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Homestretch Approaching for 2015 Legislature

Subcommittees shutting down for the year, which means the session’s finish line is on the horizon

The General Assembly is beginning to wind down for the year.

Many subcommittees are holding their final calendars this week, and so it is make-or-break time for several controversial pieces of legislation that’ll likely get shelved for the year of they don’t move this week.

On Monday, the Tennessee Senate Health & Welfare Committee will be holding a special subcommittee to hear TennCare related legislation. Included on this calendar will be a measure to repeal the requirement that Gov. Bill Haslam receive legislative approval for any expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, several requests that Haslam seek out waivers to expand Medicaid to specific populations, resolutions authorizing the governor to expand TennCare in a few ways and a resolution requesting that the federal government approve a block grant for the state to expand its existing Medicaid program more flexibly.

Also on Monday, Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville and Rep. Ryan Williams of Cookeville, both Republicans, have indicated they expect to have the details on the first Republican-sponsored medical marijuana proposal in the Tennessee Legislature in at least recent history.

News about the proposal broke late last week, bu the sponsors were reluctant to get specific about the details of their proposal.

During Monday evening’s floor session, both chambers will consider HB994/SB1058, which will grant a cause of legal action to employees who were terminated for storing a firearm in their vehicle on company property.

Several other pieces of gun legislation are up for consideration by the full Senate Monday:

  • SB874 by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, which permits the use of exploding targets in “lawful sporting activity.”
  • SB181 by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, which creates an exemption for “possessing a machine gun, short-barreled rifle or shotgun, or a firearm silencer” for persons in compliance with the National Firearms Act at time of possession.
  • SB149 by Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, which allows gun-carry permit holders to possess their firearms on property that may be in use by a school.

Several other pieces of big legislation are expected to come up in committees later in the week — including several tax-cut measures scheduled for a special Revenue Subcommittee of the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee:

  • Chattanooga Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire’s SB612 — to grant in-state tuition at the state’s higher education institutions for undocumented immigrants in Tennessee meeting certain requirements — is scheduled for the Senate Finance Committee, Tuesday morning. The companion bill, HB675is also scheduled for the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee that day.
  • Several abortion-related Republican-sponsored measures are on calendar in the House Health Subcommittee Tuesday, including Rockvale Rep.Rick Womick’s HB2, which would require an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion; Jonesborough Rep. Matt Hill’s HB977, regarding abortion reporting and record-keeping requirements; and Mt. Juliet Rep. Susan Lynn’s HB948 and HB1368, both regarding location requirements for abortion procedures. None of the proposals have been put on notice in the Senate.
  • A bill to repeal and replace the Common Core State Standards — HB1035/SB1163 — is on calendar in the House Education Instruction and Programs Committee Tuesday, and in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. There are several other pieces of legislation dealing with standards and curriculum on calendar this week as well.
  • Guns-in-parks, HB995, is on calendar in the lower-chamber’s full Finance Committee Tuesday.  The Senate measure has been referred to Calendar Committee.
  • HB745, a proposal to allow lifetime handgun carry permits is scheduled for the House Civil Justice Committee Tuesday.
  • Three measures related to genetically modified organisms are scheduled for Tuesday’s House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee: HB521 by Rep. Sheila Butt would authorize participation in a GMO-verification program to test if food is genetically modified or not; and Memphis Democrat Joe Towns’ HB1217 and HB1218 would require labeling to indicate whether products are genetically modified or not.  All are sponsored in the General Assembly’s upper chamber by Republican Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, and are scheduled for their respective committees this week.
  • A proposal — HB701/SB674 — to allow political contributions of digital currency, such as bitcoin, to Tennessee candidates is on calendar in its House and Senate committees Tuesday.
  • The House version of the Palcohol ban — HB404 — is up for consideration in the State Government Committee Tuesday.
  • The House version of the “Racial Profiling Prevention Act” — HB57 — is up for consideration in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday.
  • A Democrat-sponsored measure to legalize medical marijuana, HB561, as well as another Democrat-sponsored measure to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, HB873, are up for consideration in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday.  Neither measure’s Senate companion has been put on notice yet.
  • SB1134/HB1303, a measure to allow municipal electric providers offering broadband internet services to offer those services beyond their electric service area is up for consideration in both chambers on Tuesday.
  • A proposal to allow the governor to expand Medicaid at his discretion — HB1018 — in on calendar in the House Health Subcommittee Tuesday. And a Democrat-sponsored resolution — HJR90, scheduled for the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee Wednesday — would authorized the implementation of Insure Tennessee.
  • A measure to block local governments from entering into any collective bargaining agreements — SB123/HB603 — in scheduled to be heard in both chambers this week.
  • The “Freedom from Traffic Cameras Act” — HB1372 — is on schedule in the House Finance sub Wednesday.
  • A bill to prohibit police departments from “owning or using” certain military equipment — HB1191 — is on calendar in the House State Government subcommittee for Wednesday.  It’s Senate companion has not been put on notice yet.
  • Legislation to allow motorcycle riders over the age of 21, and with insurance other than TennCare, to operate a motorcycle without a helmet — HB700/SB925 — is scheduled to be heard in its respective chamber’s committee Wednesday.
  • A bill to legalize the use of low-THC cannabis oil by those with intractable seizures — HB197 — is scheduled to be heard in the House Health Committee Wednesday.
  • A couple more gun bills are scheduled to be heard in the House Civil Justice subcommittee Wednesday.  HB173 by Covington Republican Debra Moody would allow licensed gun-owners carry their firearms on property that may be in use by a school; and Rockvale Rep. Rick Womick’s HB535 would allow anyone who may legally own a firearm to carry a firearm concealed or visible, no permit required.

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