Legislative Update, March 12, 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).

"On some positions, cowardice asks the question, it is expedient?  And then expedience comes along and asks the question”is it politic?  Vanity asks the question”it is popular?  Conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, no politic, nor popular”but must take it because it is right. Last Sunday sermon given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Please continue to remember Rep. Rick Womick and his family.  His mother is now under Hospice care.  The 'germ petri dish' better known as the Plaza is still taking its toll.  Many committees are announcing their 'final calendar'.  That means that things are officially in 'wind down' but also means long hours in committee
. This week the Senate calendar is 76 pages long, House Committee calendar is 39 pages, the House Subcommittee calendar is 81 pagesPlease pray for wisdom, clarity, and endurance. And last, but not least, a lovely praise. Rep. Micah VanHuss and his wife just found out the baby they are expecting is a girl!!

OK, can I just say -- this biannual time change is ridiculous!!  Especially the one where I lose an hour's sleep!!  Just move the clocks thirty minutes and leave it alone. Anyway, don't forget.

The pressure was on this Tuesday. We had less than 24 hours before the Government Operations Committee heard the compact for the balanced budget Amendment. We met with countless legislators explaining all of the problems in the compact and why we are strongly against it. It is very interesting lobbying against a bill while people lobbying for it are on the same Plaza as you are. Mrs. Patray testified against the compact on Wednesday and she did a fantastic job. Let's all continue to pray as this session is moving at an extremely quick pace.

The good news is that SB2017 stayed in committee and that's all I will say about the balanced budget amendment, which was heard in Senate government operations. We had a day full of committees and some were even announcing their last calendar as the session winds down. Between all the committees we touched base with a couple legislators debating on signing SJR467. This resolution is concerning the federal government's noncompliance with the Refugee Act and seeks injunctive relief from the mandated appropriation of state revenue.

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."

Representatives from the Compact come from out of state like a strong wind.  Both Dranias (In Finance) and DeMoss (Gov Ops) continually 'dropped' Eagle Forum's name in their testimonies leaving the impression that somehow Eagle Forum supports this Compact.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I am VERY grateful that Sen. Bell got DeMoss to tell the whole truth about that situation.
Andy Schlafly is a Constitutional lawyer who had tried some cases before DeMoss' father who was a judge. Some years ago, when asked, he did offer some suggestions about the venue for the event and some other details, but neither he nor  Eagle Forum has ever supported this Compact.  I am so glad that that finally became a part of the official record instead of the 'name dropping' which certainly seemed deceptive left unchallenged.  They have done this in other states and maybe now that someone has called their hand, that will stop that!

In my testimony I did not get into Eagle Forum's traditional concerns about an Article V Constitutional Convention, but concentrated on the contents of SB2017.  Some of those concerns include (I have many more) the state being obligated to funding the Compact Foundation and convention event that is left undefined, the opening for Flat Tax or Fair Tax without explaining how that process would work, the multiple times where the bill talks about "superseding and repealing any conflicting or contrary law", which is also left undefined.  Now the out-of-state proponents quickly explain all this away but one senator said to me that this was like "buying a pig in a poke"  I agree.

On Monday Nick Dranias, President and Executive Director for the Compact for America Education Foundation, sent out an email with this in the Subject line: Why Ms. Bobbie Patray is Wrong about the Balanced Budget Compact
Just one portion of the email:
Critique 3: Ms. Patray is concerned that the Compact bill is 18 pages long.

The Facts. The Compact bill was designed to answer each and every one of the Eagle Forum's famous twenty questions about the logistics of the Article V convention process with specific provisions. You can read how here.
It is unreasonable for Ms. Patray to criticize the length of the Compact when it was the Eagle Forum's own twenty questions that necessitated it.

In my testimony on Wednesday I responded to the email this way:
In  the 29 years I have been down here, as you might imagine I have supported and I have opposed  a lot of legislation.
At no time in all those years, did the proponents of legislation I opposed make the fight personal and resort to calling me out by name.
They made the debate about the merits of their proposal.
A bill should rise or fall on its own merits.
And they certainly never blamed me for the length of their bill and then stated that it was unreasonable that I criticize their bill.
Most proponents of a piece of legislation present and defend their proposal based on its own merits not on calling out their opponents.
I suggest to you that that is not the way we do business in Tennessee.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and committee members for your time.

STATUS:  After extended discussion by the committee and testimony by proponent Chip DeMoss and myself, SB2017 was voted on:
Senators voting aye were: Kelsey, Jackson, Crowe, Bell -- 4; Senators voting no were: Harris, Bowling, Beavers -- 3, Senators present and not voting were: Roberts -- 1.  Which meant that the bill stayed in committee; however, because it was not defeated, Sen. Ketron can bring it back and, in fact, did.  It is back on the Government Operations Calender on Wednesday.
HB2584 is on the State Government Subcommittee Calendar Wednesday.

