Senate Dems Weekly Legislative Overview, April 8

Press Release from Senate Democrat Caucus; April 8, 2011:

Protecting domestic violence victims

On Thursday, the Senate passed Senator Andy Berke’s bill to authorize the use of global positioning monitoring systems as a condition of bail in domestic violence cases.

Under Senate Bill 567, the victim would receive information on the location of the accused offender and would have an electronic monitor to notify when the defendant was in an area covered by an order of protection. The House version of this bill is in the Judiciary Subcommittee.

Securing voting rights

A bill sponsored by Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney to provide free photo identification cards to Tennesseans of voting age passed unanimously in the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1384 would require that, should photo identification be needed to vote in Tennessee, such ID cards would be provided free of charge to those who do not otherwise have an ID or photo drivers license.

The bill is largely a response to Senate Bill 16, a bill passed earlier this year by Senate Republicans that would require photo identification for voting. Senate Democrats have voiced their concern that such legislation would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Tennessee seniors, disabled voters and those that could not afford such identification cards, and could potentially open Tennessee up to a federal lawsuit. The bill will now go to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Living up to our “Volunteer State” name

Senator Eric Stewart passed a bill Monday to allow Volunteer Tennessee to raise funds through a partner nonprofit organization. Senate Bill 2009 would allow Volunteer Tennessee, a 25-member bipartisan citizen board appointed by the governor, to more effectively link private and public funds in order to solve community problems in the state.

Among other things, Volunteer Tennessee oversees federal grants and training services to support AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards and volunteer centers throughout the state. The House version of the bill is scheduled to be heard in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Update on Senator Herron

Over the weekend, Senator Roy Herron was in a bicycle accident that hospitalized him until Monday afternoon. Herron was training for an Ironman triathlon when he was unable to complete a turn, resulting in a wreck that left him with a broken collarbone and several broken ribs. He was treated at Union City Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In a statement, Herron said he is grateful for the excellent treatment he received, and for his bicycle helmet. Herron attended session on the Senate floor Monday and Thursday.