Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus and House Republicans Weekly Wrap Up

Capitol Hill Week

Legislation addressing Tennessee’ opioid crisis and protecting victims of crime headline Capitol Hill Week

Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email: darlene.schlicher@capitol.tn.us


(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 1, 2018 – The pace quickened this week on Capitol Hill as the State Senate approved major legislation addressing Tennessee’s opioid crisis and a number of bills protecting Tennessee’s most vulnerable victims of crime.

Major legislation addressing Tennessee’s opioid crisis overcame its first hurdle this week with passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 2258, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), is one of two proposals in Governor Bill Haslam’s TN Together plan to combat opioid abuse. The legislation addresses the law enforcement and treatment components of the three-pronged plan, while the other component is prevention.

This bill revises various provisions of the law regarding the scheduling of controlled substances and their analogues and derivatives, including updated identifications of drugs categorized in Schedules I-V. The updated schedule of controlled substances would allow law enforcement to better track, monitor and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs, including substances that mimic the effects of fentanyl, a drug that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and is linked to an alarming number of overdose deaths.

“Fentanyl has come into this state and has become a very serious drug,” said Senator Yager. “It has contributed to many deaths.  Sometimes it is used to cut other drugs and is mixed with them, which has led to the deaths of users who are not aware of its potency.”

The legislation provides incentives for offenders in correctional facilities to complete intensive substance use treatment program while incarcerated. An increasing number of offenders suffer from substance use disorders. These evidence-based programs are proven to reduce recidivism and improve lives while saving taxpayer dollars.

“Many of the people coming to prison have drug addictions, and if we can’t fix that problem and we let them back on the street with a drug problem, we’re likely to see them again,” added Yager.

Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from an opioid-related overdose, which is more than the number of daily traffic fatalities. Since 1999, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths nationwide, including prescription opioids and heroin, has quadrupled.

“Through this multifaceted approach, Tennessee can be successful in its continued fight against the opioid epidemic and reverse the addiction, overdose and illicit distribution trends that continue to plague the state and nation,” Yager concluded.

The prevention component of the TN Together Plan, Senate Bill 2257, sponsored by Norris and Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

State Senate advances bills strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence

Several bills strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence advanced in the State Senate this week, including final approval of legislation that helps survivors maintain access to life-saving resources and their support network. Senate Bill 1796, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), allows victims of domestic abuse to petition the court to keep the wireless telephone used primarily by them or their children as part of an order of protection. If granted, the petitioner would assume all billing responsibilities for the telephone service.

Current law provides no mechanism for victims of domestic violence to alter a shared family plan wireless telephone contract when the abuser is the primary account holder and refuses to release the number. As the account holder, the abuser then has access to the survivor’s cell phone records and may be able to use the victim’s device to track his or her whereabouts.

“Allowing victims to use their wireless phones is important to their safety,” said Senator Ketron. “Having to purchase a new cell phone and obtaining a new phone number are unnecessary barriers for survivors of domestic violence who are simply trying to escape from an abusive relationship. This legislation will make it easier for survivors to fully remove themselves from these dangerous situations.”

Nine states have passed similar legislation. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that in 2016 more than 78,000 domestic violence crimes were reported to the police. Ninety-one Tennesseans were murdered in domestic violence situations during that same time. These cases account for more than 51 percent of all crimes against individuals reported.

In other action, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved “Safe at Home” legislation to help survivors of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, stalking and other crimes who have relocated or are about to relocate, in their effort to keep their abusers from finding them. Senate Bill 1935, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), will allow victims to take back their lives by preventing an abuser from locating them through public records searches and inflicting additional harm.

“Domestic violence is a horrible crime,” said Senator Kelsey. “The Safe at Home program will offer victims of domestic abuse a path to escape their abusers and start a new life.”

