Legislative Update Week Ending 3-11-2022

TSEA March 11, 2022 0
Legislative Update Week Ending 3-11-2022

Things are in high gear at the legislature. See below for updated bill statuses.

A few notes on this week:

DCS Budget amendment
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday amended the DCS budget adding $9.7M to fund raises for Case Workers series salaries. This brings a total of $13 million with additional funds from Federal and TennCare. The motion was made by Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (Gallatin) and seconded by Senator Jeff Yarbro (Nashville). The amendment passed unanimously. 

During the discussion, Senator Joey Hensley (Hohenwald) questioned the department on the effect of high caseloads on case managers.

We are also aware that ranges need to move, and will be working with DCS and DOHR to try to have that happen before this raise is implemented.

Higher Ed Salary Pool issue Over the years, a funding shortfall has developed in the salary pool sent to higher education. On Wednesday, TSEA met with Rep. Charlie Baum (Murfreesboro) to talk about this problem and express our desire to work together with legislative leadership and Higher Ed to find a solution to this growing problem. When the 4 percent pool of money for raises is sent to each institution, it does not cover giving that amount to every employee, so the colleges and universities must provide the rest of the money. This is becoming more difficult as the Tennessee Higher Education Commission keeps tuition as low as possible. Rep. Baum is an economics professor at MTSU and serves on the House budget subcommittee, where final decisions on the budget are made, so he is in a key position to begin to understand the impact this is having at universities.


Legislation

Below are bill numbers for key legislation we are monitoring or working to advance:

As a reminder, Livestreams and videos of legislative meetings and activities are accessible on the legislative calendar page at this link: https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/schedule/ 

To view our 2022 Legislative Priorities, click here.

Burden of Proof – PASSED by the legislature | On Gov desk

HB2172 – Lamberth, Gant, Hawk, Thompson, Jernigan, Vital, Moody, Hardaway | SB2422 – Johnson, Briggs, Yager, Hensley

Status:
House: Passed H., Ayes 92, Nays 0, PNV 0 – 2/28/2022
Senate: Passed Senate, Ayes 33, Nays 0 – 2/28/2022

Notes: Bill moves on to Governor for his signature.

DCS caseloads – PASSED by the legislature

HB2163 – Lamberth, Gant, Vital | SB2413 – Johnson, Jackson
Summary: As introduced, specifies that the average caseloads of case managers must be calculated at least monthly.

Status:
House: House Floor on Monday, 3/7/2022
Senate: Senate Floor on Monday, 3/7/2022

TDOC Salary Increase

HB2339 – Windle | SB2345 Yager

Summary: As introduced, increases wages and salaries of preferred service employees of the department by 15 percent.

Status:
House: House Finance – Date TBD
Senate: Senate State and Local Government Committee, Tuesday, 3/15/2022

Note: In the House, the bill was amended to add in some parole board employees and remove security correctional staff.

This bill has generated a lot of questions from not only Corrections employees but also legislators and even other departments. TSEA expects the discussion and negotiation around this bill and its potential effects throughout the state’s pay plan to continue till late in the session. Therefore, it is impossible to accurately answer any questions with concrete facts. The one thing we do know from years of working with the sponsors of this legislation is that Rep. John Mark Windle (Livingston) and Senator Ken Yager (Kingston) will continue to fight for state employees until the gavel closes session.

The fiscal note for this bill is $30M.

Higher Education – Grievance Procedures on website

HB2568 – Ragan | SB2666 – Bell
Summary: As introduced, requires each institution governed by the board of regents, a state university board, or the board of trustees for the University of Tennessee to make the grievance procedure for the institution’s support staff employees available on its website.

Status:
House – House Floor – Date TBD
Senate – Senate Education Committee – Wednesday, 3/16/2022

State Parks Funding Act 

HB2168 – Lamberth, Gant | SB2418 – Johnson, Southerland, Walley
Summary: As introduced, enacts the “State Parks Funding Act of 2022.”

