Legislative Update, April 11, 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).

"The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial, and righteous government of the world; but all agree that for such a government to be sustained many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scripture, must be practiced.  The rulers mush govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws."  Emma Willard, History of the United States of 1843.


Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) had his FINAL chemotherapy yesterday and will soon have a scan. Please pray that the scan will be completely clear and he will be soon have his health completely restored!!! Senators Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) and Ken Yager  (R-Harriman) were both on crutches this week.  Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) is still away from the session. Please remember these legislators in prayer.  On a personal note, my former son-in-law, the father of my grandchildren, died Tuesday evening at age 52.  Please remember our entire family.

As the Legislative Session winds down, the intensity does too.  Many bills are in committees and those committees often work long hours to discuss that legislation.  This Tuesday we first took information to legislators regarding bills in their committees.  Finishing that,  we then hurried to the Senate Local Government committee to observe discussion on a Joint Resolution condemning anti-Semitism in the state as well as showing solidarity with the Jewish people.  This measure passed.  I then attended the House Education Administration and Planning Committee.  A bill allowing illegals to get in-state tuition at colleges and universities passed.  After lunch we spent our afternoon in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The abortion bills passed by the House both cleared that committee. Representatives from Tennessee Right to Life and Planned Parenthood testified.  I learned personally how long committees can take.  Senate Judiciary started at 1pm and still had many bills to discuss when we left at 6pm.  That takes dedication!

What a day on The Hill! Starting off at as close to a normal pace as you can get down there, my day at the legislature certainly ended with quite a bang in Health Committee. Having the committee room for as long as they wanted, the chairman and members of the Health Committee were in no hurry to get through the agenda on a scheduled time. With that being said, there was a certain kind of leisure and extreme thoroughness to the questions over the bills of concern which led to some interesting debates. The one whose conversation certainly lasted the longest was that of the 48 hour waiting period and the informed consent of a woman seeking an abortion. Several people from Planned Parenthood came to speak against the bill with loaded answers to the pelting questions. The conversation quickly got heated and not a soul would have left the room in fear of missing any detail of the argument. Although it did pass it did not do so without a long fight from the opposition. Strong in their criticism and weak in their defense, several representatives on the committee were unceasing in presenting arguments that were not an issue of the bill. Infuriated with the idea of a more thorough and informative process of an abortion they fail to see the obvious woman empowering nature of the legislation. If there is even a chance that an abortion is not what the woman one hundred percent wants, would you not want to give her the opportunity to make that decision with all of the facts? I was extremely impressed by Representative Matthew Hill and how he presented the bill and answered to the criticism. A long debate made for an amazing Wednesday and I look forward to seeing were the bill goes from here.

House: The end is close enough for a FloMo
And the days dwindle down to a precious few....FloMo allows the legislature to fast forward through mandatory wait times to take up certain bills. The first session of the 109th General Assembly is winding down.  Most committees in the House and Senate have closed, subject to the call of the Chair.  The Finance committees will be very busy with long hours, next week dealing with lengthy calendars and the state budget.

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.

I hardly know where to begin trying to explain the tortured language used to validate this legislation.  It seems that under what many consider the ILLEGAL dictates of the Obama Administration's Executive Amnesty, these students are still ILLEGALS, but they are LAWFUL.  Got that??
Under the provisions of DACA, they can get work authorization, Social Security numbers, Driver's Licenses, and now instate tuition.  Gee, what's not to like??

         Twenty-five states are now part of a lawsuit challenging President Obama's lawless amnesty agenda. Filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas, the lawsuit asserts that the Obama administration overstepped its constitutional authority by granting work permits to millions of illegal aliens and promising them a reprieve from deportation.    Tenn. joins multistate lawsuit over immigration
STATUS:  Now this bill has once again been rewritten to impact only those students in the state under DACA, reducing the potential number to about 7,000. Read the amendment HERE. 
Senators voting aye were: Dickerson, Haile, Harper, McNally, Overbey, Stevens, Tate -- 7.
Senators voting no were: Hensley, Ketron, Watson -- 3.
Senators present and not voting were: Norris -- 1.

