About Me

My Photo
Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a former member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She served as chairman of the Government Operations Committee and the Commerce Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history. She is the Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council's Commerce Task Force.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Delay in the Restroom Bill

I regret that I have had to delay the restroom bill this session.  I have heard from many on both sides of this issue, and to those who support the bill I hope you will trust that my need to delay will strengthen our position in the long run. 

Please know that just because I am delaying the bill it does NOT mean that anything in our schools changes.  Currently biological boys use the boys room and biological girls use the girls room – schools find other solutions for students who do not like that arrangement.

Here is the current status; in actuality, few students across our state ever declare that they want to use the restroom of the opposite sex and of those most change their mind again.  As just stated, Tennessee school districts are largely already doing what my bill is seeking to ensure.  I struggle with discussing outstanding issues with the bill without at the same time stirring up opponents by exposing the various outstanding issues for which I need the bill to account. 

As for misconceptions; the restroom bill only applies to public school restrooms – not to businesses and not to local government facilities; rest assured that the societal norm of restrooms divisioned by biological sex is still the societal norm. 

My bill relies on authority derived from Title IX of the education act and the purpose of the bill is to protect the privacy rights of all students.  Very simply under the bill, boys use the boys room, girls use the girls room and accommodations can be made for anyone who is unhappy with that arrangement.  From what I have learned, the ACLU is only interested in protecting their client; any student who claims to be transgender. 

Rule of thumb, when you go to court you pick your case.  In our case, we already know that upon passage we will be sued and we have simply run out of time to correct outstanding concerns.  So with important details outstanding, are we willing to risk losing and having the will of the ACLU implemented across our entire state?  Our schools are already protecting the children as we would want so should we create a law with weaknesses or is it safer to leave things as they are for now? 

This bill has scratched the surface of something we did not know was going on - activist doctors who are immorally giving prepubescent children hormones of the opposite sex. This is done because in the words on one witness they horrifically “get a better result” when started when the child is so young.  

If we lose a statewide lawsuit in Tennessee, and a court determines that sex is not biological but whatever one may claim, how do we then stop such doctors from harming these small children? How do businesses continue to justify separate restrooms, and how do our local governments justify separate facilities at our community parks?   

My bill was championed by a public policy group and I am grateful for their efforts but when I and others realized constraints that needed to be resolved it seems that the group was too invested and had gone too far to allow us more time as if they couldn’t disappoint their members.  However, we can’t operate that way when making state law that will affect so many and stands to lose so much.  Unfortunately, whether they realize it or not, the group began to paint good legislators as villains to their own constituents when in fact the legislators were very supportive of the bill but they were simply trying to take the time needed to think it through.

There is an old saying that we use in the legislature quite often; sometimes the slower you go the faster you get there.


My goal is to protect the privacy rights of our students – from very small to college age.  I can easily pass a bill intended to do so but my concern is to craft the bill well enough to withstand an attack from those who would like nothing more than the opportunity to get their will implemented in our state with one sure and swift strike by the court. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Weekly Wrap - April 17, 2016

Budget Highlights

The 109th General Assembly is drawing to a close – we should dismiss sine die on this coming Tuesday.  Here are the highlights of this year’s budget.

·                 34.9 billion, balanced budget

·                 Budget includes no new debt, and all capital projects are funded with cash

·                 Includes over $356 million in projects for parks, veterans, military, corrections, and
children services

·                 Continued investment in employees — the budget includes over $85 million addressing employee compensation, health insurance premiums, and retiree’s health insurance

·                 A historic investment in K-12 education — the largest in state history without a tax increase — and includes recurring funds of $104.6 million to fund salary increases for teachers, $29.5 million to fund the 12th month of teacher insurance, $13.9 million for additional English Language Learning teachers and translators, and $3.6 million for training teachers and principals

·                 Total state funding for the BEP is nearly $4.5 billion in FY17. Funding to the BEP is increased by $38.8 million this year to address inflationary growth, plus $19 million for student enrollment growth

·                 Budget includes $1.7 billion for higher education, including $50 million recurring for outcomes formula productivity increases at UT and TBR institutions. Funds of almost $297.8 million non-recurring are included for capital improvements and maintenance at higher education institutions, and over $24 million non-recurring is provided for the Drive to 55 Program Capacity Fund

·                 $10 million non-recurring allocated for competitive grants to align local equipment needs with workforce needs for our community colleges and TCATS. $13.2 million recurring investment to award need-based scholarships to students

·                 The Department of Safety has additional funds to add 12 new Highway Patrol officers, plus an additional $4.1 million for salary adjustments for its commissioned officers. Budget ensures troopers will receive 100% of their salary survey funding
  • Budget includes funding to increase the number of drug recovery courts from 41 to 50 and for two additional veterans courts, funds for four additional TBI forensic agents to help analyze and process data confiscated in the course of investigating crimes like sex trafficking, and funding for support staff in training for elder abuse to the District Attorneys General Conference

·                 We are investing in our state parks by increasing maintenance funding by $3 million recurring. $54.7 million is provided for capital improvements and maintenance at state parks

·                 TennCare’s total budget is $10.9 billion and includes $54 million for a new initiative, the Employment and Community First Choices Program, to assist persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities

·                 Property tax relief for low-income elderly or disabled individuals and disabled veterans is funded at over $37 million

·                 ECD has over $133 million in new funding to recruit jobs and invest in our local economies and $10 million for the Rural Economic Opportunity Propelling Rural Economic Progress (PREP) program fund

·                 Budget includes several major investments to help keep communities safe and prisons secure, with $18 million for the Public Safety Act to help reduce state recidivism rates and more efficiently sentence violent offenders

·                 Budget repays $142 million taken from Highway Fund and designates $42 million to counties for local road and bridge projects

·                 Budget recognizes over $27 million in adjustments to reduce the Hall Income Tax from 6% to 5% — reducing the total amount paid by 17% over last year and with the legislative intent to eliminate the tax completely by 2021

·                 Budget appropriates $100 million to the state Rainy Day Fund, bringing the balance to $668 million on June 30, 2017. This is the highest balance since 2008



I serve on the House Finance Ways and Means Committee.  Each year at the end of Session there is a lot of anger over fiscal notes and bills that are not funded in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Bill sponsors are frequently surprised to learn how much their bill will cost the taxpayers.  Click to Read More...



Speaker Beth Harwell, House Republicans Announce Formation Of Healthcare Task Force
Task force to develop 3-Star Healthy Project

House Republicans joined with Speaker Beth Harwell this week to announce the formation of a Healthcare Task Force for the purpose of improving access to care, named the 3-Star Healthy Project. The group made the announcement on Tuesday, joined by the members of the Task Force, Governor Bill Haslam, and other healthcare stakeholders.

Tennessee is known for innovation in its Medicaid program. It was one of the first states to move all enrollees to Managed Care Organizations and is on the leading edge of implementing payment reform and rewarding value in healthcare delivery. The 3-Star Healthy Project will build on this reputation for innovation with Tennessee principles and Tennessee solutions.

The 3-Star Healthy Project’s Task Force will be charged with developing a list of options for making TennCare more efficient and increasing access to care for Tennesseans.

These options will be tested through a set of pilots. One concept under consideration is that the pilots would be launched in different areas of the state and successful pilots would be phased in over time. Staggered implementation would ensure that the rollout of the 3-Star Healthy Project proceeds only after key benchmarks are met. Phased implementation timelines are widely used in quality improvement initiatives in the health care sector: they would allow Tennessee to monitor the success of three pilots to determine which work best for Tennesseans and control costs the most.

Initial discussions among members yielded the following examples of conservative ideas for the pilots:

·                 Encouraging enrollees to take more responsibility for their health and use of healthcare services.

·                 Creating Health Savings Accounts funded by enrollees’ premiums to pay copayments for doctor’s visits and prescriptions.

·                 Providing support for enrollees who want to re-enter the workforce.

Another unique feature of the Project the Task Force will consider is the concept of thresholds and “circuit breakers.” In order for these pilots to be implemented beyond an initial area, costs from the previous phase of implementation could not exceed a predetermined benchmark. The Task Force is charged with identifying such benchmarks, as well as an overall “circuit breaker,” which would immediately end a pilot should the state’s share of costs increase.

The Task Force will evaluate these ideas and others brought to the attention of its members over the next two months. The Speaker has asked the Task Force to return a report to her in June.


House Of Representatives Approves Legislation To Help Citizens Wrongly Convicted of Violent Crimes

The Tennessee House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation this week to help ensure innocent individuals are not wrongly put to death for crimes they did not commit. House Bill 2377 requires law enforcement officials to indefinitely keep biological evidence collected for cases in which the defendant is sentenced to death or life without parole.

Under the legislation, all biological evidence gathered in relation to a crime in which the defendant received a death sentence must be preserved by officials until the person has passed away or all related charges that led to the conviction have been dismissed.

Over the years, there have been cases across the state where accused lawbreakers have been sentenced to death row, but that have later been released based on new advances in DNA and biological evidence examination.

By now requiring law enforcement to preserve this type of evidence, supporters hope that others will not have to experience wrongful conviction in the future.

Having passed both the House and Senate, the bill now will go to the Governor for his signature before becoming law. Additional information regarding this legislation can be found at the General Assembly website at http://goo.gl/IqR2Cx.



Prescription Safety Act Passes House With Bipartisan Support

Legislation spearheaded by House Republicans to make permanent the comprehensive prescription reform set forth in Tennessee’s Prescription Safety Act of 2012 has been approved on final consideration.

As passed in 2012, the law ensured that healthcare professionals tap into the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring System when prescribing certain scheduled drugs.

The update to the Prescription Safety Act passed this week is in response to both the Governor’s Prescription for Success, a multi-year strategic plan to curb opiate abuse, and the 2015 comptroller’s audit of the state’s controlled substance monitoring database and prescription safety laws. In both documents, it was determined that while the state is making great strides in combating the prescription drug epidemic gripping the nation, more can be done.

This year’s proposal removes the sunset put in the 2012 law removes exemptions from reporting and checking of the controlled substance monitoring database recognized by the comptroller as potential loopholes.

Further, it increases the state’s ability to partner with federal agencies and other states to share information in an effort to stop prescription leakage from Tennessee’s borders, while still protecting patient records.

This year’s proposal makes bold but reasonable strides in cutting back the prescription opioids flooding Tennessee streets, while not overburdening healthcare practitioner’s care.


House Lawmakers Announce Selection Of Eight Tennessee Counties Chosen To Participate In ‘Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program’
Counties chosen by state to help expand area economic development

House lawmakers joined with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) today to announce the selection of eight Tennessee Counties chosen to participate in the spring round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP). The areas selected include Fayette, Humphreys, Lawrence, Maury, Scott, Unicoi, Van Buren, and White Counties

Launched in 2015, the purpose of PEP is to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee by evaluating potential properties, advising counties on where investment may be most beneficial, and to discover what is needed to address issues found that may be impeding area economic development.

Based on economic development principles found in other ECD programs and with the assistance of site selection firm Austin Consulting, PEP will benefit counties by emphasizing the importance of and assisting with planning for future industrial development.

Supporters of the Select Tennessee Program note that available and up-to-date industrial properties are essential for a community to be competitive in recruiting new business to the area. However, developing and maintaining such an inventory is a difficult task, and many communities do not have a large range of quality properties available for the market. Through the Select Tennessee Program, counties will be able to get assistance from the state that will help in readying industrial properties for near-term development as well as creating a pipeline of properties for future development.

For each county selected to participate in Select Tennessee, the program includes an educational webinar on the site selection process, an on-site visit by Austin Consulting, and a comprehensive assessment addressing each area’s strengths, weaknesses, and recommended next steps to improve marketability.

Selection into the program is based on demonstrated local need for industrial properties and also on the county’s ability to assemble viable properties with market potential.

The application process begins with the submission of a letter of intent which is accepted at any time.

Upon receipt of the letter, counties are provided with the program application. The letter of intent, along with more information about the Select Tennessee Program, can be found by visiting http://goo.gl/Zms3nm.

Prior Wraps
Weekly Wrap - January 24, 2016
Weekly Wrap - March 27, 2016
Weekly Wrap - April 3, 2016
Weekly Wrap - April 10, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

House Finance, Ways and Means Committee


Each year at the end of Session there is a lot of anger over fiscal notes and bills that are not funded in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Bill sponsors are frequently surprised to learn how much their bill will cost the taxpayers. 

The fiscal note's source is the professional opinion of those who will carryout the law, and there is a process to dispute the amount. 

Fiscal note aside, bill sponsors know who is ultimately really at fault when their bill goes unfunded - themselves.  This is because it is up to each sponsor to workout getting their bill funded. While the sponsor isn't responsible for the amount of the fiscal note they are responsible to dispute the amount, find the funding or to amend the bill so that the price tag will go away. 

I am a big process person.  I think when everyone understands the process it empowers all.  I dug up this chart which illustrates the process for bills referred to Finance, Ways and Means.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekly Wrap - April 10, 2016

Bill Aimed At Preventing Allergy Emergencies In Public Places Heads To Governor’s Desk To Become Law

Legislation aimed at preventing allergy emergencies in public places now heads to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam for final signature before becoming law. Once signed, the bill will allow epinephrine auto-injectors to be available in public spaces that attract groups of people and where exposure to allergens could pose a risk to those who know they have allergies and those who are unaware that they may be at risk for anaphylaxis — a severe, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 94 to 0.

As passed, House Bill 2054 authorizes trained individuals as well as others acting under the supervision of a physician to provide or administer an epinephrine auto-injector under certain circumstances, which would allow organizations such as scout troops, daycares, colleges and universities, restaurants, sports arenas, and other business entities to obtain a prescription and have the life-saving medication on hand for use in an emergency.

The bill also protects those who prescribe, dispense, and administer epinephrine auto-injectors under the provisions of the bill from civil liability. It does not, however, protect against gross negligence, and entities that choose not to have auto-injectors available are protected from civil liability as part of the legislation.

Advocates agree this legislation will make a difference for Tennesseans that suffer from life-threatening allergies and provide another safety measure for them in a variety of public places across the state.

It is estimated that at least one in 13 children in the U.S. is living with a food allergy, and according to federal guidelines, epinephrine is the treatment that should be given first when a person is experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Nineteen states have passed similar legislation — 16 of those laws were passed in 2015, including in Michigan, New Jersey, Kentucky and West Virginia. Legislation is also pending in additional states including: Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.


2016-2017 Budget Amendment Introduced

Legislation proposes additional investment for local transportation needs, student enrollment growth
 
This week, Governor Bill Haslam unveiled additions to the fiscal year 2016-2017 budget that will be considered by the 109th General Assembly in the coming days.

As introduced, the appropriations amendment closely follows the original budget proposal presented to the legislature on February 1, and it recognizes $60 million in savings from state departments returned to the General Fund.
 
In the amendment, Haslam proposes adding $12 million to the $130 million originally presented to repay the state’s Highway Fund. If the budget is approved as amended, $42 million of the total $142 million would go to the transportation needs of local governments as part of the state aid program.

Other notable funding priorities in the budget amendment include:

• $9 million to fund additional K-12 student enrollment growth during the current year;
• $2.43 million for a 1 percent provider rate increase with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD);
• $1.3 million to increase the work being done with adverse childhood experiences (ACE);
• $1.04 million to leverage Tennessee State University’s land grant status;
• $18.2 million to restore a 1 percent provider rate reduction in TennCare; and
• $1 million to support growth in the state’s captive insurance program; and

The appropriations amendment is customarily introduced in the final weeks of the legislative session each year for consideration and approval by the General Assembly.

House Lawmakers Pass Legislation To Serve Families Of Fallen Tennessee Soldiers
Legislature approves in-state tuition for children whose parents have lost their lives while protecting Tennessee.

This week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 1407 to help serve the families of fallen Tennessee soldiers.

As passed, the legislation provides in-state tuition to any college in the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents systems for children of military parents who die as a result of a targeted attack on Tennessee soil.  The in-state tuition would be available to these children regardless of their domicile or place of residence during the child’s enrollment in the institution.

