Press Releases

Beavers Announces Bill to Restrict Electronic Surveillance by Police

Press release from the Senate Republican Caucus; December 16, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) announced today she will introduce legislation to prohibit state and local police agencies from accessing or retrieving the location data of residents by surveillance of an electronic device without a court warrant. Beavers said the bill will help ensure government does not take advantage of technological advances in cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices to spy without appropriate judicial oversight.

“Government and law enforcement agencies should not be able to tap into your cell phone location or gain access to electronically stored data without a warrant approved by a judge,” said Senator Beavers. “We cannot let technological advances sidestep the Fourth Amendment. This protection is a very important part of the checks and balances put into place by our forefathers to keep government from overstepping its boundaries.”

Law enforcement made 1.1 million requests to wireless carriers for cellphone data information in 2012 according to a report delivered to Congress earlier this month. The three largest wireless companies, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon reported they have received 56,400 “emergency” requests from police departments which did not have a warrant or court order. One company reported their requests from police have doubled in the past five years.

In addition, public records obtained by USA Today and Gannett reveal that about one in four law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have used “tower dumps.” This is a surveillance tactic which covers multiple towers and wireless providers to give police a multitude of electronic data about a targeted cell phone user. The digital dragnets also capture information on other persons using wireless devices in the area who are not suspected of wrongdoing.

Beavers said her electronic privacy bill will be modeled after one passed in Montana which allows exceptions only in order to respond to a possible life-threatening situation, an emergency call by the user or when a device is reported as stolen, unless there is informed consent by the owner.

“Citizens must be protected from unreasonable government surveillance,” added Beavers. “This legislation is a big step forward in securing our Constitutional freedoms.”

Senator Beavers represents Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson Counties in District 17 in the Tennessee Senate.

Press Releases

Bills Signed by Gov. Haslam: May 10-16

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; May 16, 2013:

 May 10

Senate Bill No. 1327 (Ketron, Harper)
This bill expands the definition of “urban park centers” for the purposes of selling alcohol at various venues in Davidson County.
(Passed Senate as Amended 21-10; Amended Bill Passed House 62-25)

Senate Bill No. 1246 (Hensley, Bowling, Campfield)
This bill creates a sunset for the Bureau of TennCare and sets that date to be June 30, 2015.
(Passed Senate as Amended 31-0; Amended Bill Passed House 88-0)

Senate Bill No. 1178 (Gardenhire)
This bill states that if a person makes an application for a renewal certificate of registration or registration plate and owes any motor vehicle registration fee to the office of the county clerk, then the clerk may deny the application until the person makes full payment on such fee amount.
(Passed Senate as Amended 32-0; Amended Bill Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 1043 (Kelsey)
This bill allows the Secretary of State, in certain instances, to appoint administrative law judges to assist in relieving congestion on the claims commission docket.
(Passed Senate as Amended 32-0; Amended Bill Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 736 (Gardenhire, Yager)
This bill relates to bail bonds and sureties in the event that a defendant does not pay his bond.
(Passed Senate as Amended 29-0; Amended Bill Passed House 96-0)

Senate Bill No. 592 (Johnson, Gardenhire, Overbey)
This bill is known as the “High Performing School District Flexibility Act”.
(Passed Senate as Amended 28-0, present not voting-1; Amended Bill Passed House 92-2)

Senate Bill No. 405 (Beavers)
This bill adds district attorney generals and state and local law enforcement to the group of state workers in the current code who shall not disclose tax information.
(Passed Senate as Amended 33-0; Amended Bill Passed House 98-0)

Senate Bill No. 66 (Green, Bowling, Burks, Yager)
This bill increases the penalties for assault, aggravated assault and second degree murder when the victim of the offense is a law enforcement officer, emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter.
(Passed Senate as Amended 25-2, present not voting-4; Amended Bill Passed House 93-3)


May 16

House Bill No. 848 (Ragan)
This bill authorizes the governor to call members of the state guard to active duty, with the member’s consent, for the performance of any official duty in connection with state guard activities.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 841 (Durham)
This bill amends the Freedom in Contracting Act.
(Passed House 67-27; Passed Senate 26-6)

House Bill No. 830 (Matheny)
This bill creates a June 30, 2015, sunrise provision for the consumer advocate division in the office of the attorney general and reporter.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 29-3)

House Bill No. 810 (Matheny)
This bill extends the Department of Correction to June 30, 2015.
(Passed House 97-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 794 (Matheny)
This bill extends the energy efficient schools council to June 30, 2014.
(Passed House 92-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 780 (Matheny)
This bill extends the board of dentistry to June 30, 2017.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 766 (Matheny)
This bill extends the historical commission to June 30, 2019.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 30-1)

House Bill No. 755 (Matheny, Ragan)
This bill extends the State Board of Education to June 30, 2015.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 739 (Sanderson)
This bill gives authority to local governments to purchase supplies, goods, equipment and services under contracts or price agreements entered into by any other local governmental unit of this state.
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 710 (Littleton)
This bill adds an additional ground to terminate a person’s parental or guardianship rights.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 705 (H. Brooks, J. DeBerry, Lollar)
This bill establishes a two-year pilot project operated by the Department of Education to study the accessibility of AP courses and career and technical certification examinations.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 29-0)

