Posts

Green, Durham Introduce Bill to Create ‘Free-market Alternative’ to Worker’s Comp

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; February 12, 2015:

The Tennessee Option will help employees return to work, create economic development opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), a physician and Vice-Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, and Representative Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin), House Majority Whip, today introduced a bill to create the Tennessee Option, a free market alternative to state-mandated workers’ compensation insurance. Sen. Jack Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, is co-sponsoring the Senate bill. Rep. Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station), Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, is co-sponsoring the version in the House of Representatives.

 

“The core focus of the Tennessee Option is to help injured employees get back to work faster. Making that happen requires good benefits, strong communication, and will lead to higher employee satisfaction,” said Sen. Green. “An Option will also give job creators a way to save more than 50% on workers’ comp costs, so they can invest in growth and more employees.”

The Tennessee Option will create an alternative way for employers to provide traditional workers’ compensation benefits – medical, wage replacement, etc. – under an injury benefit plan. Sen. Green’s said the bill eliminates the need for volumes of statutes, paperwork, and litigated decisions, while still delivering employee protections and accountability. Employers using an Option in the two states that currently allow it – Texas and Oklahoma – see improved employee satisfaction following an injury and lower program costs, which creates economic development opportunities.

“We will cut red tape for Tennessee businesses with the Tennessee Option. That is reason alone to pass the legislation,” said Rep. Jeremy Durham. “If we want to make Tennessee a better place to work and live, we have to take bold steps like this to help employers while still protecting employees.”

Oklahoma passed Option legislation in 2013, and Texas has allowed alternative injury benefit programs for more than 100 years. Texas employers using the Option have saved billions of dollars while increasing employee satisfaction and return-to-work rates. The Tennessee Option will not replace workers’ comp; instead, it will act as a competitive pressure on the system to produce better outcomes for the true stakeholders – employees and their employers.

“We have the opportunity here to help Tennessee employees, Tennessee employers, and Tennessee economic development,” Green concluded. “I look at the Tennessee Option as a way to set our state apart when companies are looking to locate here and create hundreds or thousands of jobs, because that’s why I was elected – to get Tennessee back to work.”

Upcoming UAW Vote at VW Concerns TN Senate Labor, Commerce Cmte Heads

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; February 10, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn, (February 10, 2014) — The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Tennessee’s Senate Commerce and Labor Committee today expressed concern regarding the United Auto Workers (UAW) upcoming vote in Chattanooga, saying a vote for organized labor would harm Tennessee’s reputation as a business-friendly state and reverse the state’s recent progress in automobile-related job growth.

Chairman Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Vice-Chairman Mark Green (R-Clarksville) said the General Assembly has worked in concert with Governors Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam for the past several years to move forward policies to support Tennessee’s competitive standing in growing and expanding new and better paying jobs in the state. The lawmakers said that pending decisions of VW employees are of statewide interest at a pivotal time when Tennessee stands currently as a national leader in job creation.

“We greatly value our auto workers, both in Middle Tennessee and in Southeast Tennessee,” said Senator Johnson, a businessman whose legislative district is home to the General Motors Spring Hill plant and Nissan’s North America headquarters.

“Our communities are very similar with great neighborhoods, schools that focus on achievement and a local economy that is envied by many. The automotive industry is a very important part of the quality of life we enjoy.” “As Chattanooga workers vote on the United Auto Workers presence, it is a decision that transcends just one community,” he added. “There is tremendous competition for job growth among states. A vote for organized labor would impede our daily efforts to benefit Tennessee families as we compete nationally in job growth. I ask that Chattanooga lead to honor Tennessee’s competitive spirit so we can continue moving our state’s job growth forward. Chattanooga workers, we don’t need the UAW in our state.”

“In business, reputation means a lot,” added Senator Green, who is a practicing physician and businessman who represents the more rural Clarksville region that competes with industry across the state-line of Kentucky. “Tennessee has developed a reputation of a top location for families and businesses because of the lower cost of living, commitment to an educated workforce and folks keeping more of our wages by holding taxes low.”

“Volkswagen chose our state and your community for important reasons: Chattanooga workers have a great reputation of a great work ethic and make an excellent product. That reputation has been yours without the United Auto Workers,” he continued. “The free market that VW chose in our state produces competition, empowers employees far more than a labor union, and keeps bringing jobs to Tennessee.” The United Auto Workers vote is scheduled for Wednesday, February 12 through Friday, February 14 at the Volkswagen site in Chattanooga.

TFA: Beavers Files Amendments to Address “Problems” With Safe Commute Law

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; February 3, 2013:

Nashville, TN – Gun rights bulwark Senator Mae Beavers has filed amendments to be addressed on the Senate Floor to address problems in the current law regarding a law passed in 2013 regarding handgun permit holders who commute to work and their right to store legally owned firearms in personal vehicles.

