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What We're Watching: Week of March 11

Alyssa Hansen
08 Mar, 2019
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Believe it or not, the House is preparing to close its first subcommittee next week. The General Assembly is moving very quickly, and we're still tracking nearly all of the bills that we listed in our first legislative update that was sent out in February. As a reminder, the bills that we note in each of these weekly updates are only a small snapshot of everything that we're watching over the next couple of days; we simply choose to highlight the ones that would have the biggest impact on working families. If you would like to see the list of all of the legislation that we're tracking this session, please let us know so that we can send you a copy. On a similar note, if you would like to know how a particular legislator or group of legislators voted on a particular bill (whether or not it has anything to do with labor), we are happy to pull their voting record for you as well.  This past Wednesday, our brothers and sisters with the United Campus Workers hosted a successful and productive Day on the Hill in Nashville. Coming together from all three Grand Divisions of the state, they continued to gain strong support for the two pieces of legislation that they've filed and rallied at the Cordell Hull Building for higher wages for adjunct faculty throughout the state. We are very proud of all of the hard work that they've put into the creation of both bills and expect that they will be heard in committee very soon. As always, we will keep you posted as to when the legislation is put on notice.  As a reminder, we will host our annual legislative reception at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Nashville on Wednesday, March 27th, which is just over two weeks away. This is a wonderful opportunity to speak with your legislator in a casual environment and discuss any concerns that you might have. If you plan on attending, please RSVP to let Pat know so that she can keep an accurate list. Legislators and staff will receive their invitations this week. We look forward to seeing many of you on March 27th! 

Tuesday, March 12th

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

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 Business Subcommittee at 3:00 p.m. in House Hearing Room III.

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

House Bill 900 (SB 689): This piece of legislation restores longevity pay for executive branch employees who were hired after June 30, 2015. 

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. Note: This bill will also be heard in the House Business Subcommittee at 3:00 p.m. in House Hearing Room III.

Senate Bill 999 (HB 1218): This legislation would allow for the reinstatement of professional and occupational licenses under certain circumstances. For example, an occupational license that is no longer valid due to retirement or illness could be reinstated after meeting particular requirements. 

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

Senate Bill 481 (HB 901):  This piece of legislation would make it a Class A misdemeanor of aggravated assault to knowingly cause physical harm to a utility employee.

House Employee Affairs Subcommittee, 3:00 p.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 986 (SB 758): This piece of legislation would enact the "Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" and outlines reasonable accommodations that must be made for pregnant employees. 

House Bill 856 (SB 815): 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.

House Bill 424 (SB 877): This bill deals with criminal background checks. It would prohibit an employer from accessing sealed or expunged criminal records when performing a background check on a potential employee. Applicants could also not be asked about certain previous convictions during the hiring process.

Wednesday, March 13th

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

House Bill 7 (SB 86): This bill would allow a candidate to use campaign funds for child care costs that are a direct result of campaign-related events and activities.  

House Bill 334 (SB 777): One of several bills that attempt to make it easier to vote in Tennessee, this piece of legislation would require the Department of Safety to automatically register a person to vote based off of the information on an application for a driver's license or photo ID card, unless the person opts out of doing so. 

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

House Bill 1280 (SB 1428):  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.

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

House Bill 978 (SB 57): A good piece of legislation, this bill would prohibit public employers from discriminating against applicants with pregnancy-related health conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations. 

House Bill 142 (SB 814):  This bill deals with salaries for employees of the general assembly. It would require that their salaries be increased if the same is done for members of the general assembly. Similarly, if the salaries of general assembly employees decreased, the same would be done for members of the general assembly.   

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

House Bill 965 (SB 1093): This piece of legislation would allow a person who registers to vote by mail to cast their first vote by absentee ballot.

House Bill 1398 (SB 1303): Similar to a bill that failed recently, this piece of legislation would require a person to declare a statewide party affiliation before they could vote in a primary election.

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

House Bill 564 (SB 482): Yet another 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. 

House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, 3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 1238 (SB 1279): One of a slew of anti-immigrant bills sponsored by Representative Bruce Griffey, this piece of legislation would require a woman to prove that she is a U.S. citizen or lawful resident when applying for prenatal care through the Department of Health.