Legislative Update, For The Week of March 7, 2020

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).

“There’s a tendency to throw aside old values as belonging to an earlier generation. Don’t discard those values that have proven, over the period of time, their value. Just believe in those values that made our nation great and keep them: faith, family, hard work, and, above all, freedom.”

Ronald Reagan, Speech at Illinois State Fair, Springfield, Illinois, August 12, 1986 


Well, my goodness, we certainly have a LOT to pray about this week and well into the future. The devastation that was caused by tornadoes this week will take a very long time to recover from and many families not only lost houses and belongings, they also lost loved ones. Putnam County is in the districts of Sen. Paul Bailey, Speaker Cameron Sexton and Rep. Ryan Williams. Tuesday morning I immediately sent a text to each of them to check on their families and, thankfully, all was well. As far as we know the families of the other legislators in the districts where the tornado struck, are also safe.
As you may know, Tennessee has been known as The Volunteer State since the War of 1812.  However, (who knew??) we were never OFFICIALLY known by that designation until this year when Sen. Becky Massey and Rep. Jason Zachary passed a bill that designates “The Volunteer State” as the official nickname of our state. It was signed by Governor February 21, 2020, and became Public Chapter 516. Since then the people of the state have certainly been living up to that designation!


Good morning! Last Monday night, as most of us know, a terrible tornado ripped through Nashville and Cookeville. The devastation was horrible, and at least 25 have been counted dead, included in that number were five children. Because of this, the session was postponed until one o’clock in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. Please continue to pray for the families, the victims of this destruction and the loved ones of those who were killed.


In spite of the tragic group of tornadoes striking only a day before, the Cordell Hull Building was abuzz on Wednesday. Mrs. Patray, Mrs. Bregman, and my morning was spent going from office to office unable to meet with many primarily due to the session kicking into high gear with so many committees meeting all day. Mrs. Toni Stockton joined us again for the morning. About 11:30 A.M. floors 4, 5, and 6 (the floor we were on) had to evacuate due to a potential hazard…in the form of a breakfast burrito burned in the Microwave causing the fire alarms to sound. After this event, we experienced the highlight of my day: the committee meeting. In this meeting, Rep. Jim Coley presented our bill that prevents any criminal convicted of sexual assault and impregnating his victim from having parental rights on the child. The bill passed unanimously. All in all, this week was rather eventful and as always, I look forward to the next.


You’ve heard of ‘hump day’ (Wednesday) which marks the middle of the week. Well next week will be ‘hump week’ in the legislature.  If I counted right, for next week, 19 House subcommittees issued their FINAL calendars.  Three Senate committees have already shut down.This is the time when the committee calendars are long, and many times the most controversial bills are left for the end of the session, which can make for long committee meetings. The Senate Committee calendar, the House full Committee and Subcommittee calendars for next week totaled 219 pages and, yes, I read them all!!

SB 2730 by *Bell , Pody, White, Gresham, Bowling, Lundberg, Crowe, Hensley, Rose, Reeves, Powers
HB 1929 by *Gant , Sexton C, Todd, Carter, Weaver, Hurt, Lynn, Halford, Keisling, Carr, Calfee, Vaughan, Terry, Lamberth, Boyd, Faison, Marsh, Van Huss, Reedy, Lafferty, Cepicky, Johnson C, Crawford, Holsclaw, Wright, Casada, Moody, Littleton, Williams, Hawk, Travis, White, Ragan, Doggett, Moon, Hazlewood, Grills, Hill T, Griffey, Zachary, Leatherwood, Byrd, Daniel, Smith, Kumar, Rudd, Garrett, Whitson, Hicks, Howell, Tillis, Helton, Eldridge, Bricken, Rudder, Baum, Russell, Sexton J, Hall, Cochran, Hill M

Purpose of the bill: to ensure that any expenditure of public money is made through Tennessee’s Constitutionally mandated process

Why we need this bill: no federal law or regulation requires either consent from or consultation with the General Assembly before obligating state funds for the federal refugee program

IMPORTANT ACTIONSB 2730 is in the  Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday morning.  We expect a great deal of significant opposition to this bill.  Please contact Sen. Dickerson and Sen. Gardenhire asking them to support this PRINCIPLED, CONSTITUTIONAL bill.
HB 1929. is in House Departments & Agencies Subcommittee on Tuesday where we thankfully have a number of co-sponsors.

