Legislative Update – Week Ending 3/8/2024

TSEA March 8, 2024 Comments Off on Legislative Update – Week Ending 3/8/2024
Legislative Update – Week Ending 3/8/2024

The legislative session continues to move quickly, with subcommittees wrapping up their business as early as next week! Here are some of the key moments from this week.

We continue our work to advance SB2007/HB 1960, which would allow Metro General Hospital in Nashville to create an incentive plan for state employees to use their insurance but pay no or a discounted out-of-pocket amount. The original bill would have allowed all public hospitals to participate, but the fiscal note was too high. Something worthy of note is that this idea was initially suggested to Rep. Powell by the late Senator Douglas Henry, a long-time supporter and dear friend to state employees and TSEA.

Higher Education
This week in higher education, budget proposals for the University of Tennessee (UT) and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) moved on to the Senate Finance Committee. During their presentation, MTSU highlighted concerns about the proposed budget not allocating enough funds to fully fund the 3 percent raise, which we’ve talked about before, making it difficult to provide a full 3 percent pay raise for their employees. While UT is expected to manage funding their share of the raises, they also acknowledged facing similar funding issues.

401(k) update
Lastly, we continue to build support with your legislators to add one-time 401(k) funding back into the budget, if funding becomes available. If funding remains unavailable, your 401(k) will revert to the statutory amount of a $50 match. As a reminder, the proposed budget does not extend the one-year 401(k) match increase, which has been in place for the last two years (initially passed in 2022 and extended last year for one additional year).

DOHR – turnover down, benefits trending up
During DOHR’s presentation Monday to the House Finance Committee, Rep. Harold Love asked the department about trends in state employee turnover and benefits. In his response, Williams indicated that turnover has reduced, and state employee benefits are trending higher than in the private sector. Here is the conversation from Monday’s hearing:

Bills we’re monitoring:

(NOTE: We may add additional bills to this list as legislative session progresses)

SB1545/HB1554 Rose, Slater
Senate: Placed on Senate State and Local Government Committee calendar for 3/12/2024
House: Placed on cal. State Government Committee for 3/13/2024

Salaries and Benefits – As introduced, establishes a program under which a state employee may receive up to six weeks of paid leave if the employee becomes a foster parent of a minor child. – Amends TCA Title 3; Title 8; Title 16 and Title 50.

SB1941/HB2143 Haile, Martin, G
Senate: Passed 33-0, 2/24/2024
House: Placed on cal. State Government Committee for 3/13/2024

State Employees – As introduced, permits employees of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government to complete Tennessee foster parent training and in-service training during the course of their employment without having to use paid sick, annual, or compensatory time up to a certain amount of time. – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 8; Title 37 and Title 71.

SB2007/HB1960 Campbell, Powell
Senate: Referred to Senate State and Local Government Committee
House: Action Def. in s/c Health Subcommittee to 3/19/2024

Hospitals and Health Care Facilities – As introduced, authorizes public hospitals, upon approval of the hospital’s governing body, to establish a state employee and retiree healthcare incentive program that will allow for the waiver of applicable out-of-pocket expenses associated with medical care at the public hospital for state employees and retirees and their covered dependents participating in the state group insurance plan. – Amends TCA Title 8, Chapter 27.

SB2081/HB2088 Johnson, Lamberth
Senate: Passed Senate, Ayes 32, Nays 0
House: Placed on cal. State Government Committee for 3/13/2024

Military – As introduced, authorizes the military department to administer a critical skills retention bonus program to be used to award retention bonuses of up to $10,000 to enlisted service members in the Tennessee National Guard; entitles certain state employees who are members of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States or the national guard to special leave with partial pay during a period in which the members have been called to active duty. – Amends TCA Title 58, Chapter 1, Part 1.

Senate: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
House: Placed on s/c cal Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee for 3/12/2024

Foster Care – As introduced, establishes a pilot program for five years to allow private entities to provide foster care services to qualifying children; requires the department of children’s services to create a process for selecting children for the program; directs the pilot program to submit monthly reports to the state foster care review board; requires the comptroller to audit the program. – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 36 and Title 37.