What We're Watching: Week of March 25

With even more committees shutting down over the course of the next week, many of our target pieces of legislation are finally making their way onto several calendars in both the House and Senate. This is a very busy and somewhat dangerous time of session, so it's crucial that we stay vigilant as to what is happening on the Hill. As we mentioned in an earlier legislative update, committee chairmen now have the ability to file a bill at any time during session, as long as the subject matter is relevant to the committee that he or she chairs. We will continue to keep you informed as to any last-minute developments in terms of newly-filed dangerous legislation that we need to stop. 
 
On that note, there are two action items that we need your help with this week. On Tuesday, the House State Government Committee will hear a bill that, as filed, would allow public employees to be disciplined by a superior for calling their legislator or participating in their profession's Day on the Hill. Under the bill as amended, those same employees could be fired. This legislation creates a separate class of citizens between municipal and state employees and has the potential to cause unnecessary harm to many Tennesseans. 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 is one that we noted last week as well. On Tuesday, Governor Lee's voucher legislation passed out of subcommittee and will be heard in the full House Education Committee on Wednesday morning. Once again, we encourage you to take a few minutes and call or e-mail the members of this committee 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.   
 
Last but not least, our annual legislative reception is scheduled for this Wednesday (March 27th) from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Nashville. We've got a lengthy list of lawmakers from both chambers and both parties who will be there. If you have never been to these events in the past, this is a wonderful opportunity to speak with your legislator in a casual environment and discuss any concerns that you might have (or simply introduce yourself!) As we noted in the weekly calendar, if you plan on attending and have not done so already, please RSVP so that we have an accurate list of names on Wednesday night. We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, March 25th

House Consumer & Human Resources Committee, 2:30 p.m., House Hearing Room II

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.

Tuesday, March 26th

House Judiciary Committee, 8:00 a.m., House Hearing Room I

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

House Bill 547 (SB 589): 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 State Committee, 10:30 a.m., House Hearing Room, II

House Bill 1087 (SB 569): This is a dangerous bill that would have extreme 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 amended, local government employees could be fired.  We encourage you to contact the members on the House State Government Committee and ask them to vote "no" on this legislation. 

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. 

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

Senate Bill 176 (HB 201):  Attempting to tackle the lack of affordable housing in Nashville and Davidson County, this would enact the "Affordable Rental Property Act."

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: This bill will also be heard in the House Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

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

Senate Bill 1017 (HB 1095): A good bill, this 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 Commerce Committee at 1:30 p.m.

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

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

Senate Bill 255 (HB 216):  This bill would enact the "Tennessee Pay Equality Act."
Note: Its companion bill failed in the House this past week. 

Senate Bill 461 (HB 273):  As we have noted in previous updates, this bill would enact the "Save Tennessee Call Center Jobs Act of 2019," the main goal of which is to stop companies from sending jobs overseas and keeping jobs in Tennessee.  
Note: Its companion bill was sent to summer study in the House this past week.

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.

House Commerce Committee, 1:30 p.m., House Hearing Room II

House Bill 614 (SB 1167): One of several hateful anti-immigrant bills filed by Representative Bruce Griffey, this piece of legislation would prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

House Finance, Ways & Means Committee, 3:00 p.m., House Hearing Room I

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 Civil Justice Subcommittee, 4:30 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, March 27th

House Education Committee, 8:00 a.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. 

House Bill 564 (SB 482): 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.

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

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

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 a nearly-identical bill (HB 1092/SB 983) on the same subject.

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

House Bill 1238 (SB 1279): Yet another of Representative Griffey's hateful, anti-immigrant bills, 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.