ACTION:  The fate of the legislation rests on Sen. Kerry Roberts and Sen. Paul Baily, who was absent last meeting. Please contact them and ask them to VOTE NO on SB2017:
sen.kerry.roberts@capitol.tn.gov  and  sen.paul.bailey@capitol.tn.gov.
PLEASE contact the members of the State Government Subcommittee and ask them to VOTE NO on HB2584:   rep.bill.sanderson@capitol.tn.gov , rep.bud.hulsey@capitol.tn.gov , rep.darren.jernigan@capitol.tn.gov , rep.mary.littleton@capitol.tn.gov , rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov       

SB 1657 by *Tracy,(HB 1728) by *Sexton C
Election Laws - As introduced, adopts the interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote.
NOTES:  This terrible bill is still hanging out there, but I think we are making progress on it. Here is all the information you need to help us DEFEAT this proposal.  In fact you  will want to read the newest addition:  Destroying the Electoral College

STATUS:  HB1728 in Local Government Subcommittee on Wednesday.
ACTION:  Please contact these four lawmakers and urge them to stop this terrible idea in it tracks and vote NO!

rep.dale.carr@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dan.howell@capitol.tn.govrep.mike.sparks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tim.wirgau@capitol.tn.gov,

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

NOTE: This is an important bill for TN.  I suspect none of us ever considered that we would even be having a conversation or debate about boys using the boys restroom and girls using the girls bathroom.  Well, the world is now upside down and we should protect our children.  It is facing stiff opposition from the Dept of Education as well as the transgender folks.
STATUS:  SB2387 is in Senate Education on Wednesday and HB2414 is in 
Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION: It is vital that you contact the members of both committees and URGE them, despite the opposition, to vote for this common sense proposal.

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:  On February 22, SJR467 passed the Senate floor
27 to 5. On Wednesday, it will be in the House State Government Subcommittee.
ACTION: Fortunately, is has a lot of house co-sponsors, nevertheless, please let the committee members know that you support this vitally important measure.
rep.bill.sanderson@capitol.tn.gov , rep.bud.hulsey@capitol.tn.gov , rep.darren.jernigan@capitol.tn.gov , rep.mary.littleton@capitol.tn.gov , rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov       

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.
NOTE:  This legislation is a response to the activities of Planned Parenthood and the gruesome videos we all saw last summer.
Tennessee Gov Bill Haslam Pushes Pro-Life Reforms to Hold Unlawful Abortion Clinics Accountable
STATUS:  HB2584 is in House Health Subcommittee on Tuesday.
ACTION:  I suspect that the Planned Parenthood supporters will turn out in large numbers, so please let the committee members know you support this proposal.

SB 2392
by *Bell,(HB 2190) by *Matheny
Schools, Home - As introduced, requires schools to provide notice on their web sites of the date of the school's administration of the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations, the availability of such examinations, any financial assistance for low income students, and schools where a home school student may take the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations.
NOTE: As amended, this bill requires schools to provide notice on their web sites of the date of the school's administration of the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations, the availability of such examinations and provides that any home schooled student is permitted to take these exams at any public school offering these examinations

STATUS: So pleased to report that SB2392 came out of Senate Education on 8-0 vote; HB2190 came out of Education Instruction & Programs on Tuesday with a unanimous vote; then came our of Calendar and Rules on Thursday with a unanimous vote and will be on the House Floor on Monday where is it expected to pass with no problem.  We are so grateful to Sen. Mike Bell and Rep. Judd Matheny for sponsoring this important bill for us!!

TN legislature deemed most conservative in nation
The American Conservative Union Saturday honored the Tennessee General Assembly as the most conservative legislature in the country at the group's Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in National Harbor, Md., reports Michael Collins.
State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, who is running for the 8th Congressional District seat, and state Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, accepted the award.
This is the first year the organization has given the award. "I'm proud of our record as the most conservative state in America, Kelsey said.

Tennessee gets $64M windfall thanks to old earmarks
, Tennessean Washington Bureau 4:34 p.m. CST March 10, 2016
WASHINGTON ” Tennessee is getting an unexpected windfall of money to spend on needed road and bridge work.
At least $64 million in old, unused federal transportation money can now be redirected to new projects across the state, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week.
The money is from 57 congressional earmarks ” special local projects for Tennessee that were added to federal spending bills ” that are more than 10 years old and have resulted in little or no action, according to the list of projects.
Congress passed a law last year allowing states to repurpose orphaned earmark funds if they haven't spent more than 10 percent of the money and the repurposed projects are within 50 miles of the originals.
Another $86.3 million also may be available from old projects where more than 10 percent of the money has been spent. But Tennessee transportation officials will have to document how those projects are closed out in order to redirect the leftover money elsewhere.