House subs shutting down this week

Most state House subcommittees plan to hold their final meetings of the 2015 session this week, which means that hundreds of bills pending in the panels will either advance to the next step or quietly die.

A review of scheduled for the subcommittees seeking a shutdown indicated the House State Government Subcommittee has the longest list of pending votes with 84 bills on notice for Wednesday’s meeting.

They range from Gov. Bill Haslam’s move to abolish longevity pay for state employees — a measure (HB647) that the administration has agreed to revise substantially in hopes of eliminating objections from several lawmakers — to a bill (HB615) that would proclaim the Holy Bible as Tennessee’s official state book.

The latter bill would seem to have a good chance of passage if it clears the subcommittee since a majority of members of both the House and Senate have signed on as co-sponsors. In the House, 53 of the 99 members have joined sponsor Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, in officially backing the bill. In the Senate, 19 of the 33 senators are co-sponsors along with Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown.

The lightest workload for subcommittees planning to close is in the House Transportation Subcommittee, where just 16 bills are to scheduled for consideration. They include a measure (HB770) by Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, to require seat belts on school buses and this year’s effort to repeal a state law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets (HB700).

House Speaker Beth Harwell earlier this year split the former House Education Committee into two panels, each with its own subcommittee. If the two resulting subcommittees — Education Instruction and Programs along with Education Administration and Planning — were combined, they would have a total of 82 bills on notice. That’s 34 for Instruction and Programs; 48 for Administration and Planning.

Note: The Tennessean has a review of abortion bills on the 46-bill agenda in the final calendar of the House Health Subcommittee. And the 51-bill House Civil Justice Subcommittee calendar has some gun bills up for a last try.