Tennessee Senate Reschedules Bill Requiring Police Oversight Boards to Undergo Citizen Police Academy, Will Vote Monday

The Tennessee Senate is scheduled on Monday to vote on whether local community oversight boards must undergo citizen police academy.

If passed, current community oversight board members will have until June 30 of next year to complete a citizen police academy or any similar program. After that, any members appointed after July 1 of this year will have one year. Any members who fail to complete the academy or similar program will have their voting powers revoked. Voting rights would be restored upon completion of the academy. 

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Bill Making Out-of-State Rioters, Paid Rioting a Felony Offense Now Heads to Governor for Approval

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill making any rioters who are from out-of-state or paid to riot guilty of a felony offense. Under the bill, it is considered a Class E felony for anyone who travels from outside the state with an intent to commit a crime or participates in a riot after being paid to do so. Courts must impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days imprisonment for one offense, or 60 days for two or more offenses.

The House passed the bill on Tuesday, 73 to 20. Nearly all Democrats opposed the bill, with the exception of State Representatives Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville), Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), and John Mark Windle (D-Livingston).

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Senator Mike Bell Talks Smart Bill Proposing Statewide Elected Judges for Each Grand Division and Budget in Tennessee

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Senator Mike Bell in studio to further discuss his statewide elected grand division bill and the status of the state budget.

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State Senator Mike Bell Talks Big Tech Pushback Legislation and His Current Bill Allowing for Elected Grand Division Justices Statewide

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Senator Mike Bell in studio who discussed the status of a bill that would push back on Big Tech and explained the dynamics of his current bill that would create three elected statewide court divisions.

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Tennessee Senate Pulls Back on Bill Removing Local Health Authority Powers, Rendering Them Advisory Bodies During Health Emergencies

A bill which proposed removing local health authorities’ powers during health emergencies was re-referred to the Senate Calendar Committee on Thursday. State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) requested this action without explanation during the bill’s third and final hearing.

If passed, the bill would specify that county mayors have the authority to establish and implement health policies during county-wide health emergencies – not local health officials or bodies. Instead, all county health directors, health officers, and boards of health could only serve in an advisory capacity to the mayor.

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‘Textbook Transparency Act’ Proposes Free Online Versions of Public School Textbooks

A bill proposing free online versions of public school textbooks would enable parents to review material their kids learn. The “Textbook Transparency Act,” introduced by State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), is making its way steadily through the General Assembly.

The bill would require that if any electronic versions of a textbook exist, then they must be uploaded to an electronic database open to the public. The database would be maintained by and accessible through every public university’s main campus library. The only limitations the bill would impose concern readers copying the textbook or being charged to view the textbook. 

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Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Gave $8 Million Contract to Company That Employs Her Husband

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s husband works for the company that benefited from an $8.06 million reading initiative contract.

Apparently, Commissioner Schwinn keeps it all in the family. As The Tennessee Star reported last fall, sources claimed that Schwinn imported former colleagues from Texas when she assumed her role within TDOE. They also claimed that they were subjected to hiring freezes and pressure to slash budgets, though Schwinn had no problem with maintaining the six-figure salaries for her imports.

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General Assembly Considers Bill Requiring Schools to Accommodate Students Who Don’t Want to Share Bathrooms, Sleeping Quarters with Peers of Same Sex

Public schools may be required to provide accommodations for students who want to use bathrooms opposite the ones designated for their sex at birth. According to the “Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act,” such alternative accommodations would extend to restrooms, changing rooms such as locker or shower rooms, and sleeping quarters while attending a school-sponsored activity. The act would also enable the student who requested alternative accommodations to take up a private right of action against the school if denied.

State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) introduced the bill about a month ago. Since then, it has been recommended for passage by the House K-12 Subcommittee and referred to the Education Committee several weeks ago.

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Bill Expanding Charges for Out-of-State or Paid Rioters Heads to Senate Floor for Vote

The General Assembly may increase charges for rioters that came from out of state, were paid to riot, or committed multiple riot-related offenses. Under the proposed bill, rioters would face a minimum of 60 days’ incarceration if they engage in two or more of those riot-related offenses. Current Tennessee Code doesn’t factor in details of residency or compensation for punishing rioters.

State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) introduced the bill in the beginning of February. Its companion bill in the House was introduced by State Representative Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) a day later. The bill is expected to be placed on the Senate’s calendar soon, and may soon emerge from committee in the House.

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Bill to Reduce County Health Boards to Advisory Bodies Moves Through Tennessee House and Senate

Certain counties may see the roles of their health boards change in the event of another public health emergency. According to a bill making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly, county mayors should retain the exclusive authority to establish health-related mandates and regulations, while health boards and committees should only serve to advise them. The proposed measures would only apply to counties with certain population counts. Accordingly, the bill would affect Shelby, Knox, Davidson, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Madison counties.

State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) introduced the bill in November, as Chris Butler with The Tennessee Star reported previously. In a press release, Zachary explained that only elected representatives are accountable to those they serve – therefore, only elected representatives should have the final say in public health emergencies.

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State Senate Ignores Millions of Dollars Disability Fraud in Tennessee

A bill that would make it a requirement for the state to cooperate in investigations of millions of dollars of disability fraud occurring within Tennessee was ignored this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Disability fraud can involve exaggerating or faking an illness or disabilities, filing multiple applications, concealing work or other activities, all of which cost the state and the federal government millions of dollars every year.

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Groups Call for Christians to Come to the Capitol and Pray During the Heartbeat Bill Summer Study

As the Summer Study for Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill approaches, groups are calling for Christians to join in a Prayer March being held on August 12, the first day of the proceedings.

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Fetal Heartbeat Bill Summer Study Schedule Set

  The schedule for the Senate Judiciary Committee summer study of the Heartbeat Bill was announced Thursday via email to committee members and staff. The scheduled dates just announced – Monday and Tuesday, August 12 and 13 – are changed from the original dates set during the Senate Judiciary Committee…

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State Senate Committee Votes to Send the ‘Heartbeat Bill’ to Summer Study

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The State Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday to send the heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions in the state of Tennessee after a fetal heartbeat is detected, to summer study. After hearing about an hour and half of testimony and questions and answers from expert witnesses,…

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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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