While speaking to state lawmakers at a committee hearing on Wednesday, commissioner for the Department of Tourist Development Mark Ezell apologized for the sudden rollout of the ‘Tennessee on Me’ tourism initiative.
The program, introduced by Governor Bill Lee, awards $250 of taxpayer funds to out-of-state visitors who book a two-night stay in one of Tennessee’s five largest cities.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill eliminating sentence reductions for 31 sexually-related offenses. These offenses were largely related to rape, assault, sex trafficking, and a variety of crimes against children. The Senate hastened to pass the bill on Wednesday after the House passed it on Tuesday. The General Assembly voted unanimously in favor of the bill.
As amended, the bill established that there would be no release eligibility for the following offenses: female genital mutilation, felony domestic assault, sex trafficking, advertising minor sexual abuse, rape, aggravated and non-aggravated sexual battery, aggravated statutory rape, felony indecent exposure, patronizing or promoting prostitution, public indecency, continuous child molestation, sexual battery by an authority figure, felony solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, statutory rape by an authority figure, promoting travel for prostitution, unlawful photography of a child under 13, observation without consent, incest, aggravated and non-aggravated child abuse or child neglect and endangerment, child pornography, sale and distribution of child-like sex dolls, and aggravated and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. It would also ensure no release eligibility for conspiracy, criminal attempt, or solicitation of any of the above offenses.