How state legislators sponsor, move a bill

Sunday, April 15, 2018

“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

— Conrad Hilton

I want to let all of you know how it works at the legislature to sponsor a bill and move it through the General Assembly. I will give you a step by step account by telling you about one of my bills (HB 1978) this Session.

In early January, just after Session started, I met with some business people I know and they asked me to listen and learn about a possible piece of legislation. They wanted to see if I could help. The bill was brought to me from a company named Handy, which is an internet based business that connects people who have chores or tasks with workers who want to do the job. The workers are normally considered to be independent contractors, which means that they work for themselves and not the company.

The reason for this legislation was because Handy had been sued in some states because the states said that the workers were employees and that workers compensation insurances and state taxes should be paid by Handy.

We drafted legislation which states plainly what is considered an independent contractor in an internet platform company and filed it with the House Clerk. The clerk’s office assigned the bill to the Consumer and Human Resources Committee. We had several meetings with the Workers Compensation Council and the Tennessee Department of Labor to make sure that we were not causing any unintended consequences with our language. After both groups signed off on the proposed language, we put the bill on notice with the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee.

Given the subject matter of the bill, before it could be heard in committee, we had to take it before the Workers Compensation Advisory Council where it easily passed 5-0. The next step was to pass the bill in the subcommittee. From there, it then moved to the full committee where it also passed. In each committee meeting, I was asked many questions and we had testimony from people on both sides of the bill. We even heard from the attorney for Handy out of New York.

From those committees, we then went to the Calendar and Rules Committee and finally to the House Floor where it was debated for about 30 minutes and ultimately passed with 66 “yes” votes. The Senate bill was slightly different from my bill, so they brought it back up in the Senate and agreed to adopt our version of the language. It then was signed by the Governor this week and is now Public Chapter 648.

This week we passed the bill to allow wine to be sold in package and grocery stores on Sunday. There was an amendment added to the legislation on the House floor which keeps the sales from happening on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This was a hotly debated bill that was worked on for a couple of years.

Another bill of interest was HB 1993, which requires any prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance in Tennessee to be made as an electronic prescription from the person issuing the prescription to the pharmacy. By enacting this legislation, we hope to stop a lot of fraud in written prescriptions.

This week, I got an interesting message from the Tennessee Lottery Corporation which presented some very interesting facts that I would like to share with you.

Lottery funds for education:

• 2017 contribution- $386.7 million

•Total funding since inception- $4.2 billion

•$333.8 million was awarded to 127,635 students in the 2016-2017 academic year

•Total students since inception- More than 1 million

•More than $13.8 million in lottery funds were used to support 72 K-12 after school programs that served 17,239 students throughout Tennessee

•During the 2017 fiscal year, Tennessee Lottery players won $962.2 million in prizes.

As always, feel free to stop by my office at the Cordell Hull Building Suite 540 or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov. You can also find information on my new Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com