Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus and House Republicans Weekly Wrap Up

Capitol Hill Week

Senate Health and Welfare Committee approves welfare reform legislation

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

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 15, 2018 – Senate Committees worked diligently this week, wrapping up budget hearings for various agencies and departments of state government and moving a number of important bills to the Senate floor for final action. The budget will be a key area of focus for the General Assembly during the final weeks of legislative action, as Governor Bill Haslam is expected to deliver his supplemental appropriation amendment next Tuesday. Many committees have also set their final calendars as legislative action will continue to shift from committees to the floor of the Senate during the remainder of the 2018 session.

Senator Reeves takes oath of office in Tennessee Senate

State Senator Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro) took the oath of office on Thursday, beginning his tenure representing Tennessee’s 14th Senatorial District. The oath was administered in the Senate Chamber by Judge Don Ash as state senators met in a Thursday morning floor session.

Reeves won a decisive victory in a special election held on Tuesday to complete the remainder of the term of former State Senator Jim Tracy, who resigned last year after being appointed to a federal position by President Donald Trump.

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled to serve the people of the 14th district and excited about this new opportunity,” said Senator Reeves. “I will work very hard to honor the oath that I have taken today as I fulfill the duties of serving as their voice in Nashville. I look forward to working with Governor Haslam and my colleagues to improve opportunities for Tennesseans.”

The 14th Senatorial District includes Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, and Moore Counties and part of Rutherford County.

Legislation approved by Senate Health and Welfare Commitee focuses on prevention in efforts to curb state’s opioid crisis

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved legislation this week which seeks to prevent opioid addiction, and ultimately, misuse and abuse by limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions with emphasis on new patients. Senate Bill 2257, sponsored by Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), is meant to address higher dosages of opioids which have been associated with increased risk of overdose and death, while including exceptions for individuals undergoing extreme pain for illnesses like cancer or sickle cell anemia, or patients with severe burns.

The legislation is part of the TN Together plan which employs a three-legged stool of enforcement, treatment and prevention to stop the flow of these drugs in the state, help those who are addicted, and prevent citizens from becoming drug-dependent. While this bill addresses the prevention component, Senate Bill 2258 which focuses on law enforcement and treatment, is pending final action on the Senate floor.

“The purpose behind the prevention legislation is to place more speed bumps on the road that leads to addiction between healthcare practitioners and patients to prevent Tennesseans from misusing or abusing prescription pain medicine,” said Senator Haile, a pharmacist who served on Governor Bill Haslam’s Opioid Abuse Task Force. “At least three people are dying each day in Tennessee from an opioid-related drug overdose. We must slow or stop the pipeline, especially on opioid naïve patients to prevent addiction.”

Last year, 7.6 million opioid prescriptions were written in Tennessee, which is more than the number of people living in the state. An estimated one million prescriptions were left over, ending up in family medicine cabinets where they are often abused according to studies. The data shows 27 percent of those who are at the highest risk of overdose get opioids from their physician, while 26 percent receive them for free from their family or friends. Another 23 percent buy them from family or friends, with 15 percent purchasing them from a drug dealer. Up to 80 percent of teenagers that abuse drugs begin by taking them from the family medicine cabinet.

The legislation allows individuals to receive up to a 3-day supply of opioids at a total dosage of no more than 180 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) each day. If a healthcare practitioner decides the patient needs more, they can issue up to a 10-day supply with a total dosage that does not exceed 500 MME as long as the healthcare practitioner follows certain guidelines, conducts a thorough evaluation, examines other plans of treatment and obtains informed consent from the patient.

In cases where a patient undergoes a procedure that is more than minimally invasive, like major surgery, the patient may receive up to a 20-day supply with a total dosage that does not exceed 850 MME as long as these provisions are followed. Patients can receive up to a 30-day supply with a dosage that does not exceed 1,200 MME in rare cases where medical necessity and sound judgment deem it necessary as long as certain stipulations are met.

As of 2016, 318,000 individuals in Tennessee were either using opioids in a risky way or diagnosed as having opioid use disorder.