House Bill No. 597 (R. Williams, Hardaway)
This bill requires a parent to notify the child’s other parent before relocating more than 50 miles away, rather than 100 miles.
(Passed House 86-8; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 574 (Dunn, Eldridge, Sargent)
This bill states that for insurance companies without stockholders, the value of the corporate property of such company, excluding real property and tangible personal property, shall be equal to the total dividends paid to policyholders in the preceding calendar year.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 26-2)

House Bill No. 521 (Watson)
This bill states that it shall not be a defense to a violation of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor that the minor consented to the conduct constituting the offense.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 493 (Sargent)
This bill changes the current law regarding tax liens for delinquent property taxes and the sale of property at tax sales.
(Passed House 94-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 489 (Jones)
This bill allows the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council to prescribe fees for the certification of batterers’ intervention programs.
(Passed House 88-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 488 (Jones, Hardaway)
This bill makes changes to the requirements that the Department of Children’s Services can place on parents in determining whether to continue or restore custody.
(Passed House 90-0; Passed Senate 26-2)

House Bill No. 480 (Powers)
This bill pertains to the licensure requirements for roofing subcontractors.
(Passed House 83-2; Passed Senate 24-6)

House Bill No. 478 (Travis, Moody, Hardaway)
This bill states that a person may present proof of insurance during certain traffic stops or accidents in paper or electronic form.
(Passed House 97-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 453 (Hardaway, Towns, Parkinson, Camper)
This bill allows a judge to assign a long-term mentor to a child in lieu of committing the child to the custody of the Department of Children’s Services.
(Passed House 89-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 353 (Shipley)
This bill makes various changes to the state’s ignition interlock law.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 342 (Harrison)
This bill continues the monthly nursing home assessment fee.
(Passed House 90-3; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 315 (H. Brooks)
This bill states that all contracts for goods in excess of $10,000 shall be bid and must be approved by the governing body of each public charter school.
(Passed House 74-19; Passed Senate 21-6; House adopted conference committee report 71-18; Senate adopted conference committee report 71-18)

House Bill No. 306 (Favors, Shipley, Jernigan, Hardaway, Evans, Powell, Parkinson, Miller)
This bill enhances the punishment for assault and aggravated assault when committed against health care providers acting in the discharge of their duties.
(Passed House 63-31; Passed Senate 31-1)

House Bill No. 283 (Forgety, Lynn, Shepard, K. Brooks, Powers, Keisling, Sexton, Travis, H. Brooks, Fitzhugh)
This bill allows for the 25% reduction of tuition for state institutions of higher learning to apply to children of retired teachers.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 21-5)

House Bill No. 234 (Carter, Moody, T. Hill, Lollar)
This bill allows a court clerk to withhold any outstanding fees, court costs or fines owed by a minor before the clerk delivers any funds within a trust fund established for the minor claimant.
(Passed House 91-1; Passed Senate 29-1)

House Bill No. 196 (McCormick)
This bill redefines “criminal gang offense” for purposes of enhanced penalties for gang offenses.
(Passed House 92-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 193 (McCormick)
This bill lowers the state sales tax on food from 5.25% to 5%.
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 31-1)

House Bill No. 192 (McCormick)
This bill increases the Hall Tax exemption level for individuals who are 65 years-old and over.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 183 (McCormick)
This bill establishes a pilot program within the Department of Transportation for an alternative procurement procedure known as the Construction Manager/General Contractor method.
(Passed House 88-5; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 175 (McCormick, Goins)
This bill makes various changes to franchise and excise tax law.
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 116 (Dunn)
This bill amends current law relative to the mechanism used to fill unexpected vacancies on the boards of commissioners of single-county utility districts.
(Passed House 97-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 95 (McDaniel)
This bill officially designates the working committee that planned the War of 1812 Bicentennial events and activities as an official Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 88 (Lundberg)
This bill makes changes to the current law relative to the use of juveniles by law enforcement in undercover operations for purchasing smoking materials, alcohol, illegal drugs or state lottery tickets.
(Passed House 88-7; Passed Senate 22-5)

House Bill No. 32 (Sexton)
This bill requires the state to provide to each Tennessee resident who is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor a free Medal of Honor memorial registration plate for up to two motor vehicles.
(Passed House 99-0; Passed Senate 32-0; Conference report adopted by the House 90-0; Conference report adopted by the Senate 27-0)

House Bill No. 6 (Watson)
This bill enacts the “School Security Act of 2013”.
(Passed House 82-15; Passed Senate 27-6)

House Bill No. 1359 (Rich)
This bill makes changes to the charter of the town of Somerville.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 29-0)

House Bill No. 1358 (Rich)
This bill makes changes to the charter of the town of Grand Junction.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 33-0)

