FINAL Tennessee Legislative Update, 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).

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:
Well, for better or worse the Legislature adjourned early Friday morning. We are facing the election cycle at the state and national level.  If EVER we needed prayer it is NOW, on so many levels.  With all that is going on, I believe the nation hangs in the balance. I URGE you to pray regularly and fervently as these next few months unfold asking God to intervene.

Rep. Kirk Haston took a perfectly lovely picture of the State Capitol as the 111th General Assembly finally adjourned Sine Die early Friday morning.

The Senate adjourned at 2:58am, the House at 3:15am.

NOTES:
I have been at the Capitol for 33 years and I can truthfully can say I have never seen a session like this one. The first three months were fairly normal – working very hard on our resolution and three other bills.  Then came the pandemic when life for all of us changed dramatically. The Legislature recessed on March 19th with plans to return June 1st.  They did return, but to a very different situation. The restrictions for being in Cordell Hull and the Capitol were pretty severe including masks being required. The Committee rooms, the Floors of the House and the Senate Chambers had been significantly changed. One does wonder what kinds of limitations will come with the 2021st session in January.

Probably, due in part to the chaos running rampant across our state and nation now, you could feel the tension on the House floor this week. Things finally boiled over. Speaker Cameron Sexton announced, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted to see the leaders of both parties in his office as soon as the floor session recessed on Wednesday. Kudos to him for trying to resolve these differences in order for the House to get the business of the state completed. As the House prepared to adjourn, Sexton commented that the House led (they certainly did), the House charged, the House conquered; (emphasizing) that they all grew together.

In a touching jester, Speaker Sexton called retiring Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn to the podium to close the session, telling him how much he would be missed.  He presented Rep. Dunn with the ceremonial gavel commenting that it isn’t flashy but solid, just like Bill.

I AM SO SORRY THAT OUR INTERNS HAD THEIR TIME CUT SHORT AND WERE UNABLE SEE THE FRUIT OF ALL OF OUR HARD WORKTHEY WERE SUCH A JOY AND A BLESSING TO HAVE WITH US.

LILY’S CORNER:
For three months, I had the great privilege of working with two of the most amazing and dedicated lobbyists, Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman. Even though my internship was cut short by the devastating coronavirus, I enjoyed every minute I spent at the capital. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned during this time is to know your topic and exude confidence in a debate on the legislative floor. I learned this from Sen. Paul Rose of District 32, when I witnessed him defending a bill which he sponsored. It was clear that he was prepared and had done his research, for he debated very well against a veteran Senator. His unwavering resolve in his position was quite inspirational. Throughout my time at the Capitol, I was also encouraged by Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman as they inspired me with their diligent effort in their work to honor God and our government. It was such an honor to work with them, this session. Therefore, I would like to personally thank those two outstanding women from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity. I shall never forget it.

CJ’S CORNER:
Unfortunately, my internship with Mrs. Bobbie Patray was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In spite of this, I learned quite a bit during my three months with Mrs. Patray and Mrs. Bregman. For instance, the legislative process is a convoluted, long process. Bills must be sponsored by legislators, then go through the house and senate, then if no changes are made, it can be passed if not vetoed by the governor. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to have this experience and especially to have seen the tangible importance of lobbying. Here’s to a, hopefully, less obstructed year in 2021.

HONORING OUR 2020 TENNESSEE EAGLE FORUM AWARD WINNERS

Embossed on the top of the box is the Scripture verse from which Eagle Forum received its name:
” But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Rep. Ron Gant, Rossville,   Assistant Majority Leader for 111th Tennessee General Assembly.
Rep. Gant was first elected to served in the 110th (2017-2018) TN General Assembly and has quickly proven himself to be an excellent, skilled, and dedicated legislator. He was the sponsor our most important piece of legislation this year, HB1929, which prohibits the governor from making a decision or obligating the state of Tennessee in any way with regard to resettlement of refugees unless authorized by joint resolution of the general assembly.  He spent countless hours working on our bill and his presentations in the committees were outstanding.  Due to the inaction in the Senate, we will start over with our bill in 2021. We wanted to express our deep appreciation to Rep. Gant  for his friendship and for his commitment to our bill and honor him with our Award. [catching him between meetings, I was so sorry there was not time for a picture.]

 

Rep. Chris Todd, Jackson, was elected by his 19 freshman peers to serve as Assistant Republican Floor Leader.
Rep. Todd’s leadership qualities were quickly recognized by his colleagues and the way he has carried out his duties with both the large freshman class and in the Republican caucus has been outstanding. Rep. Todd quickly became a good friend to TN Eagle Forum and has provided his unwavering support for our legislation among his peers and in committee. We wanted to recognize and express our deep appreciation as we honor him with our Award.

 

Rep. Jim Coley, Bartlett, Chairman on the Higher Education Committee, is retiring this year after serving his district and the state since he was elected for the 105th (2007-2008) Tennessee General Assembly.  Rep. Coley leaves an impressive legacy in a number of areas. Just one example – because of his hard work, TN has some of the best laws in the nation dealing with sex trafficking. He sponsored two important bills for us this year – HB2615, dealing with juvenile sexual harassment, which passed the House floor 95-0, and HB2616, prohibiting custody and inheritance rights to those convicted of rape and who plea down, which passed the House floor 90-0.  Again, due to the inaction in the Senate, we will start over next year. We wish Jim well in the next season of his life. We wanted to honor all his years of hard work and dedication.