SB 2636 by *White HB 2615 by *Coley , HOLT, HILL T, REEDY, GRIFFEY
Juvenile Offenders – As introduced, expands the unruly act of illegal use of a communication device by a minor to include possessing or transmitting an image of sexual activity involving a minor.
ACTION:   Thanks to the work of DA Steve Crump (10th District), the District Attorneys’ Conference has endorsed our bill. HB2615 is in Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Tuesday. Please click on the committee link, contact the members and urge them to support this important bill.

SB 2354 by *Gresham HB 2616 by *Coley , HOLT, HILL T, REEDY
Child Custody and Support – As introduced, removes custody, visitation, or inheritance rights for a parent who has been convicted of statutory rape, aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, or lesser included offenses of rape, from which crime the child was conceived.
GOOD NEWS:  Thanks to the work of DA Steve Crump (10th District), the District Attorneys’ Conference has endorsed our bill. Rep. Coley presented it in the Children & Families Subcommittee on Wednesday, where is passed unanimously and will be heard in House Judiciary next Wednesday. I think we will be fine there.

HJR 741 by by *Weaver , Doggett, Todd, Hill T, Cepicky, Ragan, Gant, Reedy, Leatherwood, Van Huss, Moody, Hill M, Crawford, Moon, Rudd, Grills, Garrett, Wright, Byrd, Hawk, Casada, Hulsey, Carr, Williams, Eldridge, Marsh, Halford, Smith, Rudder, Keisling, Sexton J, Hicks, Terry, Griffey, Howell, Sexton C, Boyd, Lynn, Bricken, Littleton, Baum, Carter, Whitson, Powers, Haston, Kumar, Sparks, Helton, Lamberth, White, Calfee, Lafferty, Zachary, Daniel, Russell, Hall, Cochran, Sherrell, Hurt
General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position – Affirms the constitutional duty and exclusive authority and power of the General Assembly to appropriate public moneys and balance the state budget.

WONDERFUL NEWS:  Monday evening, HJR741 passed the House floor 72-25-2 with almost no discussion and has been send to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the next action:
Representatives voting aye were: Baum, Boyd, Bricken, Byrd, Calfee, Carr, Carter, Casada, Cepicky, Cochran, Coley, Crawford, Curcio, Daniel, Doggett, Eldridge, Faison, Farmer, Gant, Garrett, Griffey, Halford, Hall, Haston, Hawk, Hazlewood, Helton, Hicks, Hill M, Hill T, Holsclaw, Holt, Howell, Hulsey, Hurt, Johnson C, Keisling, Kumar, Lafferty, Lamberth, Leatherwood, Littleton, Lynn, Marsh, Moody, Moon, Ogles, Powers, Ragan, Ramsey, Reedy, Rudd, Rudder, Russell, Sexton J, Sherrell, Smith, Sparks, Terry, Todd, Travis, Van Huss, Vaughan, Weaver, White, Whitson, Williams, Windle, Wright, Zachary, Mr. Speaker Sexton C — 72.
Representatives voting no were: Beck, Camper, Chism, Clemmons, Cooper, Dixie, Dunn, Freeman, Hakeem, Hardaway, Hodges, Jernigan, Johnson G, Love, Miller, Mitchell, Parkinson, Potts, Powell, Shaw, Staples, Stewart, Thompson, Tillis, Towns — 25.
 Representatives present and not voting were: DeBerry, Lamar — 2.

Tennessee Mourns, Comes Together – as only the Volunteer State Can Do
Trump to Tennessee storm victims: ‘We’re going to be with them all the way.’ .
‘Every single person mentioned God’ CBS News correspondent says of Tenn. tornado victims .
Picture of Jesus left standing in North Nashville home after tornado hits .
Gresham announces she won’t run for re-election to state Senate .
Tennessee is doing rural broadband expansion right, Pew study says .
Second lawsuit seeks to block school voucher law .

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