About Me

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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee and on the Finance Ways and Means Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekly Wrap - March 27, 2016


Restroom Bill Revived

The restroom bill is a bill to ensure that male students use the boys room and that female students use the girls room.  Last week the Senate bill passed the committee but the House bill was sent to a study committee.  The next day the members had second thoughts and I was asked to put my bill back on notice so that they can reconsider their decision. 

The bill is meant to ensure privacy for students.  At the request of members the bill will allow for two accommodations that will ensure privacy for all students and avoid lawsuits. 

First, should a student that has chosen to cross-dress decide that they are uncomfortable using the restroom for their sex the school may of course make accommodations while still complying with the privacy rights of all of the other students. 

The bill also allows an intersex student to use the restroom of their emerging dominant sex.  Intersex is a very rare genetic defect also known as an hermaphrodite.  Last week in committee a state legislator brought what he said was an hermaphrodite student to committee but it turned out that he misspoke and the student actually has gender identity disorder (GID) meaning that he was actually born a healthy male but his appearance is now feminine due to early intervention with female hormone treatments by his physician father and his mother – he also dresses in women’s clothes.  The genetic disorder called intersex should still be addressed and a new amendment will take care of that issue.

There are several articles on healing children with gender identity disorder (GID) - this one is very thorough but if you're interested many others can be found;

http://www.childhealing.com/articles/genderidentitydisorder.php 


Indulging the disorder is not recommended because most children will outgrow the disorder during puberty, with or without psychiatric intervention.   

As we are learning, there are groups these days that encourage allowing the child to indulge in their fantasy/confusion by cross-dressing, pursuing a lifetime of hormone treatments, and through surgeries.  These measures are advocated for by the ACLU, and our schools have been under great pressure to conform to the views of these groups. But by their own reports, such indulgences do not cure the underlying psychological issues of the GID including feelings of wanting to commit suicide.  

I hope you will read more on your own.  Regardless of the point of view, reports indicate that individuals with GID are sadly very troubled, and all articles suggest that the entire family needs psychiatric intervention no matter which route is taken. 

From this article;

"A loving and compassionate approach to these troubled children is not to support their difficulty in accepting the goodness of their masculinity or femininity, which is being advocated in the media and by many health professionals who lack expertise in GID, but to offer them and their parents the highly effective treatment which is available."

"Gender Identity Disorder in children is a highly treatable condition. The majority of children treated by those with expertise in this area are able to embrace the goodness of their masculinity or femininity."

Another report was just issued last week by the American College of Pediatricians and is very clear: 


Please remember, this bill is about privacy for all students.  

In the Senate testimony, the ACLU suggests that students who are uncomfortable with cross-dressing students in the restroom of the opposite sex should be the ones to use another bathroom.  And indeed, ACLU last week threatened a local school district with a lawsuit for their policy of making a third restroom available to the cross-dressing students.  I pasted the quotes here: http://susan-lynn.blogspot.com/2016/03/interesting-quotes-from-senate-testimony.html.  

Again, this bill is about protecting the privacy rights of all of our students.  


House Republicans Move Full Steam Ahead with Pro-Military, Pro-Veteran Legislative Package

So far this year, House Republicans have moved full steam ahead with multiple pieces of legislation designed to help military members and their families from across the state.

One of those bills, currently awaiting signature from Governor Haslam, will allow the five soldiers killed in the Chattanooga terrorist attack that occurred in July of last year to be eligible for the ‘Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal.’ Currently, the medal is awarded to honor residents of Tennessee killed while serving on active duty or engaged in military support operations involving a conflict with an opposing foreign force.

As passed, this new legislation expands on this criteria to also allow the honor to be bestowed on those military men and women killed on Tennessee soil during an attack specifically targeting service members.

The medal is awarded solely by the Governor or the Governor's designee to the immediate survivor of the recipient.

A second piece of legislation, the National Guard Force Protection Act, enhances protection at Tennessee National Guard facilities and military installations. The bill follows hearings regarding the safety of military installations by the state’s top leaders.

To fund the bill, the governor’s budget includes $1.6 million for emergency phone systems, window film, magnetic locks, security camera systems, privacy screens, and bollards to protect soldiers at state military installations.

Additionally, legislation passed the full House this week that will strengthen and make the Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) program available to private, non-profit institutions of higher education throughout the state.

Passed in 2014, the highly successful VETS program encourages colleges and universities to prioritize outreach to veterans and successfully deliver the services necessary to create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education. Currently, there are 13 public institutions that claim VETS Campus Certification. The certification recognizes and promotes schools that make veteran enrollment a priority. Higher education institutions that satisfy veteran-friendly criteria, such as specialized orientation and the availability of mentoring programs, can receive the designation.

Also on the veteran front this year is House Bill 1491, 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 aims to eliminate an unnecessary burden on the state’s veterans in the permitting process.

Legislation to help support Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counseling for combat veterans and their families is set to be heard next week before the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. As introduced, the bill creates a specialty license plate which can be customized with a sticker to represent the veteran’s specific military branch with proceeds going to support these services.

Tennessee requires new specialty earmarked license plates to be subject to a minimum order of at least 1,000 plates prior to initial issuance. Any plate that does not meet the minimum order requirement within one year after passage of the authorizing act becomes invalid.

Under the bill, the money raised from these license plates is to be used exclusively in Tennessee to provide resources and support to veterans, service members, and their families, being equally allocated to Centerstone Military Services and SAFE: Soldiers and Families Embraced.

As the 2016 legislative session continues, House Republicans remain committed to helping veterans, their families, and all those involved with protecting Tennessee and the United States on a daily basis.

Lawmakers, Farmers Celebrate Annual ‘Ag Day On The Hill’ Event

House lawmakers joined with farmers and agriculture groups from across the state this week to celebrate Tennessee’s annual 'Ag Day on the Hill' event at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Governor Bill Haslam has also proclaimed the date 'Agriculture Day' as part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners provide to the state and nation.

This year, 'Ag Day on the Hill' activities included farm animals — horses, cows, goats, sheep, piglets, and chicks — and a variety of farming equipment on display at the entrance to the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from agricultural organizations and agencies were also available to discuss programs and opportunities for those interested in farming and forestry in Tennessee.

In addition, a corn shucking and shelling contest between House and Senate lawmakers took place, with House Speaker Beth Harwell leading the House to a blowout victory over their Senate counterparts. Following the contest, the Farm & Forest Families of Tennessee organization presented a check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in honor of contest participants.

The day's events also included a sweet potato bagging project to benefit the Society of St. Andrew and a silent auction benefiting Second Harvest and the Ag in the Classroom program.

Tennessee has 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.

Department Of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson Announces Retirement Plans

This week, Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson announced his official plans to retire at the end of April.

Johnson has led the Department of Agriculture since the beginning of the Haslam administration in 2011, and was Haslam’s first commissioner appointment. He has been instrumental in development of the Governor’s Rural Challenge: a 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. Under Johnson’s leadership, many goals of the plan have already been met and foundations laid for future projects. 

Johnson joined the Haslam administration after serving 37 years at the Tennessee Farm Bureau, 15 of those years as the Chief Administrative Officer. 

A native of Forbus, Tennessee, Johnson has served on the University of Tennessee Agriculture Development Board, the Maury County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Maury County United Way Board of Directors, the Maury County Vision 2020 Board of Directors and as president of the Maury County University of Tennessee Alumni Board. He was a Kiwanian and has served as past president of the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts. He has a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Johnson’s last day as Commissioner will be April 29.

House Legislation To Ensure Transparency And Accountability Now Awaits Senate Approval

Legislation to help ensure transparency and accountability in state government regarding contracts received unanimous approval this week on the House Floor.

As passed, the legislation requires vendors that are contracting with the state to notify state officials if the vendor’s business is being investigated by a law enforcement agency. These notifications will be submitted to the Chief Procurement Officer in the Office of General Services. Additionally, if a business fails to properly report any investigations, the Chief Procurement Officer can assess fines in excess of $10,000.

Supporters agree this legislation will add even more transparency to state government, a policy of great importance to House Republicans. By requiring notification from vendors, upon the occurrence of any investigation brought against that business, the state can better protect the investment of Tennessee taxpayer dollars.

Additional information regarding this legislation can be found on the General Assembly website at http://goo.gl/VvWNYF.

Amendment for Restroom Bill

The following amendment rewrites the restroom to make accommodations for a very rare condition where someone is born with 47 rather than 46 chromosomes - three of which are sex chromosomes rather than two.

The modern day term is now called intersex. Extraordinarily rare, the genetic defect occurs in one of three ways but each leads to an individual having sex organs of both sexes - during puberty one sex will become dominant and the other will recede. 

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 a student use student restroom and locker room facilities that are assigned for use by persons of the same sex as the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.

(b) Subject to subsection (a), an LEA may make appropriate accommodations with respect to student use of restroom and locker room facilities.

(c) The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to any student who provides the public school with a statement by a physician that the students has been medically diagnosed with hermaphroditism.

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 a student use the restroom and locker room facilities that are assigned for use by persons of the same sex as the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.

(b) Subject to subsection (a), a public institution of higher education may make appropriate accommodations with respect to student use of restroom and locker room facilities.

(c) The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to any student who provides the public school with a statement by a physician that the students has been medically diagnosed with hermaphroditism.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Interesting Quotes from the Senate Testimony

The testimony in the Senate Committee between the members and the ACLU's Hedie Weinberg was quite interesting.  Please read the following quotes or watch the video.


Link to video: http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=278&clip_id=12077&meta_id=249269


QUOTES

Tracy Q.What if a daughter or son felt uncomfortable in a locker room or bathroom with a transgender student.”

ACLU - Weinberg A.There is another way to think about that and that is to provide bathroom areas for students who are not transgender but are uncomfortable using the general locker room where there are transgender students then that burden so to speak because I think it is a burden to target transgender students you could allow access to that student who is uncomfortable in the general locker room with a transgender student and they could go use the other [you know] bathroom that is off somewhere else.”



Hail Q.I understand that the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Sumner County.”

ACLU - Weinberg A.I am confident that there was no lawsuit filed because I am the director I think that is patently false...” 

