The Tennessee General Assembly unanimously passed a bill allowing counties to create centers focused on transitioning inmates from incarceration to society. The bill also authorizes these facilities, referred to as “transition centers,” to partner with nonprofit organizations with programs to reduce recidivism. The Senate passed the bill without discussion on Thursday.
This bill is one of several proposed by Governor Bill Lee as part of his crime reform initiatives. The overall goal of this legislation was focused on reducing recidivism rates and increasing successful reintegration rates.
The Tennessee Senate passed a bill to standardize open enrollment processes for schools. Present law allows local educational authorities (LEA) to develop their own policies for open enrollment periods. Through the bill, each LEA would be required to have the open enrollment period last at least 30 days, as well as identify schools with available space for enrollment based on grade, class, and program level at least two weeks before the open enrollment period begins. It wouldn’t allow students to enroll in counties outside of their own.
The bill passed 27 to 2, with 3 senators abstaining their vote. State Senators Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) and Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) voted against the bill; Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), and Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) abstained.
Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Rep. (R) Rusty Grills to the newsmakers line to discuss his objectives before ending the Tennessee General Assembly’s current session and how he is committed to protecting the liberty of Tennesseans.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill prohibiting public access to the information of federal law enforcement officers and agents operating in the state. Certain personal, financial, and residential information would be considered confidential and likely diminish the potential of the public doxxing law enforcement officers. The legislation passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
The bill expands current law, which already protects state and local law enforcement. State Representative Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) and Senator Bill Powers (R-Clarksville) are the sponsors on the bill.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to weigh in on final General Assembly priorities and revisiting Big Tech legislation.
The Tennessee General Assembly is considering requiring more transparency when it comes to higher education. If passed, the “Students Right to Know Act” would require the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to publish a database concerning different state universities or vocational schools’ attendance costs, monthly student loan payments, graduation or completion rates, and post-graduate salaries.
The bill was introduced by State Representative Kent Calfee (R-Kingston) and State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield). The latest amendments to the act rewrote the bill to clarify and expand its scope – as well as expand the data to be included within the database on military options for students.
Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Senator (R) Janice Bowling to the newsmakers line to talks about her legislative priorities including bills pertaining to aborted human remains and fiber internet to rural Tennesseans.
Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Rep. Chris Todd from Jackson, Tennessee in studio to discuss court-packing, Keepnine.org, and working with House members.
The Senate determined during its Monday floor session that governments shouldn’t classify workers as “essential” or “nonessential.”
In its entirety, the bill would prohibit the governor and all state or local government entities and leadership from classifying or categorizing businesses, trades, professions, or industries as “essential” or “nonessential.”
The General Assembly passed a bill to limit local government efforts to impose stricter regulations and oversight on Thursday. State Representative Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) and State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) were sponsors on the legislation.
The legislation would prohibit local governments from accessing the personal information of employees, imposing additional safety laws beyond state and federal standards, and entering job sites without permission.
The Senate determined Thursday that those wishing to become adoptive or foster parents should be granted increased vaccine exemptions. This bill would still require that individuals and that individual’s household undergo vaccinations in order to either adopt or foster children 18 months of age or younger, or children with “significant documented medical needs.”
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, one mother named Kim Carter testified that she was denied foster care opportunities because her children weren’t fully vaccinated at the time. She added that her story wasn’t unique.
Metro Nashville City Council and the Wilson County Commission recently approved a request by Davidson County resident Mason Hunter to move the county line dividing the counties so that his entire property would be located within Wilson County.
Press reports questioned the merits of that decision.
The Tennessee House passed a resolution Thursday congratulating acclaimed conservative pundit, author, Daily Wire talk show host, BLEXIT founder, and new mother Candace Owens for her move to Tennessee.
Owens announced her move to Nashville last October, when she also revealed that she would be joining conservative media outlet, The Daily Wire. Last month she debuted her show, “Candace,” with the outlet.
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.
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved a bill to make county health boards as advisory bodies only, and to prohibit mandatory vaccine passports. The bill was introduced by State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), and also sponsored by State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma).
Currently, the components limiting county health boards’ powers and prohibiting vaccine passport mandates aren’t listed as part of the bill. They were introduced as an amendment in the House on Tuesday. Additionally, the bill would relegate local health authority to the state and limit county health officers’ quarantine-mandating powers – individuals and places that aren’t known to have contributed to the spread of a disease may not be quarantined.
The Tennessee General Assembly has been considering whether it should be in charge of selecting U.S. Senate candidates for primaries. On Tuesday, the sponsor of the bill encompassing that proposed change, State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), requested that the legislature have until next March to contemplate the bill.
