Legislative Update: Week Ending 4-23-2021

TSEA April 23, 2021 Comments Off on Legislative Update: Week Ending 4-23-2021
Legislative Update: Week Ending 4-23-2021

Senator Thelma Harper 

The TSEA family is saddened by the news of the passing of former State Senator Thelma Harper, who died unexpectedly on Thursday. Thelma Harper is a historic figure in Tennessee. She was the first African American woman elected to the Tennessee State Senate. She was the longest serving female state senator. To many at TSEA, she was a dear friend. To all state employees, she was a fierce advocate and trusted counsel.      

Thank you, Sen. Harper, for your years of unwavering support of state employees, for your timeless impact on the State of Tennessee, for your trailblazing for women and the African American community, and for always leading with a mother’s love in your heart. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to Sen. Harper’s family and friends during this difficult time.

First picture on the left: Sen. Harper listens to a TSEA member during our 2015 Legislative Dinner. Second picture: Sen. Thelma Harper pictured with TSEA staff member Jo Ann Davis-Davis

Legislative Update: Week Ending 4-23-2021

The countdown to the end of the legislative session is on! We believe the Senate will discuss and vote on the budget within the next week, and then the House will follow suit the following week.

As we have reported throughout this legislative session, there is a considerable amount of money reserved for state employees in this year’s proposed budget. Based on conversations we’ve had with your legislators, we are feeling confident the final budget will include the proposed 4 percent performance raises (2 percent retroactive to Jan 2021, and 2 percent in Jan 2022), and the $50 million for market study adjustments. That said, we do not anticipate knowing specific details until mid-June.

In addition, DCS case managers series, probation/parole officers, and state parks employees may all receive additional salary adjustments this year. Funding for those initiatives is separate from the $50 million allocated for the market study adjustments. This is great news because if the budget passes with all of these items, many state employees stand to get additional money beyond performance raises. It is looking like a great year for state employees.

A few quick notes about bills in our legislative agenda:  

The childcare bill has passed. The Lt. Gov and the Speaker of the House have both signed and transmitted the bill to the Governor for his signature.

The 401 (k) match bill passed the Senate. There was a technical correction in the Senate committee that we believe will be agreed to by Chairman Hicks in the House, so it is one step away from passing.

The pension transfer bill has moved to the full House Finance Committee and has already passed the Senate.

TSEA is scheduled to meet with DOHR to finalize an agreement on the Burden of Proof issue and work through some adjustments in the hearing process for employees.

The increase in 401(k) has passed and is awaiting funding as well as the correctional teachers’ pay bill. However, TSEA recently met with several finance committee members regarding these bills, and it looks likely that we will need to continue working on these next year.

Bill Status for TSEA Legislative Agenda Bills:

SB0361 | HB0954  
Burden of Proof
Sponsors: Sen. Hensley, Rep. Littleton
Cosponsors: Sen. Yager
Summary: Requires a state agency in a 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
Senate Status: 3-23-2021 – Failed in Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee
House Status: 3-31-2021 – Returned to the Clerk’s Desk

SB0516 | HB1016  
Match on 401(k)
Sponsor: Sen. Briggs, Rep. Hicks 
Summary: Increases from $40 to $50 the minimum amount that the state will match to an employee’s optional retirement plan
Senate Status: 4-22-2021 – Companion House Bill substituted
House Status: 4-22-2021 – Passed Senate as amended, Ayes 31, Nays 0

SB0022 | HB1114
Child care authorization
Sponsor: Sen. Kyle, Rep. Leatherwood
Cosponsor: Sen. Gardenhire, Rep. Cooper
Summary: Requires the Department of Human Services to approve, administer, and coordinate child care services for the children of state officers and employees
Senate Status: 4-22-2021 – Transmitted to Governor for action
House Status: 4-14-2021 – Companion Senate Bill Substitute

SB1520 | HB1540
Pension Transfer
Sponsor: Sen. Roberts, Rep. Weaver
Summary: Allows any member of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system to obtain creditable service for prior service while a participating member of a city, metropolitan government, or county retirement system
Senate Status: 4-14-2021 – Received from Senate, held on House desk
House Status: 4-21-2021 – Placed on cal. Finance, Ways, and Means Committee for 4-26-2021

SB0402 | HB0414
Restore Longevity for all
Sponsor: Sen. Jackson, Rep. Sparks
Summary: Restores longevity pay for employees of the executive branch in the service of the state hired after June 30, 2015
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

SB1601 | HB1205
Increase to 401(k)
Sponsor: Sen. Bailey, Rep. Lamberth
Summary: Replaces the name of the “consolidated retirement board” with “board of trustees of the consolidated retirement system,” for purposes of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system
Senate Status: 4-22-2021 – Placed on Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee calendar for 4-27-2021
House Status: 4-7-2021 – Placed behind the budget