This past week was a very active week for TSEA on Capitol Hill. Several bills were heard in committees, with others to be heard this week.
TSEA is asking all members to call their legislators this week regarding the following bills:
HB 1748: This TSEA bill would require any layoffs in excess of 10 state employees not included in the state budget proposals to be approved by the General Assembly. It is in response to last year’s closing of Career Centers in the Department of Labor. The legislature heard about the layoffs in the last two days of session, after the state budget and reductions-in-force therein had already been voted on and approved by both houses.
Last week the House State Government Subcommittee amended HB1748 and then passed it on to full committee. The amendment exempts employees who are funded with federal dollars because the State cannot predict a federal sequestration. In addition, the bill was amended to increase from 10 to 50 the number of employees that can be laid off by an individual agency in one calendar year without budget approval by the Legislature.
This committee vote was a remarkable show of support for state employees. Likewise this bill has enabled the legislators to express their frustration with the Administration bypassing the Legislative Branch. Both TSEA and your legislators agree that the legislature should have been fully informed of the department’s intentions during the budget process.
Please take a moment and thank the legislators who, last week, voted to move the bill on to the full committee:
Rep. Bill Sanderson
Rep. Sheila Butt
Rep. Joshua Evans
Rep. Kent Williams
(Contact information included below)
TAKE ACTION ON HB 1748
This bill will be heard before the full State Committee in the House on Tuesday, February 18 at 9 am. We need state employees to call the members of this committee before the end of this week because Monday is a holiday (President’s Day).
DHS EMPLOYEES: If you work in DHS and are concerned about layoffs due to Medicaid Eligibility being moved to TennCare, you should call your legislator. The present budget for DHS does not include any layoffs, but we fear the department may layoff employees during the course of the year, again, without being discussed with the legislature. The Commissioner of DHS has stated that the workload is decreased by a third; However, we all know that you still have the same cases and the same steps to process regardless of where Medicaid is handled, so the workload has not decreased!
The message you should deliver to your legislator is short and simple:
” As a state employee and constituent of yours I am asking you to support this bill, HB1748. You are my only voice and I believe that the legislature should know if an agency is planning to layoff state employees, if it impacts their district, and how it affects state services in their area. Members of the Legislature deserve not to be blindsided by unexpected layoffs that impact their constituents. State employees propose this bill to encourage agencies to make their staffing decisions during legislative session, instead of after our voice has gone home.”
House State Government Committee Members:
SB2022: In the Senate, this bill will be heard next week on Lobby Day, Tuesday, February 18, 2014. In the House it will be heard onWednesday, February 19. It is concerning contracting out of state services and its fiscal impact on the state. Many contracts are being used to replace state employees and there is no real process to evaluate if these contracts are actually saving money for the state, and creating a service that is more efficient. TSEA is working with the sponsor and the Chair of Fiscal Review to amend this bill so it can pass without a fiscal note.
TAKE ACTION ON SB2202
We encourage anyone that cannot attend lobby day to participate by making a phone call regarding this bill.
If you live in one of the Senate districts below, the bill will be heard at 10 am on Tuesday, so you will need to contact your Senator on the morning of February 18, before 10 am. If you live in one of the House districts below, you can call anytime on Tuesday, as the bill will not be heard until Wednesday.
Your message should again be simple:
State that you are a state employee that could not miss work for TSEA’s Lobby Day, but wanted to make sure your concerns were heard. Let them know that this bill is very important to us because as an employee you work next to contract employees every day and see the waste that is occurring with these contracts and that you believe more legislative oversight is needed to ensure good contracts with good providers that produce good services.
You might even give them an example of what is happening in your department or how you know state employees can do the same job cheaper – largely because state employees do not need to concern themselves with making a profit as a contractor does.
Senate State & Local Committee Members (Call before 10 am on Tuesday, Feb. 18)
House State Sub-Committee Members