Posts

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Requires School Board Elections to Be Partisan (SB 582 / HB 1039)

Requires school board elections to be partisan races.

Bill Analysis

Important bill for transparency and voter education. Since Tennessee is mostly Republican, many Democrats have focused on non-partisan elections (school board, municipal office) to assert influence on the local level. They are able to be elected because it is difficult to ascertain the full extent of their beliefs through campaign mailers, etc. This bill will require school board candidates to run as partisan, party candidate.

Bill Sponsors

Gresham in the Senate
Smith in the House

Bill Status

No action taken in the House or the Senate.

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

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Right of General Assembly to Intervene in Certain Lawsuits (SB 2655/ HB 1946)

Allows the Speaker of the House and Speaker of the Senate, jointly, or a majority of the members of both houses to intervene in certain existing legal proceedings where the constitutionality of a state statute is challenged or in which “new” or novel interpretations to expand constitutional or statutory rights are being advocated.

Bill Analysis

Private litigants are increasingly calling on the courts to effectively set public policy through their advocacy for new constitutional rights and through “interpretations” of statutes based challenges to the statutes as written and enacted. This judicial activism is resulting in an erosion of the “legislative authority” delegated to the General Assembly under Article II, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution.

Joint Resolutions
The following two pieces of legislation are joint resolutions calling for the amendment of the Tennessee Constitution. In order to be successful joint resolutions must go through three steps:

  1. The resolution must pass both the House and the Senate by a majority of the members of each house.
  2.  If successful in the first step, the resolution must then pass both the House and the Senate by a two-thirds majority of the members of each house during the next General Assembly.
  3. Any resolution that passes that threshold will then be placed on the ballot of the next November general election which includes the race for governor.
    Both resolutions are in the first step of the process and if successful at the first two steps will appear on the November 2022 general election ballot.

Bill Sponsors

Watson in the Senate
Casada in the House

Bill Status

No action taken in the House or Senate.

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

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Mandates Contraception Coverage for Insurance Policies (SB 1142 / HB 721)

BRequires that every group health insurance policy, to the extent not preempted by federal law, have coverage for ALL contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the FDA.

Bill Analysis

This is very similar to the Obamacare mandate on contraception, which resulted in a lawsuit from the Little Sisters of the Poor. The bill does offer a mild religious liberty exception but requires an organization to file for a religious exemption (subject to approval) and offer written notice to prospective enrollees.

Bill Sponsors

Kyle in the Senate
Powell in the House

Bill Status

No action taken in the House or Senate.

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

photo of a horse race and picture of a marijuana leaf

Establishes Horse Racing Commission (SB 346 / HB 814)

Establishes the Tennessee Horse Racing Commission to regulate horse racing and wagering in Tennessee.

Bill Analysis

This bill is the final step toward full legalization of horse racing and gambling on those races in Tennessee. Virtually identical to SB 1908.

Bill Sponsors

Niceley in the Senate
Lovell in the House

Bill Status

No action taken in the Houses or Senate.

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

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Fetal Heartbeat Bill (SB 244 / HB 108)

As drafted, the bill would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, the bill has been amended to require additional reporting of information and notice to the pregnant woman of the right to be informed of the results of an ultrasound, if any.

Bill Analysis

The bill was amended in the House Health Subcommittee due to concerns that as written it would not survive a constitutional challenge under existing Supreme Court precedent, as states can ban abortion after “viability” which, legally, is considered to occur at 24 weeks.

As amended, the doctor performing an abortion will include information that must be reported to the Department of Health whether an ultrasound was performed on the pregnant woman, and if so, whether a heartbeat was detected. This information must also be included in the information that must be provided to the pregnant woman prior to the abortion being performed.

Bill Sponsors

Pody in the Senate
Van Huss in the House

Bill Status

Signed by Governor 5/3/18, Public Chapter 862.

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill