Crazy or Important? Bills to Look Out For in the 2012 Tennessee Legislature

Four Bills Likely to Get the Most Attention

HB 2658/SB 2641: "authorizes replicas of certain historically-significant documents to be placed in public buildings"

Who doesn't want to see the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, right next to the United States Constitution, the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights?

SB 2580/HB 2725: "requires applicants for TANF benefits to undergo a drug test before receiving such benefits; restricts TANF benefits for positive drug test results under certain circumstances"

Sen. Stacey Campfield's bill has garnered support from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey but critics who might otherwise support it say it will cost too much money.

SB 49/HB 229: "requires that any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school must be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science"

Campfield's "Don't Say Gay" bill has been amended, but it's still alive and somewhat likely to pass, although Gov. Bill Haslam is iffy on signing it.

SB 760/HB 1153: "clarifies terms and policies associated with harassment, intimidation and bullying"

The so-called "anti-bullying" bill is a legislative priority for the Family Action Council of Tennessee and has been discussed on CNN. Still, no action has yet been taken on it this year.

Three Bills to Keep an Eye On

HB 2348/SB 2210: "revises various provisions governing pupil-teacher ratios and salaries"

Haslam's latest bill to reform education in Tennessee has drawn the wrath of the Tennessee Education Association, but Haslam says the changes will help local districts.

HB 2384/SB 2246: "enacts the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management (T.E.A.M.) Act of 2012"

Haslam's bill would simplify the hiring process for state employees but also make more of them at-will employees, who could be fired more easily.

SB 577/HB 291: "prohibits issuance of a water quality control permit that would alter any ridgeline that is more than 2,000 feet above sea level"

Is this the year that the Scenic Vistas Protection Act—a partial ban of mountaintop removal coal mining—will go somewhere? Only time will tell.