The deadline to file bills in both the House and Senate has now passed. Some 1,499 bills were filed in the House and 1,508 were filed in the Senate. We intend to have each of those bills reviewed by the end of the day to identify those that we will track. As in past years, we will have that information available on our website and cover the most important ones during our State Legislative Issues Briefing on March 7.
We were able to meet with most of the House and Senate leaders and/or their key legislative staffers to review the bills that we have asked legislators to file. Two additional leadership meetings are scheduled for next week.
There was limited activity in the committees and subcommittees this week, but it will certainly pick up next week. This week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SJR 1, which would change the manner in which the attorney general is selected. The state constitution currently provides that the attorney general is selected by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The resolution would require that the attorney general be nominated by the court in an open public meeting and the nominee be approved by the General Assembly. The full Senate is scheduled to take the first of three votes required by the constitution on Monday.
Two other items to amend the constitution are up for committee consideration next week. SJR 97, which would allow charitable organizations to hold bingo games, will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. HJR 17, which would place language in the constitution recognizing that our rights and liberties come from God and not the government, will be heard in a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
Finally, HB 189, which seeks to clarify statutory language on the marriage of minors, is scheduled for a hearing in another subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. We are working with the sponsor of the bill in hopes of revising language in one part of the bill to prevent some unintended consequences that could be extremely problematic.
Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.