Tennessee receives high marks for its low tax, pro-growth status

Tennessee received high marks from two sources this week for its low tax, pro-growth status. The financial website, Wallet-Hub, released a new study on Tuesday showing Tennessee has the lowest tax burden in the nation. The study estimates a median income household in Tennessee paid only $3,667 in state and local taxes in Tennessee last year, which is over a third less than the average nationwide, and less than any other state in the country.

Under conservative leadership, Tennessee has cut taxes by $572 million annually, with policies in place to reduce them even more in years to come. This includes reducing the sales tax on food by nearly 30 percent, phasing out of the Hall tax, cutting business taxes on manufacturing, and eliminating the gift tax and inheritance tax.

“These results reflect the reallocation of revenue we’ve used to maximize the taxpayers’ return on investment — so they can keep more of their hard earned money,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who led passage of the tax cuts.

The other high mark received by Tennessee this week was from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which reported that the state had the second biggest decline in the nation in unemployment rates. Tennessee’s unemployment rate is down 1.2 percentage points, from 4.5 percent to 3.3 percent from January 2017 to January 2018.

The state is experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee history, while the job growth rate is greater than 17 percent. Over the past several years, Tennessee has passed tort reform and overhauled workers’ compensation to offer businesses more predictability, and was addressed broadband accessibility to help spur economic development in rural areas.

“This is all part of our state’s pathway to prosperity program,” added Norris. “I look forward to seeing continued progress as Tennessee’s economy grows.”

Tennessee ranks 7th in the nation for the number of net new manufacturing jobs created since 2012. The state has also seen strong rural job growth with a 31.7 percent increase in new job commitments in 2017 over that of five years ago.

Major legislation to accelerate investment in 5G technology deployment in Tennessee approved by Senate Commerce and Labor Committee

Major legislation passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this week that would accelerate investment in mobile broadband infrastructure and prepare the State of Tennessee for the next wave of economic development in the digital economy via 5G technology. Senate Bill 2504, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), creates a uniform, statewide and predictable application and deployment process for small cell wireless broadband providers no matter what community is being served. Once implemented, it would enhance existing networks and encourage wireless broadband providers to invest in the latest small cell technology.

“We are all racing to build 5G networks that will transform our world,” said Sen. Ketron. “This is an important bill to the six million business and residential wireless broadband consumers in Tennessee who expect robust connection to their wireless Internet devices to manage travel, communications, shopping, banking, health care, education and a host of other needs. When installed, these small cells will increase the capacity to handle the huge amounts of data that we’re all driving to wireless networks, and do so with speeds 10 to 100 times faster than the current 4G networks.”

The bill creates a predictable “how to manual” for providers and local governments to work together to manage the right-of-ways and to get investment deployed as soon as possible. While the legislation calls for a statewide application process to reduce local hurdles, it affirms that local governments retain their nondiscriminatory authority to:

  •         manage placement of utility poles and facilities in the right of way;
  •         establish aesthetic plans that govern facilities in the right of way;
  •         protect historic districts;
  •         manage and protect areas with underground utilities;
  •         require damage repair in the right of way;
  •         manage and reject any deployment based on public safety concerns; and,
  •         apply right of way permitting and fees.

The bill also encourages the use of government infrastructure, like light posts, so as to avoid the need for new poles.

Studies show that deployment of 5G alone will create more than 16,000 new jobs in Tennessee. It would also lead to more than $1 billion in investment and grow the state GDP by nearly $3 billion.

Presently 14 other states have passed legislation to make investment easier, with 19 considering similar legislation this year.

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee for consideration.

Senate Judiciary Committee approves JaJuan Latham Act strengthening penalties against those convicted of harming a minor during a drive-by shooting

Legislation strengthening penalties against those convicted of harming a minor during a drive-by shooting overcame its first hurdle with passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Senate Bill 1505, sponsored by Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville), is named the JaJuan Latham Act, for a 12-year-old, Knoxville boy who was killed in a drive-by shooting while in the back of his father’s parked car.

JaJuan had just attended an anti-violence basketball game organized by former University of Tennessee basketball player Bobby Maze. The annual event was honoring the memory of JaJuan’s cousin, Zaevion Dobson, who was also killed in a drive-by shooting just months earlier, while shielding several girls from gunfire.

“This legislation was written to address the real problem of drive-by shootings, which we have seen on the rise in Tennessee,” said Senator Briggs. “It aims to serve as a deterrent while protecting the lives of our youngest and most innocent citizens.”

Specifically, the bill punishes certain aggravated assault offenses by raising the offense one classification higher if the crime was committed by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle and the victim was a minor at the time of the offense. Offenses include intentional/knowing aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, and criminally negligent homicide.

“This tragedy has been extremely difficult for JaJuan’s family,” said Senator Briggs. “We must turn back this tide of violence against our youth.”

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee for consideration before it moves to the floor for a final vote.

Legislation requiring acute care hospitals to report involuntary commitments closes gap in Tennessee’s gun law verification process

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed legislation on Wednesday requiring acute care hospitals to report involuntary commitments in their psychiatric units to law enforcement so that they can be a part of the record used in the verification process for the purchase of firearms. Senate Bill 2362, sponsored by Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), closes the gap in current law, which already requires mental health hospitals to report these commitments.

“The mental health of people who are purchasing firearms is of critical importance,” said Senator Crowe.  “One of the disqualifying conditions is whether or not an individual has ever been involuntarily committed. These commitments are generally in mental health hospitals or in the psychiatric departments of an acute care hospital. However, while Tennessee’s mental health hospitals are required to report commitments to law enforcement, the acute care hospitals are not required to report. This legislation ensures all health care facilities make this report.”

Most involuntary commitments in Tennessee do not occur in the state’s Title 33 mental health hospitals. They occur in the psychiatric unit of acute care hospitals licensed under Title 68. The legislation would establish the same reporting requirements and verification process for all hospitals licensed by the Department of Health.

“We know that this reporting is not always taking place,” Crowe continued. “This proposal will require the Department of Health to review each of these commitments and make sure it has been reported to law enforcement.”

“We must ensure our existing gun laws are properly enforced,” added Senator Crowe. “The verification process established by this legislation will close a major gap in how we protect our schools and all Tennesseans.”

Issues in Brief

Victims’ Rights / Electronic Notification — The full Senate approved legislation this week giving crime victims a choice to receive notifications electronically. Tennessee’s Victims’ Bill of Rights declares that victims and witnesses have the right to be notified by the Department of Correction of an offender’s parole hearing date and when that offender will be eligible for parole. Senate Bill 2235, sponsored by Senator Art Swann (R-Maryville), permits victims or their victim representative to be notified by electronic means, provided they have registered with the state’s electronic notification service. It also allows for cancellation of this notification service electronically.

Ambulances — Legislation enabling Tennessee to continue to draw needed federal funds to help local ambulance services transport patients advanced through the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this week. Senate Bill 1823 continues the Ambulance Service Provider Assessment Act, a law passed last year that allows the state to receive additional Medicaid funds to be redistributed to the local private and public ambulance services for transporting patients covered by the program. It is expected to bring in approximately $19.7 million in federal funds for ambulance services through the state’s TennCare Program. The legislation is modeled after the successful Hospital Assessment Act which has prevented catastrophic TennCare cuts over the last seven years. The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), is supported by the State Ambulance Service Association.

Illegal Aliens / Driver License — The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee voted this week to require any applicant presenting a driver’s license from a state that issues them to illegal aliens, to establish proof of United States citizenship or legal residency when applying for one in Tennessee. Senate Bill 272, sponsored by Senator Pody (R-Lebanon), affects applicants from twelve states which issue a driver’s license to illegal aliens, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Senator Pody said, “This is something we’re currently doing. When someone comes in with a driver license from another state looking to get a Tennessee driver license, the Department of Safety is already making sure they are a legal resident of the United States. This legislation just makes it law in Tennessee so that this practice remains in place moving forward.”