This legislation is in direct response to last summer’s tragic attacks in Chattanooga, and helps to ensure Tennessee serves any future victims and their families. As supporters note, it is the duty of the legislature to do everything in its power to care for these families who have given so much to their state and country.

After passing in the Senate earlier this session, House Bill 1407 now awaits the signature of Governor Bill Haslam before becoming law.

The full text of House Bill 1407 can be found by visiting http://goo.gl/a4EL0C.


Legislation To Increase Awareness And Prevention Of Sexual Assault On College Campuses Passes House With Overwhelming Support

Legislation sponsored aimed at increasing awareness and prevention of sexual assault on college campuses passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan support from state lawmakers.
As passed, House Bill 2409 requires each public college in the state to require all incoming freshmen during orientation or introductory studies to receive instruction aimed at increasing the awareness and prevention of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and date rape. The bill also strongly encourages institutes of higher education to offer instruction of these same topics to all grades at some point during the school year.

With recent reports in the news media concerning alarming stories about sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, lawmakers feel this legislation is a strong step forward in reminding students about the importance of doing all they can to keep campuses safe. Through efforts to collaborate and work with state colleges — with students, parents, faculty, and staff — legislators are seeking to cultivate and sustain a campus culture that is free of sexual violence and characterized by caring and respect for one another.

The full text of House Bill 2409 can be found by visiting http://goo.gl/zceWrp. Having passed both the House and Senate, the legislation will now travel to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.


Bill To Cut Fraud And Abuse In Tennessee’s Welfare System Passes House With Unanimous Support

Legislation aimed at cutting fraud and abuse in Tennessee’s welfare system was approved this week on the House floor in Nashville.

The proposal makes critical changes to the way the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) contracts with and monitors organizations that receive taxpayer money to feed children and adults who need temporary help from the government. The bill passed with a unanimous 94-0 vote.

The legislation comes after investigations and audits from the Comptroller of the Treasury that identified financial mismanagement and fraud within some of the federal food programs administered by DHS. Approximately $80 million flows through DHS for program services each year.

As passed, House Bill 1940 directs the Department of Human Services to conduct background checks on each applicant of the subrecipient or sponsoring organization. It also requires sponsoring organizations applying to participate in any food program administered through the Department to obtain and maintain a performance bond. If a contract is awarded, the Department must perform both unannounced and announced physical site visits during the subrecipient monitoring process and report their findings.

Similarly under the bill, DHS must develop subrecipient monitoring plans utilizing analytical procedures that must be submitted to legislative leaders and the State Comptroller on an annual basis. In addition, the bill requires the inspector general of DHS to submit a report summarizing the results of any substantiated investigations concerning fraud, waste, and abuse regarding the child and adult care food program and summer food service program every three months.

The legislation brings more transparency and accountability to aid programs overseen by Tennessee Department of Human Services and will help further protect taxpayer dollars by catching bad actors attempting to abuse state food and welfare programs.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Weekly Wrap - April 3, 2016


Focus On College and University Success Act Passes House With Bipartisan Support
Legislation will aid state in meeting Drive to 55 challenge

Education moved front and center this week as the Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act passed on the full House floor with bipartisan support.

As passed, the legislation better aligns the state’s colleges and universities to meet the Drive to 55 challenge: the goal of getting 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 to meet the demands of the 21st Century job market.

The FOCUS Act places Tennessee on a direct path to meeting the Drive to 55 by providing a sharpened focus on the governance of community colleges and colleges of applied technology, while also granting four-year state universities additional autonomy to make local decisions.

Currently, the Tennessee Board of Regents oversees 46 institutions — six public state universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology. The University of Tennessee system oversees three public state universities as well as three institutes and a health science center.

Because of new initiatives put into place through the Drive to 55 program — such as the Tennessee Promise — there has been a shift in the higher education landscape that raises questions as to whether the existing higher education structure, established in 1972, is organized appropriately for today’s needs. Last fall alone, Tennessee saw a 10 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee universities and a nearly 25 percent increase in first-time freshman enrollment at state community colleges. With 46 institutions under its belt to look after, proponents agree it is difficult for the Board of Regents to meet all of the diverse challenges of today’s educational system.

With the FOCUS Act, the massive 46 institution conglomerate under the Board of Regents will be shifted and given their own local governing boards, allowing community colleges the ability to focus at a system level, while giving the state’s four-year universities the benefit of greater overall autonomy and decision-making.



A vote to recall the restroom bill from study committee will take place this week.

It is amazing to me how the left either does not understand this bill or simply deceives people.  It is hard to recall a time when I have seen worse journalism.  While many articles have been written – I have not once been called for a quote or discussion.

The revised amendment will do the following;

Protect the right to privacy of all students in public school restrooms.  Boys will use the boys room, girls will use the girls room, and schools may make reasonable accommodations for students who are displeased with that arrangement. This should curb complaints of bullying and be respectful to all.

The amendment also takes into consideration the very rare condition of being intersex (hermaphrodite; a person born with 3 sex chromosomes xxy…).  A sex is always declared on such individuals’ birth certificate but with the onset of puberty one sex usually becomes predominant – in this case the student may use the restroom of their predominant sex.

The bill does not apply to persons entering a restroom or locker room designated for use by a particular sex:

For custodial purposes,
For maintenance or inspection purposes,
To render medical assistance,
To accompany a person needing assistance, or
That has been temporarily designated for use by that person's biological sex.

I have met with the Governor three (3) times on this bill and I will meet with his staff again tomorrow.  He is not against the bill – he is just concerned about the possibility of lawsuits which may push this issue up to the Supreme Court (at this time in history) so I do concede that he has a legitimate concern.