TAKING CARE OF THE STATE’S BUSINESS:
HR 0343 by *Van Huss , Ogles, Doggett, Haston, Weaver, Tillis, Ragan, Rudd, Hulsey, Eldridge, Grills, Todd, Holt, Griffey, Bricken, Leatherwood, Sexton J, Crawford, Daniel, Littleton, Moody, Calfee, Cepicky, Rudder, Hall, Hill T, Gant, Sparks, Lamberth
Congratulates the House of Representatives for recognizing the need to amend the Constitution of this State to ensure that each bill passed by a house of the General Assembly is voted upon by both houses prior to adjournment.
Representatives voting aye were: Baum, Boyd, Bricken, Byrd, Calfee, Carr, Casada, Cepicky, Cochran, Coley, Crawford, Curcio, Daniel, Doggett, Dunn, Eldridge, Faison, Farmer, Gant, Garrett, Griffey, Hakeem, Halford, Hall, Hawk, Helton, Hicks, Hill M, Hill T, Holsclaw, Holt, Howell, Hulsey, Hurt, Johnson C, Keisling, Kumar, Lamberth, Leatherwood, Lynn, Marsh, Moody, Moon, Ogles, Powers, Ragan, Ramsey, Reedy, Rudd, Rudder, Russell, Sexton J, Shaw, Sherrell, Smith, Sparks, Terry, Thompson, Todd, Towns, Van Huss, Vaughan, Weaver, White, Williams, Windle, Zachary, Mr. Speaker Sexton C — 69.          Representatives voting no were: Clemmons, Dixie, Hodges — 3.          Representatives present and not voting were: Beck, Hardaway, Hazlewood, Powell, Staples, Travis, Whitson, Wright — 8.
NOTE:  I love Rep. Van Huss’ creativity.  This was a House Resolution not a JOINT resolution and as you can see, it passed handily.

BILLS OF INTEREST THAT WERE EITHER LEFT ON A SENATE COMMITTEE CALENDAR OR WEREN’T FINALIZED IN THE HOUSE BECAUSE THE SENATE CLOSED THEIR COMMITTEES BEFORE THEY COULD BE HEARD:

CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY, AUTHORITY AND POWER:
HJR 741 by *Weaver , Doggett, Todd, Hill T, Cepicky, Ragan, Gant, Reedy, Leatherwood, Van Huss, Moody, Hill M, Crawford, 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, Powers, Haston, Kumar, Sparks, Helton, Lamberth, White, Calfee, Lafferty, Zachary, Daniel, Russell, Hall, Cochran, Sherrell, Hurt
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.
EVERYONE IN THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL LANE:
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

PROTECTING VULNERABLE CHILDREN FROM MEDICAL HARM
SB 2215 by *Bowling , Pody
HB 2576 by *Ragan , VAN HUSS, WEAVER, GRIFFEY
As introduced, prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to prepubescent minors; prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to minors who have entered puberty unless a parent or guardian has written recommendations for the therapy from at least three physicians; punishes violations as child abuse; designates violations by healthcare professionals as professional misconduct. Amendment #107769 completely rewrites the bill which improves the original language of the legislation.

LIBERTIES AND FREEDOMS:
SB 2368 by *Pody -HB 2291 by *Hulsey
In the  House State Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Hulsey amended a bill he had to address the authority of the governor, chief executive officer to enforce a provision of an executive order. It was left on the desk in the House.

MAINTAINING LAW AND ORDER:
SB 2273 by *Stevens, HB 2620 by by *Lamberth
The amendment introduced by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, and supported by Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, would require anyone charged with rioting be detained in law enforcement custody for at least 12 hours and face a minimum jail sentence of 30 days if convicted. The proposal was debated in the House judiciary committee. It is an amendment to House Bill 2620, which raises the permissible fine for aggravated assault to no more than $15,000. Ultimately there were two amendments introduced: Number 1Number 2.  House bill was left on Floor calendar, Senate bill was referred to Judiciary Feb 10 and never heard.

OPEN CARRY:
SB 2671 by *Johnson, HB 2817 by *Lamberth
As amended, House Bill 2817, would allow for both open and concealed carrying of handguns for people 21 and older, as well as for military members who are 18 to 20. House members spent hours debating the legislation in between hearing testimony from several speakers against it and one in support. It was left in the House Finance, Ways and Means committee; was deferred in Senate Finance in March and never taken up again.

PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM PORNOGRAPHY AND OBSCENITY:
SB 1813 by *Hensley, HB 1855 by *Casada
Local Education Agencies – As introduced, requires each LEA to install technology on its computers to filter or block inappropriate websites and information otherwise accessible through the internet; requires each LEA to review its internet acceptable use policy and the technology installed on its computers to filter or block inappropriate websites and information otherwise accessible through the internet no later than January 1, 2021, and at least once every three years thereafter. As amended, is passed the House 92-0; in Senate Committee, it was deferred in March and not taken up again.

OTHER ARTICLES OF INTEREST:

In early morning adjournment, the Tennessee legislature passes budget, completes business for the year.

Senate dangles approval of abortion bill to get House to back down on budget .

BARGAINING CHIP:
Tennessee legislature passes fetal heartbeat bill, ban on abortions for Down syndrome.

Tennessee House advances resolution accusing mainstream media of virus ‘sensationalism‘.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to sign Juneteenth proclamation

Tennessee House advances resolution accusing mainstream media of virus ‘sensationalism’

Nashville to begin Phase 3 of reopening Monday, allowing bars and clubs to resume business  .

Left-Wing Activist, Already Banned from Tennessee Capitol, Said Lawmakers Invited Him Inside .

‘Symbols matter,’ Gov. Bill Lee says of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust, vows to call Capitol Commission meeting .

Right-to-Work Constitutional Amendment Clears Tennessee Legislature in First Go Around .

Rep. John DeBerry, formerly a Democrat, says he is filing to run as an independentRep. John DeBerry, formerly a Democrat, says he is filing to run as an independent .

Gov. Lee Shares His ‘Child Wellbeing Plan’ With First Lady Melania Trump .

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