Legislative Update: 3-20-2020

TSEA March 20, 2020 Comments Off on Legislative Update: 3-20-2020
Legislative Update: 3-20-2020

Governor Bill Lee stated today in his budget and COVID-19 update “history remembers fondly when leaders do the right thing.” Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Cameron Sexton announced the legislature will only consider the state budget and then recess, due to the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Passing the budget was the thing to do for Tennessee,” Gov. Lee said, “We will provide fiscal stability in unstable times.”

Last night, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the state’s FY20-21 amended budget, which means substantial cuts were made.

“Please keep in mind we are in uncharted waters,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “We support Gov. Lee and the legislature’s effort to keep state government and our economy as strong as possible under these difficult circumstances.”

The General Assembly is on recess temporarily and pending COVID-19, legislators may return June 1, 2020. Upon returning, the legislature will “reassess the needs of the state of Tennessee,” Speaker Sexton said.

TSEA sponsored and supported legislation was deferred on March 17 in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

Amended Budget Update

Funding in the budget is as follows:

Salary Pool – Pay-for-performance raise for all state employees in TEAM Act Agencies (effective January 1, 2021), reduced from 2.5% to 1.5%
Amount allocated: $15.3 million

Salary Pool – For those employees in Non-TEAM Act Agencies (effective July 1, 2020), reduced from 2.5% to 1.5%
Amount allocated: $3.5 million

Market Rate Adjustment – Reduced
Amount allocated: $20 million

Despite our circumstances amid the tornado devastation and COVID-19, we are thankful to Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, the entire Tennessee Senate, and Tennessee House who all worked tirelessly on an amended state budget that still allowed increases for State Employees.

Legislative Update Agenda

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: 3/17/20 – Action deferred in Senate State & Local Government Committee.
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:  3/17/20 Action deferred in Senate State & Local Government Committee.
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: 3/17/20 Action deferred in Senate State & Local Government Committee.
House Status: 03/11/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 03/18/20. 

Funeral expenses for correctional employees
Sponsors: Sen. Dickerson, Steven, Rep. Hulsey, Bud 
Cosponsors: Sen. Crowe, Rusty; Rep. Griffey, Bruce; Rep. Hurt, Chris; Sen. Jackson, Ed; Sen. Massey, Becky; Sen. Robinson, Katrina; Sen. Rose, Paul; Sen. White, Dawn; Sen.Yager, Ken; Sen. Yarbro, Jeff.
Summary: Authorizes the department of correction to contribute state funds toward the funeral expenses of any correctional employee killed in the line of duty. 
Senate Status: 3/12/20 – Received from Senate, held on House desk.
House Status: 03/04/20 – House Finance Subcommittee placed behind the budget. 

Increases retirement benefits for state employees
Sponsors: Sen. Kyle, Sara; Rep. Hodges, Jason
Cosponsors: Sen. Robinson, KatrinaSummary: Equally increases retirement benefits for currently retired state employees when current state employees receive compensation increases. Broadly captioned
Senate Status: 01/23/20 – Referred to Senate State & Local Government Committee.
House Status: 01/27/20 – Referred to House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee. 

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:  3/16/20 – Re-refer to Senate Calendar Committee.House Status: 03/11/20 – Set for House State Committee 03/17/20. 

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:  3/17/2020 Action deferred in Senate State & Local Government Committee.
House Status: 03/11/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 03/18/20. 

FMLA Sponsors: Sen. Johnson, Jack; Rep. Dunn, Bill
Summary: Increases the amount of time a state employee must request a leave of absence for purposes of participating in certain athletic competitions from 15 days to 30 days prior to the requested leave.
Senate Status: 3/17/20 – Action deferred in Senate State & Local Government Committee
House Status: 3/11/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employees Subcommittee 3/18/20.

Dates for consideration of bills are the latest information in the legislative calendar system. The dates will change when or if the legislature returns.

Update on TSEA Office

Power, phones, and the internet are now restored to the TSEA office. Repairs to the damage, sustained during the March 3 tornado in Nashville, remain on hold until our neighbors with more pressing needs are addressed. 

Coronavirus Concerns

TSEA continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on state employees. The situation changes daily, so TSEA compiled some helpful links with the most up-to-date information here

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 yourEverbridge 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.

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

Complete information on the outbreak is available on the Department of Health’s website here. The COVID-19 Public Information Number is 877-857-2945, with availability from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (CST) daily.