However, if we don’t act, our school districts who are already making decisions regarding student use of the restroom based on sex will be sued by the ACLU one by one or by parents whose child’s privacy was violated in the restroom due to a student of the opposite sex entering at will.  We know from experience that school districts generally do not defend suites from the ACLU – they sign consent decrees.


A very humble thank you to our local governments' economic development association for this award…

TDDA Honors

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 1, 2016 – Representative Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet has received the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the Tennessee Development District Association (TDDA) (an aid to our local governments). The awards were made on March 24, 2016 at the TDDA annual meeting and Breakfast in Nashville. This is Lynn’s second time to receive this honor…to read more click here

Pro-Veteran Bill Approved by House of Representatives

On the veteran front, House Bill 1491 was approved this week which will make it easier for veterans across the state to obtain a handgun carry permit.

Under the legislation, a carry permit applicant would not be required to comply with the mandatory classroom and firing range hours if the applicant is an active, honorably discharged or retired veteran of the Unites States Armed Forces.

The person would have to present a certified copy of their certificate of release or discharge from active duty, a Department of Defense form 214 (DD 214), that documents a date of discharge or retirement that is within five years from the date of application for the permit.

The legislation will eliminate an unnecessary burden on the state’s veterans in the permitting process and is part of the legislative package sponsored by House Republicans aimed at helping veterans and their families across the state.


Jai Templeton Named New Tennessee Commissioner Of Agriculture
Sixth generation farmer, current deputy commissioner to lead department

Governor Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Jai Templeton, a sixth generation Tennessee farmer, as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture effective May 1. Templeton will replace Julius Johnson who last week announced his retirement.
Templeton, 44, currently serves as the department’s deputy commissioner, leading the day-to-day operations and directing programs and services that range from food safety to animal and plant health to agricultural development.

Prior to joining the department in 2011, Templeton served as mayor of McNairy County. He and his family have farmed in McNairy and Hardin counties for decades, producing grain, cotton, hay, timber, and cattle.

From 1995 to 2003, Templeton served as field representative for former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant. He is a former McNairy County commissioner and former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce, where he helped form the McNairy County Regional Alliance to focus on economic development in the area.

A native of McNairy County, Templeton has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Union University in Jackson. He is also a graduate of the University of Tennessee Certified Public Administrator program.

In Tennessee, agriculture and forestry have a profound impact on the state’s economy, with more than 67,000 farms representing 10.9 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $75 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports nearly 350,000 jobs.


Legislation Strengthening Asset Forfeiture Laws, Further Protecting Tennesseans Receives Unanimous Support

This week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that strengthens state asset forfeiture laws and further protects Tennesseans from unfair seizures of property.

As passed, House Bill 1772 prohibits a general sessions judge from authorizing a magistrate or judicial commissioner that is not licensed to practice law in Tennessee from issuing a civil forfeiture warrant. The legislation requires all appointed magistrates to either be licensed attorneys or judges to help prevent unwarranted seizing of assets.

Civil forfeiture is a legal process in which assets are taken from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing. A magistrate, once authorized by a judge, can issue a warrant if they deem probable cause exists.

Over the years, this practice has caused concern and raised questions as to whether forfeiture warrants issued by those magistrates who are not licensed attorneys or judges have the necessary qualifications under Tennessee law to make such forfeiture determinations.

Proponents of the legislation agree the bill is a strong step forward in strengthening asset forfeitures laws and working to further protect the people of Tennessee from unfair seizures.

In the Recycle Bin

Two proposals did not make it and we are all better for it.
  1. One proposal would have allowed a charge to be applied to any public records request – over the cost of copies and time.
  2. Another proposal would have allowed police body camera footage to be sealed and not accessible.  
The first proposal was taken off notice and will not advance this session.  The second item was killed in a committee room this week.

Committees Close!

Nearly all of the committees have closed over the last two weeks.  Now most of the action will move to the House Floor where all of the bills that have been worked on the last few months are heard by the full House.

HB1650 to be Heard in the Finance Committee this Week

Prohibits local governments from using their gasoline tax revenue for the construction, improvement, or maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle trails and paths, parks, greenways, and similar facilities open to the use of the public for non-vehicular travel, and for public roads with a posted speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour. Such prohibition does not apply to the construction, improvement, or maintenance of sidewalks. For new or reconstructed roads with a proposed posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, prohibits such revenue from being used for the construction of a new dedicated bicycle lane unless the work is part of the larger highway improvement project and the bicycle lane serves a transportation purpose supported by an engineering analysis.

These funds are the local government’s share of the gas tax so I am not inclined to tell them what to do with it.  I don’t see our local governments being irresponsible with their share of the gas tax – they are struggling to keep up with all they have to do.

Education House Floor Votes

HB1419:  This is a bill in response to the great difficulties with the TNReady online testing this year.  As a result, teachers can choose to include, or not include, the scores of students they teach from the paper versions of TNReady in their evaluations for this year only.

HB1644:  This bill allows private schools to develop their own rules regarding guns on campus.  Under the old law, private schools were not permitted to allow guns on campus.  Unlike public higher ed schools, the state provides no financial resources to supplement security officers.  Several private schools requested this bill.  It is also worth noting, that this is a permissive bill.  If a school does not set a policy, the current ban for guns on campus remains in place.  If a school, however, chooses to allow guns on campus, that is their right as private property owners in this state.

