2017 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

  We made it! With Republicans controlling all three branches of the federal government, as well as continuing to hold supermajorities in both the Tennessee House and Senate, it was unclear as to what exactly this legislative session would bring for working families. To be honest, we began the year thinking that this would be the most difficult political environment that we had faced at the Capitol in quite some time. However, for reasons that are unknown to us, lawmakers did not come after labor as aggressively as usual. Even though we faced several of our usual battles (payroll dues deductions, legislators rejecting a bill mandating equal pay for equal work, etc.), none of the bad bills we were tracking reached the severity that they have in previous years. We consider that a testament to the hard work by all of you. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and share our weekly updates with their locals, as well as to those of you who contacted legislators and made sure that we knew about certain bills. You input is invaluable, and we thank you for that. 

  While we were lucky to avoid any major attacks this year, we do not take that lightly. In fact, we expect that the relative "calm" in 2017 could simply be a distraction for what's to come in 2018. Regardless of what we encounter in the second half of the 110th General Assembly, we are ready to continue fighting for working families. Given that the legislative environment will not change over the next eight months, we do not plan to introduce any bills of our own next year. However, if there is a particular issue that you would like to see addressed, please contact us over the summer or fall. We're happy to meet with you and discuss options for getting a bill drafted and introduced. 

  Now for the "numbers" portion of our legislative wrap-up. This year, over 1,400 bills were filed. As always, we read each and every summary back in January and February. From there, we narrowed the list down to about 250 bills and then further trimmed it to just over 30 pieces of legislation that we felt would have the biggest impact on the entire labor movement. We kept a close eye on other issues as well, such as school vouchers, the IMPROVE Act (also known as the gas tax bill) and bills dealing with elections/voting. As we've done in past years, the top "good" and "bad" bills from this session are listed below. Remember, these are simply the bills that we've identified as the most influential for working families. To read more about the legislation, access video clips and more, click on the bill number (House or Senate)
. We'll be discussing this much more in depth at our 30th Biennial Convention in August. 

  If you missed any of our weekly updates during session, click here to read them. Once again, thanks to all of you for your hard work. We'll see you at the Capitol in 2018! 
Top "Good" Bills
HB 1387 by Jernigan/SB 668 by Harris: This bill would enact the "Save Tennessee Call Center Jobs Act." 
Status: Never heard in the House or Senate

HB 618 by Staples/SB 851 by BriggsThis caption bill is part of the campaign to stop the governor's outsourcing plan and begin taking back legislative oversight from the executive branch. It was one of several pieces of legislation that focused on similar issues related to privatization. 
Status: Taken off notice in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate 

HB 1246 by Clemmons/ SB 1106 by Kyle: M aking a repeat appearance from last year, this would enact the "Tennessee Pay Equality Act," which would prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of sex. 
Status: Failed (for the third time) in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate

HB 80 by Hardaway/ SB 1411 by KyleThis bill would establish a $15 minimum wage beginning on July 1, 2017. It was one of several bills filed this year that would increase the minimum wage in Tennessee. 
Status: Action deferred until 2018 in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate

HB 1184 by Powell/ SB 1141 by Kyle: T his piece of legislation would require that all employees be given six weeks of paid leave for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth or nursing.  
Status: Action deferred until 2018 in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate

Honorable Mention 

HB 846 by Fitzhugh/ SB 833 by YarbroThis bill authorizes the governor to expand Medicaid according to the ACA (somewhat of a "resurrection" of Insure Tennessee).
Status: Taken off notice in the House/Never heard in the Senate
Top "Bad" Bills

HB 358 by Sexton, C./ SB 638 by Gardenhire: This bill  would prohibit TSEA members from having their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. While the bill specifically targeted one group, it had the potential to be amended to target ALL public employees.  
Status: Taken off notice in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate

HB 356 by Dunn/ SB 404 by GreshamAmong other things, this bill adds language that allows a local board of education to provide payroll deduction for dues of professional employees' organizations, but does not require an LEA to do so. This bill has a high probability of coming back in some form next year.
Status: Failed in the House/Awaiting further action in the Senate (currently in the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee)

HB 668 by Hill, M./ SB 944 by KetronThis bill would give immunity to drivers who hurt someone who is blocking traffic while protestin g.
Status: Failed in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate

HB 54 by Zachary/SB 127 by GreenThis piece of legislation deals with local control, specifically the legislature's desire to eradicate it. The bill prohibits state and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a business based on the business's internal policies. You can read more about it by clicking here.
Status: Action deferred until 2018 in the House/Passed 25-5-3 in the Senate

HB 979 by Calfee/ SB 473 by RobertsSimilar to 2016's "Right to Earn a Living Act," this enacts the "Freedom to Prosper Act," which limits how local governments may regulate occupations.
Status: Passed 69-17 in the House/Passed 26-2 in the Senate; signed into law by Governor Haslam on May 9, 2017

Dishonorable Mention

HB 508 by Lamberth/ SB 445 by Stevens: This bill opens cities and counties to lawsuits if they do not allow guns in public facilities but don't provide metal detectors to enforce their decision. Many public places, including courthouses, libraries and arenas are exempt from the bill. According to this article, bus systems are the primary target. Several of our ATU members have concerns about this bill. 
Status: Passed 70-24 in the House/Passed 26-6 in the Senate; bill is currently awaiting Governor Haslam's signature. 
Alyssa Hansen, Communications Director
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