Tri-Star License Plates — Monday evening’s legislative session included approval of Senate Bill 1786 to redesign motor vehicle registration plates to feature the Tri-Star symbol of the Tennessee flag. The redesigned license plates would be issued at registration or renewal beginning in January 2020 after the existing inventory of plates are exhausted. The three stars on the flag represent the three different land forms in Tennessee with the mountains in the east, highlands in the middle and lowlands in the west. On the flag these regions are bound together in an unbroken circle. The proposal is sponsored by Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol).

Clergy / Intimidation — Legislation which aims to prevent harassment and intimidation of the clergy in Tennessee advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. In 2015, the General Assembly passed a law prohibiting any government entity, other than a court, from seeking a subpoena for obtaining a clergy member’s sermon, including notes made in preparation of a sermon. That bill followed action by a Houston, Texas mayor in October 2014 to subpoena all of the sermons and sermon notes on homosexuality and gender issues from pastors within that city’s jurisdiction in an effort to silence opposition against a referendum that she was pushing. Senate Bill 2679, sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta), simply adds audio or video to that statute as a preventative measure in such cases.

Primacy and Reclamation Act — The full Senate voted this week to authorize the state, under appropriate federal legislation, to reclaim the prerogative to control the surface coal mining industry through the issuance of permits. Currently, the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSM) within the U.S. Department of the Interior regulates surface coal mining and reclamation activities in the state. Tennessee is the only coal mining state in the nation that does not exercise control over its own coal mining. Senate Bill 686, sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), addresses this inequity which has put the industry of the state at a competitive disadvantage. The Primacy and Reclamation Act of Tennessee maintains stringent environmental control over coal mining, while providing an opportunity for the state to control its own destiny, stimulate investment and create jobs.

Military / STRONG Act — Tennessee Adjutant General Max Haston told members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week that the state’s Department of Military continues to get more applications under the STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act passed by the General Assembly in 2017. The STRONG Act established a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard tuition funding toward a first time bachelor degree through a tuition reimbursement program. The purpose of the program is to provide educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country, while supporting the Drive to 55 goal of equipping 55 percent of Tennesseans with a degree or certificate by 2025.

Driver Convenience / Vehicle Registration — Legislation that authorizes drivers in Tennessee to display evidence of motor vehicle registration in electronic format was approved this week by the full Senate. The Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR) requires registration of all vehicles using Tennessee roads and highways through the Vehicle Services Division.  Senate Bill 727, sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), allows for the convenience of providing that information on the driver’s phone or another electronic device if pulled over by law enforcement. Tennessee law already allows drivers to use electronic devices to show proof of insurance.

Abortion Clinics — Legislation directing TennCare officials to seek a Medicaid waiver to exclude facilities in Tennessee that perform elective abortions from receiving taxpayer money was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  Senate Bill 2148, sponsored by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), calls for the current TennCare II waiver to be amended to exclude facilities which perform elective abortions. The funds for other women’s health services, such as breast exams, cancer screenings and birth control, would not be affected by the proposal. The money would be redirected from elective abortion clinics to other health care providers so women will continue to receive care. All of Tennessee’s 95 counties have identified community health centers and other providers, aside from those who perform elective abortions, that meet criteria to receive taxpayer funding for women’s health services.

Sex Offenders / Playgrounds — Legislation protecting children from sex offenders was approved on final consideration this week. Under current law, a registered sex offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of a playground. Concerns remain, however, that the law could be interpreted to only apply to public playgrounds. Many neighborhoods have Home Owner Association (HOA) or not-for-profit playgrounds which are not publicly owned. Senate Bill 1920, sponsored by Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), includes non-profit and HOA playgrounds for the purposes of sexual offender restrictions to ensure protection of children in these neighborhoods.

Deceptive Practices / Entertainment Tickets – Consumer protection legislation received final approval this week that addresses the growing problem of websites that use deceptive names and trademarks, posing as places of entertainment and entertainers, in order to confuse consumers into buying tickets at a considerably higher price than it could be purchased through the legitimate source. Senate Bill 1640, sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), classifies this behavior as a Class B misdemeanor and a deceptive business practice under the criminal code. That action would give the Tennessee Attorney General the authority to prosecute violators. This bill is part of a continuing effort on behalf of the General Assembly to protect consumers in the entertainment industry. In past years, the General Assembly approved a bill addressing the issue of automated bots purchasing tickets en masse in order to turn around and sell them at a higher price.

