TSEA Legislative Update – March 27, 2015

TSEA March 30, 2015 0
TSEA Legislative Update – March 27, 2015

The legislative pace moved into high gear this week, as committees met for hours to work through their calendars and others held multiple meetings for a committee in the same day!

SB607/HB648, the bill proposing to reform state employee health insurance was passed out of the House State Government Subcommittee. The bill was amended to address many of TSEA’s concerns, however, we remain opposed to this bill. Please check our website for a news release from President Bryan Merritt explaining our opposition. The bill will be heard in the House State Government Committee on Wednesday.

Consideration of the Haslam Administration’s bill to end Longevity Pay for state workers (SB606/HB647) was again delayed. The bill is set for possible action in the State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, April 1st. The administration continues to hold discussions with legislators, but no new amendments have been filed for the bill.

On a positive note, a bill to expand the current 30 day aggregate limit of leave that may be used for maternity and paternity leave, if both parents are state employees, has passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. SB950/HB478, by Senator Yarbro and Representative Beck, allows state employees to use their full amount of maternity and paternity leave. Current law provides that state employees receive 30 days of maternity and paternity leave. However, in the event that both parents are state employees, the aggregate of sick leave used for maternity and paternity leave is currently limited to 30 days. We thank Senator Yarbro and Representative Beck for their hard work on this bill, which will benefit state employees and their families.


Senate Floor

SB1157 / HB588 Model policy for employers to prevent abusive conduct in workplace. 

Sponsors: Sen. Mark S. Norris / Rep. Antonio Parkinson

Extends the date by which TACIR must create a model policy for employers to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace from March 1, 2015, to September 1, 2015.


Senate State & Local Government

SB123 / HB603 Collective bargaining agreements – local governments and labor unions.
Sponsors: Sen. Brian K. Kelsey / Rep. Jeremy Durham
Reaffirms that a local government shall not enter into any collective bargaining agreement with a labor union or employee association.

House State Government

SB1157 / HB588 Model policy for employers to prevent abusive conduct in workplace.
Sponsors: Sen. Mark S. Norris / Rep. Antonio Parkinson
Extends the date by which TACIR must create a model policy for employers to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace from March 1, 2015, to September 1, 2015.

SB1267 / HB532 Providing state employee information to TSEA.
Sponsors: Sen. Ken Yager / Rep. Curry Todd
Requires the state to provide to TSEA information on state employees’ work site location, home telephone number, and residential address every six months. Provides that the state may charge a reasonable fee for the information.

Note: This bill is part of TSEA’s legislative package. For more information about our legislative package, visit the TSEA website.

SB607 / HB648 Changes to state, local government & local education insurance plans.
Sponsors: Sen. Mark S. Norris / Rep. Gerald McCormick
HB648, if adopted as amended, would impact state employees in several ways. The amendments filed thus far would:

    1. delete the authorization originally proposed in the bill for the State Insurance Committee to have the option to gradually decrease the state contribution for dependents of the state health plan. The state will continue to offer a basic health plan that offers a 80% contribution for employee and dependent benefits.  Other health plans will also be offered and could include a different percentage of contribution for employee/dependent coverage.
    2. authorize the State Insurance Committee to offer defined contribution and defined benefit plans to current retirees and to current state employees that retire in the future. Those retirees will be allowed to choose between a defined contribution plan and a defined benefit plan, if the defined contribution is offered.
    3. provide for legislative oversight through the Council on Pensions and Insurance.  The Council is composed of members of the legislature and non-voting members that represent the Executive Branch.

Retiree health benefits will not be available to any employees hired on or after July 1, 2015, unless grandfathered in due to previous employment.

ACTION ALERT: The TSEA Board of Directors opposes this bill. We ask that if you are a constituent of one of the members of the House State Government Committee that you express to them your concerns with this bill and how it would affect you and your family. It is important to keep your messages brief and polite. For some talking points when discussing this issue with your legislator, visit TSEA’s website by clicking HERE.

SB890 / HB1145 Payroll deductions for dues to state employee organizations.
Sponsors: Sen. Brian K. Kelsey / Rep. Glen Casada
Increases the minimum size for forms that authorize payroll deductions for state employee membership dues to certain employee associations from three inches by five inches, to three inches by six inches.


House State Government Subcommittee

SB821 / HB888 Allows commissioner to require certain reports from wardens.
Sponsors: Sen. Paul Bailey / Rep. Craig Fitzhugh
Authorizes commissioner of the department of correction to require wardens to submit written reports containing information regarding the law enforcement personnel at penal institutions.

SB606 / HB647 Longevity payments for executive branch employees.
Sponsors: Sen. Mark S. Norris / Rep. Gerald McCormick
Deletes provisions providing longevity payments for executive branch employees. Gives employees a permanent one-time pay increase equal to half of the longevity payment the employee is due as of June 30, 2015. Requires remaining funds for employee longevity to be reallocated to the general fund for the sole purpose of funding a merit pay system. Part of Administration Package.

ACTION ALERT: If you are a constituent of one of the House State Government Subcommittee members, you received an email in the past two weeks, asking you to contact your appropriate legislator regarding this bill. We ask that if you were identified for this action that you continue to participate as instructed. If further action is needed, we will notify the appropriate members. Please be sure to thank the members of the Subcommittee who have voiced their concerns regarding this bill and its impact on state employees, and their support for TSEA’s opposition to it.

SB338 / HB509 Ten years as state employee equivalent to GED for retention purposes.
Sponsors: Sen. Frank Niceley / Rep. Billy Spivey
Specifies that 10 or more years of employment as a state employee is credited as equivalent to a GED for the purpose of retention of state employment, promotion as state employee, or return to state service. Broadly captioned.

SB737 / HB667 Increases job experience requirement for commissioner of DIDD.
Sponsors: Sen. Steve Southerland / Rep. David B. Hawk
Increases minimum prior administrative experience required of a commissioner of intellectual and developmental disabilities from five years to six years. Broadly captioned.

SB813 / HB664 Probationary period for certain preferred service position transfers.
Sponsors: Sen. Joey Hensley / Rep. David B. Hawk
Exempts preferred service employees who transfer to another preferred service position from the one-year probationary period of employment if the employee previously completed a probationary period in a preferred service position. Broadly captioned.


House Floor Calendar

SB289 / HB133 Lawsuits by inmates – venue.
Sponsors: Sen. John Stevens / Rep. William G. Lamberth
Requires that when a plaintiff inmate’s action accrued while housed in a facility operated by a private corporation in contract with the state or local government, the action must be brought in the county in which the facility is located.

Senate Floor Calendar

SB582 / HB1312 THP – payroll deductions for payment of membership dues.
Sponsors: Sen. Doug Overbey / Rep. Art Swann
Enables members of the Tennessee highway patrol to authorize payroll deductions for the payment of membership dues for organizations that meet certain criteria.

If you wish to contact your legislator and talk to them about one of the bills above, you can CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR

It is important that you only call YOUR legislators. And when you do call, tell them your home address so they can verify you are their constituent.

PLEASE DO NOT CALL LEGISLATORS IN OTHER DISTRICTS. Calling Legislators from other districts could be counter-productive to our efforts, as legislators begin to assume all calls are from outside their districts and they stop listening to our concerns.TSEA will continue to keep you updated and informed as more information is made available.

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