The amendments, which have been filed on Senate Bills 1700 and 1701, will allow workers in Tennessee to safely commute to work with a firearm in their vehicle without fear of either criminal prosecution or termination of employment. While Senator Mark Green’s bills (SB1700 and SB1701) are a step in the right direction, they do not adequately address the legal confusion surrounding the 2013 law. In addition, SB1700 and SB1701 do not prevent employers from firing employees who store personal items in personal vehicles.

Senator Beavers’ amendments would fix all the problems with the 2013 law, which was pushed through by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey even with notice of serious flaws. Senator Beavers’ amendments are intended to ensure that law abiding Tennessee firearms owners are protected while transporting firearms in their vehicles to and from work.

Senator Beavers’ amendments would provide that a citizen can store any item that he or she legally possesses, including a firearm, in any vehicle (other than an employer provided vehicle) that the citizen legally possesses. It is a simple clarification of Tennessee’s “castle doctrine” which equates the personal vehicle with the personal residence.

This type of change is necessary because current law does not fully protect employees from criminal prosecution nor does it provide any protection from losing their jobs if their vehicle contains an item they lawfully possess, especially a firearm. The Tennessee Attorney General issued an opinion (13-41) noting that the 2013 “parking lot” law did not actually protect lawful possession of a firearm from criminal prosecution or termination of employment.

Recently, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s office directed legislative staff lawyers to manufacture a legal opinion that stated exactly the opposite. The Tennessee Firearms Association understands the opinion from the Lieutenant Governor’s staff lawyers is faulty because testimony of the House bill sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Faison, disagrees with their conclusion regarding legislative intent. During testimony last year, Representative Jeremy Faison stated that the bill does not protect employees from termination or criminal prosecution, and that it was not the intent of the bill sponsor to do so. See statements of Rep. Faison in committee regarding HB118 on Feb 20, 2013.

In addition, approximately ten amendments were offered in 2013 on the House Floor by Representatives Mark Pody and John Mark Windle to address the serious and obvious flaws in the 2013 legislation before it was enacted. House leadership prohibited any of those amendments from being addressed on the merits. The defeat of these 2013 House floor amendments are evidence that the legislature knew of these flaws in the Ramsey legislation but did not take corrective action.

Even though the Tennessee Firearms Association discounts the opinion issued by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s lawyers, the fact that two divergent legal opinions exist on the 2013 law shows that significant confusion in the law must be addressed. Indeed, the confusion may be so significant that the 2013 law could be unconstitutionally vague.

This issue is not just about firearms however, as the rights of law abiding citizens to store items that they are lawfully allowed to possess in their vehicles while at work have also come into question. In 2012, a representative from Federal Express testified in the Senate Judiciary hearings on the same topic that they were able to fire employees for the mere possession of a Bible in their vehicle while parked on Federal Express property.

The Tennessee Firearms Association would have preferred that the problems with the 2013 law had been fully considered and discussed in the Senate Judiciary before these issues were sent to the Senate Floor. However, Senator Beavers’ bill (SB1733) and potentially other bills on this topic were not even considered or discussed by the Senate Judiciary when it took up this issue.

“Any vote against Senator Beavers’ amendment must be considered carefully as a vote against the Second Amendment, fundamental constitutional principles and the life safety of citizens, even if it is only a procedural vote,” said John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. “Former Representative Debra Maggart was ousted from office by a huge margin due in part to her continual partisan efforts to block good Second Amendment legislation and impairing the rights of citizens to protect their families and lives. It is important to address these core constitutional and life safety issues carefully when they are raised.”

Green Named to CSG Interbranch Committee

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; June 10, 2013:

(June 10, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced the appointment of Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) to the Council of State Government (CSG) Interbranch Affairs Committee. The committee brings together leaders from across the nation to focus on ways the branches of state government can work together.

“In his freshman year in the legislature, Senator Green quickly established himself as an emerging leader in state government,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “With his prior military service and his experience as a businessman, I believe he will add great perspective to this committee. I look forward to his contributions and I’m confident he will serve Tennessee well.”

“This is a great opportunity to share ideas with leaders from across the nation on how the branches of state government can work more efficiently,” said Senator Green. “I’m grateful to Lt. Governor Ramsey for the appointment.”

CSG’s Interbranch Affairs Committee reviews and monitors major interbranch issues and seeks to foster collaboration and understanding among and between the branches of state government. Members of the committee focus on emerging trends, innovative and effective solutions, and viable policy positions and response projects.

The committee is designed to encourage multi-state problem solving and sharing of best practices, and to facilitate networking among state officials and between the public and private sectors.

The appointment starts immediately and extends through 2015.

Legislation Seeks to End Statute of Limitations when DNA Evidence Available

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; April 4, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Under legislation already approved by the Tennessee Senate and scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives, prosecutors will be able to continue their practice of proceeding with criminal charges against perpetrators even when they can’t be captured or even identified by name — as long as the individual’s unique DNA profile is known.

