FINAL Legislative Update, April 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. 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).

And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. Ronald Reagan

At 2:06pm on Friday, the 65th Legislative Day
, the second session of the 109th TN General Assembly adjourned Sine die!  Now the lawmakers get to go back to their homes, jobs, families, and for most of them, the campaign season for re-election. Please pray that Godly, wise, principled men and women will win these elections. On a personal note, I am pleased to report that, after 32 days, Ron was finally able to come home on Wednesday, April 20.  He is on oral antibiotics, and to protect the healing of the partially amputated toe,  is to use a walker until we see the doctor on May 3rd.  Thank you for your prayers.
April 21: Judge upholds vote count on Tennessee abortion ballot measure
April 22:Federal judge orders recount of 2014 abortion ballot vote

Three months ago I began one of the most fun, exciting, and informative experiences of my life. I had the honor of interning once a week for Mrs. Bobbie Patray. I got to see first-hand how our political process works in the state of Tennessee. Mrs. Bobbie made sure that any questions I had were answered and I am completely grateful for the opportunity she gave me to join her. From walking all around the Legislative Plaza to meetings with different legislators, this was an experience I will never forget. My perspective of government and this state has been changed, and I am simply grateful.

I have been a part of Teen Eagles for many years and one thing we have done every year is shadow a legislator. Shadowing has provided me with insight regarding the inter-workings of our government. However, my time with Mrs. Bobbie did more than teach me countless life lessons, it showed me the truth. I met countless people over these few short months, many giving me little bits of wisdom in passing. I just want to thank Mrs. Bobbie for being such a great mentor and friend and always treating me as her equal.

SB 1912 by *Gardenhire, (HB 2248) by *VanHuss
Budget Procedures - As introduced, prohibits state funds from being expended in support of the office for diversity and inclusion at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; diverts such funding to a program for placing decals of the national motto on local and state law enforcement vehicles.
STATUS:  The Conference Committee Report was adopted in the House, 63-21-1; and in the Senate 22-3.


Lawmakers approve bill diverting $436K from UT's diversity office
NASHVILLE ” State lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that diverts ” for one year only ” about $436,000 from the University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion and into scholarships for minority students in engineering.
If ultimately approved by Gov. Bill Haslam, that move ends ” at least for this year ” a push by conservatives angry over the Knoxville campus's annual Sex Week and memorandums to the campus community from the diversity office last year discussing gender-neutral pronouns and ways to make Christmas holiday office parties inclusive for non-Christians. The Conference Committee Report as adopted by the Legislature

Rep. Micah Van Huss (hope I caught this quote on the floor exactly):  "Nothing opens the minds of administrators like the sound of pocket books snapping shut."
From Rep. Van Huss' Facebook page: "After a year of work, we finally defunded the UT Office of Diversity and Inclusion. No taxpayer funds can go to support Sex Week and no buildings built or remodeled with taxpayer dollars can be used to support it."

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

STATUS: FINALLY - On Monday evening, SJR467 passed the House floor 69-25 with a small change that sent it back to the Senate.  On Friday, the Senate concurred with the change 27-5. Done and Done!!

Game On: Tennessee to Sue Feds Over Unconstitutional Refugee Resettlement
Breitbart, by  MICHAEL PATRICK LEAHY, April 19, 2016:
NASHVILLE, Tennessee“On Tuesday, the Tennessee General Assembly declared it will sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program on Tenth Amendment grounds. The State Senate passed a resolution authorizing that lawsuit in a 29 to 4 vote one day after it passed the Tennessee House by a 69 to 25 margin.
"Today we struck a blow for Liberty by finally adopting SJR467, State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), the co-sponsor of the resolution who shepherded it through the State Senate, tells Breitbart News.
"The General Assembly clearly understands the importance of public safety and state sovereignty as demonstrated by the overwhelming support of this Resolution for which we are thankful. The Syrian surge heightens our sense of urgency to get this properly before the courts, and we urge the Attorney General to act without delay, Norris adds.
Tennessee, which withdrew from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in 2008, will now become the first state to sue the federal government over its operation of the program within the borders of its state on Tenth Amendment grounds. Alabama and Texas are currently suing the federal government over the refugee resettlement program on the narrower grounds that it has failed to comply with the Refugee Act of 1980.
"As a state legislator, it is my duty to fulfill my oath and to exercise Constitutional authority, House sponsor State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) tells Breitbart News.

"I take it seriously to do all I can to protect the sovereignty of our great state. Either we abide by the Tenth Amendment or we ignore it, she adds.
"It's time for states to say no more federal overreach and [I] really believe that the federal government was created by the states and not the other way around, Weaver says.
"Proud to have been involved in the process. It's been a long road, State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) tells Breitbart News, adding:
    I held our first hearing in 2013 to look into this issue and I believe we have exhausted very option other than a law suit. I am very proud of [House resolution lead sponsor] State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) and her steadfastness, as well as the House Republican Caucus for sticking with this fight to this conclusion .