The Safe at Home program provides victims with a government-managed substitute address for both themselves and their children, which can then be used to obtain a driver’s license, register to vote and complete most other government forms without disclosing the participant’s home address.  Participants may also request that other non-governmental entities, like employers or private businesses, use this address as well. The Secretary of State’s office will receive all mail sent to the substitute address and then forward that mail to the participant. The program has been implemented in more than 35 states across the country.

Judiciary Committee members also approved Kelsey’s legislation which provides two ways to increase victim safety when a court finds there is probable cause to believe an alleged abuser either caused serious bodily injury to a victim of domestic abuse or used or displayed a deadly weapon. Senate Bill 1735 deletes the present requirement that a temporary order of protection be issued at the respondent’s initial appearance, even if another protection is already in place.  The proposal amends the current bond conditions statute to require the court or magistrate in these circumstances to impose the twelve-hour hold, provide victim notification, and issue a no contact order as a condition of bail.

“When a hearing takes place, it will not require a victim to be present and come back and have to testify against a person with whom they may have a very close relationship, which can be a difficult thing for these victims to do. This bill simply gives judges the discretion to make those no contact orders part of the conditions for release on bond.”

Finally, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 1871 which changes the service requirements for an order of protection to allow for a copy to be sent as either certified mail or registered mail. Currently, orders of protection are delivered through a process server or a deputy sheriff. The bill is sponsored by Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol).

Senators approve legislation continuing General Assembly’s ongoing efforts to combat Human Trafficking

Three bills continuing the Tennessee General Assembly’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking advanced in the State Senate this week. This includes Senate Bill 2517, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), which makes promoting prostitution punishable as trafficking for a commercial sex act when the victim has an intellectual disability. The action would allow prosecutors to charge a defendant with a Class D, instead of a Class E, felony, stiffening penalties for the crime.

The legislation follows a Department of Justice study which showed the rate of serious violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, for persons with disabilities was more than three times the rate of other victims.

“This bill is a step in the right direction to help ensure this vulnerable population is protected,” Ketron said.  The bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, now heads to the full Senate for a final vote.

The Judiciary Committee also approved a bill protecting the records of trafficking victims who seek treatment from service providers during their recovery process.

Current law makes confidential the records of domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers. Senate Bill 1656, sponsored by Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon), provides human trafficking service providers to this list to aid recovery efforts for victims.

“Human trafficking victims have pronounced interests in privacy as do the organizations and task forces that serve them,” added Sen. Stevens. “The need for confidentiality is important to their recovery and safety from future exploitation.”

This bill also heads to the Senate floor for final consideration.

Finally, the full Senate approved a proposal which creates a path for juvenile and adult victims of human trafficking to have their records expunged. Senate Bill 2505, sponsored by Ketron, expands the list of offenses eligible for expunction to include convictions for prostitution and aggravated prostitution, if the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the conduct occurred as a result of the person being a victim of human trafficking.

“This bill will give victims of human trafficking an opportunity to clear their record and move forward with their lives as productive citizens,” Ketron concluded.

The legislation advancing this week builds on the General Assembly’s ongoing efforts to attack the problem of human trafficking. The General Assembly has approved a series of bills over the past seven years addressing the problem after a 2011 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report showed 73 of the state’s 95 counties have reported the crime within their borders. These efforts earned Tennessee Shared Hope International’s ranking as first in the nation for fighting human trafficking. The group’s 2017 report card gave Tennessee a 96.5 rating.

Senate approves legislation designed to spur development of broadband services in Tennessee’s rural communities

Legislation designed to spur development of broadband services to Tennessee’s rural and unserved communities passed the State Senate unanimously this week. The bill, sponsored by Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston), amends the Rural Electric Community Services Cooperative Act to compliment the changes that were made by the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act last year. That law, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville), set Tennessee on a responsible path to improve access to broadband through investment, deregulation, and education.

“Broadband is critical to commerce and the quality of life of every Tennessean and is essential for our current and future education and economic initiatives,” said Senator Yager. “The improved connectivity would also promote agriculture advancements and provide health care options like telemedicine, which are especially important to our rural communities.”