Status:
House – Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, Tuesday 3/15/2022
Senate – Senate Finance, Tuesday, 3/15/2022.

Pensions and Retirement Benefits (correction to 2021 pension transfer bill)

HB2450 – Weaver | SB2812 – Roberts
Summary: As introduced, authorizes a member of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system to purchase, instead of obtain, retirement credit for all of the member’s previous service rendered while a full-time employee and participating member of a political subdivision’s defined benefit retirement plan; authorizes the member to use funds from any source to purchase such retirement credit; makes other related revisions.

Status:
House – House Floor, Date TBD
Senate – Passed Senate, Ayes 31, Nays 0, 3/7/2022

Notes: This bill is a correction to the pension transfer bill from last year that could not be implemented due to a conflict with federal law.

TCRS administration system upgrade

HB2273 – Williams | SB2152 – Hensley
Summary: As introduced, allows the retirement system to procure goods and services for a pension administration system that may replace the system currently in existence, subject to appropriation made in the general appropriations act.

Status:
House – House Floor, Date TBD
Senate – Passed Senate, Ayes 31, Nays 0, 3/7/2022

Notes: This bill seeks to upgrade the states concord system for TCRS

Essential Employee TCRS Credit for Service During Covid 

HB1658 – Russell, Griffey, C. Johnson | SB1805 – Massey, Jackson, Swann, Pody
Summary: As introduced, establishes COVID-19 essential employee retirement service credit for members of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system and participants in the state’s hybrid retirement plan.

Status:
House – House State Government Committee, Tuesday, 3/15/2022
Senate – State & Local Govt. Comm., Date TBD

Note: An amendment was added by the sponsors to only cover employees in law enforcement and emergency medical services to attempt to lower the fiscal note. The amendment eliminated the vast majority of state employees we had hoped to cover. The Council on Pension Monday gave the bill a negative recommendation despite the amendment which will make it very hard to pass and fund.

Correctional Teacher Pay

HB0846 – Sherrell, Cooper | SB1599 – Bailey, Yager

Summary: As introduced, requires the board of control of the Tennessee corrections institute to maintain a list of correctional teachers that includes their academic background and qualifications to teach.

Status (as of last year):
House – Taken Off Notice for calendar in Subcomm. of FW&M Comm. (5/2021)
Senate – General Subcomm. of FW&M Comm. (5/2021)

Note: TDOC and Sen. Bailey are meeting with the Governor about funding for this bill. We are also checking to make sure it is already ‘behind the budget’ in the Senate. Rep. Sherrell will put it on notice in the House to also get it ‘behind the budget’. These actions would put the bill in a position to pass if Governor Lee funds it.


TSEA Lobby Day

Tuesday, April 5 – Nashville, TN
This year, we will have our traditional format for the day, beginning the day in the House Chamber and then moving to the 8th Floor Cordell Hull Building for a luncheon with legislators from 11am to 1pm. All legislators are being invited to join you on the 8th Floor for the luncheon, however, we know they may not all be available during that time, and you may have to make an appointment to visit with them in their offices.

Make your plans now to attend Lobby Day on April 5. To attend Lobby Day and request overnight lodging for members attending that are from outside of Nashville, please register on our website at tseaonline.org or use this direct link:

You can now register to attend this year’s Lobby Day here:
https://tseaonline.formstack.com/forms/lobby_day

Bus to Lobby Day from West TN

ATTN TSEA members in the Shelby County, Forked Deer, Memphis Higher Education, and Fayette chapters – Are you interested in riding the bus to Lobby Day?

If you would like to attend Lobby Day on April 5 and want to commit to arriving by bus, CLICK HERE to indicate that you will ride the bus. The deadline to notify TSEA of your commitment to attend Lobby Day and come in by bus is Friday, March 18.


Thank you for being a member of TSEA and for your dedication and commitment to serving Tennessee. Please continue to monitor your email for the latest updates.

Not a member? Join TSEA today at https://tseaonline.org/jointsea/

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