House Bill No. 1356 (Halford)
This bill makes changes to the charter of the town of Bradford.
(Passed House 91-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 1355 (Doss)
This bill makes changes to the way that proceeds from the hotel and motel privilege tax in Giles County are allocated.
(Passed House 91-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 1348 (Womick)
This bill authorizes the Murfreesboro city council to prescribe a dollar limit over which competitive bidding is required.
(Passed House 91-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 1346 (Pody)
This bill authorizes the local legislative body of Cannon County to levy a 5% hotel tax.
(Passed House 77-9; Passed Senate 27-2)

House Bill No. 1341 (Powell)
This bill allows certain metropolitan governments to impose a tax on retail sales of up to 0.25%.
(Passed House 66-30; Passed Senate 28-3)

House Bill No. 1331 (J. DeBerry)
This bill expands the number of private colleges and universities authorized to establish police departments.
(Passed House 77-7; Passed Senate 25-1)

House Bill No. 1276 (McCormick)
This bill creates the labor education alignment program (LEAP).
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 1268 (Farmer)
This bill encourages the State Building Commission to prescribe high performance building requirements and promulgate rules which meet or exceed the 2005 Sustainable Design Guidelines.
(Passed House 92-0; Passed Senate 29-0)

House Bill No. 1246 (C. Johnson)
This bill directs the executive director of the Tennessee district attorneys general conference to prepare a report on steps which should be taken to improve sales tax fraud investigations and prosecutions.
(Passed House 85-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 1213 (M. Turner)
This bill extends from 2014 to 2020 the authority of metropolitan governments to impose a hotel occupancy tax in excess of $2.00.
(Passed House 65-17; Passed Senate 28-2)

House Bill No. 1154 (Rogers)
This bill directs the state funding board to study the “Copeland Cap”.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 1112 (Haynes)
This bill amends the current law regarding dismissal of teachers because of a decrease in school enrollment or for other reasons.
(Passed House 75-20; Passed Senate 27-4)

House Bill No. 1084 (Alexander)
This bill states that an intoxicating liquor may not advertise as “Tennessee Whiskey” unless it meets certain criteria.
(Passed House 79-6; Passed Senate 24-6; Conference committee report adopted by House 79-8; Conference committee report adopted by Senate 20-3)

House Bill No. 1066 (Keisling)
This bill modifies the appointment process for the board of certification for operators of water supply systems and wastewater systems.
(Passed House 86-3; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 1055 (Durham)
This bill changes the definition of “home school student” for purposes of the HOPE scholarship.
(Passed House 89-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 987 (Goins)
This bill amends the affidavit requirements for the administration of small estates.
(Passed House 98-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

House Bill No. 982 (Sanderson)
This bill pertains to the transfer of funds from the small and minority-owned business program.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 29-0)

House Bill No. 952 (Wirgau)
This bill states that a landfill operator must first submit a proposal to the appropriate legislative bodies prior to accepting any waste that would require a change in the classification of a landfill.
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 920 (Moody)
This bill eliminates the defense of ignorance or mistake of fact as to the age of a minor for the crimes of patronizing prostitution and soliciting a minor to observe sexual conduct.
(Passed House 96-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

House Bill No. 868 (Sexton)
This bill prohibits pain management clinics from dispensing controlled substances, with certain exceptions.
(Passed House 97-0; Passed Senate 30-0)

House Bill No. 864 (Lollar)
This bill allows for the extraterritorial application of Tennessee workers compensation laws in certain limited circumstances.
(Passed House 93-0; Passed Senate 32-0)

Senate Bill No. 63 (Yager, Haile)
This bill requires the Dept. of Finance & Administration to monitor the pharmacy benefits manager’s compliance with any state pharmacy benefits management contract.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 91-0)

Senate Bill No. 88 (Finney, Kelsey, Ford)
This bill requires the Dept. of Education to review all measures that are in place to prevent breaches in the security of standardized tests administered in public schools.
(Passed Senate 33-0; Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 122 (Ketron)
This bill prohibits members of the TN Housing Development Agency from having any financial interest in any housing development financed or assisted by the agency.
(Passed Senate 32-0; Passed House 96-0)

Senate Bill No. 157 (Norris)
This bill enhances the accountability provisions for virtual public schools, sets the cap on enrollment in those schools, and allows the commissioner to direct the LEA to close the school if the school demonstrates a performance level of “significantly below expectations” for three consecutive years.
(Passed Senate 27-2; Passed House 66-29)

Senate Bill No. 170 (Norris, Ketron)
This bill rewrites the state’s procurement laws.
(Passed Senate 29-0; Passed House 92-5)

Senate Bill No. 176 (Norris, Tracy, Bowling, Haile, Stevens)
This bill gives the Dept. of Human Services more authority to investigate fraud in the food assistance program administered by the department.
(Passed Senate 30-0; Passed House 96-1)

Senate Bill No. 399 (Southerland, Ford)
This bill requires all changeable highway message signs installed by the state after July 1, 2014, to come equipped with a light sensing device that adjusts the brightness in correlation with light conditions.
(Passed Senate 29-1; Passed House 86-5)

