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112th Tennessee General Assembly Prepares to Enter the Home Stretch

Alyssa Hansen
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With several more committees closing this past week, the 112th Tennessee General Assembly is officially preparing to enter the home stretch.

Starting on Monday, lawmakers will begin hearing appropriations amendments. This is typically one of the first steps in the process of passing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

While the legislature has not changed its goal of adjourning by Easter, a couple of major pieces of legislation could easily shift that timeline, especially Governor Bill Lee's proposed K-12 funding formula that passed out of its respective House and Senate committees this week.

There is no specific call to action for the coming days, but we are still closely monitoring several pieces of both good and bad legislation. Once again, we draw your attention to SB 2204/HB 2659. As we noted last week, this bill is yet another dig at the strong working relationship between Ford and the UAW and would prohibit organizations that contract with the Memphis Regional Megasite from giving any preference to union-friendly contractors.

However, that's the intent of the House version of the legislation. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if the lower chamber attempted to go further in what it tries to tell Ford that it can and cannot do. The Senate version of the bill simply requires organizations contracting with the Megasite to report certain information to the state building commission, including whether or not they're associated with a labor union.

Make no mistake: we wish the legislation didn't exist at all, but the House version has the potential to do much more damage. We'll be following this closely and will keep all of you updated on any communication with lawmakers that may be needed.

Even though many of the labor-related bills that we've been tracking are no longer on the agenda, we still need to be on guard these next few weeks. Remember, until lawmakers adjourn sine die, legislation can be brought back at any time and with little-to-no warning. Committees can quickly reopen, and bills can move through a process that normally takes at least a few weeks in the span of just several hours.

Stay tuned and buckle up as the pace of session will speed up quickly over these next few weeks!

A Brief Look at Some of the Additional Legislation That We're Watching Next Week

-SB 2204/HB 2659: A sneaky caption bill, this is yet another dig at the strong working relationship between Ford and the UAW. The House version seeks to prohibit organizations that contract with the Memphis Regional Megasite from giving any preference to union-friendly contractors.
Note: This bill was sent back to the House State Government Committee this past Monday for a supposedly "substantive" amendment.

-HB 2143/SB 2396: The caption to this legislation carries Governor Bill Lee's proposed overhaul of Tennessee's K-12 school funding formula.

-SB 2042/HB 2078: This bill removes the subminimum wage exception for employees who are impaired by age, physical or mental disability, or injury.  Note: This bill has already passed the Senate and will be heard on the House floor on Monday evening.

-SB 2383/HB 2397: This piece of legislation requires that contracts for the construction, maintenance, etc. of public buildings contain a requirement that the iron and steel used for the project be made in the United States.

-SB 2073/HB 2097: A piece of legislation that will be watched closely, this seeks to expand the definition of racketeering activity outlined in the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization" (RICO) Act.
Note: While unions are already included in the original law and early remarks do not appear to be targeting us, we will be monitoring the intent of the legislation, especially given the strong anti-worker mentality amongst many lawmakers.

-HB 2733/SB 2879: This piece of legislation requires employers to give their employees who are veterans an unpaid holiday on Veterans Day.
Note: This bill will be heard on the House floor on Thursday morning.

-SB 1610/HB 0978: A bill that passed the House last year, the sponsors had claimed that the intent was to curb panhandling and camping around highway entrance and exit ramps, but are watching this for any unintended consequences that could potentially impact where folks are located during strikes.

-HB 2246/SB 2077: A piece of legislation that has made headlines in recent weeks, this would preempt local governments' ability to regulate the location of oil and gas pipelines.
Note: This bill has already passed the Senate.

-HB 2489/SB 2064: Among other positive goals for voting rights in this bill, high schools would be required to notify seniors once they turn 18 years old that they are eligible to vote and provide them with information on how to register.

-HB 1201/SB 1005: In light of the ongoing federal investigation into several lawmakers, this piece of legislation seeks to sharpen disclosure requirements and make additional ethics changes.

-SB 2766/HB 2829: Different from what passed both chambers early in session, this bill creates a program that incentivizes first responders to live within the boundaries of a local government.