Skip to main content

Continuing to Keep Our Guard Up as Committees Close Down

Alyssa Hansen
Social share icons

This past week, we joined together with fellow union members, allies, and friends to send a powerful message to our lawmakers, especially the supermajority.

As we've noted for years, it's time to stop putting corporate special interests above the needs of working families.

While many legislators are evidently still struggling to fully understand that concept, we will never stop fighting to ensure that the voices of our members are heard loud and clear.

To that point, we are fortunate that we haven't had to fight back against bills similar to the ones that we've seen passed in recent years (for example, enshrining "Right to Work" in the state constitution or tying economic incentives to how union representation is recognized by businesses).

In fact, we should probably clarify and say that we're fortunate that we haven't had to fight back against bills like that yet.

Even though we are (hopefully) in the final weeks of session, this would be the worst possible time to let our guard down.

Between suspicious caption bills that are still very much alive and committees that are either still meeting or could reopen at any point, we are continuing to track every piece of legislation that's still on our radar.

As we mentioned last week, this is the time when things begin moving quickly and the supermajority likes to rush through controversial bills at the last minute with little or no debate. 

We'll be watching for any surprise amendments to the legislation that's listed below and will share new details as they're available.

Stay tuned and buckle up as we enter what's often the most hectic and intense part of the legislative session!

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

-HB 1183/SB 503: This is the caption bill that's carrying the proposal to expand Tennessee's school voucher scheme statewide. You can read more about the growing opposition to the legislation here.

-HB 2031/SB 2570: Potentially having major implications for strikes or rallies, this piece of legislation would increase the penalty for blocking a highway, street, etc. from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony.

-HB 2043/SB 1934: Among other things, this good bill would eliminate the sales tax on groceries.

-HB 2033/SB 1888:This piece of legislation seeks to add party affiliation to voter registration forms in Tennessee. 

-HB 2155/SB 1938: While this is hopefully all that it does (although we're skeptical), this bill seeks to name the law prohibiting automatic payroll dues deduction for professional educators' organizations that passed last year the "Michael Maren Paycheck Protection Act."

-SB 145/HB 133: This caption bill claims to increase the amount of time that an employee can take off to vote on Election Day from three hours to four hours. However, because of the House sponsor, we highly doubt this is what the legislation actually does. We'll be monitoring this bill closely to see how it's amended in committee.

-HB 1889/SB 2102: A bill with powerful sponsors (House Majority Leader William Lamberth and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson), this would enact the "State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management (STREAM) Act" and consolidate power under the commissioner of General Services for decision-making related to all executive branch leases. You can read more about this seemingly innocent (but potentially dangerous) administration bill here. There are concerns that this could be another outsourcing/privatization push, so we'll be watching this bill closely.

-HB 1892/SB 2100: This piece of legislation authorizes the use of third-party examiners or inspectors instead of local ones for certain processes.

-HB 2084/SB 1982: This bill would create the offense of "wage theft." 

-SB 2649/HB 1852: A good piece of legislation, this would prohibit a candidate or member of the Tennessee General Assembly from conducting business with a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist.

-HB 2113/SB 2017: As we learned recently, this proposal shortens the amount of time that someone has to begin a cause of action for unpaid wages for hours worked, overtime, etc. to three years.
NOTE: This bill will be heard on the House floor on Monday night.

-HJR 797: Nearly-identical to a bill that has already passed the House and will be heard in the Senate next week, this resolution would prohibit a legislator who is expelled from the Tennessee General Assembly from being reelected to, reappointed by, or employed by the body.

-HB 2080/SB 1968: A bill that has generated lots of headlines, this would block an individual who currently holds elected office from holding another elected office in Tennessee at the same time. At least one Republican representative already does what the legislation is trying to prevent, but Democrats have said that they believe this is specifically-targeted at Representative Gloria Johnson, who is currently running for both the U.S. Senate and her Tennessee House seat.

-HB 1616/SB 2631: Similar to a bad piece of legislation from last year, this would outline the process of declaring a statewide political party affiliation before voting in a primary election.