Senate Bill No. 408 (Beavers)
This bill alters the boundary between Davidson and Wilson counties.
(Passed Senate 29-0; Passed House 95-1)

Senate Bill No. 713 (Stevens, Bowling, Henry)
This bill makes various changes and additions to the Tennessee’s trust laws.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 79-0)

Senate Bill No. 728 (Watson)
This bill allows the trustees of deferred compensation plans for state and local governments to contract for investment management, professional, and consultant services.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 745 (Massey, Beavers, Bowling, Campfield, Ford, Harper, Gresham, Yager)
This bill states that if a physician determines from a mammogram that a patient has dense breasts, the facility shall provide explicit notice to the patient of the results of the mammogram.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 90-0)

Senate Bill No. 747 (Massey)
This bill allows a beer manufacturer to hold a license as a “limited service restaurant” for purposes of selling for consumption off the premises beer manufactured at the location or at any other restaurant owned by the same owner.
(Passed Senate 22-7; Passed House 74-16)

Senate Bill No. 1145 (Green, Bowling, Gardenhire, Yager)
This bill states that no navigator shall sell, solicit or negotiate any policy of insurance either within or outside of a health care exchange.
(Passed Senate 28-1; Passed House 87-0)

Senate Bill No. 1215 (Green, Bowling, Campfield)
This bill requires each local and county board of education to annually file written policies adopted by the board to impose disciplinary sanctions on students who electronically transmit threats of bodily injury to other students or school employees.
(Passed Senate 32-0; Passed House 89-1)

Senate Bill No. 459 (Yager, Massey, Henry, Burks, Kelsey, Overbey)
This bill enacts the Safe Harbor Act of 2013.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 97-0)

Senate Bill No. 496 (Gresham, Ford)
This bill requires local education agencies, at the request of DCS, to provide the department all school records for a child in custody of the department or receiving foster care services.
(Passed Senate 32-0; Passed House 92-1)

Senate Bill No. 529 (McNally, Burks, Yager)
This bill states that nurse practitioners and physician assistants shall not prescribe certain controlled substances unless the prescriptions are approved by the supervising physicians.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 91-0)

Senate Bill No. 547 (Bell)
This bill prohibits the display of messages in support of or opposition to a referendum on a sign owned by an LEA or on an LEA-owned building.
(Passed House 91-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

Senate Bill No. 590 (Johnson)
This bill allows a wholesalers liquor license to be issued to additional entities under certain circumstances.
(Passed Senate 21-7; Passed House 56-22)

Senate Bill No. 620 (Norris)
This bill directs the Dept. of Revenue to study the establishment of a program for the sale of nonrefundable gift vouchers that may be redeemed toward the fee for specialty motor vehicle registration plates.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 94-1)

Senate Bill No. 623 (Norris)
This bill replaces references to the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist with references to the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.
(Passed Senate 30-0; Passed House 95-0)

Senate Bill No. 749 (Massey)
This bill provides that the disability of a parent seeking custody does not create a presumption for or against awarding custody, but it may be considered a factor.
(Passed House 90-0; Passed Senate 31-0)

Senate Bill No. 860 (Tate)
This bill allows eligible petitioners to file a petition for the expunction of that person’s public records involving the crime.
(Passed House 91-1; Passed Senate 26-1)

Senate Bill No. 867 (Gresham)
This bill provides that an LEA may grant release time to a professional employee to hold office as a representative of a local professional employees’ organization.
(Passed House 78-13; Passed Senate 30-0)

Senate Bill No. 891 (Hensley)
This bill makes various revisions to Tennessee’s asset forfeiture procedures.
(Passed House 95-0; Passed Senate 28-0)

Senate Bill No. 922 (Haile)
This bill prohibits the Dept. of Education, the State Board of Education, local boards of education, and the local education agencies from hiring individuals who have been found to have committed child abuse.
(Passed Senate 33-0; Passed House 88-0)

Senate Bill No. 1053 (Kelsey)
This bill deletes a requirement that the trier of fact must specify, on an annual basis, the amount of future damages and the periods over which such future damages will accrue.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 1127 (Yager, Finney, Ford)
This bill revises the Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act of 2011.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 92-0)

Senate Bill No. 1319 (Dickerson)
This bill specifies that calling or emailing a person constitutes a good faith effort to notify the person prior to the utility being disconnected under the Utilities’ Cut-Off Procedures Act, which only applies in Davidson County.
(Passed Senate 31-0; Passed House 96-0)

Senate Bill No. 1320 (Dickerson)
This bill permits a county election commission, under certain circumstances, to consolidate one or more polling places from one or more precincts for a municipal election.
(Passed Senate 27-0; Passed House 95-0)

Senate Bill No. 1346 (Yager)
This bill states that delinquent taxes on property that was damaged as a result of the coal ash spill in December 2008 shall not be subject to the penalty provided in the code but shall only accrue interest from the delinquency date of the respective tax year at the composite prime rate as of the delinquency date, minus two points.
(Passed Senate 30-0; Passed House 93-0)

Press Releases

TFA: Haslam Signs ‘Dangerous’ Safe Commute Bill Into Law

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; March 15, 2013:

Governor Bill Haslam signed into law on March 15, 2013, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s SB142 (House sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison HB0118). This bill is a travesty and misrepresentation to the citizens of Tennessee.