HB0675 was passed in EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION & PLANNING and was referred to Government Operations Committee 4/7/2015
Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail Rep(s). Moody, White D requested to be recorded as voting No Rep(s). Dunlap, Coley requested to be recorded as Present Not Voting

ACTION:  SB612 is headed for the Senate Floor.  Please find your member HERE urge him or her to vote NO on this bill. HB675 was sent to Government Operations.  Please find the members HERE and urge them to stop this bill.

SB 1280 by *Hensley,(HB 1368) by *Lynn
Abortion - As introduced, requires facilities or physician offices where more than 50 abortions are performed in a calendar year to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers.
As amended, this bill requires that abortion clinics be licensed and inspected.
During the debate on this bill in Senate Judiciary, Sen. Mark Green was in the committee room waiting to present a bill.  When abortion proponents were commenting that abortion had a 99% safety record, Sen. Green, who is also an emergency room physician, testified about the number of badly injured women he had seen in the hospital post abortion.  In addition, Sen. Mike Bell asked to recognized and commented that abortion wasn't safe for the baby.
You can go HERE, click on SB1280 to see the debate.
STATUS: SB1280 passed the Judiciary Committee 7-2.
Senators voting aye were: Bell, Bowling, Gardenhire, Kelsey, Overbey, Roberts, Stevens -- 7.
Senators voting no were: Harris, Kyle -- 2.

HB1368  passed the Health Committee by Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail Rep(s). Clemmons, Favors, Jones requested to be recorded as voting No.

SB 1222 by *Beavers (HB 0977) by *Hill M
Abortion - As introduced, revises provisions governing reports a physician who performs an abortion is required to keep to specify that such records must be maintained for five years; clarifies that the requirement applies to any abortion procedure instead of just "operations."
NOTE: As amended, this bill requires informed consent and a 48-hour waiting period
In the Senate, the debate took an interesting turn when Sen. Gardenhire added some personal experience to the discussion. Tenn. senator says vasectomy 'more stringent' than abortion
In the House, under extended confrontational debate Rep. Hill did a masterful job of guiding this important bill through the process to a successful conclusionYou can go HERE, look on left, click on HB977 to watch this informative debate.
STATUS: SB1222 passed the Judiciary committee 7-2.
Senators voting aye were: Bell, Bowling, Gardenhire, Kelsey, Overbey, Roberts, Stevens -- 7.
Senators voting no were: Harris, Kyle -- 2

HB977 passed on a voice vote with Reps. Clemmons, Favors, Jernigan, Jones requested to be recorded as voting No

SB 1362 by *Tate, (HB 1040) by *Fitzhugh
Health, Dept. of - As introduced, authorizes the department to make available for public inspection on its web site the names and other information from the registry of persons who have abused, neglected, misappropriated, or exploited the property of vulnerable individuals.
NOTE: This bill was amended to provide a 'RIGHT TO DIE'. Read amendment HERE
I remember when we passed the prohibition of 'assisted suicide' bill in 1993 and I have to say that I never thought I would see the day when this was even discussed in our state.  The famous John Jay Hooker, who, unfortunately at 84, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, has been promoting this idea and I think it was out of respect for John Jay that this bill was even heard.
  Tennesseans should have right to die with dignity  I am truly sorry that he has received this diagnosis, but would hate to see this used to push TN into make a really bad decision about this issue. Here are some facts about the fallacy of passing such a bill:
Families don't have to be informed. They can be left with guilt, anger and sadness.
It will cause family dissension as some oppose it and others encourage it.
It opens the door to the worst form of elder abuse by the self-centered, exhausted care providers or greedy relatives.
The "right to die will become the duty to die for senior citizens, as some bioethicists already advocate. Not wanting to be "a burden, the elderly will take their own lives.
Mental and physical suffering preclude rational decision-making. The U.S. Supreme Court stated the obvious, "the competent terminally-ill person seeking suicide is largely fiction. No mental evaluation is required.
Most people commit suicide due to depression which is extremely common but treatable in the terminally ill.
In an economically challenged healthcare system, the cheapest form of healthcare for any illness is a handful of lethal medications.
STATUS:  SB1362 and HB1040 was sent to Summer Study.  (Sometimes this means that there really will be a 'study'; sometimes that is just a way to dispense with an issue. We shall see.)