SB 0047 by *Green, (HB 0813) by *Sargent
Taxes, Income - As introduced, contingent upon revenue growth exceeding three percent in any fiscal year, reduces the Hall income tax until it reaches zero percent; for each rate reduction, increases the percentage of tax proceeds returned to local governments until it reaches 100 percent and decreases the percentage returned to the general fund until it reaches zero percent.
STATUS:  This was one of the hardest fought battles of this legislative session and literally came down to the closing hours of the session, when each chamber passed bills that were different and these were sent to a conference committee.  The Conference Committee report was adopted in the Senate 29-1 and in the House 66-17.

Hall Tax To Be Eliminated Over 6 Years
Friday, April 22, 2016
The Tennessee General Assembly has passed legislation to repeal the Hall Income Tax over a period of 6 years.
The tax rate will be reduced from six percent to five percent, a seventeen percent cut from the total dollars collected by the state for fiscal year 2016.
The intent of the General Assembly in successive years is that the tax on investment and dividend income will be cut one percent annually, but is not bound to any specific rate reduction being charged to respond according to the economic health of each fiscal year.
Under the bill, by Jan. 1, 2022, the Hall Income Tax will no longer be collected and eliminated as a legal means of taxation in Tennessee. It is set to sunset as the year 2021 sunsets.
Lookout Mountain, Tn., is one of the cities with wealthy residents that relied on the tax for a significant amount of its budget.
Senator Mark Green, a co-sponsor, said, "It has been an absolute honor to carry this historic bill and see it to passage.  The Hall Income Tax is a jobs-killer and we have just killed the Hall Income Tax. There will be no Hall Tax on the first day of 2022; this is as good as it gets for Tennessee seniors and for businesses who want to invest in Tennessee workers.

SB 2568
by *Norris,(HB 2577) by *McCormick

Abortion - As introduced, establishes requirements regarding the disposition of fetal remains resulting from surgical abortions, including reporting requirements and requirements for interim inspections of and certain reporting by facilities where surgical abortions are performed
STATUS: As amended, this legislation passed the Senate 28-2-1, then passed the House 79-9-1 with a change that sent it back to the Senate where they concurred 28-1-1.

Tennessee House passes ban on sale of aborted babies' body parts
NASHVILLE, Tennessee, April 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) “ The Tennessee House has passed legislation adding new regulations for handling aborted fetal remains in the state.
The Fetal Remains Act passed 79-9 last Thursday, having already cleared the Senate in a 28-2 vote three days prior.
The proposed legislation adds language clarifying that reimbursement for the preparation, preservation, transfer, shipping, or handling of an aborted fetus or fetal tissue would be a Class E felony. The sale or purchase of fetal tissue is currently illegal in Tennessee.
The Senate will need to approve the House-amended measure before it goes to the governor. The legislation was on the Senate Message Calendar for possible consideration April 18, Senate staff told LifeSiteNews, with discussion possibly extending into the following day.
Governor Bill Haslam had advocated for passage of the law after the undercover videos surfaced implicating Planned Parenthood in trafficking the remains of children aborted at its facilities.

SB 1556 by *Johnson,HB 1840) by *Howell
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, Dept. of - As introduced, declares that no person providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.
STATUS:  As amended, this legislation passed the Senate floor on February 17, 27-5.  The House made a small change on April 6, and passed it 68-22.  It went back to the Senate where, on April 11, they concurred in the change 25-6.  It has now been sent to the Governor for his signature.

SB 2186 by *Bell, (HB 1905) by *Hill M
Education - As introduced, requires each local school board to adopt a policy on the use of religion in curriculum and instructional materials; requires each LEA to create a syllabus to be made public for grades six through 12 on social studies, science, math, and English language arts courses.
STATUS:  This legislation was driven by assignments and textbooks being used in Tennessee schools. So glad to report that this bill as amended, has been signed by the governor and is now state law!! Thank you Sen. Mike Bell and Rep. Matthew Hill.