During the Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing on Tuesday, Niceley asserted that the U.S. Senators have gotten out of touch with the state legislature. He explained that this bill would improve the working relationship between their lawmakers in D.C. and the Tennessee Capitol.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky to the newsmakers line to discuss MLB gone woke, cancel culture, election laws, and the upcoming agenda in the Tennessee General Assembly.
After deferring action last week on a bill banning abortion completely, the Tennessee House Health Subcommittee decided to push their decision off until 2022. The “Rule of Law Life Act” was sponsored by State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) initially, and taken up in the House by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster).
As The Tennessee Star reported in early February, the bill saw movement quickly following its introduction. It declared that the Fourteenth Amendment extends the right to life to the unborn, and that life begins at conception.
A bill prohibiting government-mandated emergency closures for worship services has been delayed once again, as the Tennessee General Assembly floor session on Monday. State Representative Chris Todd (R-Madison County) delivered the news on behalf of the sponsor, State Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), requesting that the bill be placed on the next available calendar. No explanation was given for this delay.
As The Tennessee Star reported last week, Grills delayed the bill initially due to concerns from legislators opposed to prohibiting church closures. Two Democratic legislators, State Representatives London Lamar (D-Memphis) and Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville) expressed concerns that the bill constrained government authorities from stopping church gatherings during a pandemic or other emergencies.
The Tennessee House passed a bill cancelling the excise tax on certain COVID-19 payments given to businesses. The legislation would cover all payments from March 1 to December 31 of last year.
If passed, the bill would apply to payments from the Tennessee Business Relief Program, the Tennessee Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant Program, the Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business Fund, the Hospital Staffing Assistance Program, the Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Assistance Program, the Tennessee Small and Rural Hospital Readiness Grants Program, or the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant.
The Tennessee House passed a bill Monday establishing a formal review process to check the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. However, the bill wasn’t passed in its entirety. An amendment adopted to the original bill, introduced by State Representative Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), removed the provision prohibiting any state agency, political subdivision, or elected or appointed official or employee from implementing any executive order that Tennessee’s Attorney General determined unconstitutional in relation to pandemics; public health emergencies; natural resource, land use, or financial sector regulations; or Second Amendment rights.
According to the legislation, the General Assembly Joint Government Operations Committee would review presidential executive orders at their discretion. Following their review, the Attorney General would then have the final say regarding the constitutionality of any presidential executive orders as reviewed by the General Assembly.
Tennessee lawmakers are keeping their options open when it comes to mandatory vaccinations during a current or imminent pandemic. Although community members and advocacy groups have been fighting for their right to choose when it comes to their medical decisions during government-declared emergencies, most lawmakers haven’t been responsive.
At the time of press, the amendment hasn’t been uploaded to the General Assembly website. However, The Tennessee Star obtained a copy of the amendment, included below:
Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael and State Senator (R) Mark Pody in studio to talk about the new vaccination bill on the table that would exempt people at a governmental level from taking the vaccine.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Mayor Andy Ogles to the studio to talk about being a mayor and the testimony he will provide in the Tennessee General Assembly on emergency powers.
Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Jackson, Tennessee’s State Rep. Chris Todd to the newsmakers line to discuss his background and the importance of keeping in touch with constituents.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary to the newsmakers line to discuss current legislation and the Transgender Sports Bill.
A bill in the Tennessee General Assembly would require that middle school or high school students’ biological gender determine whether they may participate in interscholastic sports specifically tailored either for males or females. Supporters of the bill told The Tennessee Star Friday they believe the bill will pass both the state house and the state 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.
Several state representatives and senators have proposed a bill to review the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. According to the bills, if Congress doesn’t affirm an executive order and isn’t signed into law, then the joint government operations committee of Tennessee’s General Assembly would review whether the order overextends its scope of authority. Upon concluding their review, the committee would decide whether to recommend the Tennessee Attorney General and Governor to reexamine or seek an exemption from the order.
Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations.
A new pro-life bill claims that constitutionally-protected life begins at conception, banning all abortions except in life-threatening emergencies. Dubbed the “Rule of Law Life Act,” the bill stated that the Fourteenth Amendment extends the right to life to the unborn, the legal precedents in existence allowing abortion derogate the Constitution,
The bill expands upon the previous heartbeat bill, signed into law last year and is currently being debated in the courts. It asserts that established and accepted science supports the notion of human life beginning at conception. Additionally, the bill explicitly prohibits punishing mothers for abortions committed. Only physicians who violate the proposed laws would be subject to punishments awarded for Class C felonies or Class A misdemeanors, as well as the suspension or revocation of their healthcare license.
Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Senator Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the Medicaid block grant and the legalities of Joe Biden’s refugee resettlement executive order.
A bill prohibiting Halloween activities and mandating a curfew for registered sex offenders has moved steadily through the State House. The legislation was introduced by Representative Lowell Russell (R-Vonore), a retired member of law enforcement himself.