It is a travesty because (not an exclusive list)

– it does not remove all risk of criminal prosecution;

– it does not protect the employee’s job from termination if the employee complies with the law;

– it is extremely limited to a “permit holder’s own vehicle” which could put at risk those permit holders who carpool, rent cars, lease cars, borrow cars, have courtesy cars, have “company cars”, or anyone else whose name is not on the title!

First, despite what Ron Ramsey has claimed, the soon to be law does not remove all risk of criminal prosecution. There are at least two statutes (TCA 39-17-1314 and the criminal trespass statute and possibly others) where criminal prosecution still is available. In addition, if prosecution arises, your weapon(s) will be subject to mandatory forfeiture (TCA 39-17-1359). It addition those who are not the “owner” of the car, could be criminally prosecuted.

Second, despite what Ron Ramsey claimed, the soon to be law does not protect the employees’ jobs, health care or even the ability to apply for unemployment. With whatever respect is due, Ramsey’s assertions do demonstrate that he does not comprehend the basis of Tennessee’s employment at will doctrine. It is clear, as Rep. Faison testified in committee that the employer is a full liberty to fire any employee who violates a “no weapons” employment policy.

It is very curious that on March 14, 2013, Lt. Gov. Ramsey and 4 other Senators (including Jim Tracey who is wanting to run for Congress) signed and sent a letter (attached hereto) to the Senate Clerk asking that the legislative history be clarified by stating their intent (contrary to the House Sponsor) that employers would not be able to terminate employees and that if the employers did so that the terminate employees could sue for wrongful termination. That letter evidences that none of those five senators really understands the employment at will doctrine. Drinking is legal under the law, but you can be fired if the employer has a no alcohol policy. Smoking is legal under the law, but you can be fired if there is a no smoking policy. Supporting a particular political party is legal under the law, but you can be fired from private employment for voting for the wrong party. Ramsey is either clueless on the current law or is intentionally misrepresenting it.

Once again, Ramsey is reckless with the rights of citizens. While he claims a fired employee could sue, he makes no reference to the fact that under Public Chapter 1046 passed by the Establishment Republicans in 2012 that if you did sue and you lost (which is practically certain under Tennessee’s employment at will doctrine) that the trial court shall award to the employer up to $10,000 in court costs, deposition costs, attorney’s fees and other expenses. [Once again, evidence that the Establishment Republicans in Tennessee are destroying your constitutional rights].

Pelosi said that they had to pass Obamacare so that we would know what is in it. Ramsey is worse. The Establishment Republicans are worse. Haslam is worse. We told them what was wrong with Ramsey and Faison’s bill and they passed it anyway!!! Then they misrepresent what it does and does not do!!!

About the only thing this bill does positively is to provide a voting record of those legislators who have willfully made a choice on the 2nd Amendment that puts the jobs of Tennessee’s handgun permit holders at risk.

Senate Vote on SB0142


Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Bell, Bowling, Campfield, Crowe, Dickerson, Finney L, Ford, Gardenhire, Green, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Niceley, Norris, Overbey, Southerland, Stevens, Summerville, Tracy, Watson, Yager, Mr. Speaker Ramsey — 28.

Senators voting no were: Burks, Harper, Henry, Kyle, Tate — 5.

House Votes on HB0118


Representatives voting aye were: Alexander, Brooks H, Brooks K, Butt, Calfee, Carr D, Carter, Casada, Coley, Curtiss, Dean, DeBerry J, Dennis, Doss, Dunn, Durham, Eldridge, Evans, Faison, Floyd, Forgety, Goins, Halford, Hall, Harrison, Hawk, Haynes, Hill M, Hill T, Holt, Johnson C, Kane, Keisling, Lamberth, Littleton, Lollar, Lundberg, Lynn, Marsh, Matheny, Matlock, McCormick, McDaniel, McManus, Moody, Pitts, Pody, Powers, Ragan, Ramsey, Rich, Rogers, Sanderson, Sargent, Sexton, Shepard, Shipley, Sparks, Swann, Tidwell, Travis, Van Huss, Watson, Weaver, White D, White M, Williams K, Williams R, Windle, Wirgau, Womick, Madam Speaker Harwell — 72.

Representatives voting no were: Armstrong, Camper, Cooper, DeBerry L, Favors, Fitzhugh, Gilmore, Hardaway, Jernigan, Johnson G, Jones, Love, Miller, Mitchell, Odom, Parkinson, Powell, Shaw, Stewart, Towns, Turner J, Turner M — 22.