Senate Bill 1646 authorizes electric cooperatives (co-ops) to access existing property, right-of-ways or easements to supply broadband Internet services. The purpose is to make it clear that co-ops can use the property and easements they currently have for electric service to provide broadband Internet infrastructure in those same rights-of-ways. The proposal also clarifies that if an electric co-op enters into an agreement with a third party to provide telecommunications or broadband, they could only contract with parties that are otherwise permitted by law to provide those services.

Before passage of the Broadband Accessibility Act, co-ops were restricted from providing retail broadband or cable video services.  The act also called for $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. On Tuesday, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe told members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee that nine grants totaling $9.8 million have already been awarded as a result of the act, serving 5,200 locations in 13 counties. The act has also provided $109,000 in library grants to 52 libraries in Tennessee.

In 2016, a study addressing broadband in Tennessee found that 13 percent of Tennessee residents do not have access to broadband at federally recognized standards. While only two percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents are without coverage at recognized minimum standards due to low population density and challenging geography.

Teacher Sexual Misconduct bills receive final approval

The State Senate gave final approval to four of a series of five bills designed to protect children from teacher sexual misconduct. The legislative package follows a comprehensive report from Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson which revealed deficiencies in hiring practices for school personnel that could allow predators to slip through the cracks. Bills meeting final approval include:

Senate Bill 2015, sponsored by Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), which prohibits a Local Education Agency (LEA) from entering into a non-disclosure agreement with a teacher that would prevent other school districts from knowing about sexual misconduct. It also allows districts to access information about the previous employment of a teacher with another school district;

Senate Bill 2013, sponsored by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), which updates the state’s Teacher Code of Ethics regarding inappropriate teacher-student relationships, including engaging in sexual behavior with students or furnishing them alcohol or drugs;

Senate Bill 2011, sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), which grants the State Board of Education’s authority to reprimand school directors for not reporting instances of misconduct and clarifies the board’s authority to reprimand educators for violating the Teacher Code of Ethics; and,

Senate Bill 2012, sponsored by Senator Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), which calls for the State Board of Education to post all final teacher disciplinary action on its website to allow school districts, as well as out-of-state entities responsible for the licensing and hiring of Tennessee educators, to access information regarding the final disciplinary action of an individual’s license case. It also requires final licensure action be reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) database for the same purpose.

The fifth bill, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), is pending action in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Senate Bill 2014 would ensure that background checks are conducted to identify sexual predators before a teacher license is issued and that reports are done on an ongoing basis for those who work with children.

Legislation makes permanent Tennessee’s comprehensive and inclusive K-12 standards review process

Legislation which makes permanent Tennessee’s current process for adopting K-12 education standards was approved by the full Senate on Thursday. Passage of Senate Bill 574, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), lifts a sunset provision on a law passed in 2015 that created the nation’s most comprehensive and inclusive standards review process. That law was passed to replace the controversial Common Core education standards with a new set of standards crafted by Tennesseans.

The standards are in the four major study areas of English and language arts, math, science, and social studies.

“This process allowed Tennesseans to offer comments and feedback on each and every standard in these areas from grades K-12,” said Senator Gresham. “Since the enactment, there have been over 100,000 comments from Tennessee parents, educators, and other citizens.”

Gresham said that feedback was sent to teams of educators throughout the state who worked to revise and strengthen Tennessee’s K-12 standards. The standards were then sent to members of the Standards Recommendation Committee, who are subject to legislative confirmation, giving the legislature greater oversight in the process. The Recommendation Committee reports are submitted to the State Board of Education for further consideration and adoption.

“The people of Tennessee have become accustomed to a greater degree of transparency and influence on the academic standards in Tennessee schools,” said Senator Gresham. “The feedback from both participants and observers of the process was extremely positive, and so now we truly have ‘Tennessee’ standards.”