[ACLU has sent a letter to a school district threatening to file a lawsuit next week over that county's transgender restroom use policy]



Hensley Q.You just mentioned something a while ago but I think some schools have made some accommodations for the transgendered students [to] let them use another bathroom but that wasn’t acceptable to them.”

ACLU - Weinberg A. “That’s not what I said, that’s not, the goal is not to target and marginalize the transgender students which is what this legislation does.  If one feels that   there should be private space where all students want to move into a private room where you lock the door with no stall then there can be a bathroom there for the straight students perhaps who are not comfortable using the general locker room and bathroom area but to pass legislation that targets and marginalizes transgender who are already bullied with high suicide rates is really troubling and not what I would think the policy of this state and you all would want to see happen.”



Hensley Q.So how many [transgender] students are in our K-12 schools.”

ACLU - Weinberg A. (fragments of comments so no quote marks are below)
5-8 calls a year.  I don’t have numbers.  I am being told about 20,000 students in Tennessee.  .5% to 1% from American Academy of Pediatrics.




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekly Wrap - March 20, 2016

Restroom Bill Receives Approval from Sub-Committee

Legislation to state the girls use the girls room and boys use the boys room, and that students who feel that they are confused about their gender will be assigned a restroom that they can use passed the House Education Sub-Committee this week.  There was much testimony from those opposing the bill.

Please click here to watch the testimony on this bill.

Please click here to read an important report by the American College of Pediatricians that urges all school districts and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex.

The press reported this week that the Governor is against the bill – he is not.  I met with the Governor twice this week on this bill.

Rural Economic Opportunity Act Receives Unanimous Approval

Legislation spearheaded by House Republicans to spur economic development across the state received unanimous approval this week on the House floor.

Known as the ‘Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016’, the legislation has two main parts. First, the bill would implement a new program called ‘PREP’ or ‘Propelling Rural Economic Progress’. This innovative program would allow grants from the PREP fund to be used to help rural counties build sites and infrastructure to make their communities more attractive to prospective companies.
Second, the legislation would restructure the county tier system making it easier for businesses in rural counties to qualify for job tax credits. This, in turn, would make it easier for these same businesses to expand and hire new workers.

Additional information regarding this legislation can be found on the General Assembly website at http://1.usa.gov/1TnY9AX.


HB1929 will extend immunity from civil liability to national guard members who are authorized by the military department to carry a personally owed handgun while in uniform and who use that handgun in self-defense or defense of others. The bill will be heard on Monday.


HJR 500 will be voted upon this week in the House – the resolution to condemn global Christian persecution.  Sadly, according to current global data reported by OpenDoorsUSA, there is massive suffering by Christians, including beatings, kidnappings, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages; and according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than sixty countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors.  The General Assembly wishes to express our concern and support of actions to end this persecution.


HJR 528 will run on the House floor this week – it will urge that all branches of the federal government desist from its practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.

Bill Aimed at Preventing Allergy Emergencies In Public Places Approved By House

The Tennessee House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 2054 to 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, the legislation 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.

Pro-Teacher Legislation Moves Forward in Tennessee General Assembly
GOP leaders cite commitment to public education across the state

This week, House Republicans moved forward with several key pieces of legislation within the Tennessee General Assembly designed to support teachers across the state, rewarding them for their hard work in the classroom.

Along with $261 million in new spending proposed for K-12 investments and $104.6 million for increasing teacher pay — the largest education investment in state history without a tax increase — additional bills this year include:

  • House Bill 1741, which allows every full-time certified public school teacher in Tennessee to receive a 25 percent discount on tuition to any state-operated institution of higher education.
  • House Bill 1537, which eliminates two unnecessary high school tests, allows students to retake the ACT or SAT free of charge, and renews Tennessee’s commitment to test transparency by annually releasing statewide test questions and answers to parents.
  • And, House Bill 2503, which creates a preference for retaining tenured teachers during a reduction of force by prohibiting their dismissal if another position is available somewhere in the school system.
As the 2016 legislative session continues in full-swing, House Republicans are committed to finding ways to show appreciation to the state’s high-performing teachers and working to support their success in the classroom.


Department of Economic & Community Development Now Accepting Applications for Tourism Enhancement Grant
Funding helps assist communities with tourism infrastructure and assets

House Republicans announced this week that the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is now officially accepting applications for the Tourism Enhancement Grant — grant funding available to cities and counties to enhance and create new tourism infrastructure that will help spur economic growth across the state.

For many communities across Tennessee, tourism is the most important driver in the local economy. With funding made available through the Tourism Enhancement Grant, communities have the ability to invest in key assets — from new boat docks, to park pavilions, to signage, to scenic pull-offs, to public restrooms, to a multitude of other recreational infrastructure projects.

The grant is available for up to $50,000 with a match requirement based on economic status. The grant is also eligible for up to $20,000 for cities or counties who have a desire to develop a tourism asset plan.

All interested local governments must submit their completed applications by April 18, 2016.

Applications and additional information regarding the grant can be found at
www.tn.gov/TourismGrant.