SB 1108 by *Southerland, (HB 0615) by *Sexton J
State Government - As introduced, designates the Holy Bible as the official state book .
STATUS:  Tennessee governor vetoes bill making Bible the official state book
On Wednesday, April 20, Rep. Jerry Sexton brought HB615 to the House floor to attempt to override the Governor's veto.  After about two hours of debate and much Scripture quoting by supporters and opponents, the override effort failed 43-50-4:
          Representatives voting aye were: Alexander, Brooks K., Butt, Byrd, Casada, Doss, Dunlap, Dunn, Durham, Eldridge, Goins, Hawk, Hicks, Hill M., Hill T., Holsclaw, Holt, Howell, Hulsey, Keisling, Kumar, Littleton, Lollar, Lynn, Matheny, Matlock, Moody, Pody, Powers, Reedy, Rogers, Sargent, Sexton J., Sparks, Spivey, Terry, Van Huss, Weaver, White D., Windle, Wirgau, Womick, Zachary -- 43.
          Representatives voting no were: Akbari, Armstrong, Beck, Brooks H., Camper, Carr, Carter, Clemmons, Cooper, Daniel, Faison, Farmer, Favors, Forgety, Gilmore, Gravitt, Halford, Hardaway, Hazlewood, Jenkins, Jernigan, Johnson, Jones, Kane, Lamberth, Love, Marsh, McCormick, McDaniel, McManus, Miller, Mitchell, Parkinson, Pitts, Powell, Ragan, Ramsey, Sanderson, Sexton C., Shaw, Shepard, Smith, Stewart, Swann, Towns, Travis, Turner, White M., Williams, Madam Speaker Harwell -- 50.
          Representatives present and not voting were: Coley, DeBerry, Fitzhugh, Todd -- 4.


SB 1738 by *Niceley  (HB 2029) by *Faison
Racing and Motor Sports - As introduced, creates the state horse racing advisory committee to develop recommendations for legislation related to the establishment of horse racing in this state
STATUS: I am really disappointed that this bill passed the General Assembly and sets up another potential gambling situation that will be opposed. Horse tracks have been a declining industry and to make them profitable, many have installed casino-type machines in order to make money
  On April 7, SB1738 passed the Senate 24-7:
          Senators voting aye were: Bailey, Bowling, Briggs, Crowe, Gardenhire, Green, Gresham, Harper, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Kyle, Massey, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Roberts, Stevens, Tate, Yager, Yarbro, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 24.
          Senators voting no were: Beavers, Tracy -- 2.

On April 20, it passed the House 50-32-6:
          Representatives voting aye were: Akbari, Armstrong, Beck, Camper, Carr, Carter, Casada, Clemmons, Cooper, Daniel, Eldridge, Faison, Favors, Fitzhugh, Forgety, Gilmore, Gravitt, Halford, Hardaway, Hazlewood, Hicks, Holsclaw, Howell, Jenkins, Jernigan, Johnson, Jones, Kumar, Love, Marsh, Matheny, McDaniel, McManus, Miller, Parkinson, Powell, Ragan, Ramsey, Reedy, Sanderson, Sargent, Sexton C., Shepard, Spivey, Swann, Todd, Towns, Travis, Williams, Wirgau -- 50.
          Representatives voting no were: Alexander, Brooks H., Byrd, Coley, Dunlap, Dunn, Hawk, Hill M., Hill T., Hulsey, Kane, Lamberth, Lollar, Lynn, Matlock, McCormick, Mitchell, Moody, Pitts, Pody, Rogers, Sexton J., Smith, Stewart, Turner, Van Huss, Weaver, White D., White M., Windle, Womick, Zachary -- 32.
          Representatives present and not voting were: DeBerry, Durham, Littleton, Powers, Shaw, Sparks -- 6.

Perhaps if I had been able to be at the Capitol I could have move at least one YES vote and it would have failed.


SB 2109 by *Johnson,(HB 2105) by *Marsh
AMENDMENT #2 rewrites this bill and establishes licensing requirements for fantasy sports operators.
SB2109-HB2105 is now composed of these:
Amendment # 2 that is 20 pages long.
Amendment # 4 that is a half page.

STATUS:  On March 28, SB2109 passed the Senate floor 29-1, with NO discussion.
          Senators voting aye were: Bailey, Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, Harris, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Kyle, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Overbey, Roberts, Southerland, Stevens, Tate, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Yarbro, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- 29.           Senators voting no were: Harper -- 1.
Then came the Attorney General's opinion that I thought surely would stop this legislation, but unfortunately it did not and HB2105 passed the House floor, again, with virtually NO discussion 67-17-3:

          Representatives voting aye were: Akbari, Armstrong, Brooks H., Brooks K., Calfee, Camper, Carr, Casada, Clemmons, Coley, Cooper, Daniel, Doss, Durham, Eldridge, Faison, Farmer, Fitzhugh, Forgety, Goins, Gravitt, Halford, Hardaway, Hazlewood, Hicks, Hill M., Hill T., Holsclaw, Howell, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Keisling, Kumar, Lollar, Love, Marsh, McCormick, McDaniel, Miller, Mitchell, Parkinson, Pitts, Powell, Ragan, Reedy, Rogers, Sanderson, Sargent, Sexton C., Sexton J., Shaw, Shepard, Stewart, Swann, Terry, Todd, Towns, Travis, Turner, Van Huss, Weaver, White D., White M., Williams, Wirgau, Madam Speaker Harwell -- 67.
          Representatives voting no were: Alexander, Butt, DeBerry, Dunlap, Dunn, Hawk, Holt, Kane, Lamberth, Lynn, Matlock, Pody, Smith, Spivey, Windle, Womick, Zachary -- 17.
          Representatives present and not voting were: Hulsey, Moody, Sparks -- 3.