HB1931:  This bill strengthens our state's bullying laws.  Under this bill, all principals are required to initiate an investigation within 24 hours once they receive a complaint of bullying.  If the investigation cannot be completed within 10 calendar days, an interim report must be given to the parents, school administrators and the Department of Education.

Voting on the Budget

The one responsibility that we are constitutionally required to complete is to balance the state budget.  Typically, the Governor submits the primary budget during the "State of the State" in early February; many of the bills contained therein are heard through the committee process.  Then, toward the end of session, after revised revenue numbers come out, the Governor will submit an "amended" budget.  This may contain additional priorities with new revenue money, and sometimes, reductions in plans due to lack of revenue.

After we vote and pass the budget, we will begin taking up bills that are "Behind the budget."  These are bills that were not specifically funded in the Governor's budget, but that the Legislature deems necessary or appropriate.  Again, this is where "Flow Motion" will come into effect as bills will leave Finance and need to be referred to another committee prior to the House Floor.


BILL TRACKING UPDATES

Bills still currently working through the committee process:

HB 1484:  As introduced, broadens the scope of offense regarding a school bus driver using certain electronic devices while operating a bus with a child on board and increases the penalty for the offense to a Class A Misdemeanor.  
  • This bill is currently "behind the budget."  This means that once the budget is voted on and passed, we will take up all legislation approved and waiting for the budget to be completed.  This should happen during the last few days of session.
HB 1480:  Small Business Tax incentive bill:  This bill seeks to give any new small business that starts in our state a tax incentive to start.  We know that the first two years for any new startup business are the most challenging and helping those individuals who are looking to start businesses brings much needed jobs to our community.  This bill has a few restrictions:
  • 25 employees or less OR $1.5million in sales or less pays no Franchise and Excise tax during year 1.  50% of their tax during year 2.  They will be at full F&E taxes by year 3.
  • 50 employees or less or $2.5 million in sales or less pays 50% of their F&E taxes during the first year and will pay full F&E taxes in year 2.
HB 1415:  Repayment of funds to TDOT in the amount $261 million.  Years ago funds were diverted from TDOT for another purpose. Currently the Governor has allocated $130 million in the state budget for this fiscal year to repay those funds and reallocate the funds used for the bond payment to TDOT.  This bill will pay the debt off completely and all funds used for the bond payment will go back to TDOT.



Please read My Mission
Focus On College and University Success Act Passes House With Bipartisan Support
Legislation will aid state in meeting Drive to 55 challenge

Education moved front and center this week as the Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act passed on the full House floor with bipartisan support.

As passed, the legislation better aligns the state’s colleges and universities to meet the Drive to 55 challenge: the goal of getting 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 to meet the demands of the 21st Century job market.

The FOCUS Act places Tennessee on a direct path to meeting the Drive to 55 by providing a sharpened focus on the governance of community colleges and colleges of applied technology, while also granting four-year state universities additional autonomy to make local decisions.

Currently, the Tennessee Board of Regents oversees 46 institutions — six public state universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology. The University of Tennessee system oversees three public state universities as well as three institutes and a health science center.

Because of new initiatives put into place through the Drive to 55 program — such as the Tennessee Promise — there has been a shift in the higher education landscape that raises questions as to whether the existing higher education structure, established in 1972, is organized appropriately for today’s needs. Last fall alone, Tennessee saw a 10 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee universities and a nearly 25 percent increase in first-time freshman enrollment at state community colleges. With 46 institutions under its belt to look after, proponents agree it is difficult for the Board of Regents to meet all of the diverse challenges of today’s educational system.

With the FOCUS Act, the massive 46 institution conglomerate under the Board of Regents will be shifted and given their own local governing boards, allowing community colleges the ability to focus at a system level, while giving the state’s four-year universities the benefit of greater overall autonomy and decision-making.


A vote to recall the restroom bill from study committee will take place this week.

It is amazing to me how the left either does not understand this bill or simply deceives people.  It is hard to recall a time when I have seen worse journalism.  While many articles have been written – I have not once been called for a quote or discussion.

The revised amendment will do the following;
Protect the right to privacy of all students in public school restrooms.  Boys will use the boys room, girls will use the girls room, and schools may make reasonable accommodations for students who are displeased with that arrangement. This should curb complaints of bullying and be respectful to all.

The amendment also takes into consideration the very rare condition of being intersex (hermaphrodite; a person born with 3 sex chromosomes xxy…).  A sex is always declared on such individuals’ birth certificate but with the onset of puberty one sex usually becomes predominant – in this case the student may use the restroom of their predominant sex.

The bill does not apply to persons entering a restroom or locker room designated for use by a particular sex:

For custodial purposes,
For maintenance or inspection purposes,
To render medical assistance,
To accompany a person needing assistance, or
That has been temporarily designated for use by that person's biological sex.

I have met with the Governor three (3) times on this bill and I will meet with his staff again tomorrow.  He is not against the bill – he is just concerned about the possibility of lawsuits which may push this issue up to the Supreme Court (at this time in history) so I do concede that he has a legitimate concern.

However, if we don’t act, our school districts who are already making decisions regarding student use of the restroom based on sex will be sued by the ACLU one by one or by parents whose child’s privacy was violated in the restroom due to a student of the opposite sex entering at will.  We know from experience that school districts generally do not defend suites from the ACLU – they sign consent decrees.