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 Finance Ways and Means 10-0-1
Dickerson, Haile, Harper, Hensley, Ketron, McNally, Norris, Overbey, Stevens, Watson -- 10.
Senators present and not voting were: Tate -- 1

HB1035 will be in Finance, Ways & Means Committee for 4/14/2015

SB 0180 by *Ketron , Bowling, Tate,(HB 0935) by *Matheny
Forfeiture of Assets - As introduced, specifies that property used in the course of, intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through certain terrorist acts is subject to forfeiture; creates a civil action for damages for a person injured as a result of certain terrorist acts.
    "Andy's Law" in honor of U.S. Army Pvt. William "Andy" Long of Conway [right], who was shot and killed outside a west Little Rock recruiting center in 2009. Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula of Jacksonville was wounded in the shooting rampage.
    Abdulhakim Muhammad, a Memphis, Tenn., native named Carlos Bledsoe who converted to Islam, pleaded guilty to capital murder and attempted capital murder in 2011, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bledsoe claimed to be a terrorist and had traveled to Yemen and Somalia.
 AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill to authorize the seizure and forfeiture of property involved in the commission or terrorism offenses and creates a private cause of action for victims of terrorism to sue the offender.
STATUS:  SB180 passed the Senate 33-0.
HB935 will be in Finance, Ways & Means Committee for 4/14/2015

SB 0615
by *Hensley, (HB 0674) by *Rogers
Children - As introduced, requires revisions to information provided in a pamphlet associated with newborn testing and establishes requirements for the destruction of certain specimens and identifying informant
STATUS:  As amended, SB615 on Senate Regular Calendar calendar for 4/14/201
I am thrilled to report that on April 8, HB674 passed the House floor 95-0.

SJR 0067 by *Bell , Jackson, Stevens, Green, Johnson
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.
    Because of the widespread support for a Convention among our legislators, I certainly feel like I am 'tilting at windmills', but we still have grave concerns about how this process would be carried out. I know that we have had many assurances that everything will be all right and that may be the case if it would just be conservatives 'at the table', but a lot of VERY liberal organizations are also pushing this idea.  And, regardless of the assurances, the truth is, since we have never done this since the Constitution was adopted, we don't know what will happen.  In addition, I, of all people, understand the terror we all feel right now with the economic stability and the out of control spending that continues every day, but I do not have any comfort that a Convention is the way to proceed.
Retired US Justice Berger wrote Phyllis a letter about this that you can read HERE. The two questions that I have had that NO ONE has been able to answer are these:  1.  If Congress is not following the Constitution now, what makes us think that they will follow it if it is amended.  2. For those that desperately want to assure a reduction in federal spending, which federal programs can we refuse? (Over 40% of Tennessee budget is from federal funds.)  I continue to believe that we do not have deficient Constitution, but a disobedient Congress.
STATUS:  SJR67 is on Senate floor calendar for 4/13/2015. You can find your Senator HERE.
ACTION:  Please contact your senator to express your concern about moving this resolution forward.

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

The discussion on the bill in both houses has been interesting and instructive. During the respective debates one could both hear and feel the genuine angst among some of the committee members as they discussed whether or not making the Bible the official book for the state of TN in any way diminished the Bible.
Bill Would Make Bible Official State Book of Tennessee
STATUS: SB1108 passed  State and Local Committee 7-0-2
Senators voting aye were: Briggs, Green, Harper, Jackson, Johnson, Ketron, Yager -- 7.
Senators present and not voting were: Dickerson, Norris -- 2.

HB 615 passed the House State Government  Committee on 4/7/2015 on a voice vote  Ayes Prevail Rep(s). Jernigan requested to be recorded as voting No Rep(s). Powell, Ramsey requested to be recorded as Present Not Voting. It will be on the floor  Regular Calendar for 4/14/2015
You can go HERE, click on SB1108 to see the debate; you can go HERE, click on HB615 to see the debate.

Walker gets warm welcome from TN GOP legislators