The standards will be reviewed on a six year rotating schedule. The bill further provides dedicated funding for this purpose that will be used specifically for the comprehensive standards review process.

In Brief…

Tennessee joins coalition of states asking court to hold ACA unconstitutional — Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced this week that Tennessee has joined a coalition of 20 states asking a federal district court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care (ACA) unconstitutional and to enjoin the entire law. “The lawsuit explains that in 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius,  the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the core provision of the ACA, the individual mandate, because the Court viewed the ACA’s penalty for not complying with the individual mandate as a tax,” said Slatery. “But now, with the recent passage of its tax reform package, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Congress has repealed this tax, while leaving the mandate in place.” He said that since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the individual mandate on Americans without invoking its taxing authority, the repeal of the tax renders the individual mandate unconstitutional.

Child Sex Offenders — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation this week ensuring sex offenders convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child are listed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.  In 2014, the General Assembly passed a bill creating the offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The statute allows prosecutors to try several counts of sexual offenses committed against a child victim in one trial and this prevents the child from having to testify about their victimization multiple times to several juries. However, when the law was passed, this new crime was not added to the state’s Sex Offender Registry. Senate Bill 1944, sponsored by Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), would add the offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child to the Sex Offender Registry as a violent offender.

Ending Emissions Testing – Legislation that would end mandatory emissions tests for vehicles in Tennessee overcame its first hurdle with approval by the Senate Transportation Committee. Senate Bill 2656, sponsored by Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), would apply to Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson Counties where the test is still required prior to vehicle registration or renewal. The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the State of Tennessee to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the federal standards for air quality. In August, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced that the entire State of Tennessee meets federal air quality health standards.

Victims of Child Pornography — The full Senate adopted a resolution on Thursday ratifying amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Procedure containing a key provision regarding how evidence related to the sexual exploitation of minors is maintained and inspected as part of a criminal proceeding. The measure follows legislation sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) last year designed to protect victims of child pornography from being victimized again through duplication of photos or videos, or a viewing of them by the defendant. The measure mirrors Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure adopted as a result of the Adam Walsh Act. Senate Resolution 166 provides that those documents that are objects discoverable under the Rules of Procedures must be kept with the state at a state facility, and the court may, in its discretion, permit other individuals to have access to the documents or objects if necessary to protect the rights of the defendant. “I am very pleased that this provision has been adopted as a part of this resolution to protect these children from being victimized again during the court process,” Ketron said.

Financial Institutions — The full Senate passed legislation this week amending Tennessee’s Financial Institution and Conversion Act to allow an out-of-state or federally chartered financial institution to apply to the Commissioner of Financial Institutions to convert to a Tennessee chartered financial institution.  Senate Bill 2243, sponsored by Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), would also make available a more direct and streamlined process for an out-of-state financial institution to move its headquarters and operations to Tennessee. Senator Johnson highlighted how this bill would continue to foster a vibrant, growing economy in Tennessee by attracting banks to expand here. “Because of the economic climate in the State of Tennessee, our regulatory environment, and our low tax system, Tennessee is a great place to do business. We’re getting more inquiries from banks outside the state that might want to move their principal headquarters into the State of Tennessee. You also ha

In God We Trust — On Wednesday, legislation was approved by the Senate Education Committee that seeks to place the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” in all Tennessee schools.   Senate Bill 2661, sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta), calls for the motto be displayed in a prominent location. The establishment of this motto was signed into law in 1956 by President Eisenhower, but was imprinted on U.S. coins and currency long before that time.

