Greetings Folks of the Fortieth…
Well, summer is finally here and I for one am very excited! I am really looking forward to returning home and getting the opportunity to spend some quality time with the fabulous folks of the fortieth!
House passes legislation to encourage energy efficiency
This week the House considered legislation that would require international building codes be met for new home construction. The legislation would not affect every county in the state, as some counties already have more stringent requirements than what is stipulated in the bill. In addition to traditional building codes, the legislation also includes required energy conservation standards that would apply to new home construction.
We debated the bill at length on the House floor, where we shared concerns ranging from increasing the cost of new homes to taking away from the autonomy of local governments. Proponents of the measure said the legislation would make homes safer and more energy efficient, which would ultimately result in cost savings.
After several hours of debate, the legislation was amended to allow for local governments to opt out of the requirements. Each time a new county commission is installed the body will have to pass a resolution by two-thirds in order to opt out. The final version of Senate Bill 2300 passed with an 82 to 12 vote.
House to consider constitutional amendment giving Tennesseans the right to hunt and fish
House Joint Resolution 149 was read for the second time this week in the House, meaning it will be up for final consideration by the House next week. If passed by a 2/3 majority of the General Assembly, the constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot in a 2010 voter referendum. The constitutional amendment gives Tennesseans the right to hunt and fish.
The resolution states that, “hunting and fishing are a vital part of this state's heritage and economy and should be preserved and protected.” The sponsor has said that Tennessee has always enjoyed hunting and fishing as a leisure activity, and the amendment was necessary to clarify that Tennesseans have a constitutional right to pursue wild game that cannot be infringed upon the legislature, courts, or local authorities.
House, Senate pass menu labeling pre-emption
A bill that would bar some local entities from requiring nutritional labeling on menus has passed both the House and Senate. The legislation comes as other states, municipalities and cities are passing or considering laws that mandate chain restaurants put calories and other nutritional information on menus.
Lawmakers arguing in favor of the bill said that mandating chain restaurants to put certain nutritional information on menus places an unnecessary burden on restaurant owners in an already struggling economy and creates an atmosphere that is unfriendly to business owners. They also said that often, the laws are selective, targeting only large restaurant chains.
The legislation was amended to prohibit non-elected bodies from making the decision to require nutritional information on menus. It also specifies that if the federal government passes legislation requiring menu labeling and the federal action specifically authorizes state departments to enforce such action, then the Tennessee Department of Health will be the department that is primarily responsible for the implementation and supervision of the new requirements.
Also this week…
Two new nominees to the State Election Commission were confirmed on Wednesday in a joint legislative session of the General Assembly. The move to place the two members, Kent Younce of LaFollette and Judy Blackburn of Morristown, on the Commission honors a long-standing state law to give the majority party in the Tennessee General Assembly a one vote edge on the State Election Commission.
House Bill 250 passed the House this week, and creates an offense for any owner, occupant, or other person having a lawful right to the exclusive use of property to knowingly allow an underage adult to consume alcoholic beverages, wine or beer on such property.
House Bill 804 seeks to allow a parent that has been granted court-ordered visitation with their minor child or children who has been called to active duty military service, to petition the court for the temporary assignment of that parent’s visitation rights to a legal or biological relative or relatives. The petition must state the relative that the parent is requesting to maintain contact with the child during the parent’s absence and shall include a proposed visitation schedule with such relative. The bill, having now passed both the Senate and the House, is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.
As the Senate remained in session on Friday, June 12 to take up budgetary matters, the House Budget Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon to begin their discussions. Although we are hopeful session will adjourn for the year next week, both parties acknowledge that with an unprecedented budget shortfall wrapping up session next week may not be possible.
As always, I am so honored to represent each and every one of you! Please continue to keep me and the rest of the Legislature in your thoughts and prayers. Hope to see you all very soon! Blessings!