SB 2387 by *Bell, (HB 2414) by *Lynn
Students - As introduced, requires students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students' birth certificates. This is the bill as it has been re-written

STATUS:  SB2387 passed Senate Finance Ways and Means 7-2 on March 23.  HB2414 ran into a lot of stiff opposition.  After some hard fought battles it was on the calendar for the House Finance Ways and Means subcommittee, then the House sponsor pulled the legislation, so, unfortunately, it is dead for the session.

Tennessee Bathroom Bill Is Pulled
Monday, April 18, 2016
Rep. Susan Lynn on Monday decided not to pursue a vote on House Bill 2414, the so-called "bathroom bill."
David Fowler, Family Action Council of Tennessee president, said, "We were not able to speak with her before her decision, so we will not attempt to explain her reasons for doing so. We thank Senator Mike Bell for his hard work on the Senate side and agree with his decision not to push for a vote on the bill at this point since it could not pass on House side.
"We are thankful that Rep. Lynn and Senator Bell brought the bill and we appreciate their efforts in past weeks in the face of consistent opposition from the governor's office and others, but we join the thousands of parents across the state who are profoundly disappointed that at this point in the process Rep. Lynn has decided not to proceed with a bill that would have simply protected the privacy of the children they have entrusted to our public schools.

HJR 1074 by *Matlock, Holt, Butt, Spivey, Calfee, Reedy, Hill M, VanHuss, Hill T, Moody, Kane, Zachary, Carter, Littleton, Jenkins, Eldridge, Halford, Rogers, Matheny, Pody, Daniel, Goins, Lollar, Howell, Hulsey, Coley, Sexton J, Weaver, Alexander, Faison, White D, Keisling
General Assembly, Recess & Reconvene - Recesses the 109th General Assembly on April 22, 2016, and reconvenes both houses at 10:00 am on May 23, 2016
STATUS:  Because some concern arose about the possibility of gubernatorial vetoes of some of the important bills passed in the last days of this session, a number of lawmakers decided to introduce a resolution that would reconvene the general assembly on May 23.  After extensive discussion, a motion to 'table' the proposal was made and passed 46-33.   I guess we will just have to wait and see what the outcome of these important bills will be.
Representatives voting aye were: Alexander, Beck, Brooks H., Brooks K., Calfee, Carr, Carter, Casada, Clemmons, Cooper, Doss, Eldridge, Fitzhugh, Forgety, Gilmore, Gravitt, Hardaway, Jenkins, Jernigan, Johnson, Love, Marsh, Matlock, McCormick, McDaniel, McManus, Miller, Mitchell, Parkinson, Pitts, Powell, Ramsey, Reedy, Sargent, Shaw, Shepard, Stewart, Swann, Todd, Towns, Travis, Turner, White M., Wirgau, Zachary, Madam Speaker Harwell -- 46.
          Representatives voting no were: Akbari, Armstrong, Butt, Camper, Coley, Daniel, Dunlap, Durham, Goins, Hicks, Hill M., Hill T., Holt, Howell, Hulsey, Kane, Keisling, Lamberth, Littleton, Lollar, Matheny, Moody, Pody, Ragan, Rogers, Sanderson, Sexton J., Smith, Sparks, Van Huss, Weaver, White D., Windle -- 33.

Governor not ruling out post-session vetoes
Gov. Bill Haslam says he is not ruling out vetoes of bills that reach his desk after adjournment of the 2016 legislative session “ including a phased-in repeal of the Hall tax on investment income approved on the last day.
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, led an effort to set up a special veto override session on Friday, but failed. That means that the 109th General Assembly is officially over and cannot return to override any vetoes issued by the governor. During debate on Holt's proposal, some legislators suggested Haslam has offered assurances that no vetoes are anticipated.
But in a post-session news conference, Haslam made no commitments.
Excerpt from The Tennessean's report:

Qualifying deadline extended in House District 92 after Spivey withdraws
Thursday is the new qualifying deadline in state House District 92, where incumbent state Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, withdrew as a candidate for reelection after initially filing a petition, according to the state Division of Elections.
Under a state law known as the " Anti-Skullduggery Act, qualifying automatically reopens when an incumbent withdraws after the qualifying deadline has passed.