Legislative Update, April 13, 2019


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).

"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." Charles A. Beard, 1874 - 1948

Because our FGM bill was in House Calendar and Rules Committee on Thursday morning, I was watching the meeting. Chairman Jason Zachary called out of order a bill by Rep. Debra Moody which the committee quickly passed. Then the Chairman mentioned that he knew Debra was racing home because of her mother and said he wanted to pause and pray for her, whereupon he prayed one of the sweetest and most touching prayers for Debra and the decisions that needed to be made about her 97-year-old mother. Thank you Lord that we have Godly lawmakers who will do something like that.  Let's join Jason and pray for Debra and her family as they walk through this season in their lives.

The following quote is hanging on the wall of a representative’s office. Calvin Coolidge once said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” As the 111th General Assembly begins to come to an end, our job is more important than ever. This week our objective continued to be lobbying against bad bills. These bills include, but are not limited to sports betting, bingo, and marijuana. We proceeded to meet with legislators regarding gambling legislation. Mrs. Bobbie said, “It degrades the quality of life.” We also worked on lobbying against the marijuana bills. As a Teen Eagle, I extensively researched marijuana and its impact for six months, and, with other teens, we presented our findings at public meeting. I’m concerned that TN has so much legislation regarding its legalization. One representative even said, “recreational marijuana is being disguised as medical marijuana.” Overall, we had yet another productive day trying to defeat bad bills!

The lady beside me sighed in exasperation while the young man in front of me nodded passionately. I sat quietly in Senate Hearing Room One listening to Chairman Gresham’s ESA bill(SB 0795). The committee felt very polarized, and so did the many spectators. The joust of words continued for nearly two hours. Clash was found between money and effectiveness, passion and reason, and every other mode of logic and emotion. There was so much ground to cover, the committee felt like they had only scraped the surface. Senator Dickerson even motioned to go overtime to further understand the issue. I admired Senator Akbari’s concern for the counties being discussed without having representatives present to verify what was being said. Ultimately,the committee decided to vote on the legislation. It passed 7-2. 

SB 1166 by *Hensley, Gresham, Bell, White, Roberts, Briggs, Stevens, Bowling, Haile, Crowe, Bailey, Pody, Gilmore, Massey, Rose (HB 1364) by *Weaver, Casada, Littleton, Farmer, Griffey, Faison, Sanderson, Ogles, Garrett, Zachary, Cepicky, Sexton J, Holt, Kumar, Moody, Hill T, Sherrell, Hawk, Carter, Gant, Ragan, Smith, Carr, Boyd, Reedy, Haston, Doggett, Howell, Powers, Leatherwood, Hall, Cochran, Rudd, Johnson C, Moon, Eldridge, Windle, Coley, Hulsey, Todd, Russell, White, DeBerry.
Criminal Offenses - As introduced, rewrites the criminal offense of female genital mutilation; extends the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions or civil actions for female genital mutilation
STATUS:  Thankfully, we are coming down to the finish line.  HB1364 literally sailed through House Calendar and Rules Thursday morning and is scheduled on the House Floor next Wednesday. We have spent a lot of time with lawmakers explaining the bill and how it works, gaining a lot of support.  That work has paid great dividends and we look forward to it's passage on Wednesday and it going to the Governor. 

All three were presumed caption bills awaiting amendments to 'make the bill'.  The amendment actually was written on the first bill and was called the Tennessee Agricultural Medicine Act. I am very please to report that in both the Senate and the House committees, the votes to pass these bills WERE NOT PRESENT. We are very grateful for the wisdom of the members of the two committees.

SB 0572 by *Dickerson, Robinson, HB 1011 by *Terry, Travis  
Controlled Substances - As introduced, authorizes electronic submission of the annual report on distribution and abuse of controlled substances from the commissioner of health to the health committees of the senate and the house of representatives under the Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2016
STATUS:  Sen. Dickerson moved SB572 to 2020; HB1011 was returned to the Clerk's Desk.