Legislation to Further Enhance Growth of Captive Insurance Industry Gains Momentum in State House

Legislation sponsored to further enhance growth of Tennessee’s captive insurance industry gained momentum this week after receiving unanimous approval from the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee.

As introduced, House bill 2228 provides a road map for moving a captive insurance company from another state into Tennessee, along with providing a one-time tax holiday from the self-procurement tax for those captive companies that choose to relocate here prior to December 1, 2018.

A captive insurance company, often simply called a ‘captive’, represents an option for many corporations, groups, and businesses seeking to take financial control of their organizations and manage risks by allowing them to underwrite their own insurance.

In 2011, the House passed legislation which made the state’s existing captive insurance laws more effective, balanced, and flexible. At that time, Tennessee had only two captive insurance companies. By the end of 2015, Tennessee licensed 126 captives, putting the state on the map as one of the leading captive domiciles in the entire nation.

As supporters note, a thriving captive insurance industry is good for Tennessee businesses and Tennessee workers, as captive companies help reduce overall insurance costs which in turn results in more money for companies to invest in expansion projects and increasing employee pay.
The captive insurance industry has created hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars’ worth of investment assets under management in Tennessee, including an estimated $2.6 million in premium tax revenues projected to be generated in 2016.

Trio of Legislation Passes to Help Local Governments

I was very fortunate to sponsor three bills to help our local governments.
Current law allows for bi-annual local government budgets but conflicts in the law made the process almost impossible.  The city of Lebanon, who desires to create bi-annual budgets rather than annual, asked me to sponsor legislation to correct the conflicts in law. Bi-annual budgets are common in other states.  In fact, the state of Texas uses a bi-annual budget process.  Not all local governments will qualify because permission to use the process is granted through the state Comptroller and can be withdrawn upon determination that the government is not fiscally healthy enough to use a bi-annual process. Adjustments to the budget are possible through the budget amendment process and they are voted upon by the local legislative body.  The process will serve as a great time saver as departments who usually spend many weeks in budget meetings, will only need to do so biannually.  This bill passed last week.

HB 2419 As introduced, authorizes local governments issuing debt to prepare biennial budgets rather than annual budgets if the comptroller determines that the local governments have sufficient financial resources to more than adequately service their debts.

Some 911 districts have had difficulty with attendance by board members.  Currently, the board must appeal to a local court in order to remove a 911 board member who does not attend meetings.  HB2419 will provide a transparent, automatic process for poor attendance. Replacement members will be appointed by the county commission as per the current process to appoint members. This bill passed last week.

HB 2418 Emergency Communications Districts - As introduced, requires removal of members for failure to attend at least 50 percent of all regularly scheduled board meetings, rather than for having three consecutive unexcused absences; deletes procedure for removal by court order or petition of board or local governing body.

Fast growing counties find that the limit in current law of either 3 or 5 members to be appointed to boards of zoning appeals (BOZA) is too few given all of their work-load, and so they have requested legislation to raise the optional limit to 5, 7 or 9 members.  This bill passed last week.

HB 2417 Zoning - As introduced, increases number of members who may be elected to serve on boards of zoning appeals in certain counties and municipalities, as determined by local legislative bodies.


Past Weekly Wraps
Weekly Wrap - January 24, 2016Weekly Wrap - January 31, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 7, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 15, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 21, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 28, 2016
Weekly Wrap – March 6, 2016
Weekly Wrap - March 13, 2016

Please read My Mission

The American College of Pediatricians

Gender Ideology Harms Children

The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.
  1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident. The exceedingly rare disorders of sex development (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design. Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex.
  2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. No one is born with an ...

Illinois Family Institute

Pediatricians Call It What It Is – Child Abuse: The American College of Pediatricians has released an in-depth report stating that the move to indoctrinate children with the idea that they can pick their gender amounts to child abuse.  They are urging legislators and educators to reject all policies that would condition children to accept chemical and surgical distortions allowing people to impersonate the …

Restroom Bill Testimony

There were many protesters in the committee room in opposition of the bill.

Several spoke against the bill.  I had two to speak in favor of the bill.

Rep. Brooks' amendment would allow the creation of male/female restrooms at our collages as long as separate men's rooms and girls rooms are also available.



HJR 528 - State Sovereigny

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court, in the unanimous opinion authored by Justice Kennedy in Bond v. United States, 564 U.S. 211 (2011), declared that the federal system rests on the insight that "freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one"; and

 WHEREAS, the court further stated that this freedom is enhanced "first by protecting the
integrity of the [two] governments themselves, and second by protecting the people, from whom
all governmental powers are derived"; and

 WHEREAS, "[f]ederalism . . . serves to grant and delimit the prerogatives and responsibilities of the States and the National Government vis-a-vis one another" and preserves the integrity, dignity, and residual sovereignty of the States"; and

 WHEREAS, "[t]his federal balance is, in part, an end in itself, to ensure that States function as political entities in their own right"; and

 WHEREAS, "[t]he federal structure allows local policies 'more sensitive to the diverse needs of a heterogeneous society,' permits 'innovation and experimentation,' enables greater citizen 'involvement in democratic processes,' and makes government 'more responsive by putting the States in competition for a mobile citizenry'"; and

