February 22, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
February 22, 2018
Just as the outdoor temperatures have risen, so has the pace of the General Assembly. This week we give you a quick recap of some of the hottest issues. And for those interested in the campaign season of 2018, the past week gave rise to new ads, new accusations and plenty of sharp elbows. We guarantee it is going to be a long hot summer. 

Tennessee General Assembly:
Weekly Calendars

Senate’s weekly calendar click  HERE .
House of Representative’s weekly committee calendar click  HERE
House of Representative’s weekly subcommittee calendar
click HERE
Additional Meetings:
House Finance Ways & Means will hold budget hearings on Monday (9:00am to 1:00pm)

Joint Government Operations will hold two hearings on Monday:
  • 1:00pm a Self Sufficiency Hearing for those entities not collecting enough funds to cover their expenses; and
  • 1:30pm a Rule Review hearing for those agencies who have rules about to go into effect.

On Monday at 2:00pm the Council on Pensions & Insurance will also meet to discuss legislation before the General Assembly. 
Senate Pre-Commerce will likely meet Tuesday, Feb. 27th at 7:30am. 
**New location this year: 8th Floor of the Cordell Hull Building.

On Thursday the Advisory Council Workers’ Compensation will meet to review all Workers Compensation Legislation.  Here is the Agenda
Legislative Activity heats up as House and Senate Committees Ramp up

This week a number of important legislative proposals were heard in both House and Senate Committees. On behalf of business & industry, the Tennessee Chamber is working to enact, defeat, support or modify the proposals to ensure they will not negatively impact Tennessee employers. Here is a sample of important legislation considered this week:

HB 1881 / SB 1849 Rep. Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg) and Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) as amended would have permanently established Tennessee in the eastern time zone. The bill failed in the State Government Subcommittee. Chamber members noted concerns of the legislation in codifying a permanent time change placing Tennessee in a different position than our surrounding 7 states. Committee members noted the confusion to business & industry in modifying shift schedules and coordinating trucking schedules as a concern of the proposed bill.

HB 2484 / SB 2336 Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden), Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville ) as proposed would remove criminal liability for possession of a firearm on posted premises for a permit holder who immediately leaves posted premises upon being asked to do so. The Tennessee Chamber noted our concerns that the proposal would authorize employees to carry firearms while at work despite company prohibitions. The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Andy Holt acknowledged the concerns of the Tennessee Chamber and noted his commitment to protecting Tennessee’s status as a full right to work state and agreed to amendatory language supported by the Tennessee Chamber and other groups. The bill was rolled for one week by a committee vote of 6-4.

HB 1899 / SB 1904 Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) as proposed would authorize the Tennessee Human Rights Commission to investigate and require reasonable accommodation for disability claims in Tennessee. Tennessee Chamber members have noted concerns about the proposal that would drastically expand the scope of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission allowing the “stacking” of claims against employers at the state and federal level. The legislation was rolled in both the House and Senate Committees
What to look for Next week...

Workers’ compensation – All proposed workers’ compensation legislation will be given a preliminary hearing in the workers’ compensation advisory council on March 1 st @ 1:30 PM CST prior to hearing in both House and Senate standing committees. To view the committee hearing via streaming please visit capitol.tn.gov and click streaming video. The Tennessee Chamber expects little activity in the area and has proposed legislation to help employers by repealing statute requiring that all TPA’s maintain an instate office.

Medicinal marijuana – Expect spirited discussion around medical marijuana as a House subcommittee announced plans to hear the legislation next week. The issue brings strong divide among legislators on this issue. Through surveys and visits, Tennessee Chamber members have expressed mixed opinions about the measure noting varied impacts to Tennessee’s economy, reducing opioid dependency and negative workplace impacts.

Further Discussion on Opioids – Last week a House subcommittee advanced competing opiod legislation ahead of Governor Haslam’s TN Together proposal. The Tennessee Medical Association has challenged Haslam’s plan as intervening too far with doctors and patient relationships. We expect the legislature will reach a compromise on the proposed legislation in the coming weeks. The Tennessee Chamber supports efforts to address the opioid abuse epidemic.

CyberSecurity Legislation – Proposed legislation for the third year in a row seeks to make additional modifications to Tennessee statute governing requirements of disclosing data breech information. The Tennessee Chamber is working to modify this proposal and address concerns for all parties.