SB 1062 by *Dickerson, Bowling, Haile, Niceley. HB 0919 by *Terry, Travis, Jernigan, Staples  
Health, Dept. of - As introduced, authorizes electronic transmission of the summary of the data concerning high-volume prescribers and any disciplinary action by the department to the health committees of the senate and house of representatives
STATUS: Sen. Dickerson moved SB1062 to 2020; HB919 was returned to the Clerk's Desk.

SB 1091 by *Dickerson, HB 0573 by *Terry, Faison 
Controlled Substances - As introduced, deletes the deadline of August 1, 2010, by which the controlled substance database advisory committee is to develop a form that healthcare providers may use to make reports regarding unlawful attempts to obtain controlled substances. 
STATUS:  SB1091 was referred to Judiciary but never heard; HB 573 was returned to the Clerk's Desk. 


SB 0016 by by *Dickerson (HB 0001) Staples
Gambling - As introduced, authorizes sports betting in this state only in jurisdictions that approve sports betting by local option election; imposes a 10 percent tax on gaming revenue; distributes 40 percent of the tax to the general fund for general appropriations, 30 percent to Tennessee colleges of applied technologies and community colleges for equipment and capital projects, and 30 percent to local governments for education and infrastructure; establishes the Tennessee gaming commission to regulate sports betting; authorizes the commission to collaborate with the Tennessee bureau of investigation for purposes of enforcement
STATUS:  Unfortunately, SB16 passed out of Senate State and Local and referred to Finance Ways and Means. The vote was 7-2: Sens. voting aye were: Briggs, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Jackson, Kelsey, Yager, Yarbro. Sens. voting no were: Reeves, White.
HB0001 was heard in the House State Committee, five amendments added, and was sent to Government Operations. The vote was 12-5-1: Reps. voting aye were: Beck, Bricken, Eldridge, Hicks, Lafferty, Love, Powell, Ramsey, Sanderson, Shaw, Staples, Tillis. Reps. voting no were: Halford, Hawk, Hulsey, Keisling, Todd. Rep. present and not voting was: Littleton.
ACTION: Government Operations cannot kill a bill, but Finance Ways and Means can. Please contact these Senators below and ask them to vote NO on SB16:
Sen. Bo Watson
Sen. John Stevens
Sen. Joey Hensley
Sen. Ferrell Haile
Sen. Brenda Gilmore
Sports betting bill advances in Tennessee House, with money set aside for gambling addiction .

SJR 0097 by *Niceley
Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee concerning charitable lotteries to authorize the general assembly to authorize the operation of Bingo games to benefit public and private schools.
STATUS:  I really am disappointed that report that SJR97 will be on the Senate Floor Monday.
Please read the information below and then contact the Senators and urge them to VOTE NO!
Bingo today is NOT just a group of seniors sitting in a church basement with their bingo cards in front of them just having a good time and enjoying the fellowship. Bingo is big business and the machines are more like slot machines and can be addictive.
Please read the testimony by my good friend Skip Armistead: Presentation to Senate Committee Concerning Bingo 
This is to say nothing about what the state has already endured:  OPERATION ROCKY TOP .
Surely we don't want to go down this path again, no matter who or what it is supposed to help.


