Legislative Update: 3-13-2020

TSEA March 13, 2020 Comments Off on Legislative Update: 3-13-2020
Legislative Update: 3-13-2020

Update on TSEA Office
Power was restored Monday 3/9 to the TSEA office, but we continue to be without phones due to damage sustained during last week’s tornado in Downtown Nashville. In the meantime, calls to the main TSEA number are being forwarded to a cell phone and are being answered. We hope to have all lines up soon.

In the meantime, our staff will continue to work from alternate worksites and is available to you by email. To contact us, please email the appropriate staff member directly. You can view our staff directory on the member side of the website here: http://tseaonline.org/member-login/member-log-in/contact-us-2/.

(if you do not have the member password, please email [email protected])

You can also message us through our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/tseaonline.

Thank you for your patience while we work through this situation, and thank you for being a member of TSEA.

Coronavirus concerns
TSEA is monitoring the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact on state employees. The situation is rapidly changing, so TSEA has compiled some helpful links so you can have quick access to the most up-to-date information here: http://tseaonline.org/helpful-coronavirus-links-for-state-and-higher-ed-employees/.

We will continue to update the list as we have more information.

The Department of General Services has asked all state employees to make sure your Everbridge contact information is updated in Edison. In the event critical information needs to be communicated, you will be reached at the contact information listed there.

The Department of Human Resources sent out the following information to employees:

Coronavirus and Best Practices to Promote a Healthy Workplace

Coronavirus: An Update from the Department of General Services on Cleaning Disinfecting State Buildings

In the meantime, all employees should follow the precautions for all citizens set out by the Department of Health on their website: 

Complete information on the outbreak is available on the Department of Health’s website here: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

The COVID-19 Public Information Number is 877-857-2945.
Available 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. CST Daily

On Thursday, March 12, Gov. Lee issued Executive Order No. 14, declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19. You can view his press release here: 

In his press release, Gov Lee said, “Today’s action will move us into a position to utilize additional emergency funds as needed and relax provisions of certain laws to provide the flexibility needed to respond to this disease. While the risk to the general public remains low, we encourage all Tennesseans to exercise caution and maintain good hygiene practices as there are serious risks to our vulnerable populations. We will continue to evaluate and adapt our position accordingly to fit what we believe is best for Tennesseans.”

Legislative Agenda Update

It has been a good week on the hill for state employees and TSEA. 

Senator Richard Briggs passed the 401(k) bill out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday. The bill will be on Senate Floor next week. 

You can view the Senate Committee’s discussion and vote on this bill at this link: http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=414&clip_id=22081&meta_id=476600

As most of you who take advantage of the 401(k) know, the state budgets 100 percent of the first $50 per employee per month, but the state statute only requires the state budget $40. The 401(k) bill as amended changes the statute from 100 percent of the first $40 contributed to 100 percent of the first $50 contributed per employee per month. 

We also have a budget amendment for 401(k) to increase the match by 15 dollars per month at the request of the Senate sponsor. We will begin working on the budget subcommittees next week. 

On Tuesday, the Senate State and local will hear the FMLA bill after the TDOC budget. The Lee Administration has requested to meet with TSEA on Monday afternoon, which we believe will be a briefing on the final amendment that will make the bill.

Note: Speaker pro tempore Bill Dunn has become the prime House sponsor on the FMLA bill. 

The FMLA bill number is SB2198/HB2265. At this time, the bill is only a caption but will be amended during Tuesday’s hearing to add the actual language of the bill. 

Pension Transfer Bill
TSEA wants to thank Treasurer David Lillard for his words of support and his vote this week supporting  HB 2882 Weaver SB 2544 Roberts in the Pensions and Insurance Committee.

This bill will allow those that have held positions in city and county governments to transfer those years of service to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. 

For procedural reasons, we put longevity on notice again in the House to have it officially put behind the budget. That was accomplished Tuesday. We are working to amend the bill in the Senate and will keep you up to date on the bill’s progress.

Burden of Proof
There is a chance Burden of Proof will be heard Wednesday in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. 

The administration remains opposed to both the longevity and burden of proof legislation. We will keep you up to date on these bills as they continue to move through the legislative process. 

Childcare for children of State Employees
Senator Gardenhire and other senate members have been working with Senator Sara Kyle on her childcare bill. TSEA is working with legislators to help navigate it through the process. Unfortunately, the House didn’t get the amendment in time this week, so it is still in subcommittee. We are hopeful the bill will be heard in the House next week. 

Bills scheduled next week:

Proceedings against state employees
Sponsors: Sen. Hensley, Joey; Rep. Hill, Timothy
Cosponsors:  Rep. Dunn, Bill; Rep. Griffey, Bruce; Rep. Hawk, David; Rep. Ogles, Brandon; Sen. Yager, Ken.
Summary: Requires a state agency in any proceeding to suspend, terminate, or discipline an employee in state service to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee violated state law or a rule or policy of the agency prior to taking such action.
Senate Status: 03/12/20 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 03/17/20.
House Status: 02/20/20 – Held on House clerk’s desk.

Longevity pay for employees of the executive branch
Sponsors: Sen. Jackson, Ed; Rep. Sparks, Mike
Cosponsors: Sen. Bailey, Paul; Rep. Byrd, David; Rep. Calfee, Kent; Rep. Dixie, Vincent; Rep. Hawk, David; Sen. Hensley, Joey; Rep. Hill, Matthew; Rep. Hill, Timothy; Rep. Holt, Andy; Rep. Howell, Dan; Rep. Johnson, Gloria; Rep. Keisling, Kelly; Rep. Leatherwood, Tom; Sen. Massey, Becky; Rep. Moody, Debra; Rep. Moon, Jerome; Sen. Niceley, Frank; Rep. Russell, Lowell; Sen. Southerland, Steve; Rep. Staples, Rick; Sen. Swann, Art; Rep. VanHuss, James
Summary: Restores longevity pay for employees of the executive branch in the service of the state hired after June
30, 2015.
Senate Status:  03/12/20 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 03/17/20.
House Status: 03/11/20 – House Finance Subcommittee placed behind the budget.

Provision of childcare for state employees
Sponsors: Sen. Kyle, Sara; Rep. Mitchell, Bo
Summary: Authorizes state agencies to provide childcare services for state employees, with the department of human services tasked to approve, administer, and coordinate such services. Requires cost of childcare services be offset by fees, requires providers be selected by competitive contract.
Senate Status: 03/12/20 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 03/17/20.
House Status: 03/12/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 03/18/20.

Increases maximum matching retirement amount required by the state
Sponsors: Sen. Briggs, Richard; Rep. Hicks, Gary
Cosponsors: Rep. Lamberth, William
Summary: Increases the maximum amount of money per month the state is required to match for employees’ optional
retirement plans from $40 to $75. Broadly captioned.
Senate Status:  03/13/20 – Set for Senate Floor 03/16/20.
House Status: 03/12/20 – Set for House State Committee 03/17/20.

For live-streaming committee hearings, calendars, and other legislative information, visit the Tennessee General Assembly’s website here:

Pension transfer bill
Sponsors: Sen. Roberts, Kerry; Rep. Weaver, Terri
Summary: Authorizes any member of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) to obtain creditable service for previous participation in a local government’s retirement system. Requires the local government to transfer all employee and employer contributions made on behalf of the member, together with regular interest thereon.
Senate Status:  03/12/20 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 03/17/20.
House Status: 03/12/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 03/18/20.