Environmental Permit Shield – Legislation brought by the Tennessee Chamber is scheduled to be heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee next week. The proposal clarifies and reestablishes a state water permit shield for activities authorized under a permit. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has noted their concerns with the proposed bill establishing a permit shield for all water permits, TDEC prefers a shield only for NPDES permits. Negotiations are continuing on the bill with TDEC members of the Tennessee General Assembly and business and industry groups. 
Governor's Plan to Restructure UT Board of Trustees
Draws Concerns
Haslam wants to slash 27-member governing board to 11 members

In his last year of office, the governor is asking the General Assembly to slash the 27-member board of trustees to 11 members. The plan also calls for creating four advisory boards at the system's four campuses, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a move apparently intended to soothe potential concerns in counties with campuses that will lose current statutorily mandated appointments to the board.

"I've been pretty open that I think the current board with 27 members is too large," Haslam said recently of the bill which would remove governors from their customary spot on the board as well. "My sense is that the bigger a board gets that nobody really feels ownership and accountability for it."  Read more in the Chattanooga Times Free Press to understand why some are opposed.
U.S. Civil Rights Trail Includes 10 Tennessee Locations

Commissioner Kevin Triplett joined Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and many local dignitaries in Memphis to dedicate the ten Tennessee locations that are part of the newly-launched U.S. Civil Rights Trail. You can digitally explore the sites in Tennessee and across the country. Better yet plan a visit.  

"Experience the legacy of the people, places and events that defined the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee by exploring historic sites such as Clark Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville, Green McAdoo Cultural Center and Clinton 12 Statues in Clinton, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis featuring the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. King’s assassination."

Credit: https://civilrightstrail.com/state/tennessee/
TN SENATE recap. 

Late last week former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher announced he was no longer and candidate to replace Bob Corker. In making his exit Fincher fanned the flames and encouraged U.S. Senator Bob Corker to reconsider retirement, and run for another term. To date Corker has not signaled his intensions.  Victor Ashe gives his blunt perspective in a Knox News article that ran earlier this week.  Plenty of national publications have picked up on the dynamics of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race as a keystone to holding the Senate Majority. Seems like 2006 all over again.

For Corker supporters there is one pressing issue, current U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has been clear she is running regardless of Corker’s decision.  Blackburn’s backers have also communicated they will not retreat even if Corker gets in the race. 

Blackburn’s Team has been aggressively capitalizing on the void in the race noting strong polling in the primary. Her spokesperson aggressively pushed back at doubters using the terms “sexist pig” and “tired old men” in a recent NY Times article .   It appears Blackburn plans to build momentum, accelerate her endorsements want to keep and send enough signals to keep Corker out of the race.  This week 18 Republican State Senators and the Lt. Governor publically endorsed Masha Blackburn for U.S. Senate. 

TN Governor recap. 

As in the Senate race, plenty of news has broken in the Governor race in the last week. Here is the biggest news in the last week.  

We finally have a poll with a ballot test question.  The Tennessee Journal  has an internal poll on the Republican primary race for Governor that shows  a tight three-way race among  Randy Boyd, Diane Black and Bill Lee  with House Speaker  Beth Harwell  a distant fourth. And about 30 percent of the 600 likely Republican primary voters are undecided in the August statewide primary.

Harwell has made her own news this week, when she released a TV advertisement . It is a skillful ad that highlights her personal record as Speaker without actually mentioning the Governor race. It didn’t take long for critics to cry foul. Now, the Nashville Post reports that two complaints have been filed against Harwell for her campaign report and the TV ad. 

We are in the middle of writing a recap of all the Governor’s races. Stay tuned for next week’s edition.  
Business and a Biscuit Legislative Series
A Fast Paced Preview of the Legislative Week Ahead

Week #6: Monday, February 26, 2018
10:00am – 10:30am CST
Location: TN Chamber Office, 414 Union Street, Nashville, TN 37219

**Join in person or dial-in by phone**
RSVP email required: info@tnchamber.org
And Finally to the General Assembly

In the past week two more members of the Legislature have decided to call it quits.

St. Rep Johnnie Turner (D-Memphis) announced her retirement last Friday.

Then this week…
St. Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) announced he won't seek re-election this fall.

For those keeping count at home, in January 2019 Tennessee will have at least 25 new State Representatives and 5 new State Senators. With current numbers we are approaching 25% turnover in one cycle from retirements, pursuit of other offices and resignations following federal appointments. As Pat Nolan recently recounted at our Annual Meeting, you have to go all the way back to Reconstruction to find such a massive change in the State’s Legislative body. 

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry | www.tnchamber.org
(615) 256-5141 | info@tnchamber.org