Go Build Tennessee — Legislation bolstering Tennessee’s Go Build Tennessee Program, which encourages and promotes career opportunities in the construction industry, was approved by the full Senate this week. Senate Bill 1922, sponsored by Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), extends the program until 2024 and clarifies that funds diverted from the contractor’s license for this purpose must be used solely for the implementation, administration and management of the non-profit program.  The goal is to encourage and promote career opportunities in Tennessee’s secondary schools, postsecondary schools, colleges of applied technology and community colleges due to the shortage of young people going into these high-demand jobs. The average age in the construction industry is 43. The Go Build Tennessee website features 109 in-state training programs of the top demanded occupations. These occupations include carpenters, welders, road builders, electricians, masons, equipment operators, plumbers, pipe fitters and more.

Blockchain Technology / Legal Authority — Legislation which recognizes the legal authority of “distributed ledger technology,” which includes “blockchain technology” used in smart contracts has received final Senate approval. Blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency Bitcoins, the technology is now appearing in a variety of commercial applications. Senate Bill 1662, sponsored by Senator Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville), gives any signature, record, or rights of ownership accomplished through distributed ledger technology full legal effect, validity and enforceability. The legislation seeks to make Tennessee more attractive for this technology.

Tanning Beds / Youth — The full Senate voted this week to approve legislation that seeks to protect the health of young persons who utilize tanning beds. Currently, teenagers over age 14 can go to a tanning bed without permission from their parents. Senate Bill 1495, sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile (R–Gallatin), requires that individuals 16 to 18 years old be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order to use a tanning bed for the first time. Those under the age of 16 would be prohibited. Melanoma is the second most prevalent kind of cancer in females ages 15 to 29. In 2009, the World Health Organization elevated the classification of tanning beds as a carcinogen to the same category as cigarettes.

Sterilization / Sentencing — A proposal by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) to prohibit Tennessee judges from offering defendants reduced jail time in exchange for sterilization passed the full Senate on Thursday. Senate Bill 2133 prohibits a sentencing court from making a sentencing determination based on defendant’s consent or refusal to any form of temporary or permanent birth control, sterilization, or family planning services, regardless of whether the defendant’s consent is voluntarily given. The bill is in response to a White County judge offering reduced jail time to defendants who volunteered for sterilization. Judge Sam Benningfield said his goal was to break a “vicious cycle” of repeat drug offenders with children. The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct found that Benningfield violated rules regarding judicial independence, integrity, and propriety. The legislation does not prohibit defendants from seeking sterilization services if they so choose.

Tennessee Reconnect Off To Record Start
Over 4,000 applications submitted in first week

Following the first week of the application process being officially open for adults to enroll tuition-free this fall at a community or technical college through Tennessee Reconnect, over 4,000 applications have been submitted — a record start in helping adults who want to go back to school to advance their futures.Tennessee Reconnect builds off the groundbreaking Tennessee Promise program — which provides high school graduates two years of tuition-free community or technical college — by establishing a last-dollar scholarship for adults to earn an associate degree or technical certificate free of tuition or mandatory fees.

Both Tennessee Reconnect and Tennessee Promise are programs under the Drive to 55, an initiative spearheaded by Republicans to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Studies show that by 2025, at least half the jobs in Tennessee will require a college degree or certificate.

Early results of the Tennessee Promise program show that students participating in the program are succeeding at higher rates than their peers. Tennessee is the first state in the nation to offer all citizens, both high school graduates and adults, the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate tuition-free.

For additional information about how to get involved with Tennessee Reconnect, click here. The application deadline is set for April 15, 2018.

Safe at Home’ Program Moves Forward In Committee Process

This week, House Republicans moved forward with the ‘Safe at Home’ program in the committee process, giving a positive vote to legislation that will help protect domestic abuse victims across Tennessee.

For many victims of domestic abuse, stalking, and similar crimes, escaping abusers is no easy task.

In 2016 alone, 78,100 domestic violence offenses were reported in Tennessee. In over 80 percent of these reported incidents, the primary victim was either a woman or a child. In over half of reported cases, the victim was physically injured. Victims may need to move to other towns, switch jobs, move their children to different schools, or even change their names just to escape their abusers.

