Bills #WeAreWatching This Week – March 6, 2017

Busy week in the Tennessee General Assembly. There are lots of bills that #WeAreWatching. This week, the bad bills seem mostly focused on anti-LGBT, anti-public schools, anti-reproductive rights, anti-immigration and any bills focused on further expanding our already lax gun laws.

There are good bills as well, including several focused on criminal justice reform, government transparency, and fairer elections.

How you can help:

  • Look through the bills and MAKE CALLS TO COMMITTEE MEMBERS! Especially when the committee members are YOUR representatives and senators. Calls can be quick, you can even leave voice mails at night! Call daily. Tell your friends to call, too!
  • Show up THIS AFTERNOON at the #MoralMondays Rally with signs, bill numbers, and your voice! Call out the bad bills BUT also thank the bill sponsors of the good bills! Bring friends!
  • Whenever possible, show up for committee hearings!
  • Share this post on social media!

March 7, 2017 – 1:30 pm

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

HB0297 / SB0265
Co-sponsors: Rep. Harold Love / Sen. Jeff Yarbro

Criminal Offenses – As introduced, reduces from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor the offense of possession of a small amount of marijuana not in excess of one-eighth ounce; punishes the offense by imposing a fine of no more than $50. – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 4 and Title 40.

What this means: Reduces simple possession of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor to a class C misdemeanor punishable only by $50 fine if the amount is one-eighth ounce or less. See fiscal note.

Committees: House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

HB0109 / SB1134
Co-sponsors: Rep. Antonio Parkinson and Sen. Sara Kyle

Controlled Substances – As introduced, increases the amount of marijuana possessed or exchanged under the offenses of simple possession or casual exchange from less than one-half ounce to less than one ounce; prohibits the inference of purpose of selling or otherwise dispensing when the substance possessed or exchanged was less than one ounce of marijuana. – Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 40.

What this means: The bill increases the amount of marijuana that one can possess or casually exchange from one-half ounce to one ounce; Increases from one-half ounce to one ounce the minimum amount of marijuana for which someone can be prosecuted for manufacturing, delivering, selling, or possessing with intent; Prohibits a jury from inferring that someone possessing or casually exchanging marijuana in an amount less than one ounce was possessing or exchanging for the purpose of selling or distributing. See fiscal note.

Committees: House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

HB0872 / SB1394
Co-Sponsors: Rep. Raumesh Akbari and Sen. Reginald Tate

Education – As introduced, prohibits the suspension or expulsion of students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten unless the student’s behavior endangers the physical safety of other students or school personnel. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 1; Title 49, Chapter 10; Title 49, Chapter 2; Title 49, Chapter 5 and Title 49, Chapter 6.

What this means: This bill prohibits the suspension or expulsion from school of a pre-kindergarten through kindergarten (pre-K-K) student unless the student’s behavior endangers the physical safety of other students or school personnel as determined by the director of schools.See fiscal note.

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

HB0636 / SB1253
Co-Sponsors: Rep. Raumesh Akbari and Sen. Mark Norris

Juvenile Offenders – As introduced, makes various changes to the expunction of juvenile court records, including creating a process for the expunction of juvenile court records for cases in which the juvenile successfully completed pretrial or judicial diversion. – Amends TCA Section 37-1-153 and Section 40-32-101.

What this means: Makes various changes to the procedure for expunging juvenile records. See fiscal note.

 

March 7, 2017 – 3:00 pm

PUBLIC EDUCATION

HB0126 / *SB0161
Co-Sponsors: Rep. Harry Brooks and Sen. Brian Kelsey

School Vouchers – As introduced, enacts the “Opportunity Scholarship Pilot Program.” – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 1.

What this means: This bill would create a voucher program in Memphis called “Opportunity Scholarship Pilot Program.” Authorizes eligible students to apply for and receive scholarships to attend participating private schools. See fiscal note.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION/LGBT RIGHTS

HB0888 / SB0771
Co-sponsors: Rep. Mark Pody and Sen. Mae Beavers

Students – As introduced, requires students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students’ birth certificates. – Amends TCA Title 49.

What this means: Would force all public schools and public colleges and universities to enact policies requiring people to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the sex shown on their birth certificate.  A similar bill was filed last year and withdrawn after protests and the Tennessee attorney general’s opinion that the legislation could cost the state upwards of $1.5 billion. No fiscal note available.

 

ELECTIONS/VOTING RIGHTS

HB0654 / SB1135
Co-sponsors: Rep. Larry Miller and Sen. Sara Kyle

As introduced, authorizes a person to appeal to the state election commission with five days the rejection of a provisional ballot; requires the ballot to be counted if the commission determines that the ballot was lawfully cast; requires the commission to promulgate rules establishing the procedures for an appeal.

What this means: Voters cast provisional ballots when denied the ability to vote in person because of an address issue, having been purged from voter rolls, or if they do not have a state-issued photo ID. This bill would help ensure these ballots are counted and not set aside – and sets up a procedure for appealing the vote not being counted. See fiscal note.

 

March 8, 2017 – 1:30 pm

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

HB0004 / SB0221
Co-sponsors: Rep. Antonio Parkinson and Sen. Lee Harris

Probation and Parole – As introduced, requires the board of probation and parole to meet and order the release of a parolee whose parole has been revoked and who has been reincarcerated as the result of being charged with an offense committed while on parole if that charge is dismissed. – Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 28.

What this means: This bill requires the board of probation and parole to meet and order the release of an incarcerated parolee if the charges for which the parolee is incarcerated are dismissed. See fiscal note.

Committee: House Criminal Justice Committee