At a news conference attended by leading prosecutors and the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Mark Green, M.D., (R-Clarksville) and Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-14th Dist.), said the measure lets prosecutors “stop the clock” on the statute of limitations, the time limit by which criminal actions must be commenced.

The measure received unanimous approval by the Senate on Monday, April 1, and is now scheduled for a vote next week in the House of Representatives.

“This bill sends lawbreakers a clear message that Tennessee will use every available technology to track you down and bring you to justice — no matter how long it takes,” said Dr. Green, an emergency room physician who routinely gathers DNA evidence. “It helps keep Tennessee’s laws up to date with advances in medicine and science.”

“This legislation is a major step forward in making sure those people who commit the most egregious of crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Rep. Haynes. “I am proud of this legislation and thank every single person and organization involved in this project for working towards a safer Tennessee.”

The legislation codifies the practice used by 20th District Attorney General Torry Johnson in the case of Robert Jason Burdick, the so-called “Wooded Rapist,” whose crimes spanned more than a decade. His case was kept alive because a piece of skin he left at the scene of one of his earliest crimes provided law enforcement DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

“Even though the defendant in this case wasn’t taken into custody until several years after the crime, we were able to preserve the case through the DNA that was collected” at the time, noted Johnson in a statement. “The use of DNA as a way of identifying defendants and preventing the statute of limitations from running will help bring people to justice.”

On appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed that prosecutors can properly commence a criminal action, effectively tolling the Statute of Limitations, in cases where the suspect’s unique DNA profile is known.

Both Dr. Green and Rep. Haynes praised the work of Johnson and Assistant District Roger Moore, who prosecuted the case.

“The ‘Wooded Rapist’ case shows the real potential of DNA evidence,” said Dr. Green. “The painstaking work of police and medical personnel to retrieve and preserve the DNA samples were rewarded when, years later, the perpetrator was finally identified — but it took the persistence and creativity of skilled prosecutors to bring him to justice. We want all Tennessee prosecutors to have these tools at their disposal.”

“Receiving justice for victims should not have a deadline,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn, “especially when there’s DNA evidence available that could lead to solving a crime.”

“Laws need to be updated to keep up with technology and this legislation does just that,” Gwyn added. “There’s no reason a violent crime should go unsolved when you have DNA that could identify the perpetrator in the future.”

Senate sponsors of the bill, in addition to Green are: Senators Ketron, Finney, Bowling, Burks, Campfield, Haile, McNally, Norris, Stevens, and Tracy. House sponsors of the bill, in addition to Haynes are: Representatives Lamberth, Rogers, Weaver, Shipley, Hardaway, Rich, Watson, Parkinson, Faison, Lundberg, Travis, Fitzhugh, Camper, White M, Shepard, Eldridge and Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson.

Ramsey: Signs Pointing Toward GOP Supermajority in Senate

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDTYwGvWGVE[/youtube]


Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
says that come Election Day, Republicans will enjoy a supermajority in the Tennessee Senate — meaning that the GOP will not need any Democratic support to pass legislation.

“I do think we’re going to have the supermajority,” Ramsey told TNReport. “There are six seats we’re playing in, and none of us as incumbent Republicans have serious opposition. This is the first time I’ve ever run without an opponent.”

Republicans need to win two more seats to snag the supermajority, or 22 of the 33 seats.

And if money talks, Ramsey may be right. GOP candidates for state Senate have a massive financial lead going into the final days of their campaigns, according to campaign finance reports released by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

The reports released this week show Republican Senate candidates with a more than 2-to-1 lead in terms of cash on hand. And when you add up the total amount of money raised in contested races, Republicans have outraised Democrats $1.8 million to $861,000 since Jan. 1, records show.

You can search all of the filings by clicking here.

Perhaps more telling is the amount of money spent in the past two months, which is what the most recent campaign finance reports show.

Of the six key races that Ramsey spoke of, Republicans have spent $384,041 and Democrats have spent $253,451, according to those filings.

That’s money that goes for newspaper and radio ads, campaign workers, mailings, food and gas to fill up the gas tank.

In only one of those races did the Democrat outspend his opponent. That was the race in Senate District 24, a West Tennessee district that spans from Obion County to Benton County.

In that race, Democrat Brad Thompson spent $111,372 over the past two months. His Republican opponent John Stevens spent $62,932 over that same period.

Most of the six races, though, more closely resemble the contest in Senate District 20, a district that surrounds downtown Nashville like a letter “C” spanning from Belle Meade to Goodlettsville. Republican Steve Dickerson plowed $54,941 into the race over the past two months. His opponent, Democrat Phillip North, spent $28,028 over that same period.

“I do think there will be significant gains,” Ramsey said. “Somewhere between two (Senate seats) to five or six.”

This is not the first time that Ramsey has been talking about a possible supermajority. Check out what he told the Nashville Scene and Nooga.com.

Other Senate seats identified as being in play include: