Democratic View On State Senate Issues - April 22, 2024

  • Monday, April 22, 2024
  • Brandon Puttbrese

Tennessean: Gov. Bill Lee declares his voucher scam is dead for the year

  • Local leaders, educators and families across the state dealt a fatal blow to Gov. Bill Lee’s signature legislation for 2024, showing that democracy can still sometimes prevail even in a state gerrymandered by the controlling party to produce legislative victories.
  • Though details varied, every version of the voucher scheme would use public education funding to subsidize tuition at private schools – primarily for the benefit of families who already use private schools.
  • The private schools would be unaccountable to taxpayers and could reject any student.
  • The governor and billionaire-backed groups — that want to throw Tennessee public schools “in the trash” — will be back.

GOP vs. flags: Addressing exactly nobody’s priorities, Republicans move to limit flag displays on government property

  • 4 p.m. Senate Regular Calendar — SB 1722, by Sen. Joey Hensley, would restrict the kinds of flags that can be displayed at public schools in Tennessee. The US flag, state flags, city & county flags, school flags, country flags, university flags, armed forces flags are all protected as well as flags that are authorized under Tennessee’s Heritage Protection Act, which likely includes Confederate flags.
  • Similar to the previous bill, SB 0918, by Sen. Paul Rose, would restricts flag displays on all government buildings, including local governments and colleges, to the U.S. flag, state flag, and flags representative of the entity. P.O.W. & M.I.A. flags get a pass too.
  • What’s barred by both bills? Rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter flags would be banned. Pirate flags and joke flags, too.
  • In the TNGOP’s brain, symbolic flags (they don’t like) are a bigger problem than shuttered hospitals, gun violence, underfunded schools, child care deserts, climbing commute times, housing affordability, etc.

NASHVILLE: Legislation creates agency to oversee East Bank development

  • 4 p.m. Senate Regular Calendar — SB 2968, by Sen. Heidi Campbell, creates the East Bank Development Authority to oversee the multi-billion dollar redevelopment of the area surrounding the new Tennessee Titans stadium.

‘At or below market value’: Legislation shortchanges local taxpayers on school property sales

  • 4 p.m. Senate Message Calendar – SB 0135, by Sen. John Stevens, prevents local taxpayers in five counties from getting top dollar when a district sells a public school property it is no longer using.
  • Instead the bill requires that public school districts give private charter school operators the “right of first refusal” to purchase these valuable taxpayer assets and rigs the purchase price “at or below market value.” “Market value” – defined in the legislation as the average between two appraisals – would likely undercut what taxpayers could fetch for large properties at auction.
  • The bill also changes lease agreements between public school districts and charter operators. Under the bill, local taxpayers – not the private operator – would be on the hook to pay for “extensive repairs” in a building the district already decommissioned.
  • The legislation only applies to public school districts where charter schools exist – Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Knox County Public Schools, Hamilton County Schools and Rutherford County Schools.

Gov. Lee’s corporate handout is the last major sticking point delaying adjournment

  • This week — The last major hurdle between the legislature and election season is a bill to codify unnecessary $1.6 billion worth of taxpayer-funded handouts to 100,000 property-rich corporations.
  • The legislation also includes a $400 million annual tax break, which will reduce our investments in schools, roads and healthcare by billions over time.
  • If that sounds nuts to you, you’re not alone. No court has deemed Tennessee’s business tax laws unconstitutional. The governor and supermajority have made a decision to loot our reserves for the private benefit of major corporate taxpayers.

4 p.m. Senate Message Calendar

1. SB 0135 *Stevens (HB 1191 by *Williams)

Education- States a public charter school operating within the geographic boundaries of an LEA that are not in the ASD have a right of first refusal to purchase vacant or lease vacant or underutilized property at fair market value for educational purposes as defined. If this occurs, public charter schools are responsible for routine maintenance and repair and for paying utilities. Any extensive repairs considered capital expenses are the responsibility of the LEA.

2. SB 0316 *Watson, Gardenhire (HB 0776 by *Helton-Haynes)

Taxes, Sales- As introduced, restricts the types of costs of a project within a certified border region retail tourism development district or regional retail tourism development district that can be covered by an apportionment of state sales and use taxes to a municipality or industrial development corporation; makes other revisions to the Border Region Tourism Development District Act and the Regional Retail Tourism Development District Act. - Amends TCA Title 7, Chapter 40 and Title 7, Chapter 41.

3. SB 0734 *Briggs (HB 0628 by *Leatherwood, White, Hill, Freeman)

Health Care- Enacts the Tennessee Wellness Law. As amended, health insurance entities are prohibited from requiring the disclosure of a physician’s participation in a physician wellness program as a condition of credentialing, contracting, or network participation.

4. SB 0795 by Gardenhire. (HB1259 by Vital.)

Real Property - Amends TCA Title 29 and Title 66. As introduced, removes ambiguous language and clarifies that a transfer of a possibility of reverter or right of entry by a holder other than the original grantor is invalid unless the validity of the future interest was determined by a final judgment in a judicial proceeding, or by a settlement among interested persons, prior to July 1, 2015.

House version has been amended to be an aggressive and unnecessary anti-squatter law.

5. SB 2632 *Haile (HB 2645 by *Leatherwood)

Vital Records- As introduced, makes various changes to the present law relative to birth certificates. - Amends TCA Title 36 and Title 68.

6. SB 2588 *Taylor, Haile (HB 2097 by *Vaughan)

Boards and Commissions- As introduced, requires state regulatory boards within the department of commerce and insurance and state health related boards within the department of health to issue advisory opinions upon request. - Amends TCA Title 62 and Title 63.

7. SB 2183 *White, Crowe (HB 2326 by *Hicks G)

Education- States a student who is promoted to the fourth grade on a pathway via the 3rd grade retention law may be promoted to fifth grade if the student shows: (i) Adequate growth, as determined by the department, on the fourth grade ELA portion of the TCAP test; or (ii) Adequate growth, as determined by the student's LEA or public charter school, on a locally adopted fourth grade benchmark assessment in ELA that was administered to the student in a test environment, as determined by the department, even if the student does not show adequate growth, as determined by the department, on the fourth grade ELA portion of the TCAP test.

4 p.m. Senate Regular Calendar

1. SB 1210 *White (HB 0996 by *Baum, Stevens)

Education- Prohibits topics related to sexual activity from being taught to students in any of the grades kindergarten through five (K-5) as part of a family life curriculum. - Amends TCA Title 49.

This bill seems to directly contradict the Baby Olivia bill about conception.

2. SB 2246 *Swann (HB 2093 by *Vaughan)

Medical Occupations- As introduced, requires health-related boards that license practitioners authorized to prescribe buprenorphine-containing products to post nonresidential buprenorphine guidelines and standards on the licensing board's website no more than 10 days after receipt of the guidelines. - Amends TCA Title 33; Title 53; Title 63 and Title 68.

3. SB 2633 by Haile

Adoption - As introduced, makes various changes to present law on adoption and foster parents; specifies that an adult has an affirmative obligation to inquire whether their sexual activity has resulted in a pregnancy; requires a court to receive written consent from a child 14 years of age or older prior to the child's adoption.

4. SB 2883 *Kyle (HB 2954 by *Hardaway)

Insurance, Health, Accident- As introduced, enacts the "Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening for High-risk Insured Men Act," which requires health insurance coverage for the early detection of prostate cancer for men who meet certain risk criteria or age thresholds. - Amends TCA Title 8; Title 56 and Title 71.

5. HJR 1055 *Whitson

Memorials, Recognition - Child Abuse Awareness Month, April 2024 -

6. SB 1260 *Akbari (HB 0351 by *Hardaway)

Industrial Development- authorizes industrial development corporations to be established and operated solely to assist and benefit minority-owned businesses, locally owned businesses, businesses that have 50 or fewer employees and annual gross revenues of $5,000,000 or less ("small businesses"), and commercial businesses for which fifty-one percent of the ownership interest is owned or held by women ("women-owned businesses). This bill provides that a commercial entity does not qualify as a locally owned business unless the subject business has conducted a majority of its operations under the jurisdiction of a local government's industrial development corporation for at least five years.

7. SB 1722 *Hensley (HB 1605 by *Bulso, McCalmon, Powers, Todd, Warner, Sherrell, Barrett, Hill, Richey, Grills, Moon, Wright, Vaughan, White, Capley)

Flags- As introduced, prohibits LEAs and public charter schools from displaying in public schools flags other than the official United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag.

8. SB 2589 *Taylor (HB 2466 by *Stevens, Hardaway, Moody)

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation- As introduced, authorizes the bureau to provide a defendant with a certified copy of an order expunging the public records of a criminal offense following the dismissal of charges entered on behalf of the defendant; allows the bureau to charge a reasonable fee for the certified copy. - Amends TCA Title 38 and Title 40.

9. SB 2711 *Taylor (HB 2868 by *Vaughan)

Taxes, Hotel Motel- As introduced, authorizes a municipality to change the allocation of revenue, but not its designated use, of a privilege tax upon the privilege of occupancy in a hotel if the tax preexisted July 1, 2021.

10. SB 2897 *Bailey (HB 2677 by *White)

County Officers- As introduced, increases the annual continuing education requirement for county commissioners from seven to eight hours; requires that the training be obtained by CTAS meetings; extends a $600 stipend to county commissioners for completion of annual training requirements.

11. SB 2968 *Campbell

Davidson County - Subject to local approval, creates the East Bank Development Authority for the metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County.

12. SB 2426 *Jackson (HB 1843 by *Ragan)

Taxes- Prohibits the application of franchise and excise tax credits, or other economic incentives, for employers who are headquartered in, wholly- or majority-owned by a company headquartered in, or wholly- or majority-owned by a government of a country of concern.

U.S. State Department: Burma, People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan

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