One of the great things about lots of new people getting involved this year is that more people are learning about the legislative process. So here are some questions we're getting frequently.
When will these bad bills come up for a vote?
When the sponsor of the bill or the various committees put them on notice/schedule them for a vote. So right now we don't know whether they will run their bills this month or in late March. Typically, we will know what is coming up the following week by Thursday of each week.
Should I be contacting my legislators now about all these bills?
You can. You can contact your legislators or the Governor about this legislation any time you want. Legislators are usually more interested in particular bills when they are actually moving, that is, when they are scheduled for committee or floor votes. They are, after all, dealing with a huge number of bills. So TEP typically will ask you to contact legislators when bills are moving.
"OMG! They filed the bathroom bill twice—one in the House and one in the Senate!"
Exactly right! (This one is more of an exclamation than a question we get). In order to reach the Governor's desk, identical companion bills have to pass both Senate and House. That is true of all bills. Usually, the bill will advance in one of the two chambers first and then if it is successful it will begin to advance in the other chamber.
Why do they keep deferring SB127 (or any bill)?
This is also called rolling a bill. Bills get rolled often when there is some controversy around them and when there are questions that need more time for exploration. The bill sponsor will sometimes roll a bill at the request of another member. Sometimes a sponsor will roll a bill if he or she doesn't have the votes to pass the bill.
Thanks for all your engagement. Keep learning about the process!
Chris Sanders is Executive Director at the Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Photo credit: Jennifer Sheridan