What We're Watching: Week of April 1

Before we dive into this week's update, we want to extend a thank you to everyone who attended our legislative reception this past Wednesday. We had a great turnout and were pleased to see so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the state make the trip to Nashville for the event. Hopefully, you were able to engage in some productive conversations with the legislators who were present and forge new relationships. 
 
As more committees start closing down and we enter what could be the last month of the legislative session, we want to remind you of the two calls to action that we noted last week. Both bills are up again, so we need your help to make sure that legislators know our positions on these two issues. On Tuesday, the House State Government Committee will hear a bad bill that would have unintended consequences for local government employees. Under the bill as originally filed, they could be disciplined by a superior for calling their legislator or participating in their profession's Day on the Hill. Under the bill as first amended, local government employees could be fired.  After last week's committee roll, the latest amendment language would simply limit the damages that could be awarded under the Public Employee and Political Freedom Act. However, we are still opposed to this bill. Therefore, we ask that you please  contact the members of this committee (their phone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed in the spreadsheet) and ask them to vote "no" on  HB 1087/SB 569
 
The second action item once again deals with Governor Lee's school voucher legislation, which is scheduled to be heard in both chambers this week. The bill passed out of the full House Education Committee and will be heard in the House Government Operations Committee on Monday before being heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. Once again, we encourage you to take a few minutes and call or e-mail the members of both of these committees (contact information can be found by clicking on the committee names above) and ask them to vote "no" on this bill. The future of public education in Tennessee is at stake, and we need to do our part to make sure that this legislation does not pass.  
 
On an administrative note, our lobbyists will be in Atlanta next week for the AFL-CIO Southern District meeting. Therefore, our weekly legislative update may not be sent out next Friday, since they will be traveling and might not have a chance to go through all of the bills that are calendared. Please keep an eye out for it over the weekend or early the following week. If you have any urgent legislature-related questions, please e-mail Alyssa and she will get back to you.

Monday, April 1st

House Government Operations Committee, 2:00 p.m., House Hearing Room I

House Bill 939 (SB 795):  A very dangerous piece of legislation, this is the caption bill that carries Governor Lee's "parent choice" proposal, otherwise known as the bill that would create a school voucher system in Tennessee. We encourage you to contact the members on this committee and ask them to vote "no" on this bill. 
Note: This bill will also be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

House Bill 261 (SB 196):  This bill makes several changes to the "Right to Earn a Living Act," which became law in 2016. Despite its name, this was a dangerous bill that loosened licensing requirements in Tennessee and was backed by the NFIB and the Beacon Center of Tennessee.  
Note: This bill will also be heard in the Senate State & Local Government Committee on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, April 2nd

House Higher Education Subcommittee, 10:30 a.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 707 (SB 775):  This good bill filed by the United Campus Workers would require the creation of a policy that would compensate adjunct faculty at public institutions of higher education at least $1,000 per credit hour taught. 

House State Committee, 10:30 a.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 1087 (SB 569): This is a bad bill that would have unintended consequences for local government employees. Under the bill as originally filed, they could be disciplined by a superior for calling their legislator or participating in their profession's Day on the Hill. Under the bill as first amended, local government employees could be fired.  The latest amendment language would simply limit the damages that could be awarded under the Public Employee and Political Freedom Act. However, we are still opposed to this bill. We encourage you to contact the members on the House State Government Committee and ask them to vote "no" on this legislation.

Senate State & Local Government Committee, 10:30 a.m., Senate Hearing Room I

Senate Bill 741 (HB 1207): This good piece of legislation requires state agencies to provide child care services for its employees. 
Note: This bill will also be heard in the House Public Service & Employees Subcommittee on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. 

Senate Bill 503 (HB 768):  In an effort to get more young people registered to vote, this piece of legislation would require county election commissions to hold extra registrations at public and private high schools in both the fall and spring. High schools would also be required to provide opportunities for students to register to vote online.
Note: Its companion bill failed in the House this past week. 

Senate Bill 689 (HB 900):  This piece of legislation restores longevity pay for executive branch employees who were hired after June 30, 2015.
Note: This bill will also be heard in the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

Senate Bill 1017 (HB 1095): This good bill would require a brief summary of any question that is to be voted on, regardless of length.

Senate Commerce & Labor Committee, 1:00 p.m., Senate Hearing Room I

Senate Bill 941 (HB 859):  This bill creates the office of apprenticeship and work-study programs and provides a tax credit to organizations that participate in the program. 

Senate Bill 815 (HB 856):  This bill expands the types of employers who are subject to the requirements of the Healthy Workplace Act by adding private employers to the list.

Senate Judiciary Committee, 3:00 p.m., Senate Hearing Room I

Senate Bill 589 (HB 547):  This good bill would allow people who have been convicted of certain infamous crimes to get their right to vote back after completing their sentence (imprisonment, parole, etc.)  

House Civil Justice Subcommittee, 3:00 p.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 194 (SB 316):  This piece of legislation would allow the speakers of both chambers or a majority of members of the general assembly to get involved in certain legal proceedings.

Wednesday, April 3rd

House Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee, 8:45 a.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 1258 (SB 875): This bill makes changes to the process of restoring someone's voting rights.

House Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee, 9:00 a.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 312 (SB 240):  A good bill, this would allow someone to register to vote and update their voter information on Election Day. 

House Bill 1260 (SB 1092):  This piece of legislation revises the provisional voting process and allows someone who registers to vote by mail to cast his or her first vote by absentee ballot. 

House Bill 1477 (SB 1318):  This bill would make it easier to vote in Tennessee. It would allow a valid photo ID issued by the state of Tennessee, the United States, or a student ID from a Tennessee college or university to be used for verifying a voter's identity.

House Public Service & Employees Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 978 (SB 57): This piece of legislation prohibits public employers from discriminating against employees or applicants with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations.

House TennCare Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 1430 (SB 1029):  This good piece of legislation authorizes the governor to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. This committee will also hear two nearly-identical bills (HB 1092/SB 983 and HB 1050/SB 464)  on the same subject.

Senate Education Committee, 2:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room I

Senate Bill 795 (HB 939): As noted above,  this is the caption bill that carries Governor Lee's "parent choice" proposal, otherwise known as the bill that would create a school voucher system in Tennessee. We encourage you to contact the members on this committee and ask them to vote "no" on this bill.

House K-12 Subcommittee, 3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room I

House Bill 311 (SB 296): This piece of legislation enacts the "Truth in Teacher Pay Act."

House Life & Health Insurance Subcommittee, 3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 1429 (SB 939): This good bill would enact the "Medical Assistance Savings Act" and require health insurance policies to cover dependent children until they are 26 years old.