Legislative Update: 2-21-2020

TSEA February 21, 2020 Comments Off on Legislative Update: 2-21-2020
Legislative Update: 2-21-2020

The most significant news from the week was Governor Bill Lee’s announcement on Wednesday to work toward paid family leave for state employees through the legislative process instead of an executive order. 

“After consultation with legislative leaders, we feel the best course of action is to implement paid family leave via legislation rather than executive order,” Governor Lee said during the announcement. “We will propose legislation that is retroactive to March 1, 2020, so that no state employee is negatively impacted by this change in course.” 

Legislative leaders also issued statements supportive of the Governor’s decision, pointing out that an executive order is impermanent. “An executive order can be removed at will by any future governor,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said in a statement. “With legislation, if any changes to the policy are made, they would be permanent,”  

House Speaker Cameron Sexton said in a statement, “We agree with Governor Lee’s decision to proceed on this issue through legislation. This path will allow everyone to have a voice in the process and make this policy permanent.” 

Soon after the announcement, TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps issued this statement: “We will continue to work with Governor Lee and the legislative leadership to provide fair and beneficial paid family medical leave for state employees. Legislation will ensure this policy will be a lasting legacy for our Governor and the legislature. We will be meeting with Lee Administration officials later this week.” 

Gov. Lee’s Executive Order No. 11 would have provided 12 weeks of paid family leave to state employees effective March 1, 2020. 

This is a developing story. We will provide more details as they become available. 

Additional information and media coverage of the Governor’s announcement:

Times Free Press:Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to pursue paid family leave through legislation, not executive order

Associated Press:Lee Changes Course on Offering 12 Weeks of Paid Family Leave 

To view the TN Department of Human Resources email to state employees about the change, click here.

Update on TSEA’s 2020 Legislative Agenda bills

(The list below includes bills that have status updates to report. To view our full list of bills initiated and supported by TSEA, click here.)


Proceedings against state employees

Sponsors: Sen. Hensley, Joey; Rep. Hill, Timothy
Cosponsors: Rep. Dunn, Bill; Rep. Griffey, Bruce; Rep. Hawk, David; Rep. Ogles, Brandon; Sen. Yager, Ken.

Summary: Requires 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.

Senate Status: 04/16/19 – Senate State & Local Government Committee deferred to summer study.
House Status: 02/20/20 – Held on House clerk’s desk.


Provision of childcare for state employees

Sponsors: Sen. Kyle, Sara; Rep. Mitchell, Bo

Summary: Authorizes state agencies to provide childcare services for state employees, with the department of human services tasked to approve, administer, and coordinate such services. Requires cost of childcare services be offset by fees, requires providers be selected by competitive contract.

Senate Status: 02/18/20 – Senate State & Local Government Committee deferred to 03/03/20.
House Status: 01/15/20 – Returned to House clerk’s desk. 


Funeral expenses for correctional employees

Sponsors: Sen. Dickerson, Steven , Rep. Hulsey, Bud 
Cosponsors: Sen. Crowe, Rusty; Rep. Griffey, Bruce; Rep. Hurt, Chris; Sen. Jackson, Ed; Sen. Massey, Becky; Sen. Robinson, Katrina; Sen. Rose, Paul; Sen. White, Dawn; Sen. Yager, Ken; Sen. Yarbro, Jeff.

Summary: Authorizes the department of correction to contribute state funds toward the funeral expenses of any correctional employee killed in the line of duty. 

Senate Status: 02/20/20 – Senate deferred to 03/05/20.
House Status: 02/20/20 – Set for House State Committee 02/25/20.


Increases maximum matching retirement amount required by the state

Sponsors: Sen. Briggs, Richard; Rep. Hicks, Gary
Cosponsors: Rep. Lamberth, William

Summary: Increases the maximum amount of money per month the state is required to match for employees’ optional retirement plans from $40 to $75. Broadly captioned.

Senate Status: 02/19/20 – Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 02/25/20.
House Status: 02/20/20 – Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 02/26/20.