As reported last week, two Family Action of Tennessee initiatives were scheduled to be heard by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee this week. The initiatives met with mixed results. The good news is that HB 1274 by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) was recommended for passage by a voice vote and it will move on to the full Judiciary Committee next week. The bill would authorize the attorney general to represent a local school district and its employees in a lawsuit filed because it has a locker room/bathroom policy that is based on biological sex, and if the attorney general declines representation, the state will reimburse the district for its defense costs. The committee will take up the bill on Tuesday.
The other bill, HB 194 by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) that would grant the legislature the right to intervene into certain lawsuits, was taken off-notice until next year. Regrettably, with the subcommittee closing next week, there was not enough time to resolve questions about the wording of the bill that would satisfy other interested parties. We will make it a priority to get these issues resolved over the summer.
Next week there will be an attempt to resurrect the so-called Trigger Bill, which would make virtually all abortions illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, in whole or in part. The bill, HB 1029 by Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), failed in the House Public Health Subcommittee two weeks ago. However, Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) gave notice this week that he will make a motion in the House Health Committee that the bill be recalled from the subcommittee and be moved to the full committee. Under the House rules, the motion will require a simple majority. The Senate companion bill, SB 1257 by Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), is also on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar on Tuesday.
Also on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar is SB 1236 by Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) that would make virtually all abortions illegal once a heartbeat is detected. Family Action of Tennessee President David Fowler is scheduled to testify in support of an amendment that completely rewrites the version of the bill previously passed by the House. The essence of his remarks will be to properly frame the bill and the legislative record on the debate to ensure it has the best opportunity possible to withstand an inevitable lawsuit challenging the bill’s constitutionality.
Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.