A very humble thank you to our local governments' economic development association for this award…
TDDA Honors
NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 1, 2016 – Representative Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet has received the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the Tennessee Development District Association (TDDA) (an aid to our local governments). The awards were made on March 24, 2016 at the TDDA annual meeting and Breakfast in Nashville. This is Lynn’s second time to receive this honor…to read more click here

Pro-Veteran Bill Approved by House of Representatives
On the veteran front, House Bill 1491 was approved this week which will make it easier for veterans across the state to obtain a handgun carry permit.

Under the legislation, a carry permit applicant would not be required to comply with the mandatory classroom and firing range hours if the applicant is an active, honorably discharged or retired veteran of the Unites States Armed Forces.

The person would have to present a certified copy of their certificate of release or discharge from active duty, a Department of Defense form 214 (DD 214), that documents a date of discharge or retirement that is within five years from the date of application for the permit.

The legislation will eliminate an unnecessary burden on the state’s veterans in the permitting process and is part of the legislative package sponsored by House Republicans aimed at helping veterans and their families across the state.

Jai Templeton Named New Tennessee Commissioner Of Agriculture
Sixth generation farmer, current deputy commissioner to lead department

Governor Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Jai Templeton, a sixth generation Tennessee farmer, as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture effective May 1. Templeton will replace Julius Johnson who last week announced his retirement.

Templeton, 44, currently serves as the department’s deputy commissioner, leading the day-to-day operations and directing programs and services that range from food safety to animal and plant health to agricultural development.

Prior to joining the department in 2011, Templeton served as mayor of McNairy County. He and his family have farmed in McNairy and Hardin counties for decades, producing grain, cotton, hay, timber, and cattle.

From 1995 to 2003, Templeton served as field representative for former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant. He is a former McNairy County commissioner and former president of the McNairy County Chamber of Commerce, where he helped form the McNairy County Regional Alliance to focus on economic development in the area.

A native of McNairy County, Templeton has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Union University in Jackson. He is also a graduate of the University of Tennessee Certified Public Administrator program.

In Tennessee, agriculture and forestry have a profound impact on the state’s economy, with more than 67,000 farms representing 10.9 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $75 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports nearly 350,000 jobs.

Legislation Strengthening Asset Forfeiture Laws, Further Protecting Tennesseans Receives Unanimous Support

This week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that strengthens state asset forfeiture laws and further protects Tennesseans from unfair seizures of property.

As passed, House Bill 1772 prohibits a general sessions judge from authorizing a magistrate or judicial commissioner that is not licensed to practice law in Tennessee from issuing a civil forfeiture warrant. The legislation requires all appointed magistrates to either be licensed attorneys or judges to help prevent unwarranted seizing of assets.

Civil forfeiture is a legal process in which assets are taken from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing. A magistrate, once authorized by a judge, can issue a warrant if they deem probable cause exists.

Over the years, this practice has caused concern and raised questions as to whether forfeiture warrants issued by those magistrates who are not licensed attorneys or judges have the necessary qualifications under Tennessee law to make such forfeiture determinations.

Proponents of the legislation agree the bill is a strong step forward in strengthening asset forfeitures laws and working to further protect the people of Tennessee from unfair seizures.

In the Recycle Bin

Two proposals did not make it and we are all better for it.
  1. One proposal would have allowed a charge to be applied to any public records request – over the cost of copies and time.
  2. Another proposal would have allowed police body camera footage to be sealed and not accessible.  
The first proposal was taken off notice and will not advance this session.  The second item was killed in a committee room this week.

Committees Close!

Nearly all of the committees have closed over the last two weeks.  Now most of the action will move to the House Floor where all of the bills that have been worked on the last few months are heard by the full House.

HB1650 to be Heard in the Finance Committee this Week

Prohibits local governments from using their gasoline tax revenue for the construction, improvement, or maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle trails and paths, parks, greenways, and similar facilities open to the use of the public for non-vehicular travel, and for public roads with a posted speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour. Such prohibition does not apply to the construction, improvement, or maintenance of sidewalks. For new or reconstructed roads with a proposed posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, prohibits such revenue from being used for the construction of a new dedicated bicycle lane unless the work is part of the larger highway improvement project and the bicycle lane serves a transportation purpose supported by an engineering analysis.

These funds are the local government’s share of the gas tax so I am not inclined to tell them what to do with it.  I don’t see our local governments being irresponsible with their share of the gas tax – they are struggling to keep up with all they have to do.

Education House Floor Votes

HB1419:  This is a bill in response to the great difficulties with the TNReady online testing this year.  As a result, teachers can choose to include, or not include, the scores of students they teach from the paper versions of TNReady in their evaluations for this year only.

HB1644:  This bill allows private schools to develop their own rules regarding guns on campus.  Under the old law, private schools were not permitted to allow guns on campus.  Unlike public higher ed schools, the state provides no financial resources to supplement security officers.  Several private schools requested this bill.  It is also worth noting, that this is a permissive bill.  If a school does not set a policy, the current ban for guns on campus remains in place.  If a school, however, chooses to allow guns on campus, that is their right as private property owners in this state.

HB1931:  This bill strengthens our state's bullying laws.  Under this bill, all principals are required to initiate an investigation within 24 hours once they receive a complaint of bullying.  If the investigation cannot be completed within 10 calendar days, an interim report must be given to the parents, school administrators and the Department of Education.


Voting on the Budget

The one responsibility that we are constitutionally required to complete is to balance the state budget.  Typically, the Governor submits the primary budget during the "State of the State" in early February; many of the bills contained therein are heard through the committee process.  Then, toward the end of session, after revised revenue numbers come out, the Governor will submit an "amended" budget.  This may contain additional priorities with new revenue money, and sometimes, reductions in plans due to lack of revenue.

