TSEA Legislative Update – week ending 1-19-18
The General Assembly reconvened on Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 and got down to business assigning committee chairpersons in the Senate and appointing new legislators to committees in the House. Republicans will retain the supermajorities they have held in both chambers since 2010, and in the House, they will be led by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Davidson). The Senate leader will be Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).
“Things have to change for working families, and we will all be tested this year,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “TSEA is committed to working with Gov. Haslam, Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Harwell to push legislation to improve the lives of Tennessee’s hardworking public employees and their families.”
|A few important bills for state employees were filed through the first two weeks of session.
Sen. Mike Bell, (R-Cleveland) and Rep. Jeremy Faison, (R-Crosby) introduced SB 1585 that would prevent future private prison contracts from containing what is known as an occupancy guarantee. It’s a promise from the state to keep the prison at 90 percent capacity, or pay the contractor as though the prison were 90 percent full even if it’s not. This legislation was part of TSEA’s legislative agenda, and your lobbying team will be working hard to get this passed.
Sen. Mike Bell, (R-Cleveland) also introduced SB 1572. This bill clarifies definitions of “policy” and “rule” for rulemaking purposes; requires an agency to submit proposed policies to the attorney general for review; prohibits an agency from promulgating rules or implementing policies that infringe on an agency member’s freedom of speech; and prescribes that only appointing authorities shall have the power to remove a member from a multi-member governmental entity. This bill is another piece of legislation included in the TSEA legislative agenda. It is a public policy that we will be supporting throughout this session.
Hitting the Ground Running
TSEA had a great week the first full week of session. We hit the ground running Wednesday by helping to pass HB972 by Rep. Courtney Rogers, (R-Sumner) out of House Civil Justice Subcommittee. This legislation requires the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to maintain staffing levels of case managers so that each region has enough case managers to allow caseloads to be not more than 20 active cases relating to initial assessments, or 20 children monitored and supervised in active cases relating to ongoing services. The Senate version of this bill passed last year unanimously and we hope that the House shares in this success.
As you may recall, last year Representative Tilman Goins and Sen. Janice Bowling with the support of TSEA brought forth legislation to reform how we contract with non-governmental entities. This legislation was sent to a special summer study committee to improve on the basics of the bill and come back this year with an amendment that will address many of the issues brought up by the interested groups. Representative Tilman Goins will be presenting HB944 on Wednesday, January 24th in the House State Government Subcommittee with an amendment born from the recommendations of the summer study committee. In the new form the “Contract Accountability and Responsible Employment (CARE) Act” will add a presumption of state service, a count all the cost, and a RIF protection provision. TSEA’s lobbying TEAM is focused on moving this bill forward and will be calling upon state employees to assist them through phone calls, emails, and personal contacts.
TSEA is counting on you to remain engaged during the current session. TSEA has made it a priority to get as many members as possible to contact your legislators at least once this session. That contact may be through a phone call, email or preferably in person.
In addition to weekly Legislative Updates, TSEA will also share information as it is available on social media. We ask you to pay attention to your email for alerts that will tell you when action is needed.