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What We're Watching: Week of March 4

Alyssa Hansen
01 Mar, 2019
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As we move into a new month, the list of bills that we're watching continues to grow. Calendars are filling up, and we're starting to see some legislation (both good and bad) gain traction. Unfortunately, that also means that we've seen quite a few good bills fail or stall in committee. Regardless of the outcome, we want to commend our affiliates who have filed legislation this year for their hard work. It can be difficult to move any good bills in the current legislative environment, and we are proud of our brothers and sisters for their efforts.  This upcoming week also marks Governor Bill Lee's first State of the State address, which will take place on Monday (March 4th) at 5:45 p.m. in the House chamber. If you plan on going, we suggest that you arrive early and allow yourself extra time to get through security and into the gallery. Following Monday's speech, Governor Lee will deliver a State of East Tennessee address in Knoxville and a State of West Tennessee address in Memphis on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Both of these are free and open to the public, but you will need a ticket to enter; a ticket is not needed for the State of the State in Nashville.  As a reminder, this upcoming Wednesday (March 6th) marks the United Campus Workers' Day on the Hill in Nashville. If you will be in town, please join us to show your support for their hard work and the two pieces of legislation that they've filed this year to improve the lives of state employees throughout Tennessee. They have been meeting with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to discuss their bills, and we are confident that they will have bipartisan support when they are heard in committee! 

Tuesday, March 5th

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

Senate Bill 1318 (HB 1477): 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 Insurance Committee, 12:30 p.m., House Hearing Room IHouse 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 Commerce Committee, 1:30 p.m., House Hearing Room III

House Bill 563 (SB 364): Nearly identical to a bill that was filed in 2017 by now-Congressman Mark Green, this harmful legislation deals with local control, specifically the legislature's desire to eradicate it. The bill prohibits state and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a business based on the business's internal policies. In the past, it has been dubbed a "license to discriminate." 

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 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 56 (SB 1006): According to this piece of legislation, an employer could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if a potential employee was screened based on compensation history.

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 6th

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

House Bill 547 (SB 589): Another piece of legislation that deals with voting rights, 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 Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee, 9:00 a.m., House Hearing Room IV

House Bill 1398 (SB 1303): Similar to a bill that failed this past week, this piece of legislation would require a person to declare a statewide party affiliation before they could vote in a primary election. Note: There are several other election-related bills that will be heard in this committee, including ones that deal with absentee voting and providing home renters and buyers with the contact information for their county election commission and a voter registration form.

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

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

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.