Tennessee Continues Trend Of Record Low Unemployment, Record Low Tax Burden In 2018

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development this week announced that unemployment across Tennessee has remained at a record low since the start of 2018. In addition, Wallet Hub — a nonpartisan organization focused on the financial industry — has officially ranked Tennessee as the lowest taxed state in the entire nation.

The unemployment rate in January of 2018 was 1.2 percent lower than the rate for the same month one year ago and has remained 3.3 percent since September 2017. Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate has been below 4 percent since May 2017.

As multiple studies have noted, this long stretch of low unemployment is a testament to the economic climate in the state, allowing employers the ability to continue to tap into the Tennessee’s talented workforce to create high-quality, high-paying jobs. The wholesale trade sector in Tennessee saw the biggest gain in jobs during January. Health care and social assistance ranked second in job growth during the month.

More than 3.1 million Tennesseans are currently working in Tennessee, a number that sets a state record.

While many politicians in Washington and around the country continue policies of reckless spending and partisan bickering, lawmakers in Tennessee have proudly passed initiatives that exercise fiscal restraint, save money for the future, and fully-fund the state’s educational priorities.

Because of this stark contrast with the rest of the nation, Tennessee has rapidly climbed the ladder as one of the overall best-managed states in the country. Coupled with the fact that Tennessee is one of only a handful of states with a higher bond rating than that of the federal government — a major indicator that showcases our state’s stable fiscal environment — it is easy to see why so many are looking to Tennessee for economic guidance.

Other recent awards for the state include:

  • Being named the 3rd best state in the nation for business by Business Facilities Magazine;
  • Placing 2nd place in Site Selection magazine’s annual Prosperity Cup, which ranks states based on overall tax and business climate;
  • Ranking 2nd in the country for transportation/road quality and 2nd in cost of living by CNBC;
  • And being named the #1 state in the nation for retirement by Bankrate.com.

These accolades are in addition to the other accomplishments Republican lawmakers have achieved since 2011, including cutting more than $800 million in taxes over the last 7 years and education advancements that have led to the fastest improving student test scores in the entire country.

There is no doubt that in Tennessee, things are moving in the right direction. Through a strong partnership of the General Assembly’s Republican majority and the work of Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee has been successful in attracting job-creators, inspiring entrepreneurs, and putting people back to work. While Washington and many states around the country are struggling to come together, Tennessee is truly doing things the right way.

Business Expansions On Steady Rise Across State

As another example of the upward swing in Tennessee’s economy, there have been numerous major business expansions recently announced by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and House Republicans. Over the last few months, dozens of companies, both from within the state and from other parts of the country, have decided to expand their operations in Tennessee. With these expansion projects, thousands of jobs will be created along with hundreds of millions of dollars invested into local communities.

Some of the most prominent of the recently announced expansions include:

  • FedEx Corporation, Shelby County — The Memphis hub project includes construction of a new facility and installation of state-of-the-art sort systems, construction of a bulk truck loading building, and a new area to improve package handling. The new $1 billion investment is in addition to current FedEx facility that already employs over 11,000 team members.
  • JDS Technologies, Inc., Scott County — The second of JDS’ manufacturing facilities in Tennessee, the new facility means an investment of $2.2 million and the creation of 110 new jobs.
  • Green Applications, LLC, Johnson County — A leading supplier specializing in LED lighting products for commercial, residential, marine, and automotive applications, Green Applications will expand operations in Mountain City, investing $1 million and creating 50 new jobs over the next five years.
  • Master Tool & Die, Inc., Sullivan County — Founded in Kingsport in 1988, Master Tool & Die provides custom machining, welding, fabrication, and other services for businesses throughout the southeast. Their new expansion will yield $557,500 in local investment and 25 new jobs to the area.
  • DENSO, McMinn County — Expansion of the automotive suppliers new facility in Athens means 320 new jobs and community investment of $190 million.
  • Asurion, LLC, Davidson County — Nashville-based Asurion is a global technology company that provides support solutions and protection for smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics, and other devices. The company operates in dozens of countries and has 17,000 employees worldwide — Nashville’s new expansion means an additional 400 jobs for Tennessee.

For more information about these expansions and to view other industry announcements from across the state, visit the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development website at www.tn.gov/ecd.

House Republicans Fight To Ban Child Marriages In Tennessee

This week in Nashville, House Republicans offered their full support for an initiative aimed at officially banning child marriages in Tennessee. In the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, House members cast yes votes in favor of House Bill 1785 which bans marriage for anyone under the age of 17.

The push to update Tennessee marriage laws comes following data released from the Tennessee Department of Health showing there were 7,670 minors wed in Tennessee between 2000 and 2014. Of those cases, 91% were marriages between minors and legal adults and 89% were minor girls married to adult men. In rare circumstances, the statistics also showed children as young as twelve being married. Currently in Tennessee, there is no minimum age required for marriage as long as a judge signs off on the nuptials.

Once passed by the House and Senate, this new initiative will completely ban marriage for anyone under 17 and requires both parental consent and sign off from a judge for those 17 years of age. The legislation also implements a variety of other legal protections to ensure no forced marriages are taking place in Tennessee for 17 year olds. Once a child turns 18 and becomes an adult, there would no longer be any prohibitions for marriage.

Supporters of the legislation were shocked to learn that judges in our state have signed off on marriages for children as young as 12 in the past. After learning about these extreme decisions, legislators knew it was to fight back to ensure child brides are forever banned in Tennessee.

In the House, the bill will next be heard by the full Civil Justice Committee. On the Senate side, the bill is currently being debated by the full body. Once passed by both chambers, the legislation will travel to the desk of Governor Haslam to be signed into law.

House Passes Bill Outlawing TennCare Reimbursements To State’s Abortion Providers Republican-led measure aimed at protecting sanctity of life awaits passage in Senate

Monday evening, House Republicans passed legislation outlawing TennCare reimbursements to the state’s abortion providers.

House Bill 2251 aims at protecting the sanctity of life by eliminating taxpayer funding to facilities that perform elective abortions. It does not impact the availability of other critical health care services offered to Tennessee women.

While some believe taxpayer dollars have been banned from funding abortions in Tennessee, documents from the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration show providers across the state have received almost $1 million in funding from 2012-2017. Supporters of House Bill 2251 hope to change this by ending taxpayer assistance to these facilities once and for all.

The legislation passed this week is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to protect Tennessee’s unborn.

During the 2017 legislative session, Republican lawmakers passed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act; it prohibits abortions after 24 weeks — except in medical emergency — and requires testing to determine viability of an unborn child if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant. The Tennessee Infants Protection Act also holds physicians who perform late-term abortions accountable for their actions.

For more information about House Bill 2251, please click here.

Initiative Supporting Tennessee’s Caregivers Heads To Be Signed Into Law
This week, Republican lawmakers voted unanimously to pass legislation that supports Tennessee’s caregivers. Now that it has passed in the House, it will be sent to the desk of Governor Haslam to be signed into law.

House Bill 1498 assists caregivers by enabling them to take an occasional, much-needed break from their responsibilities caring for elderly or vulnerable family members by offering additional support services from community organizations.

These brief recesses allow caregivers to recharge and also provide opportunities for them to interact socially with others. Studies indicate that breaks are one of the main requests made by those seeking counseling related to the stresses that are often associated with caring for elderly or vulnerable family members.

Caregiving is a labor of love, but it can also be a tremendous challenge. The daily responsibilities ranging from providing transportation, cooking meals, helping with bathing and dress, or even managing a family member’s finances can become overwhelming. House Bill 1498 supports the state’s caregivers by helping them realize they are not alone as they strive to provide the best possible care for their loved ones.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 40 million Americans help parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently at home each day. Here in Tennessee, there is a critical need. Our state’s elderly population is expected to climb from its current level of 974,000 to almost 1.4 million over the next 15 years.

House lawmakers appreciate the selfless actions of Tennessee caregivers and are committed to providing additional resources that support them in their daily work.

For more information about House Bill 1498, please click here.