 WHEREAS, "[f]ederalism secures the freedom of the individual.  It allows States to respond, through the enactment of positive law, to the initiative of those who seek a voice in  shaping the destiny of their own times without having to rely solely upon the political processes that control a remote central power"; and

 WHEREAS, "[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake"; and

 WHEREAS, "[t]he limitations that federalism entails are not therefore a matter of rights belonging only to the States.  States are not the sole intended beneficiaries of federalism.  An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balance between the National Government and the States"; and

 WHEREAS, the constitutional analysis used by five of the nine Justices on the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), by which it is purported to take away from the states jurisdiction over the definition of marriage and substitute a new definition for the one legislatively enacted and ratified by the overwhelming majority of the individual voters of this State, could be applied by the United States Supreme Court to any number of other state functions and any number of other policies inherently and historically left to the states, in derogation of the rights reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment and the rights of its citizens reserved to them under the Ninth Amendment; now, therefore,

 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED
NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, we hereby affirm Tennessee's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all branches of the federal government desist from its practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, in recognition of the federal governments' infringement upon Tennessee's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, this body urges Congress to act with all diligence in presenting to the states for ratification an Amendment to the United States Constitution that would return power over the definition of marriage to the people of the various states.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this body also urges Congress by resolution or such other means as may be appropriate to officially express its dissent and disagreement with the constitutional reasoning of the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we further urge Congress to conduct hearings for the purpose of determining and announcing to the people what actions it will take to restrain the power of the federal judiciary and restore to the people and the states the rights and prerogatives belonging to them under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, respectively, including, but not limited to, an evaluation of remedies such as term limits for judges, retention elections for judges once confirmed, confirmation of judges by, or their retention by, approval of the states, and limitations by Congress on the precedential value of Supreme Court decisions on parties not before the Court and to other issues that were not before the Court.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an enrolled copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, and each member of the Tennessee Congressional delegation with this final clause omitted from such copy.

HJR 500 - Condemnation of Global Christian Persecution

A RESOLUTION to condemn global Christian persecution. 

 WHEREAS, the greatest human rights violation today is the persecution of religious
minorities, the greatest number being Christians, according to a 2014 Pew Research report; and 

 WHEREAS, according to current global data reported by OpenDoorsUSA, there is
massive suffering by Christians, including beatings, kidnappings, rapes, arrests, and forced
marriages; and 

 WHEREAS, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than
sixty countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors; and 

 WHEREAS, unremitting global Christian persecution is annihilating Christianity,
particularly in the Middle East, where the Christian population has been reduced from fourteen
percent in 1910 to four percent in 2010; and 

 WHEREAS, in 2015, persecution of Christians has increased around the world,
spreading to parts of Asia, Latin America, and especially sub-Saharan Africa; and 

 WHEREAS, in April 2015, a meeting titled "The Persecution of Christians Globally: A
Threat to International Peace and Security" was held alongside a regular United Nations
session where speakers cited that between 2006 and 2012, Christians were targeted through
harassment, persecution, or martyrdom in 151 out of 193 member states of the United Nations
and called for increased UN action to protect Christians; and 

 WHEREAS, mass Christian annihilation, such as more than a million Armenians of
Turkey in the twentieth century, is not spoken of; and 

 WHEREAS, global Christian persecution has reached historic levels, and it is described
as one of the "greatest crises of the modern age"; now, therefore, 

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED
NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE
CONCURRING, that silence supports the oppressors and so the General Assembly condemns
the global unrelenting persecution of Christians and acts of terror and aggression against
Christians.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Assembly calls upon the President,
Congressional leaders, and Governors to speak out specifically about the global persecution of
Christians.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Assembly calls upon the U.S. State
Department Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom to address specifically,
and as a top priority, the global persecution of Christians.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Assembly encourages faith leaders of all
denominations to join in speaking out against the global persecution of Christians.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that appropriate copies of this resolution be prepared and
transmitted to the President of the United States, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States
House of Representatives, and the President and Secretary of the United States Senate.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Weekly Wrap - March 13, 2016


Tennessee General Assembly Named Most Conservative Legislature in The Country



Over the weekend, the Tennessee General Assembly was officially named the most conservative legislature in the entire country during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The premier national conservative conference was attended by over 5,000 grassroots activists and elected officials from across the United States.


Cited in the award presentation was the General Assembly’s commitment to fiscal conservatism, cutting taxes, and efforts made to increase competition and attract new businesses to the state. In addition, earlier this year, the American Conservative Union — the nation's oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation — presented awards to the majority of House Republicans as tribute to the positive conservative direction they have guided the state over the last several years.


This year's CPAC event included panels and discussions with dozens of well-known conservatives from around the country, along with speeches from the major candidates running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.



 ‘National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016’ Passes House With Unanimous Support


Last week, House Republicans announced that the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that allows for homeland security upgrades that the Tennessee Military Department will implement at armories and recruiting stations around the state.


The ‘National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016’ was introduced to ensure the safety of Tennessee National Guard service members in the wake of the Chattanooga terrorist attack in July of 2015.