Press Releases

TN Urban Chambers Support Economic-Impact Studies of Proposed State Legislation

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 31, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2013) – Today, the regional chambers of commerce in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville announced their support for a measure that would require the Tennessee General Assembly to consider, as part of the analysis of proposed legislation, the financial impact of each bill on businesses and jobs within Tennessee.

“Tennessee already has a mechanism in place to measure the fiscal impact of proposed legislation on government,” said Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, referring to the production of fiscal notes produced by the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee. “This bill takes the Fiscal Review Committee’s analysis one step further.”

SB 116/HB 220, sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Mark White of Memphis, directs the Fiscal Review Committee to include an “impact-to-commerce statement” in its fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to certain committees.

“This bill is about making better-informed decisions by ensuring that our elected officials understand the effect new laws will have on our state’s employment and economic well-being,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber.

If this legislation becomes law, certain fiscal notes would include a statement about the net immediate and long-term effect each bill would have on commerce and jobs in the state. The impact to commerce statement would include, if possible, an estimate in dollars of the anticipated change in costs or savings to commerce.

“Our elected officials want to play a key role in creating jobs and economic prosperity,” said John Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “An analysis of a bill’s impact on business will give our legislators another tool to help accomplish that goal.”

The new analysis would only apply to bills that have a direct impact on commerce and would be limited to the following committees: House business and utilities committee; House finance, ways and means committee; House state government committee; House local government committee; House insurance and banking committee; House consumer and human resources committee; Senate commerce, labor and agriculture committee; Senate finance, ways and means committee; and Senate state and local government committee. If a piece of legislation impacted multiple industries in different ways, the analysis would focus on the overall net impact to commerce in the state.

“A recent survey of our members found that 88 percent of respondents believe that new legislation should be evaluated for its financial impact on business,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Every year the Tennessee General Assembly considers proposals that have a bottom-line impact on our businesses. We believe every Tennessee business will benefit from a more-informed legislative process.”

In the area of K-12 public education, the four urban chambers’ 2013 joint legislative agenda also includes proposals to ensure student test results are in the hands of principals, teachers and administrators more quickly, and that each high school’s ACT scores are more easily accessible to the public. The four urban chambers’ full 2013 legislative agenda is attached.

About the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce:
Founded in 1887, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is the region’s leading business association with more than 1,600 member companies employing more than 10,000 people. The Chattanooga Chamber is the spearhead of the business community, acting as the catalyst, convener, representative and resource for ensuring that the Chattanooga area achieves its outstanding business potential. We provide the focal point for the business community to fulfill its leadership role in making the Chattanooga area vibrant, prosperous and forward-looking. The Chattanooga Chamber has earned 4-Star Accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a distinction that places us among the top 10 percent of Chambers nationwide. For more information, visit

About the Knoxville Chamber:
The Knoxville Chamber is the region’s leading business organization with more than 2,000 members that employ more than 276,000 individuals. More than 80 percent of Chamber members are small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It fulfills its mission of Driving Regional Economic Prosperity by recruiting new businesses and supporting existing companies, and serves as the lead economic development agency in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley. The organization has an active government advocacy program and supports pro-business policies. Members receive marketing, networking, professional development benefits, and many other cost-effective services. For more information, visit

About the Greater Memphis Chamber:
The Greater Memphis Chamber is the lead economic development agency for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,300 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals. For more information, visit

About the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce:
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. Belong, engage, lead, prosper embodies the Chamber’s focus on facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity for Middle Tennessee. The work of the Nashville Area Chamber is supported by membership and sponsors; the Chamber’s Pivotal Partners (a partnership at the highest level for all Chamber programs and events) are BlueCross/BlueShield of Middle Tennessee, Community Health Systems and Delek US Holdings. Together with its affiliates, the Nashville Chamber works to strengthen the region’s business climate and to enhance Nashville’s position as a desirable place to live, work and visit. For more information, visit

Press Releases

Haslam Outlines Legislative Priorities for 2013

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; January 29, 2013: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced his priorities for the 2013 legislative session, building on momentum from his past proposals focused on attracting and growing Tennessee jobs, pursuing meaningful education reform, managing an efficient and effective state government, and strengthening public safety.

“In working together over the past two years with the Legislature, we’ve accomplished a lot for the people of Tennessee, and I look forward to working with the 108th General Assembly in the same way,” Haslam said. “Our proposals represent our top priorities of making Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, continuing to improve education, being the best managed state in the country, and keeping our citizens safe.”

