Legislative Update Week Ending 3-5-2021

TSEA March 5, 2021 Comments Off on Legislative Update Week Ending 3-5-2021
Legislative Update Week Ending 3-5-2021

Our Burden of Proof bill (SB0361/HB0954) is on calendar Tuesday morning in the Senate State and Local Government committee. This is a very important development for state employees.
 
What is our Burden of Proof bill and why should you care? 

After the TEAM Act restructured the appeals process for state employees in 2012, and even before that as part of the old Civil Service system, if an employee appealed a suspension, termination, or discipline, the department had the burden to prove that its discipline of the employee was proper. To understand this in familiar terms, it is like a criminal court case where the employee is innocent until proven guilty. 

However, in 2017, due to a controversial ruling from the Tennessee Supreme Court, the burden of proof was shifted to the employee. We have been fighting this ruling ever since. Currently, during an appeal of a disciplinary action of an employee, an agency does not have any requirement to prove that it properly suspended, terminated, or disciplined the employee. The burden of proof is on the employee to prove they were terminated improperly. Again, using familiar terms, the employee is considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. 

TSEA believes the State of Tennessee should bear the burden of proof when they take disciplinary action against an employee that is appealable. The state has the evidence, they have the records, they should have to prove their case against the employee. 

The legislation we have been working on since 2017, if passed, would require 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. We believe this was the original intent of the TEAM-Act, where the burden of proof is on the state. 

Our Burden of Proof bill will be number 11 on the calendar in Senate State and Local Government on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. CT.  

This is a significant, landmark piece of legislation. It is quite possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation TSEA has ever supported on behalf of state employee rights. TSEA will soon email additional information and action steps to our members who are constituents of those legislative committee members who will hear the bill. Consideration of this bill is an important development.


Other News 

Department and Agency budget presentations continued this week in House and Senate committees. TSEA continues to serve as your voice on the hill by meeting with and educating your legislators before budget hearings. In these meetings, we discuss important state employee issues such as pay raises, voluntary separation funding, department reorganizations, salary compression concerns, and other items. Legislators can then ask the commissioners these critical questions during each department’s budget presentation, which otherwise may not have been asked. This is one of the many ways we work for you. 

Finally, Sarah Kyle’s bill to allow departments to set up childcare for state employees passing the Senate Committee 9-0 was a highlight of the week. Senator Gardenhire co-sponsoring and helping with the bill was essential to moving this bill, and we can’t thank him enough. We will work to move this bill in the House next week with our sponsor Rep. Tom Leatherwood.


TSEA Legislation (bill numbers)

Burden of Proof
SB0361 | HB0954  
Sen. Hensley, Sen. Yager
Rep. Eldridge, Rep. Littleton

Senate Status: 3-02-2021 – Placed on Senate State and Local Government Committee calendar for 3-9-2021

House Status: 2-22-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to State Government Committee; Assigned to subcommittee, Public Service Subcommittee



Match on 401(k)

SB0516 | HB1016  
Sen. Briggs
Rep. Hicks

Senate Status: 2-11-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to Senate State and Local Government Committee

House Status: 2-22-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to State Government Committee; Assigned to subcommittee, Public Service Subcommittee

Child care authorization
SB0022 | HB1114
Sen. Kyle, Co-sponsor Sen. Gardenhire
Rep. Leatherwood

Senate Status: 3-04-2021 – Placed on Senate Consent Calendar 2 for3-08-2021

House Status: 3-03-2021 – Placed on subcommittee calendar Public Service Subcommittee for 3-10-2021

Pension Transfer
SB1520 | HB1540
Sen. Roberts
Rep. Weaver

Senate Status: 2-22-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to Senate State and Local Government Committee

House Status: 3-01-2021 – Assigned to subcommittee Public Service Subcommittee

Restore Longevity for all
SB0402 | HB0414
Sen. Jackson 
Rep. Sparks

Senate Status: 2-10-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to Senate State and Local Government Committee

House Status: 2-10-2021 – Passed on Second Consideration, refer to State Government Committee; Assigned to subcommittee Public Service Subcommittee

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