Upon passage of the legislation, House lawmakers cited the safety of our military men and women as being of the utmost importance, especially as service members put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the general public is secure on a daily basis.

The enhancements at armories and recruiting stations throughout the state will include mobile ballistic shields, shatter resistant film for windows and doors, barriers in front of the buildings, cameras, and more.

Having passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislation is headed to Governor Haslam’s desk for his signature.

More information about the bill can be found by visiting http://goo.gl/Gyj7I8.



School Grading Bill Secures Passage in Tennessee House


House Republicans hailed this week’s affirmative House vote on legislation that seeks to empower Tennessee families with clearer, more accessible information about the performance of their local schools. 

The legislation, House Bill 155, will utilize existing resources to direct the State Board of Education to give schools an annual A through F letter grade based on multiple factors, including each school's academic achievement, student growth, and other relevant measures of school performance.

The bill passed the State House on a 73-14 bipartisan vote and has already secured unanimous approval in the State Senate.

Supporters agree that transparency and accountability are part of the keys to the success of any quality public education system. 

Although families have a wealth of information available to them through the state's Report Card website, the information it contains will now be enhanced by adding a concise, overall rating for each school. By disclosing transparent and understandable letter grades, the legislation promises to empower parents and families with the information they need to make better-informed decisions about their child's education, and do so at no additional cost to taxpayers.




As a sub-committee chairman I must make sure that my committee thoroughly scrutinizes the legislation.  We are known as a bit of a black hole committee because not much makes it by us.  There are no safe assumptions about any bill – even a bill named the “Pay Equality Act”. 
The name aside, the Pay Equality Act only applies to a very small group of people – non-civil service state and local employees; translation - elected officials and political appointees…click to continue




No child should be forced by the government into an intimate setting – like a restroom or locker room – with another child of the opposite birth sex.  This bill ensures that a local school district or institute of higher education does not jeopardize the safety of some students in an attempt to accommodate other students.

This bill is fully in compliance with Title IX, which allows schools to “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without committing sex discrimination.

Opponents of this bill will point to a Dept. of Ed. “significant guidance document” that purports to extend the prohibition against sex discrimination to include gender identity.

That document, from the Obama administration, is not binding and has no force of law, and it was explicitly rejected as authoritative by a federal court in 2015…continue reading




David asked me if I would share his blogpost with you because his lawsuit, although fairing very well in the court, may be in jeopardy due to a lack of knowledge…David writes;

The knowledge of which I speak is a fundamental legal principle that most people would not know because they have not been to law school. But that doesn’t make knowledge about that legal principal any less critical. Failure to understand it could lead to destroying the very thing conservative evangelicals want—the preservation of marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the preservation of our state’s sovereignty…continue          



House Republicans Work to Fulfill State’s Long-Term Energy Needs

House Joint Resolution 507 calls for Tennessee’s commitment to sustainable energy

This week, House Joint Resolution 507 sailed through the legislature with unanimous support from state lawmakers.

As passed, the resolution resolves that the 109th General Assembly supports the creation of a long-term energy plan to address the future needs of the state with affordable energy that also encourages business growth in Tennessee.

House Resolution 507 specifically urges the Congress of the United States to provide the necessary resources, needed by the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to further research liquid-core-molten-salt-reactors and small modular reactors. Furthermore, these energy processes represent a large business opportunity that will help create hundreds of new high-paying jobs across the state.

These nuclear reactors are fueled by thorium, instead of traditional uranium, thus making the reactors fail-safe. Additionally, the reactors can also produce radioisotopes to help medical diagnoses and treatment plans, and can desalinate water to help meet the constant need for fresh water in areas across the nation and globe.

A certified copy of the House Joint Resolution will be transmitted to each member of the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

In addition, House Joint Resolution 507 is not the only piece of legislation this session focusing on the energy needs of Tennessee. House Bill 2151, set to next be heard in the House Government Operations Committee, will create a thirteen-member state energy policy council to advise the Governor and the General Assembly on Tennessee’s energy needs.



‘Slow Poke Bill’ Wins Approval in State House

Legislation designed to cut down on congested traffic and increase safety on Tennessee interstates won approval this week in the State House.

House Bill 1416 creates a $50 fine for driving slow in the fast lane on major highways in Tennessee. As adopted, the legislation requires cars to stay out of the left lane of highways and interstates with at least three lanes except in the case of passing other vehicles.

In essence, the bill restricts slow drivers from continuously driving in the far left lane and impeding the normal flow of traffic.

Currently, 29 other states have similar legislation on the books, with evidence showing such laws do increase the flow of traffic, help increase safety on busy roads, and cut down on the occurrence of traffic jams on major highways and interstates.



Eagle Forum Opposes National Popular Vote


Last week after writing about the National Popular Vote Project I heard from my friend Bobbie Patray.  She informed me that Eagle Forum is opposed to the Project and she provided the following links for you to review;

How the National Popular Vote Compact Attempts to Circumvent the US Constitution and Why it Should be Opposed by Governors and Legislators in All Fifty States
John Ryder: Popular presidential vote subverts Constitution
Resolution Opposing the National Popular Vote Compact

TNGOP Opposes Changes to Electoral College



Past Issues of the Weekly Wrap

Weekly Wrap - January 31, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 7, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 15, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 21, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 28, 2016
Weekly Wrap – March 6, 2016

Weekly Wrap - March 6, 2016

Presidential Preference Primary
Republican Percentages Remains Strong in Wilson County!