The governor’s legislation:

  • Strengthens the state’s attractive business climate through the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Improvement Act by reforming worker’s compensation laws to simplify the process and to make it more equitable for both the employer and employee. Additional details here.
  • Completes the governor’s two-year plan to cut the state’s portion of the sales tax on food and groceries from 5.5 percent by taking the last step and reducing the sales tax from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, a reduction that affects every Tennessean. Additional details here.
  • Establishes WGU-Tennessee, an online competency-based program with curriculum geared toward the 800,000 adult Tennesseans with some college credit but no degree. The program also emphasizes mentors who guide these adult students through the academic process. Additional details here.
  • Rewrites and simplifies the Criminal Gang Enhancement statute by clarifying the definition of “criminal gang offense” and creating a list of specific offenses considered criminal gang offenses. Additional details here.
  • Gives Tennessee parents another option for school choice through a program that allows students in the lowest income brackets in the lowest performing schools to attend other schools. Additional details here.
  • Encourages college accessibility by creating an endowment to provide need-based, “last dollar” scholarships or grants to Tennesseans pursuing a degree from a postsecondary institution. Additional details here.
  • Reduces the Hall Income Tax burden on seniors for the second time since 2011 by exempting single filers with a total annual income of $33,000 or less and joint filers with either a spouse 65 years or older and having total annual income of $59,000 or less. Additional details here.

“We’re proposing to cut taxes further, address college affordability and encourage degree attainment, improve the environment for job creation and make Tennesseans safer,” Haslam said. “Tennessee is different. We’re not like Washington or other states because we work together to get things done for Tennesseans, and we’ll continue to focus on the things that matter most to Tennesseans.”

The governor will also strongly support SJR 2/HJR 8 regarding judicial selection, which is up for two-thirds vote this year in the General Assembly.

The Haslam administration has filed a total of 59 non-budget related bills, but the above pieces of legislation represent the governor’s priorities.

Press Releases

Kelsey Proposes Bill to Protect Identity of Online Commenters

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 25, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly protecting the privacy rights of readers who choose to comment on online news articles. Senate Bill 106 shields news organizations or other individuals who post news online from having to reveal any identifying information about readers who post comments.

“This legislation will safeguard the free and open exchange of ideas,” said Senator Kelsey. “Political discourse should be encouraged– not discouraged through fishing expeditions by over-zealous lawyers.”

The legislation comes after the Shelby County Commission filed a subpoena in federal court asking for the identities of all online commenters in the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s stories about suburban plans to create their own school districts. A federal judge later denied that request.

“This issue will come up again and needs to be clarified in Tennessee law,” continued Sen. Kelsey. “News organizations themselves should determine how much identifying information of online commenters to make public.”

Press Releases

TFA Launches Advocacy E-Mail System

Statement from the Tennessee Firearms Association’s Legislative Action Committee; Feb. 17, 2011:

The Tennessee Firearms Association has rolled out a new advocacy package which will make it easier, more efficient and more effective for our members and our supporters to get directly involved in bringing their voices directly to the state’s elected officials on the bills, legislation and issues that are important to us as citizens,  voters, hunters, shooters and firearms owners of all interests.

This new product, developed and supported by Voter Voice, will allow TFA to develop campaigns and even suggested email messages that each individual can customize into his or her own message.  It is critical in fact that these suggested messages, including the “subjects” be adopted and modified by each person so that it is your message and not simply some canned message.

This system is not a substitute for the need for personal visits, phone calls, and other emails. It is a supplement to help make sure that the elected officials hear from the voters who put them in office and who have the ability to remove them from office when representation turns into personal agendas.

We have already prepared the first message.  Please following this link back to the main TFA website and start today to send your first communications to our elected officials to let them know what we want to see from the legislature in 2011 and beyond.

Please feel free to send this email to everyone you know who may have an interest in hunting, personal rights and firearms ownership.  Even if they are not presently TFA members, we want to inform them about what TFA can and will do to help them be involved on a personal level.

TFA Advocacy – First Message


TFA is a grassroots organization. Membership in TFA helps support our collective efforts by covering the costs of the TFA website, its forum, these alerts, and other organizational necessities.  If you are receiving these emails and are not already a member of TFA, I urge you to consider joining TFA because your support is important.

If you would like to join or renew your membership, you can do so online at this link JOIN TFA

John Harris?Executive Director


Early Bird Gets the Bill

With six weeks until lawmakers flood back into the Capitol, a handful of bills have already been filed for introduction in the 2011 legislative session, mostly thanks to Sen. Mark Norris.

The Senate Republican leader from Collierville filed five bills this month, all but one dealing with redistricting, a process that requires lawmakers to redraw legislative districts every decade after the U.S. Census numbers are in.

His grouping of bills generally “(clarify) provisions concerning districts, terms and vacancies prior to November 2012 elections,” according to bill summaries.

New lines must be approved before the 2012 election, although Norris says he could see lawmakers begin the redistricting process in late spring.

Norris’ fifth bill ties the income limit to qualify for a property tax freeze to the the average income level for elderly people as calculated in the new census numbers.

Sen. Douglas Henry, a Nashville Democrat, popped in a few bills of his own extending sales tax rebates to flood victims. House Democrat Leader Gary Odom of Nashville and Rep. Gary Moore, D-Joelton, are listed as co-sponsors. House Democrat Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, D-Nashville, introduced his own version of that bill, too.

During the last two-year legislative session, the House and Senate churned out nearly 4,000 bills each, although many pieces of legislation were taken up by both chambers. About 1,200 of them became law.