Even then, abusers may still easily find them by searching public records online — and that is where House bill 2025 comes in.

As introduced, the legislation will create a program known nationally as ‘Safe at Home,’ which has been implemented by more than 35 states across the country. The goal is to help survivors of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, stalking, and other crimes in their efforts to keep their abusers from finding them. In doing so, the program will allow victims to take back their lives by preventing an abuser from locating them through public records searches and inflicting additional harm.

The ‘Safe at Home’ program provides victims with a government-managed substitute address, such as a post office box, for both themselves and their children, which can then be used to obtain a driver’s license, register to vote, and complete most other government forms without disclosing the participant’s home address.

Once enrolled, the participant can provide the substitute address to virtually all government entities in Tennessee. Participants may also request that other nongovernmental entities, such as their employers and other private businesses, use this address as well.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that in 2016, more than 78,000 domestic violence crimes, including stalking and rape, were reported to police. Ninety-one Tennesseans were murdered in domestic violence situations during that same time. These cases account for more than 51 percent of all crimes against individuals reported in 2016.

These dramatic statistics demonstrate that this program is a critical step toward protecting victims of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking, and similar crimes from any more trauma. This program will also make our communities safer by reducing crime for all Tennesseans.

House Republicans Give Back Through Hunters For The Hungry Initiative

House Republicans Give Back Through Hunters For The Hungry Initiative

Hunters for the Hungry is a unique program providing healthy protein to hungry Tennesseans. When hunters harvest a deer, they may donate it to Hunters for the Hungry at a participating processor. The venison is processed for free or at a reduced rate and then provided to area food banks or soup kitchens. One deer provides as many as 168 meals of venison.

The donations from House lawmakers will fund processing and distribution of venison to families residing in communities all across the state. Now in its 20th year, Hunters for the Hungry has provided nearly 6 million meals in that time thanks to neighbors giving back to neighbors.

With both 2015 and 2016 being record seasons for Hunters for the Hungry, House lawmakers hope donations this year will continue the trend to make the 2017 season the most impactful yet for those in need.

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation leads the conservation, sound management, and wise use of Tennessee’s great outdoors. Since 1946, the Federation has led the development of the state’s wildlife policy, advanced landmark legislation on air and water quality and other conservation initiatives, helped restore numerous species, and introduced thousands of kids to the great outdoors. To learn more, visit tnwf.org.

House Lawmakers Strengthen Protections For Parents & Children Involved In Custody Cases

This week, House lawmakers passed legislation that adds additional protections for parents and children involved in violent custody cases.

House Bill 1546 empowers a parent or legal guardian who has been the victim of an attempted murder to petition a judge to terminate parental rights of the individual convicted of the offense. The measure enhances current protections for children involved in these types of cases.

Additionally, it strengthens laws for parents or legal guardians who have survived attempts at their lives while increasing punishment guidelines for presiding judges.

Too often, the state has seen a parent or legal guardian cross a very dangerous line, resulting in the serious injury of their partner or spouse. As passed, House bill 1546 aims at providing an additional deterrent in these specific instances while also protecting the safety of our children and surviving parents.

For more information about House Bill 1546, please click here.

Tennessee House Passes Legislation Easing Regulatory Burden On State’s Motorists

This week in Nashville, the House gave approval to legislation that eases the regulatory burden on Tennessee motorists involved in minor traffic accidents.
House Bill 1515 increases the property damage threshold for which a motor vehicle accident requires a written report to be filed with the Department of Safety from $400 to $1,500. The measure also reduces the backlog of accident reports that are currently on the Tennessee Department of Safety’s books.
While this tweak to current law may seem minor, supporters of the legislation agree the last thing someone involved in an accident should have to worry about is a burdensome regulation that requires an extra form to be filed with the state. As passed, the legislation eases burdens on Tennessee motorists and frees up taxpayer-funded policing resources to be used in other, more important safety areas.
House Bill 1515 now awaits passage in the Senate.