The Republican Party is the party of overwhelming choice for voters in Wilson County a trend that has continued since 2002.  Democrats have specualate that the growth in the county would weaken the Republican Party's strength but so far the percentage of voters choosing a Republican ballot over a Democrat ballot remains just as strong has ever.

Ballots CastTotal VotesPercent of Voters
Republican22,13978.48%
Democrat6,06921.52%
Total28,20837.6%


National Popular Vote Legislation Moves through the General Assembly
Are you familiar with the National Popular Vote Project? I would like to know how you feel about it.
Tennessee has 11 electorial votes all of which go to the winner of Tennessee's popular vote.  A move is on natially to award each states electorial votes to the winner of the national popular vote rather than the state's popular vote.  For example, since 2000, Tennessee has voted Republican in the Presidential Election.  However, nationally since that time Democrats have won the popular vote in several elections.  That would mean that Tennessee's electors would have gone to the Democrat candidate rather than the Republican candidate.

There is a lot to consider with this plan.  Supporters claim to have good reasons.  This website will provide some background http://www.nationalpopularvote.com. 
I am not sure what to think but I do know this, the electoral college has never functioned the way the founders envisioned but I am not sure that Tennessee would benefit from this plan.
.

Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce Vistis State Capitol



Remarkably, legislators got it and understood why voting for HJR528 was a meaningful act in order to reaffirm to the court that Tennessee still supports marriage as being between one man and one woman.  The Resolution State House to express Tennessee's support of two lawsuits that present a challenge to the 2015 Obergefell decision on same sex marriage.

House Joint Resolution 529 supports the legal arguments being made in Williamson and Bradley Counties that seek to defend federalism, separation of powers, and the doctrine of severability which the plaintiffs feel were disregarded in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

The lawsuits claim that the Obergefell decision invalidated all of Tennessee's marriage law, and further that the court's decree stating that states must now marry same sex couples is a violation of separation of powers and the doctrine of severability.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court declared that marriage laws across the nation are invalid to the extent that they exclude same sex couples, and then further decreed that states must immediately allow same-sex couples to marry, despite the fact that only four states were part of the decision.

The plaintiffs point out that Tennessee's marriage law was held invalid by the court because it does exclude same sex couples — therefore there is no marriage law in Tennessee. With no law, they are unable to lawfully marry anyone.

They further contend that when the court decreed that states must immediately marry same sex couples the court unconstitutionally breached the separation of powers. The plaintiffs protest that the court has no power to make law or amend current law by any ruling especially after the same court declared the law invalid. Making law is the role of the legislative branch of government.
Others claim that the court did not make law, but merely severed the part of Tennessee law that makes marriage applicable to one male and one female. However, the plaintiffs contend that even that argument is lawfully impossible because it violates the doctrine of severability by making Tennessee's marriage law into something neither the people nor the legislature ever would have passed.

It is very clear that in 1996 the state legislature voted to ensure that marriage was only applicable to male and female applicants. This was reaffirmed by the legislature in 2004 and 2005 when the legislature passed resolutions to amend the Tennessee Constitution with the same language. The very next year the voters too affirmed this policy by approving the Constitutional Amendment by 81.3% of the vote. Therefore, according to the plaintiffs, the court is unable to lawfully use the doctrine of severability to make the existing marriage law apply to same sex couples because it is clear that neither th​e people nor the legislature would have intended for the law to mean same sex couples can marry; meaning that the only options available to the court is to do nothing or to strike the entire law.

"The resolution passed today by a vote of 73 to 18. I wrote this Resolution because the legislature is without standing to sue the court over their decree that purported to make new law in Tennessee. Our vote on this Resolution affirms our state sovereignty, and our guaranteed Constitutional right of separation of powers and the doctrine of severability,” stated Lynn.


A vote on the restroom bill had to be delayed a week due to a concurrent issue.  The restroom bill is a bill to ensure that boys use the boys room and that girls use the girls room facilities.  The bill was due to run last week in the Education Committee but my vote was needed in Full Finance Ways and Means Committee so I was unable to leave Finance.  The Education Committee was ready to conclude their business for the week so the committee rolled the Restroom Bill to the next committee meeting.  Please click here to see my talking points on the bill.  Support for the bill remains strong however the DOE is not totally sold on the bill.  

(Excerpt from recent DOE email) TNReady will be administered via paper and pencil this year. The department has worked with our test vendor, Measurement Incorporated, to ship nearly 1 million tests across the state in the last two weeks. So far, 120 districts have already received their materials and about 60 districts have already started and finished testing.
Closely following the transition to paper testing on Feb. 8, we notified districts that test materials would be shipped on a rolling basis, and we shared when districts could expect their shipments.
Click here to keep reading


Legislature Approves Appointment of Roger Amos Page To Tennessee Supreme Court
Page replaces former Justice Gary R. Wade

Last week during a joint convention of the House and Senate, the appointment of Roger Amos Page was officially confirmed by the legislature to fill the spot of Justice Gary R. Wade, who retired from the Tennessee Supreme Court in September.

