What We're Watching: Week of April 8

As we begin another week on the Hill, we want to thank you for your patience with the timing of this week's update. Due to the AFL-CIO Southern District Meeting in Atlanta, our lobbyists were unable to go through the calendars until Friday afternoon.  As committees start closing down and we approach the end of session, we wanted to be sure that we did not miss any important legislation that will be heard next week. 
With nearly all of the subcommittees closed (or on their final calendars), most of the legislation that we're tracking is now either in full committee or on the House or Senate floor. For the remaining weeks of session, we'll begin highlighting many more bills that are being heard on the floor on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Please pay close attention to any legislation that we note that's being heard by the full House or Senate; if it's in the update, it's important!
Once again, we want to remind you of a call to action that we've mentioned in the last several legislative updates. On Wednesday, both the House, Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee and the Senate Education Committee will hear Governor Lee's school voucher legislation. 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. Tomorrow (Tuesday), teachers throughout the state will be holding a "sick out" as they join together with parents and supporters and demand that our elected officials end the public attack on public education. If you will be in Nashville, a rally is planned at the Capitol at noon to send a message to voucher proponents that public dollars should go to public schools. We ask that you share the details of this event with your locals and CLCs; the more voices that are speaking out against this dangerous legislation, the better.

Tuesday, April 9th

Senate State & Local Government Committee, 9:30 a.m., Senate Hearing Room I

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

Senate Bill 689 (HB 900):  This bill restores longevity pay for executive branch employees who were hired after June 30, 2015.

Senate Bill 971 (HB 1079): This dangerous piece of legislation has dominated headlines throughout the state in the past couple of weeks. Among several things, it would encourage voter suppression and voter registration groups could be fined if deficient forms are submitted.

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 Bill 196 (HB 261):  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 House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

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. 
Note: This bill will also be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. 

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

Senate Bill 983 (HB 1092): T his good piece of legislation authorizes the governor to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. This committee will also hear two nearly identical bills (SB 464/HB 1050 and SB 1029/HB 1430) on the same subject. These three bills will also be heard in the House TennCare Subcommittee on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. 

Senate Bill 1165 (HB 1239): According to this bill, private employers with 25 or more employees and governmental entities would be required to comply with the E-Verify program. 
Note: This bill will be heard on the House floor tonight (Monday) at 5:00 p.m.

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 1027 (HB 1102): This caption bill deals with workers' compensation. However, we will not know exactly what the bill does until it is heard in committee. Another piece of legislation that deals with workers' compensation is also on the agenda ( SB 1439/HB 374).

Senate Bill 1428 (HB 1280):  This bill is the Republicans' answer to the continued failure to expand Medicaid in Tennessee and would provide health care coverage for those caught in the gap through a block-grant program.

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.)
Note: This bill will also be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 10th

House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee, 11:00 a.m., House Hearing Room III

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. There have been countless amendments filed over the past few weeks. As we have done in the last several legislative updates, 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 at 12:30 p.m. 

Senate Education Committee, 12:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room I

Senate Bill 482 (HB 564): A repeat of legislation that we've seen in the past, this bill says that if an LEA is going to make payroll dues deduction available for one professional employees' organization, it must do so for any and all professional employees' organizations that are available and request to be included. This would incorporate groups like PET (Professional Educators of Tennessee) and is yet another attempt to go after the membership of the Tennessee Education Association.
Note: This bill has already passed on the House floor. 

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 legislation that would create a school voucher system in Tennessee. Once again, we encourage you to contact the members on this committee and ask them to vote "no" on this bill.