The General Assembly continues to efficiently move toward completing its business perhaps by mid-May. All House committees except for those related to the budget process have closed, and the final two such committees in the Senate will complete their business on Tuesday.
Share Your Position on the School Protection Act
Next week will be a pivotal week relative to Family Action of Tennessee’s School Protection Act in the Senate. The bill would provide local schools with a legal defense from the state if they are sued for having a locker room and bathroom policy that respects the bodily privacy of biological boys and girls. While the House bill, HB 1274 by Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden), has passed the House Judiciary Committee, the Senate companion bill, SB 1499 by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
We anticipate a close vote, so if you are represented by one of the senators on the committee, you are encouraged to call or email him or her and tell your senator to support SB 1499. Click here for a list of the committee members. If you then click on your senator’s picture, you will be directed to a page with his/her email address and telephone number.
Business Protection Act Deferred Until Next Year
On a disappointing note, our Business Protection Act, SB 364 by Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington), was deferred until next year. In essence, a last-minute push by some local economic development officials created some misapprehensions among senators about the effect of the bill. Given it was the last meeting of the committee for the year, we determined the best approach would be to defer until next year. We will work over the summer and the fall to secure the votes we need for the bill’s passage next year. The House companion bill, HB 563 by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), was overwhelmingly passed by the House earlier in the session.
Other Legislative Activity
There was a flurry of other action this week. SB 1257 by Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), the “trigger bill,” was scheduled to be heard in the Senate yesterday but was reset for Monday. The House companion bill, HB 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), passed through both the House Budget Subcommittee and the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee this week and is also scheduled for action by the full House on Monday.
Although SB 1236, the “heartbeat bill,” was deferred to a summer study last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate sponsor, Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), has filed a motion pursuant to Senate rules to have the bill recalled from the committee and placed before the full Senate. This motion will likely be heard by the Senate on Monday evening. If the motion receives 17 votes, then the bill itself will be scheduled for debate on the Senate floor.
The bills authorizing sports gambling also made progress this week. HB 1 by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) passed through the House Finance Subcommittee and Committee process and is scheduled for a vote by the full House on Monday. The Senate companion bill, SB 16 by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), is set to be heard by the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on Tuesday.
HB 307 by Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro), which authorizes release-time religious or moral courses be taken for credit, passed the House on Thursday. The Senate companion bill, SB 1373 by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), passed the Senate last week so the bill now goes to Governor Lee.
Joint Resolutions to Amend the Constitution
The House and Senate took action on three different joint resolutions to amend the constitution. The House concurred with the Senate on SJR 1 by Senator Yager, which would bring some accountability to the office of the attorney general by authorizing the Tennessee Supreme Court to nominate the attorney general in a public vote. The nominee would then be subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Currently, the state Supreme Court selects the attorney general without a public vote. The House voted to approve HJR 17 by Representative Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) to declare that our liberties come from God. It now goes to the Senate. And, finally, SJR 97 by Senator Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) to authorize bingo operations to benefit not-for-profit entities passed the Senate. This joint resolution now goes to the House for concurrence.
Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.