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Session Inches Closer to Adjournment, Several Major Issues Still on the Table

Alyssa Hansen
01 Apr, 2022
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Even though an Easter adjournment is looking less likely at this point, legislators are still moving fairly quickly through some of their final committee meetings.

One of the biggest hurdles continues to be Governor Bill Lee's proposed K-12 funding formula that is still traveling through both the House and Senate.

The most notable news this past week dealt with updates to the governor's proposed budget to lawmakers, including his request to allocate $500 million in bonds to go towards the Tennessee Titans' new stadium.

Rather than easing the financial burden on working families, Governor Lee is much more focused on catering to the rich and powerful in yet another example of demonstrating how he could not be more out-of-touch with what our state needs.

As the budget process moves along and other details are announced, we'll continue to keep all of you updated.

Last week, we discussed an important piece of legislation that we're still monitoring: SB 2204/HB 2659. As a reminder, 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 AND require them to report how much is spent on work performed by union members.

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 continue 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 and would no longer be in effect (or "sunsets") after July of 2025.

Make no mistake: we wish the legislation didn't exist at all, but the House version is much more extreme. We'll be following this closely and will keep all of you updated on any communication with lawmakers that may be needed. Yesterday, the Senate version of this legislation passed along party lines, with Senator Todd Gardenhire abstaining.

If the two chambers can't resolve their differences between the two bills, the next step would be for the legislation to go to a conference committee. We'd like to avoid this situation at all costs, because it's anyone's guess what the bill could look like if certain, anti-worker lawmakers get their way.

We've still got what's likely to be a busy month left ahead of us, so be sure to keep a close eye on these e-mails, the legislative updates section of our website, and our Facebook and Twitter accounts for faster updates throughout the week.

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 AND requires them to report how much is spent on work performed by union members.
Note: This bill passed the Senate 26-5-1 and will be heard on the House floor on Thursday.

-HB 1210/SB 0878: A perfect example of how bills can come back at any time and with no warning, this bad bill passed the Senate Education Committee last year, failed in the House, and has now been brought back. It seeks to eliminate automatic payroll dues deduction for Tennessee Education Association (TEA) members, placing an unnecessary financial burden on the organization.

-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 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: This legislation has been sent to general subcommittee in the Senate, meaning that it is very unlikely to pass this year.

-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 Monday evening.

-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.

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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.