What's Ahead For 2018?

  Almost seven months ago to the day, legislators adjourned for the first half of the 110th General Assembly. With Republicans controlling all three branches of the federal government, both chambers of our state legislature and the Tennessee governor's office, we were expecting an onslaught of bad bills aimed at hurting working families. For reasons that we are still trying to understand, we did not face a particularly large amount of dangerous legislation. However, that's not to say that we coasted through session! From several bills that sought to eliminate payroll dues deductions, to one that allowed guns on buses and drew deserved criticism from our ATU members, lawmakers made it clear that they weren't concerned with the best interests of all Tennesseans. We still had our work cut out for us, but things could have been much worse. To read our recap that was sent out in May, click here. 

  Unfortunately, there is little-to-no chance that the same thing will happen this year when the fun begins on Tuesday, January 9th. We've already heard rumblings that various special interest groups and their legislator friends will be after us with a vengeance. Couple that with the fact that many representatives and senators are either not running for re-election or running for a different office, and you've got the perfect recipe for a fast, frenzied and ultimately dangerous second half of the 110th General Assembly. Despite this, we'll continue to do what we've always done: stand up for our members and working families across our state. While we once again don't plan to file any legislation of our own due to the current Republican supermajorities in both chambers and the time that will be spent playing defense, we are happy to lobby for any good bills that are aimed at helping Tennesseans and improving their quality of life. A special note to keep in mind this year: legislators' offices and committee rooms have now been moved to the renovated Cordell Hull Office Building.
  As we did last December, we've compiled a brief rundown of some of the bills that we expect to make an appearance over the next few months. This is by no means a complete list, just an early idea of what we're anticipating so that all of us can be ready to stand up and fight. In our first legislative update (which will likely be sent out in late January), we'll also go over some of the personnel changes that have taken place since May. It's been nearly impossible to keep up with who will be leaving office, who has filled an open seat, etc., so we want to make sure that we communicate accurate information! If you have any questions about any of the bills below or anything in this preview, please don't hesitate to contact any of our lobbyists (A.J., Alyssa, Adren and Jerry). We look forward to working with all of you to protect and strengthen the Tennessee labor movement!        
Pending & Potential Legislation

  These are some of the major issues/bills that we dealt with last year that didn't pass. Whether it got hung up in the committee system or never saw the light of day, this legislation poses the most danger at this point. Of course, barely any new bills have been filed yet, so we can't say whether or not there will be multiples of anything that's listed below. Something important to remember for the second half of session:  if a bill was killed in one chamber but not the other, its companion could still pass. However, it's unlikely that a lawmaker would want to run a bill
that was voted down in 2017, and he or she would likely just refile a new piece of legislation that seeks to accomplish the same goals. Once again, please let us know if you have any questions. 

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 targets one group, it has the potential to be amended to target ALL public employees.  
Status: Taken off notice in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate. This bill is almost guaranteed to come back in some form (or even this version.) 

HB 356 by Dunn/ SB 404 by Gresham: Among 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) This bill would likely be refiled, since it failed in the House.

HB 668 by Hill, M. / SB 944 by Ketron : This bill would give immunity to drivers who hurt someone who is blocking traffic while protesting.
Status: Failed in the House/Sent to General Subcommittee in the Senate. This is another bill that would likely be refiled. 

Other Issues
  1. Workers' Comp. In recent years, a bill that would essentially make workers' compensation optional has popped up in committee every so often. There has been bipartisan opposition to this legislation, but we wouldn't be surprised if it came back in some form.
  2. Collective Bargaining Agreements. In 2015, former Representative Jeremy Durham and Senator Brian Kelsey filed a bill that would ban collective bargaining agreements between public employees and local governments, utility districts and other entities. Multiple groups stepped up to ensure that this bill was never brought up in committee. While there was nothing like this filed in 2017, it wouldn't be a shock to see another Tea Party legislator take a shot at passing a terrible bill that would devastate unions.
  3. Anything dealing with local control. This year, Senator Mark Green passed a bill that would prohibit state and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a business based on the business's internal policies. Its House sponsor, Representative Jason Zachary, chose to keep the bill in committee and run it in 2018. Given that this has already passed on the Senate floor, we expect this to be a high priority in January. Of course, pre-emption in general is a big issue in Tennessee, and we expect legislators to try to exert control over local governments on other issues.
Alyssa Hansen, Communications Director
1901 Lindell Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203  |   615.269.7111