Legislative Update Week Ending 3-4-2022

TSEA March 4, 2022 0
Legislative Update Week Ending 3-4-2022

Activity is moving fast in this year’s Legislative session as sub committee’s in the House of Representatives begin to close in the coming week.

The Burden Of Proof bill, HB2172/SB2422 passed both the TN House and Senate unanimously on Monday, February 28, 2022. This bill, which we’ve worked to advance for several years, is one of the more significant pieces of legislation in recent TSEA history.

The bill now goes before Gov. Bill Lee for his signature to become law. 

This bill clarifies the section of the TEAM Act concerning the appeals process. The legislation changes the law to place the burden of proof on the party that appeals a step II decision. This means that if the appointing authority loses at the second step and decides to appeal to the final step, the appointing authority will bear the burden of proof. 

This bill has been sponsored heroically in the Senate by Sen. Joey Hensley and co-prime sponsor Sen. Ken Yager. This year, Sen. Richard Briggs and Sen. Jack Johnson were sponsors of the bill.

In the House, sponsorship was returned to the bill’s original sponsor, Rep. David Hawk, a true champion for state employees. Also, for two years, former State Rep. Timothy Hill faced withering opposition from the administration to get this bill to the floor, and we will never forget the part he played in this historic agreement. Rep. Mary Littleton and Rep. Rick Eldridge also helped keep the bill alive by sponsoring it, and we appreciate them as well. 

We continue to learn more about the budget during the department budget hearings each week. 
An interesting and incredibly positive piece of information came to our attention this week. As you know, our updates have highlighted the temporary, one-year increase in the match on the 401(k). However, we learned this week that there is better news in this budget line. To receive the monthly increase in the match, you only must maintain the minimum of $50. State budget officials from Finance and Administration told us this is specifically meant to help lower-paid employees increase their retirement accounts. The focus on increasing the match on the 401 (k) began a few years back when TSEA and sponsors Rep. Gary Hicks (Rogersville) and Senator Richard Briggs (Knoxville) passed legislation to codify the $50 match on the 401(k). Then, last year, Rep. William Lamberth ( Cottontown) proposed an increase in the match to $100 a month. We want to take this chance to thank those members of the General Assembly and the Lee Administration for continuing to improve this very important benefit. Remember, Tennessee is one of the very few states that have any match on state employees’ 401(k).  

During a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday for the Department of Children’s Services, Senator Jeff Yarbro (Nashville) and Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (Gallatin) questioned Commissioner Jennifer Nichols about her needs for salary increases for the case managers as well as conditions for children in the department’s custody. Senator Haile has committed to sponsoring a budget amendment to provide the $13 million DCS needs to complete the salary survey done by the department to bring them to market value. 


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

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

Status:
House: Passed H., Ayes 92, Nays 0, PNV 0
Senate: Passed Senate, Ayes 33, Nays 0

Notes: Bill moves on to Governor for his signature.

DCS caseloads

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: Placed on cal. State Government Committee for Tuesday, 3/8/2022
Senate: Senate State and Local Government Committee

Note: This bill has generated a lot of questions from not only Corrections employees but also legislators and even other departments. The bill has been delayed in the House to continue to study the impact across state government and work for a beneficial solution. TSEA expects discussion and negotiation around this bill and its potential effects throughout the states 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.

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 – Placed on cal. Education Administration for Wednesday, 3/9/2022
Senate – Senate Education Committee

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, 3/8/2022
Senate – Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee calendar for 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 – State Government Committee for Tuesday, 3/8/2022
Senate – Senate Floor, Monday 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 – State Government Committee for Tuesday, 3/8/2022
Senate – Senate Floor Monday, 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 – Public Service Subcommittee for Wednesday, 3/9/2022
Senate – State & Local Govt. Comm.

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: Funding for this has not been included in the Governor’s budget. TSEA is working with the sponsors and Department of Corrections to add it to the supplemental budget that will be announced later this session or in a legislative budget amendment.

Fiscal note combining salary and benefits required is almost $3 million.


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


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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