After we vote and pass the budget, we will begin taking up bills that are "Behind the budget."  These are bills that were not specifically funded in the Governor's budget, but that the Legislature deems necessary or appropriate.  Again, this is where "Flow Motion" will come into effect as bills will leave Finance and need to be referred to another committee prior to the House Floor.

BILL TRACKING UPDATES

Bills still currently working through the committee process:

HB 1484:  As introduced, broadens the scope of offense regarding a school bus driver using certain electronic devices while operating a bus with a child on board and increases the penalty for the offense to a Class A Misdemeanor.  
  • This bill is currently "behind the budget."  This means that once the budget is voted on and passed, we will take up all legislation approved and waiting for the budget to be completed.  This should happen during the last few days of session.
HB 1480:  Small Business Tax incentive bill:  This bill seeks to give any new small business that starts in our state a tax incentive to start.  We know that the first two years for any new startup business are the most challenging and helping those individuals who are looking to start businesses brings much needed jobs to our community.  This bill has a few restrictions:
  • 25 employees or less OR $1.5million in sales or less pays no Franchise and Excise tax during year 1.  50% of their tax during year 2.  They will be at full F&E taxes by year 3.
  • 50 employees or less or $2.5 million in sales or less pays 50% of their F&E taxes during the first year and will pay full F&E taxes in year 2.
HB 1415:  Repayment of funds to TDOT in the amount $261 million.  Years ago funds were diverted from TDOT for another purpose. Currently the Governor has allocated $130 million in the state budget for this fiscal year to repay those funds and reallocate the funds used for the bond payment to TDOT.  This bill will pay the debt off completely and all funds used for the bond payment will go back to TDOT.



Restroom Bill Revised Amendment

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 2, Part 1, is amended by adding the following language as a new section:

(a) Public schools shall require that every restroom or locker room designed or designated for use by more than one person at a time where students may be in various states of undress be designated for persons of a particular sex and used only by persons of that sex as indicated on their original birth certificate.

(b) Subject to subsection (a), an LEA may make appropriate accommodations with respect to use of restroom and locker room facilities by those who do not want to use those facilities in accordance with Subsection (a).

(c) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any student who:

(1) On or before the effective date of this act, was already using school restrooms or locker rooms designated for the sex that is opposite to the sex designated on that student's birth certificate; and

(2) Provides the public school with a statement by a physician stating that the student was born having 46, XX chromosomes with virilization, 46, XY chromosomes with undervirilization, or both ovarian and testicular tissue, or, through genetic testing, has determined that the student does not have the normal sex chromosome structure for a male or female.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit an LEA from designing or designating restrooms or locker rooms for use by a single person at a time, which may be designated for use by either sex.

(e) This section does not apply to persons entering restroom or locker room designated for use by a particular sex:

For custodial purposes,
For maintenance or inspection purposes,
To render medical assistance,
To accompany a person needing assistance, or
That has been temporarily designated for use by that person's biological sex.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 7, Part 1, is amended by adding the following language as a new section:

(a) Public institutions of higher education shall require that every restroom or locker room designed or designated for use by more than one person at a time where students may be in various states of undress be designated for persons of a particular sex and used only by persons of that sex as indicated on their original birth certificate.

(b) Subject to subsection (a), a public institution of higher education may make appropriate accommodations with respect to use of restroom and locker room facilities by those who do not want to use those facilities in accordance with Subsection (a).

(c) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any student who:

(1) On or before the effective date of this act, was already using school restrooms or locker rooms designated for the sex that is opposite to the sex designated on the student's birth certificate; and

(2) Provides the institution of higher education with a statement by a physician stating that the student was born having 46, XX chromosomes with virilization, 46, XY chromosomes with undervirilization, or both ovarian and testicular tissue, or, through genetic testing, has determined that the student does not have the normal sex chromosome structure for a male or female.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit an institution of higher education from designing or designating restrooms or locker rooms for use by a single person at a time, which may be designated for use by either sex.

(e) This section does not apply to persons entering restroom or locker room designated for use by a particular sex:

For custodial purposes,
For maintenance or inspection purposes,
To render medical assistance,
To accompany a person needing assistance, or
That has been temporarily designated for use by that person's biological sex.

SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Representative Susan Lynn Receives 2016 Legislator of the Year Award

For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Roach
Greater Nashville Regional Council
615-862-8843
FAX 615-862-8840



NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 1, 2016 – Representative Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet has received the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the Tennessee Development District Association (TDDA). The awards were made on March 24, 2016 at the TDDA annual meeting and Breakfast in Nashville. This is Lynn’s second time to receive this honor.

The TDDA is an association of Tennessee’s nine development districts, which are regional planning and economic development organizations. These policy boards within each District are made up of the state’s 95 Counties and 340 municipalities.  Development districts assist with regional issues including planning and economic development coordination, transportation, solid waste, loans and grants for water and sewer systems, housing, tourism, SBA loans, air quality and services to the elderly.

“The awards are given on the basis of nominations from each of the nine development districts to those legislators who have shown leadership and put forth considerable effort on behalf of their cities and counties,” said Sam Edwards, Executive Director of the Greater Nashville Regional Council.

“We especially appreciate the work Representative Lynn has done over the years to promote the needs of local government by supporting the work of development districts in the legislature,” said Brent Greer, TDDA President and  Henry  County Mayor.”

###