SB 1236  by *Pody, Hensley, Jackson, Johnson, Roberts, Lundberg, Niceley, Reeves, White, Southerland, Bowling, (HB 0077) by *Van Huss,
Cepicky, Hill M, Moon, Eldridge, Griffey, Sherrell, Calfee, Crawford, Zachary, Todd, Hill T, Reedy, Hall, Rudd, Ragan, Smith, Hulsey, Doggett, Howell, Byrd, Leatherwood, Williams, Powers, Carr, Weaver, Casada, Littleton, Moody, Sparks, Sanderson, Cochran, Carter, Kumar, Hazlewood, Halford, Holt, Coley, Haston, Sexton J, Baum, Farmer, Keisling, Ogles, Terry, Whitson, Hurt, Gant, Helton, Bricken, Vaughan
STATUS:  SB1236 was amended and after extensive, excellent  testimony by Dr. Brent Boles and David Fowler, Pres. FACT, Chairman Bell made a statement then made a motion to move the bill for further study to Aug. 13 -14.
That motion passed 5-3-1:  Sens. voting aye were: Bell, Gardenhire, Kyle, Lundberg, Stevens,   Sens. voting no were: Bowling, Robinson, White, Sen. present and not voting was: Roberts .
NOTE: I generally have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It is fun and a wonderful vehicle for keeping in touch with friends and family, for getting information out to others, issuing invitations, etc. However, sometimes it can be harsh and unkind and sometimes it can be thoughtful and graceful.  I saw some of both after the Senate Judiciary Committee heard the Heartbeat bill.  The legislative world is complicated, frustrating, difficult, and unique. There are frequently things going on that are not evident. I saw some unpleasant accusations and I saw a 'grace-filled' comments along the lines of, "Maybe there is more to the story; maybe there are things I don't understand."  Motives that appear to questionable may not be that at all. Were folks surprised? Yes. Were folks disappointed?  Yes.  But waiting for a bit is not defeat.  The hearings in August WILL TAKE PLACE. In the meantime, will you pray that we can learn everything we need to learn and accomplish everything we need to accomplish to be successful?


SB 1257 by *Gresham, (HB 1029) by *Lynn, Zachery, Boyd, Whitson, Gant
Abortion - As introduced, enacts the "Human Life Protection Act," which bans abortion in this state effective upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade or amending the U.S. Constitution to allow states to prohibit abortion; creates exception for situations where the abortion is necessary to prevent the death of pregnant woman or prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function; prohibits prosecution of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted
Rep. Ron M. Gant:  "This morning (April 9), I made the motion to recall House Bill 1029, also known as the Human Life Protections Act. Now that the motion has passed, this pro-life legislation can be heard by members of the full House Health Committee next week. The Human Life Protections Act provides another opportunity for both chambers to enhance protections for our unborn children this year. Tennessee is a strong pro-life state, and I am eager to stand with my House and Senate colleagues to strengthen laws in order to save more of our unborn children."  That motion passed 12-4.
STATUS:  SB1257 has previously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 7-2 and is now awaiting assignment to the Senate floor. HB1029 will be in the House Health Committee on Tuesday.

SB 0795 by *Johnson, Gresham, (HB 0939) by *Lamberth, Dunn
Education - As introduced, extends, from 10 days to 30 days, the period of time after a local board of education orders a student's school assignment within which a parent, guardian, or legal representative may apply to the board for a hearing to challenge the reasonableness of the student's assignment and to request the student's transfer to another school.
STATUS: As amended, SB795 passed Senate Education 6-3: Sens. voting aye were: Bell, Crowe, Gresham, Haile, Kelsey, Lundberg; Sens. voting no were: Akbari, Dickerson, Hensley. It will be in Finance Ways and Means on Tuesday.
As amended, HB939 passed House Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee with Ayes prevailing. Reps. Hazlewood, Hicks, Hill M requested to be recorded as voting No. It will be in the full Finance Committee on Tuesday. 
NOTE: The Senate and House bills are very different now. 


An officer will soon be in every Tennessee school now that governor's $50M initiative has passed .
Tennessee House passes Rep. Robin Smith's proton radiation therapy bill vetoed last year by then-Gov. Bill Haslam .
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally worried about blowback from businesses over anti-LGBT legislation .
Knoxville Rep. Rick Staples Violated Legislature’s Harassment Policy, Committee Finds .
Rep. Rick Staples stepping down from Democratic leadership role after violating harassment policy  .
Bill requiring attorney general to defend school districts' bathroom policies advances .
Here’s a look at the latest crop of specialty license plates

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