Legislative Update: 2-7-2020

TSEA February 7, 2020 Comments Off on Legislative Update: 2-7-2020
Legislative Update: 2-7-2020

The legislative bill filing deadline has now passed (Wednesday, Feb. 5), so we can begin looking over the hundreds of bills filed to determine those that would impact state employees. 

As we identify bills to watch, we will publish those on our website under: Issues > TSEA Legislation > 2020 Legislation.

Senate Joint Resolution 648
A resolution by Sen. Brian Kelsey (Memphis) SJR 648 is a resolution that begins the process to amend Article XI, of the Constitution of Tennessee, relative to the right to work.  The resolution proposes adding a provision establishing the right to work regardless of status or affiliation with any labor union or employee organization. 

TSEA is monitoring this legislation closely and meeting with Senator Kelsey.  The sponsor is on record publicly and in conversations assuring TSEA leadership that his resolution to change the State Constitution will equally protect employees who choose to join or refuse to join an association. For this to lead to a change in the State Constitution, it would have to pass both Senate and House this year with a simple majority.  It would then be heard next year and must achieve a 2/3 majority before heading to the ballot for a referendum.  It is a very long process to change the State Constitution and TSEA will keep you updated. 

Legislative budget hearings
Budget hearings began Tuesday morning in Senate Finance Committee after Gov. Bill Lee’s Monday State of the State address.  Finance and Administration Commissioner Stuart McWhorter presented an overview of the budget. 

Throughout the next six weeks, each department will present its budget to various committees before the legislature votes to approve the budget at the end of the legislative session.

TSEA Legislative Agenda Bills update

SB689/HB900 
– Longevity pay for employees of the executive branch

Senate Sponsors: *Jackson, Swann, Hensley, Massey, Niceley, Southerland

House Sponsors: *Sparks, T. Hill, Moody, Hawk, Byrd, Howell, Moon, M. Hill, Staples
* = Prime Bill Sponsor

This week several Senators and Representatives signed on to our bill to restore longevity to all employees. 

Senate additions:

Swann (Maryville), Hensley (Hohenwald), Massey (Knoxville), Niceley (Strawberry Plains), Southerland  (Morristown). 

House additions: 
Dixie (Nashville), Howell (Georgetown), Holt  (Dresden),  Johnson  (Knoxville),  Staples ( Knoxville), Keisling (Byrdstown), Van Huss  (Jonesborough), Russell  (Vonore), Leatherwood ( Memphis).   

Gov. Lee’s Proposed Budget Highlights:

On Monday, Feb 3, 2020, Gov. Bill Lee gave his second state of the state address outlining the priorities of his proposed state budget.

For the second year in a row, Gov. Lee showed support for state employees and, during his speech, discussed his proposal to provide 12 weeks of paid leave to state employees. “I’m proud that under our proposal, Tennessee would become the first state in America to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave to eligible state employees who experience a significant life event,” Gov. Lee said. “I’m proud of our state workers and offering them this benefit will help us continue to retain the best and brightest and help those who help our state.”

TSEA attended the Governor’s address and was pleased to see considerable funding allocated to state employees. “We appreciate Gov. Bill Lee for his strong commitment to our state employees,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said.

Gov. Lee in his proposed budget included funding for several state employee initiatives. Here are a few of those items:

· Pay for Performance Salary Pool: $19.1 million in recurring funding for employee compensation adjustments based on performance evaluation in agencies under the TEAM Act, equivalent to a 2.5% increase. Effective January 2021.

· Salary Pool for Non-TEAM Act Agencies: $8.9 million in recurring funding for employee compensation increases to be allocated by the appointing authorities of agencies not covered in the TEAM Act, equivalent to a 2.5% increase. Effective July 1, 2020.

· Market Adjustment: $40M to provide recurring funding for salary market adjustments for state employees effective July 1, 2020.

· 2.5 percent salary pool for higher education employees

· $10 million in the Department of Correction to increase the starting salaries of probation and parole officers

· $7.7 million in the Department of Children’s Services to increase case manager salaries by approximately five percent based on a southeast region market study.

(Note and reminder for retirees: Tennessee Code Annotated, 8-36-801 dictates the COLA award. Basically, the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous calendar year, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor is awarded as COLA up to a maximum of 3%. We do not yet have confirmation of the percentage for this year. As we learn this information, we will share it with you.)

We are still learning more details about the Governor’s proposed budget. Keep in mind, the budget must now travel through the legislative process, where it is likely to change. TSEA will work with your legislators on any changes and to help keep these items in the budget.

As we learn more details, and if changes are made which impact state employees, we will share them with you.

To view the Budget Documents, click the links below:
The Budget, Fiscal Year 2020-2021
Volume 2: Base Budget Reductions, Fiscal Year 2020-2021
Historical Budget Data

To view Gov. Lee’s 2020 State of the State address, or to view a transcript of his speech, click the links below:
Gov. Lee 2020 State of the State address (video)
Gov. Lee 2020 State of the State transcript

Some notable quotes from Gov. Lee’s State of the State address:

“In addition to large investments in our salary pool and our outcomes-based funding formula, I’ve set aside nearly $160 million for capital improvements and $70 million for capital maintenance projects on our college campuses.”

“This year, based on those recommendations, I plan to propose legislation that will improve our probation and parole systems.”

“I am proposing 80 additional positions and funding to assist in decreasing wait times for our customers as they answer the federal mandate to obtain a REAL ID.”

“I’m proud that under our proposal Tennessee would become the first state in America to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave to eligible state employees who experience a significant life event.”

“I’m proud of our state workers and offering them this benefit will help us continue to retain the best and brightest and help those who help our state.”

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