Presumed House Speaker-to-be Beth Harwell indicated in a press conference earlier this month that she’s not opposed to the idea of limiting the number of bills lawmakers can file. In keeping with the spirit of her smaller-is-better philosophy of state governance, Harwell indicated she’s opposed to bills that further burden or restrict the private behavior of citizens and businesses.

“Certainly if we’ve heard anything from the public, it’s that they don’t want a lot of more regulations and mandates on their lives,” said Harwell. “So I think that would serve our caucus well to look at not introducing a lot of legislation this session.”

“For the most part, what I’ve seen of Republican legislators is that they are conservative on that anyway,” she added. “Again, this is not the party of more government regulations, this is the party of less government regulations. So, I think you will see some restraint on the part of Republican leaders.”

Press Releases

Sen. Kyle Wants Action On Lottery Scholarship Funding Issues

Press Release from Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis; April 6, 2010:

Senate Committee Failure To Plug Gap Threatens Future Scholarships

NASHVILLE – Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis is calling on lawmakers to address an insolvent lottery scholarship fund after a Senate committee failed to plug a $13 million funding shortfall that threatens scholarship availability.

“This is the first step to reducing scholarships and denying accessibility for thousands of Tennessee students who depend on the lottery scholarship as their sole opportunity to attend college,” Kyle said. “This inaction threatens the ability to keep our promise to these students. The time to act is now.”

The Senate Education Committee voted 4-4-1 Wednesday on Senate Bill 3343 along party lines: Democrats for, Republicans against with one Republican abstaining. The bill would have transferred between $56 million and $91.4 million in lottery funds for energy efficient school projects to the scholarship fund.

Wednesday’s tie vote effectively kills the legislation unless the committee chair recalls the bill. The committee closed Wednesday evening.

Currently, the lottery scholarship fund will require the use of reserve money for a second straight year to cover existing scholarships. The continued use of such reserves could lead to a decrease in interest income that funds lottery scholarships – and a subsequent decrease in scholarships.

Kyle is urging lottery scholarship recipients to contact their state lawmakers to tell what they want done to shore up the scholarship fund. If the Education Committee doesn’t reconsider the energy efficiency funds transfer, Kyle will call for it when the 2010-11 budget legislation comes up for a vote.

“On our current course, we are going to leave state education officials no choice other than raising academic requirements and cutting both the number and amount of lottery scholarships,” Kyle said. “Lawmakers are crippling our children’s futures by sitting on their hands.”

Business and Economy Health Care Liberty and Justice News

TN AG: ObamaCare Reigns Supreme

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper released an opinion today declaring that efforts underway in the state Legislature to challenge the federal government’s health care overhaul may not hold water.

“The public policy expressed in both SB 3498/HB 3433 and HJR 745 is directly opposed to the expressly stated Congressional intent of ‘achiev[ing] near-universal coverage’ for health care insurance,” according to the April 6 statement signed by Cooper, Solicitor general Michael E. Moore and Senior Counsel to the AG, Sue A. Sheldon.

The opinion came in response to a question posed to the attorney general by three House Democrats — Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, Rep. Charles Curtiss and Rep. Henry Fincher– as to whether bills and a resolution currently under consideration in the House Commerce Committee are “likely preempted by federal law.”

The stated answer to that question in the opinion is, “Yes. A court would likely determine that SB 3498/HB 3433 and HJR 745 are preempted by conflicting provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

House Bill 3433, sponsored by Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, declares “that the public policy of this state, consistent with our constitutionally recognized and inalienable rights of liberty, is that every person within this state is and shall be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty.”

The bill continues, “No public official, employee, or agent of this state or any of its political subdivisions shall act to impose, collect, enforce, or effectuate any penalty in this state that violates the public policy set forth in this section.”

It also declares it “the duty of the attorney general and reporter to seek injunctive and any other appropriate relief as expeditiously as possible to preserve the rights and property of the residents of this state, and to defend as necessary this state, its officials, employees and agents” against legal action by the federal government.

The companion bill, SB3498, passed the Senate on a 26-1 vote Feb. 17.

HJR745 is a constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet.

It says no “law or rule shall…compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system” in Tennessee.

Citing the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, the attorney general’s opinions states that if “either or both SB 3498/HB3433 and the constitutional amendment proposed by HJR 745 were enacted, adherence to both federal and state law would be impossible” and “would impede the achievement of the objectives of Congress as stated in the federal Act.”

The attorney general’s opinion also questioned the authority of the state Legislature to direct Tennessee’s highest ranking law enforcement officer, who is appointed by the state Supreme Court, to do anything.

“Legislation aimed at regulating the Attorney General’s discretion concerning which actions to prosecute and defend on behalf of the State could also raise separation of powers concerns, as the Office of the Attorney General and Reporter is a constitutional office that is part of the judicial branch of the State of Tennessee,” according to the opinion.

At a House Commerce Committee meeting Tuesday, Naifeh asked that the attorney general present his findings before members act on the legislation.  Cooper is expected at next week’s committee meeting.

Mark Engler can be reached at Andrea Zelinski shot video and contributed reporting for this story. She can be reached at