New Tennessee Law Allows College Athletes to Profit from Sponsorships, Endorsements

Tennessee will allow its college athletes to be compensated for any use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL), beginning next January. Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

Current NCAA rules don’t allow college athletes to receive NIL compensation from opportunities like sponsorships or endorsements. That’s because the NCAA requires college athletes to maintain “amateur athletic status.” In addition to prohibiting compensation based on NIL, college athletes are prohibited from receiving additional compensation for competition, training expense funds, or prize money from competing. The NCAA also doesn’t allow college athletes to be represented or marketed by agents or other professionals.

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Constitutional Amendment Establishing ‘Right to Work’ Regardless of Union Membership Passed by Tennessee General Assembly

On Thursday the House passed the “Right to Work,” ensuring an individual’s right to work regardless of union affiliation. This protection would be enshrined in the Tennessee Constitution. Under the resolution, no person, corporation, association, or the state or any political subdivisions can deny anyone based on labor union or employee organization membership.

The resolution asserts that individuals have a fundamental civil right to either join or refuse to join a labor union or employee organization. State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) sponsored this resolution. The resolution achieved its first approval under SJR0648, passed last June and also sponsored by Kelsey.

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Tennessee Legislature Entertaining Expansion of Black History and Culture Education for Fifth and Eighth Grades

Legislators are looking to standardize Black history curriculum in grades 5 and 8, and have the state provide additional resources by 2025. The bill in question specified that fifth and eighth-grade students would learn about Black heritage, culture, experience, and the “ultimate destiny of all social, ethnic, gender and national groups and individuals, and that such are represented as interdependent, interactive, and complementary.” It also specified that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) would provide internet resources and materials for K-12 instruction in the subject.

State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) first introduced the bill, followed with a companion bill filed by State Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga). Senate committees recommended the bill for passage with amendments. Although senators applauded the basis for the idea, they expressed concern over the fiscal impact of the bill. They also questioned the reality of schools’ ability to craft a new curriculum of that magnitude by this fall, as the bill required originally.

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Tennessee Senate Approves Right-to-Work Resolution to Amend State Constitution

Tennesseans may receive explicit protections from union membership or affiliation as a condition of employment. If added to the Tennessee Constitution, the “Right to Work Amendment” would afford individuals the right to refuse membership within a union without facing repercussions concerning their employment. 

In order for an amendment to be made to the Tennessee Constitution, it must be approved twice. A simple majority is all that’s needed for the first approval. Then, the second approval must occur after an election via a two-thirds majority. State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) first introduced this proposed amendment last January. The Senate passed it quickly, and was approved by the House in June. for the required second time in November. 

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Full Tennessee Senate to Consider Bill to Allow First Responders to Choose Where They Live

Members of the Tennessee Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday voted to advance Senate Bill 29 to allow first responders to live where they choose, allowing the bill to be placed on the calendar Thursday for the Senate.

Sponsored by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), the legislation would ban residency requirements statewide for police officers and firefighters, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement. Kelsey said the bill is a matter of public safety and will allow police and fire departments to recruit top-tier first responder candidates, regardless of where they live. The lawmaker said, in particular, it will help Tennessee address a deficit of police officers occurring throughout the country.

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Tennessee Senate Approves Bill to Allow School Districts, Governor to Reopen Classes

The Tennessee Legislature is looking into giving local education districts more leeway to open or shut schools during public emergencies — or the governor the power to send students back to campus.

On Monday, Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) presented Senate Bill 103 to the full Senate. The bill passed the Senate as amended, 27-5.

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Tennessee Senate Education Committee Recommends Passage of Legislation Enabling Governor to Override School Closures

If local officials decide on emergency school closures in the future, Tennessee’s governor may have the power to override them. This, according to a bill recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. Its companion bill in the House was passed on first consideration on Monday, gaining a little progress since its filing last month.

The bill would also grant all local education authorities (LEAs) with the sole power to open or close schools during an emergency as defined by the Tennessee Code. However, if the governor, local health board, or public health official were to issue orders to the contrary, then the LEA’s decision would be nullified. The bill also noted that the governor’s authority would supersede the authority of local health boards and public health officials. 

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Tennessee Legislature Re-Elects Randy McNally, Cameron Sexton as Speakers of Senate, House

Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) on Tuesday was re-elected for his third term as Speaker of the Senate, while State Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) returned as House Speaker.

The Tennessee House Republican Caucus tweeted, “The 112th General Assembly convened today in Nashville! Congratulations to our re-elected Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, newly elected Speaker Pro Tem Pat Marsh, and all our members as they were sworn into office. @CSexton25 @marsh4tn”.

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Proposed Legislation Gives School Boards Decision-Making Authority Over School Closures During Public Emergencies

A bill filed Monday will give Tennessee school boards the ultimate decision-making authority about whether their schools should be open or closed during a public emergency. 

The filing of the legislation was accompanied by an announcement from the bill’s sponsors, Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Representative Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville).

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Jack Johnson Elected State Senate Majority Leader by GOP Caucus

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – At the State Senate Republican Caucus meeting held Monday afternoon in an eighth floor conference room of the Cordell Hull Building, there was no obvious drama in the selection of its six leaders for the upcoming 111th General Assembly. The elections held off until Governor-Elect Bill Lee,…

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