Legislative Update, January 23, 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. If you don't know who your legislators are, use Find My Legislator. 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+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny." -
Ronald Reagan, Address to Alabama State Legislature, March 15, 1982

Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville) is out to have surgery.  Rep. Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) continues to be out.  Rep. Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson) was out having a surgical procedure last week, but was back and doing well this week. Sen. Mark Green had his fifth chemo treatment this week.


It was another busy day at the Legislative Plaza, people were roaming the halls with "I support HB1412" written on their shirts, and I could tell they were fired up. Those people didn't faze Mrs. Patray at all and we were meeting with legislatures on a whole variety of issues. As this session is really getting going and the bill deadline is passing, I know that it will only get more exciting from here, even though right now is already very exciting.

MARY'S CORNER:  Mary lives north of Nashville.  We were hit with really bad weather and a lot of ice on Wednesday, so she was unable to get to the Plaza this week. I live southeast of town and wasn't able to get in until lunch time.

The bill filing deadline was 'close of business' on Thursday (earlier than usual) which meant that this week was very hectic. Legislators in each chamber trying to find a sponsor for their bill in the opposite chamber; lobbyists finalizing sponsors for their bills.  It also meant that a lot of 'caption' bills were filed.  A 'caption' bill is a bill that opens the appropriate section of the TN Code Annotated with some innocuous content that can be amended and replaced when the text of the bill is worked out. I noticed that this was especially true with the marriage situation.  Several lawmakers have caption bills that can be used as we move through the legislation session

SB 1437 by *Beavers, (HB 1412) by *Pody
Marriage - As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act"; states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

STATUS: The 'big' legislative news for this week was HB1412 which was scheduled in the Civil Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday.  Supporters were in the Plaza on Tuesday and Wednesday to demonstrate their support for doing something to impact that horrendous US Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.  All of us want to do anything we can to both protect states' rights, work toward the possible overturning of Obergefell, as well as protect officials in TN. 
We are very grateful for the heart and passion of the bill's sponsors
The question then becomes, what is the best way to do this.  After about an hour and a half of very interesting legal discussion and debate, the committee members decided that HB1412 wasn't the best way to start this process and the bill failed 1-4. [For some reason that video has not been posted, but when it is, it will be well worth your time to watch.] Some of the headlines about this vote have been brutal and very unjust in painting some of the committee members in a very negative light, as if they don't support states' rights and don't want to do anything toward changing the application of the Obergefell decision.  Nothing could be further from the truth. What they want to support is the best way forward which they believe is the lawsuit [see below].

Williamson suit seeks halt to issuing marriage licenses
, jebert@tennessean.com 6:28 p.m. CST January 21, 2016

A group of Williamson County residents, including three ministers, is asking Williamson County Clerk Elaine Anderson to stop issuing all marriage licenses until a lawsuit filed on Thursday is settled.
The lawsuit, filed in chancery court by former lawmaker David Fowler on behalf of the Constitutional Government Defense Fund, is attempting to challenge how Tennessee is affected by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage.
The legal action comes one day after a House subcommittee voted to reject the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act, a bill sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, which would have required state officials to disobey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
During a morning press conference at the Capitol, Fowler said the heart of the lawsuit is based upon determining who rules the citizens of Tennessee and ultimately the people of the United States.
After pointing out the lawsuit is not an attempt to deny the power of a federal court to judge the constitutionality of a given law, Fowler said the issue is centered on one question.
"How does anyone, regardless of the sexes of the parties, get a valid marriage license pursuant to an invalid law?" he asked.
Fowler said the Supreme Court is attempting to "declare by judicial fiat" a new law rather than allowing the legislative branch to determine what to do in the aftermath of the court's decision.
"This lawsuit asserts the simple proposition that an invalid law is no law," he said. "And the power asserted by the Supreme Court is nothing less than a power, by court order, to enact or replace a law that it has ruled invalid."

SJR 0067 by *Bell

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.

In April, 2015, SJR67 passed the State Senate 23-5 with two not voting. It is scheduled for the State Government Committee on Tuesday at noon.
This is difficult issue as the supporters are so sincere in their support and their desire to do something that will put some restraint on the Federal Government, which seems completely out of control, despite the 'Republican majorities' in both houses!!!
The problem is, in the history of this nation, we have never had an Article V Convention and while lawmakers are being assured by outside supporters that everything will be just fine, many questions remain unanswered. This effort, which is NOT new, started this time as an effort to force a 'Balanced Budget Amendment' onto the big spenders in DC. Now various groups/people have come up with many more amendments that 'should be put on the table', not all of these folks are conservative, by the way.

I have had two questions about this that have never been answered:
1.  If Congress isn't following the Constitution now, what makes us think they will follow it after it is amended?
2. Recognizing that more than 40% of Tennessee's budget comes from the fed, and we REALLY want to Balance the Budget, which of these programs are we prepared to decline?
We certainly do understand the heartfelt concern and even fear, if you will, of the direction this country has been taking and the economic distress we are in, but we are just very concerned that all the assurances that all is well with this process may not be all that has been promised since we have never done this in this history of our nation.
In case you are wondering, Eagle Forum is not the only organization that is concerned about this effort.  To the best of our knowledge this is a list of

Organizations OPPOSING an Article V Convention

ACTION:  The action on this Resolution will probably come down to one vote on Tuesday.  I urge you to contact Rep. Bill Sanderson and ask him to oppose this proposal.  Reps. Jeremy Durham, Bud Hulsey, William Lamberth and Mary Littleton are co-sponsors. I hope that at least on of them can be convinced to rethink their position.

Lt. Gov. Files Resolution in Tennessee State Senate to Sue Feds Over Refugee Resettlement
by Michael Patrick Leahy22 Jan 2016
The state of Tennessee is one step closer to suing the federal government over the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey filed Senate Joint Resolution 467 (SJR 467) in the State Senate on Thursday.
The resolution states “that the Tennessee General Assembly directs the Attorney General and Reporter of the State of Tennessee to initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the State of Tennessee or, in the alternative, seek appropriate relief in a federal court of competent jurisdiction regarding the failure of the federal government to comply with the Refugee Act of 1980.”
If the Attorney General of Tennessee fails to act, the General Assembly (the official name for the two houses of the Tennessee State Legislature, the State Senate and the House of Representatives) is authorized to initiate the lawsuit on its own.
“[U]pon receipt of notice from the Attorney General and Reporter declining the initiation of or intervention into a civil action described in this resolution, the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are authorized to employ outside counsel to commence a civil action effectuating the purposes of this resolution,” it states.
Ramsey, who also serves as head of the State Senate, was joined by five powerful co-sponsors in the resolution, including: Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville, the Senate Majority Leader), Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro, the GOP Caucus Chair), Senator Mae Beavers (R-Lebanon), Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge, the Senate Finance Committee Chair), and Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).