The confirmation is the first of its kind in Tennessee, brought about by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 that granted the legislature confirmation powers for all appellate court appointees. After being confirmed, Justice Page was sworn in by fellow Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Bivins.

Page has been a judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals since his appointment by Governor Bill Haslam in December of 2011. During his time there, he has written more than 330 appellate opinions. Prior to that, Page served as a judge for the 26th Judicial District, which includes Chester, Henderson, and Madison Counties.

Before to his tenure on the bench, Page was assistant attorney general in Jackson from 1991 - 1998, was in private practice, and served as a law clerk for former U.S. District Court Judge Julia Smith Gibbons from 1984 - 1985.

Page received his law degree with honors in 1984 from the University of Memphis, where he ranked 4th in his class.


House Republicans Move Forward with Critical Legislation To Combat Welfare Fraud

This week, Republican lawmakers brought House Bill 1545 to the full floor and secured passage with a near unanimous vote. House Bill 1545 is a key part of Governor Haslam’s legislative agenda and seeks to increase the penalty for TennCare fraud.

As passed, the legislation alters the penalty for TennCare fraud from a Class E felony to a Class D felony, increasing the term of imprisonment from 1 - 6 years to 2 - 12 years. Furthermore, the legislation creates tiered mandatory fines in addition to required restitution.

Supporters agree this legislation is a vital step in insuring that TennCare services are fully available to those who require it most, as fraud hinders the state’s ability to serve the interests of those Tennesseans that need it most.

Additionally, House Republicans have also introduced the HOPE Act, legislation designed to further enhance the efficiencies of Tennessee’s welfare program by reducing fraud and abuse.

Currently, Tennessee spends more on welfare in proportion to its budget than any other state in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The purpose of the HOPE Act is to remove fraudsters from the welfare rolls that are stealing money not only from taxpayers, but also from those the programs are actually intended to help — individuals that have fallen on tough times and need temporary government assistance to get back on their feet.
The HOPE Act has three key parts:

·       Asset verification — A third party vendor will be assigned to examine state databases that already exist to ensure those receiving benefits are not purchasing luxury vehicles, own multiple homes, or making excessive personal purchases.

·       Enrollee monitoring — Once individuals are enrolled in a state welfare program, regular reviews of their status will be conducted to ensure eligibility is retained. If someone goes to prison, wins the lottery, or is deceased, they no longer need the welfare assistance they were once eligible for.

·       Taking action against fraudsters — Suspected fraud causes will be referred to state prosecutors for investigation and possible criminal prosecution or recovery of improper payments to help deter future fraud.

The HOPE Act does not change who is eligible for Tennessee welfare programs or create additional hoops for those receiving benefits to jump through.

Additionally, the cost of the program is based on how much the state saves — the third party group that will execute the enrollee verification and monitoring system will not be paid unless fraud is found in system. Because of this, there is no incentive to falsely report fraud simply to get paid as the outside vendor will not decide what is fraud and what is not. Instead, they will turn their findings over to the state and the state will decide which cases involve suspicious behavior and further investigation.

Other states implementing similar programs have already saved hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing fraud. Estimates show Tennessee stands to save around $123 million each year with this legislation in place.

Pro-Grandparent Visitation Legislation Receives Unanimous Support In House
Bill will expand the courts authority to order grandparent visitation when the children are no longer in the custody of the parents

Legislation to aid grandparents caught in a visitation loophole inadvertently created within state law several years back received unanimous support this week on the House floor in Nashville.

As introduced, House Bill 1476 corrects a problem brought by those that have been caught within this law loophole that restricts a judge from granting visitation to a child’s grandparents, when the child has been removed from the custody of the parents.

Currently, if the parents of a child are out of the picture and the judge has awarded custody of that child to one set of grandparents, a judge may only make a recommendation, not a binding ruling, that the other set of grandparents should also be granted visitation. By passing this legislation, a judge will now have the option and ability to grant visitation to both sets of grandparents, if they all meet the burden of proof and the judge deems both sides worthy of such custody and visitation.
This issue was brought to the attention of lawmakers by a constituent who had the time with his granddaughter significantly reduced once a judge awarded custody to the other set of grandparents.

Even though the judge believed the other set of grandparents were worthy of visitation, he could only make a recommendation that they receive visitation instead of being able to rule in that manner.

By passing this legislation, legislators are ensuring such situations do not happen again in the future, and that those children who are no longer under the care of their parents are able to have both sets of grandparents love and care for them throughout their lives. The bill is about the well-being of the child and ensures that the child is not forced into losing another loving relationship after losing his or her parents.

Once passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, this legislation will become law. The full text of the bill can be found by visiting http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/109/Bill/HB1476.pdf.

Past Issues of the Wrap
Weekly Wrap - January 24, 2016
Weekly Wrap - January 31, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 7, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 15, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 21, 2016
Weekly Wrap - February 28, 2016