Tennessee Capitol Building

And the ‘Beat’ Goes On

The House Public Health Subcommittee recommended passage of the “Heartbeat Bill,” House Bill 77, by Representative Micah Van Huss (R-Johnson City). It will prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill will be heard in the full House Health Committee on Tuesday. The subcommittee was also expected to hear House Bill 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), the so-called “trigger law.” It would make most abortions illegal but only in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, or if the U.S. Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit abortion. However, she chose to delay hearing on the bill at this time. We will keep you apprised of when the bill is placed back on the calendar.

Yesterday, the Senate, by a vote of 27–3, approved Senate Joint Resolution 1 that would limit the power of the state Supreme Court, which currently names the state’s attorney general and reporter by secret ballot, to only nominating a candidate and doing so in an open meeting and by recorded vote. Then the nomination would have to be confirmed by the state House and Senate. The Resolution will now move to the House for consideration. The matter will go before a vote of the people in November 2022 before it could become effective.

The House Business Subcommittee will take up House Bill 563 by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) next Tuesday. This is one of the bills we told you about last week that Family Action of Tennessee is pursuing passage. The bill will ensure that there is one uniform standard across the state for businesses to meet in four areas, one of which includes the scope of anti-discrimination policies. It would prevent what happened last week in Nashville when the city decided to give preferences in awarding contract bids and grants to those businesses that went beyond state and federal law in making sexual orientation and gender identity a protected workforce class.

Also next week the House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee will hear two joint resolutions and one bill on gambling in Tennessee. Specifically, HJR 130 by Representative Larry Miller (D-Memphis) would amend the state’s constitutional prohibition on gambling to authorize casinos and games of chance; HJR 102 by Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) would amend the state constitution to allow charitable organizations to operate bingo games, which are deemed a form of gambling; and House Bill 1 by Representative Rick Staples (R-Knoxville) which will authorize sports betting in jurisdictions that authorize it through a local option election.

Finally, the House Finance Subcommittee will hear HJR 17 by Rep. Van Huss to amend the constitution to recognize that our liberties come from God and not the government.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

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Tennessee Capitol Building

Three Key Bills and Their Sponsors

By the end of the week, as the policy director for Family Action of Tennessee, FACT’s legislative arm, I had met with all but two of the 31 new members of the General Assembly and the key leadership in both the House and Senate. Many of the new members I had not met during the primaries were already aware and supportive of Family Action of Tennessee’s work.

Family Action of Tennessee also began the process of moving the following three pieces of legislation that we brought to legislators for sponsorship:

  • Senate Bill 316 by Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixon)/House Bill 194 by Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) – Legislative Intervention Bill, which would authorize the General Assembly to intervene in certain existing legal proceedings where the constitutionality of a state statute is challenged or in which a “new” or novel interpretation to expand the constitutional or statutory rights are being advocated.
  • Senate Bill 364 by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)/House Bill 569 by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) – The Business Protection Act, which is referenced in the Nashville LGBT Businesses Get Legally Recognized story.
  • Senate Bill 1499 by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald)/House Bill 1274 by Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) – The School Protection Act, which will protect a local school board and its employees from lawsuits arising out of the school board’s policy of protecting students from exposure to the opposite sex when in states of undress by designating locker rooms and shower facilities or bathrooms on the basis of sex.

Look for detailed talking points and FAQs for each of these bills on our website sometime next week. I will keep you apprised of their progress through the session.

There are two bills of interest related to abortion scheduled to be heard next week. The House Public Health Subcommittee is scheduled to hear the “Heartbeat Bill,” House Bill 77 by Representative Micah Van Huss (R-Johnson City), which will prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Also on the subcommittee’s calendar is the “Human Life Protection Act,” House Bill 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), which would make most abortions illegal in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, or if the U.S. Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit abortion. Family Action of Tennessee is tracking both of these bills.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

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Tennessee Capitol Building

Watching Key Bills From the Thousands Filed

The deadline to file bills in both the House and Senate has now passed. Some 1,499 bills were filed in the House and 1,508 were filed in the Senate. We intend to have each of those bills reviewed by the end of the day to identify those that we will track. As in past years, we will have that information available on our website and cover the most important ones during our State Legislative Issues Briefing on March 7.

We were able to meet with most of the House and Senate leaders and/or their key legislative staffers to review the bills that we have asked legislators to file. Two additional leadership meetings are scheduled for next week.

There was limited activity in the committees and subcommittees this week, but it will certainly pick up next week. This week the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SJR 1, which would change the manner in which the attorney general is selected. The state constitution currently provides that the attorney general is selected by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The resolution would require that the attorney general be nominated by the court in an open public meeting and the nominee be approved by the General Assembly. The full Senate is scheduled to take the first of three votes required by the constitution on Monday.

Two other items to amend the constitution are up for committee consideration next week. SJR 97, which would allow charitable organizations to hold bingo games, will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. HJR 17, which would place language in the constitution recognizing that our rights and liberties come from God and not the government, will be heard in a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

Finally, HB 189, which seeks to clarify statutory language on the marriage of minors, is scheduled for a hearing in another subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. We are working with the sponsor of the bill in hopes of revising language in one part of the bill to prevent some unintended consequences that could be extremely problematic.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

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Tennessee Capitol Building

Reviewing Some Bills Before Next Week’s Filing Deadline

The General Assembly is slowly gaining steam; the deadline for filing proposed legislation is next week. Most of the House and Senate committees met this week, although only a few bills have been heard.

Next week’s action will be much of the same, but in the next week or so we expect legislators to start placing their bills “on notice,” the term used to described the process by which a legislator tells a committee chair to put his or her bill on a committee calendar so that it can be debated.

In reviewing the bills filed to this point, we have found a few of interest, including the Fetal Heartbeat Bill. We will have more details on bills of interest on our website once the filing deadline passes and we have reviewed each bill. The most important of these bills will be highlighted and explained at our State Legislative Issues Briefing on March 7th.

Next week, we will begin visiting with legislative leadership to make them aware of the bills we will be working on and seek their support. We will also visit with legislators who have filed bills that would appear to negatively affect marriage and the family, life, or religious liberty. The purpose is to make sure we understand the bill sponsor’s intent correctly and if so, to begin a dialogue that will hopefully result in satisfactory revisions.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

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Tennessee Capitol Building

Beginning to Secure Sponsors for Critical Legislation

Although the House convened in regular session both Wednesday and Thursday, most of its activities related to passage of congratulatory and memorializing resolutions.

Next week both House and Senate committees are scheduled to meet, and while a few are scheduled to take up bills, most will meet for organizational purposes or hear presentations from certain state departments.

FACT’s legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, continued to utilize the time to meet with new House members to work on securing sponsors for legislation it would like considered this session.

Currently, there have been less than 150 bills filed. This number is expected to increase at least tenfold over the next three weeks.

Under both House and Senate rules, bills can be filed through the tenth (10) day the respective chamber is in session. If past practice is an indicator, the House filing deadline will be February 11, while the Senate deadline will be February 14, the difference being the result of the House being in session twice this week.

We, of course, will keep you apprised of bills that may be of interest to you.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

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