House Floor 59-31-1:

 Representatives voting aye were: Zachary, Wirgau, Williams, White M., White D., Van Huss, Travis, Todd, Terry, Swann, Spivey, Sparks, Shepard, Sexton J., Sargent, Rogers, Reedy, Ragan, Powers, Pody, Moody, McManus, McDaniel, McCormick, Matheny, Marsh, Madam Speaker Harwell, Lynn, Lundberg, Lollar, Littleton, Lamberth, Kumar, Kane, Johnson, Hulsey, Howell, Holt, Holsclaw, Hicks, Hazlewood, Hawk, Halford, Gravitt, Goins, Forgety, Farmer, Eldridge, Dunn, Daniel, Coley, Casada, Carter, Calfee, Byrd, Butt, Brooks K., Brooks H., Alexander -- 59.
          Representatives voting no were: Womick, Windle, Weaver, Turner, Stewart, Smith, Shaw, Sexton C., Sanderson, Powell, Pitts, Parkinson, Mitchell, Miller, Jones, Jenkins, Hill T., Hill M., Hardaway, Gilmore, Fitzhugh, Favors, Faison, Dunlap, Doss, Cooper, Clemmons, Camper, Beck, Armstrong, Akbari -- 31.  Representatives present and not voting were: DeBerry -- 1.

NOTES: For many reasons, Eagle Forum has opposed an Article V Constitutional Convention for over 40 years. We have felt and continue to feel that there are a lot of unanswered questions, since we have never had such a Convention since the US Constitution was written.  When I read Article V and see that "CONGRESS....shall call a convention.." and the ratification process is "proposed by Congress", I still have pause!

I truly understand the hearts of those TN legislators who are horrified when they look at what has happened at the Federal level under both Democratic and Republican majorities.  I am horrified too! I know that they see this as the perhaps the last chance to 'do something' to impact the overreach and control that the Federal government has exerted. I get that and I understand!!

It is important to know that there are folks at the national level whose desires do not seem to be so honorable.
(How former Justice John Paul Stevens Would Amend the Constitution, Soros in Vermont: Leftist billionaire behind state's call to keep money out of politics.)

This issue in Tennessee has put good friends and colleagues on opposite 'sides', (I really don't like that term, but it is useful here) but both 'sides' care deeply about this country and it's future. Nevertheless, if 34 states do end up passing this 'call' I will hope and pray that the process works out like it has been presented and my respect and my admiration for the state COS supporters has not dimmed and we will move forward TOGETHER!!

SB 0151 by *Gardenhire, (HB 0294) by *Spivey
Education - As introduced, urges the department of education to include the proper use and positioning of bicycle helmets in its pilot bicycle safety curriculum.
A bill about bicycle helmets turned into a bill about the collection of teacher union dues: "Fair Access to Collection of Teacher Support (FACTS) Act"

Tennessee Senate passes bicycle helmet bill; amendment targets teacher union dues

NASHVILLE -- A bicycle helmet bill rolled through the state Senate Monday with an amendment that ditches all talk of students and helmets and instead bars Tennessee school systems from deducting dues for the Tennessee Education Association from teachers' paychecks.
Senators approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, on a 21-9 vote.
"All this does is put everyone on an equal playing field," Gardenhire told colleagues, never mentioning the TEA, the state's largest teachers' union.
Gardenhire's Fair Access to Collection of Teacher Support Act would bar employee dues checkoffs by local school systems "for a professional employee organization, if any of that organization's funds are contributed in any way to another organization that engages in political activity."
The TEA, which represents thousands of K-12 educators, has operated a political action committee for decades. The automatic checkoff for the TEA dues are voluntary for the union's members.
Another provision of Gardenhire's bill bars the paycheck deductions in districts which engage in "collaborative conferencing," the voluntary system Republican lawmakers established in law back in 2011 when they abolished Tennessee's decades-old collective bargaining bill.
About half of Tennessee's 142 school districts engage in collaborative conferencing, and a TEA official said 95 percent of those are represented by the group.
TEA officials charge Gardenhire's bill is aimed at specifically at the group.
Gardenhire maintained during debate it was not. He said teachers can continue to pay dues directly to the TEA or any other organization through personal check, credit or debit card. Moreover, Gardenhire said, smaller school systems have computer systems with limited "slots" for deductions.

NOTEEagle Forum has long been concerned about the activities of the NEA as well as their PAC and we have followed their positions on issues of importance to families, students and education.  Below is a report from their 2015 convention:

Some NEA Resolutions Passed at the 2015 Convention in Orlando, Florida

NEA Embraces Transgenderism


STATUS: As amended on January 25, SB151 passed the Senate Floor 21-9-1.  On Tuesday, HB294 will be in the Education Instruction & Programs Committee.  TN Eagle Forum joins with organization is supporting this legislation:
From our friends at TN Right to Life:
"Of note, NEA is the nation's second-highest campaign donor since 1989 and contributed $25 million dollars to the Obama campaign in 2008 and $23 million for his re-election in 2012. During 2014, the National Education Association spent more than $35 million on "political activities and lobbying" as well as payments to political organizations reported as "contributions, gifts and grants."
The NEA has already endorsed Hillary Clinton and commits to historic levels of political spending to see the pro-abortion candidate elected in 2016."

HB294 would prevent local school systems from allowing dues checkoffs "for a professional organization, if any of that organization's funds are contributed in any way to another organization that engages in political activity." Why should the school system be collecting any union's dues?

ACTION:  Please contact the members of this committee and urge them to support HB294

SB 2017 by *Ketron,(HB 2584) by *Todd
Interstate Compacts - As introduced, authorizes Tennessee's participation in Article V conventions to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, through the adoption of the "Compact for a Balanced Budget."

STATUS:  HB2584 is 18 pages long and it is in House State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday.
The Convention of States movement is a new, legislative package with the goal of getting 38 states to legally commit to an interstate compact to:
 Petition Congress for an Article V amendments convention (also commonly known as a Convention of States) for the purpose of proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution.
But...  Article V still says that "CONGRESS....shall call a convention.." and we don't know what will happen then, and the ratification process is "proposed by Congress". This is a very long and complicated bill.

ALSO NOTE: Under Article I, Section 10, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution, "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress … enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State." This clause, the Interstate Compact Clause, was adopted with no debate.

ACTION:  The legislature has just passed the call for an Article V Constitution Convention. Please contact committee members and tell them that there is no need to go here, or the very least, urge them to slow down to fully understand what is being done here.

TN adopted Common Core and all  the other education programs coming down the pike and we're supposed to be improving at every level.  How well is TN really doing?  Take note of these numbers:
"One key challenge, however, is college readiness. A state Comptroller’s office study found that 75 percent of freshmen at community colleges were not prepared for college-level work"
"For freshmen in the state’s Board of Regents-run universities, the percentage not meeting school standards was 48."
"Seventy-eight percent of the state's African-American students graduate from high school, but only 4 percent of students are "college ready."