The bill would align with similar rules previously imposed on offenders by law enforcement around the holiday. Since 2015, Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) has implemented “Operation Blackout,” a coordinated effort to conduct compliance checks on sex offenders that were on probation or parole come Halloween night. The offenders were required to abide by a 12-hour curfew and no-costume policy, as well as keep their porch lights off, doors closed to trick-or-treaters, and homes free of all fall decorations.
Members of the Tennessee General Assembly will consider a bill that mandates public school and charter school officials screen students to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental and behavioral health patterns. This, according to legislation that State Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) filed last month.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a series of legislation to reopen schools and improve learning losses and literacy. The measures passed will establish phonics as the primary method for reading instruction, mandate third-grade students read on grade level before graduating to fourth grade, establish tutors and summer learning camps for students who fell behind in certain subjects, and remove accountability for standardized testing results. An additional bill concerning the state budget will fund 4 percent teacher raises.
As reported previously by The Tennessee Star, the General Assembly convened the special session to prioritize the state’s flagging education system due to pandemic-related closures. The session was called per the request of Governor Bill Lee last month.
The Tennessee General Assembly convened for a special session to discuss learning loss and literacy reforms introduced by the governor’s office. State officials are proposing a series of reforms they dubbed “targeted intervention.” The first bill would establish a full-time tutoring core, after-school camps, learning loss bridge camps, and summer learning camps. Additionally, the second bill proposed a third grade “reading gate” to ensure students are prepared before entering fourth grade and that K-3 educators teach phonics as the primary form of reading, which would be complemented by a screening tool for parents’ use.
The impact of standardized testing also faces reforms. The third bill would keep the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) in place for the 2021 school year, but wouldn’t impose any negative consequences on student assessment. This would ensure that educators and families have a benchmark to assess student progress, but no teacher or district would face penalties based on those TCAP results. Under the fourth bill, the state would adjust the state budget to give pay raises to all teachers immediately.
Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee (R) State Representative Justin Lafferty to the newsmakers line to discuss upcoming legislation facing Tennessee’s education and healthcare priorities.
Tennessee’s General Assembly approved the Medicaid waiver, granting the state to apply federal healthcare funding to an aggregate gap model of spending. The legislature filed the bill when it first convened on Tuesday. Just three days after the bill’s introduction, legislators took their final votes on Thursday and Friday. The six subcommittees who reviewed the waiver all recommended its passage over the course of a few days.
The waiver allows the state to establish a self-imposed, fixed budget to last over a ten-year period, known as TennCareIII. It also allows the state to reserve a portion of the unused funds and apply them to other government programs, with potential for those savings to be matched with additional federal funds for healthcare programs.
Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed TN (R) Senator Paul Bailey to the show to discuss the upcoming special session and legislative session in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles is calling on the Tennessee General Assembly to dump any state-held equity and debt in the Big Tech companies over their “war on freedom of speech.”
Ogles made the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday, available here. It is addressed to Governor Bill Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and the other members of the Legislature.
Tennessee lawmakers will return to Nashville to begin the 2021 legislative session this week and soon will take up legislation on key education issues.
House and Senate speakers will gavel in the new session of the Tennessee General Assembly at noon Tuesday. The first week of session largely will be organizational, with House and Senate speakers swearing in newly elected legislators and announcing committee chair and committee assignments.
Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis) filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session beginning Tuesday that calls for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to investigate Tennesseans suspected of participating in seditious or treasonous acts at the federal Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, and clarifies that such acts committed by state elected officials constitutes their removal from office.
The proposed legislation was filed Friday, after Lamar took to her state representative Facebook page the day prior in a post titled “The Line Has Been Drawn” which accused President Trump and his supporters of engaging in acts of sedition and treason to promote white supremacy.
A joint Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers in a meeting held Tuesday agreed to pass along their recommendations for reforming Tennessee law regarding the declaration of a state of emergency and powers granted to the executive branch during such emergency. Of note is that the agreed-upon reforms are not recommended to go into effect until the current administration leaves. Additionally, the recommendations do not address the constitutionality of current state law.
Three members of the Tennessee General Assembly co-signed a letter this week calling for the swift confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
This, they said, because of her support for limited government, free markets, and federalism.
The three Tennessee legislators — State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), and State Sen. Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro) — co-signed the letter alongside several other state legislators nationwide. The Arlington, Virginia-based American Legislative Exchange Council published the letter on their website Monday.
University of Tennesse at Knoxville (UTK) Law Professor Glenn Reynolds on Thursday spoke to members of the Tennessee General Assembly about various topics, including a governor’s use of executive orders and the reasoning behind him having such power.
His appearance was before the Legislature’s Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers.