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School Protection Act and Business Protection Act Gain Traction

There was a lot of activity this week as most of the House committees and subcommittees have completed their business and several of the Senate committees are closing as well. However, there is still much left to be done.

This week the medical marijuana bills were officially deferred until 2020, while committees in both the House and Senate passed out their respective bills to authorized online sports betting in Tennessee. HB 1 by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) will next be heard in the House Government Operations Committee and its Senate companion, SB 16 by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), is headed to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

There were mixed results this week on abortion-related bills. After the so-called “Trigger” bill, HB 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), failed in the House Public Health Subcommittee two weeks ago, Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), pursuant to House rule, gave notice of his intention to make a motion in the House Health Committee to recall the bill from the subcommittee, effectively by-passing the subcommittee’s action. The motion was heard on Wednesday and passed by a 12-4 margin, paving the way for the bill to be considered by the full committee next Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Senate companion bill, SB 1257 by Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), this week and it will next be heard by the full Senate, although it has not yet been set.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also took action on the “Heartbeat” bill, SB 1236 by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), voting to defer it for additional study during summer hearings, effectively killing the bill for this year.

Among the good news to report is that our School Protection Act, HB 1274 sponsored by Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden), passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote. It next goes to the House Budget Subcommittee. The Senate companion bill, SB 1499 by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), will begin moving in the Senate soon. Additionally, the Senate State and Local Government Committee will consider our Business Protection Act, SB 364 by Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington), on Tuesday. The House approved its version of the bill earlier this year.

Read about all the bills we are tracking


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles

Tennessee Capitol Building

Senate Judiciary Committee Slated to Discuss Bills About Unborn on April 9

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.

Read about all the bills we are tracking


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles

Tennessee Capitol Building

School Protection Act Slated for House Civil Justice Subcommittee Next Week

We expect next week to be quite busy as two bills initiated by Family Action of Tennessee are set to be heard by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.

The first is HB 194 by Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville). It was originally scheduled to be heard this week, but it was deferred for one week to address questions about how best to word the bill. The bill would require state court judges to let the two Speakers intervene into certain lawsuits to protect the people from de facto lawmaking by activist judges.

The second, HB 1274 by Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden), will protect local school boards from vexatious and expensive lawsuits over policies regarding the use of locker rooms/restrooms based on biological sex. The bill would allow the school to have the state’s attorney general represent them or, if representation is declined, be reimbursed by the state for its defense costs.

None of the other bills we told you about last week were favorably acted upon. Specifically, HB 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), referred to at the Trigger Bill because it would operate to ban most abortions in Tennessee if Roe v. Wade is overturned, failed in the House Public Health Subcommittee by a vote of three in favor and four against. The Senate companion bill, SB 1257 by Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), is on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar next week, although it would be unusual for the Senate to act given the action of the House subcommittee.

Also on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar for next week is SB 1236 by Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), which is the heartbeat bill prohibiting most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Finally, after discussing HB 1 by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) for more than an hour, the House State Committee delayed action on it for at least another week. This is the bill that would authorize sports betting. Meanwhile, the Senate companion bill, SB 16 by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), passed out of the Senate Government Operations Committee with a negative recommendation. It is scheduled to be heard in the Senate State and Local Government Committee next week.

Read about all the bills we are tracking


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles

Tennessee Capitol Building

Business Protection Act Passes Full House

We are pleased to report that the full House approved our Business Protection Act (House Bill 563) on Thursday by a vote of 68-22 and we are grateful to Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) for his leadership in shepherding this bill through the House. We anticipate it will begin moving in the Senate in a couple of weeks.

Another bill initiated by the Family Action of Tennessee, House Bill 194 by Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), is set to be heard next week in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. The bill will allow the General Assembly to intervene in some existing legal proceedings in certain situations.

To learn more about these two bills and other bills, go to the Bill Tracking page. Also, watch our State Legislative Issues Briefing held earlier this month.

Among the other bills scheduled to be heard are:

  • House Bill 1029 by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), also referred to as the “Trigger Bill” because it would operate to make almost all abortions illegal in Tennessee if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade.
  • House Bill 1 by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) to legalize sports betting. While this has been scheduled each of the last two weeks, there are indications that it will be heard in the House State Committee on Tuesday. The Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 16 by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), is again scheduled to be heard by the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.

Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles

Tennessee Capitol Building

Business Protection Act Delayed in House

The General Assembly is moving rapidly this session with some House subcommittees already closing. While the most optimistic projection is that the legislature will remain in session for another seven to eight weeks, it is moving at an efficient pace. That does not mean that everything moves quickly as a couple of items that were scheduled to be heard this week have been delayed.

Of specific interest is the Business Protection Act, House Bill 563, initiated by Family Action of Tennessee, and sponsored in the House by Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville). It was to be heard by the full House yesterday. However, as sometimes happens with bills of this nature, questions were raised that required a delay. As policy director for Family Action of Tennessee, I will be meeting with those who raised new questions to assure them that the bill is worded properly and will accomplish its intended purpose. It is now scheduled to be heard next Thursday.

Also delayed a week is House Bill 1 by Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) that would authorize sports gambling in the state. One related bill that is proceeding is House Bill 1033 by Rep. Brian Terry (R-Murfreesboro) and its Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 1057 by Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), that would decriminalize wagering in fantasy sports leagues and sports pools. Both bills passed out of their chamber’s respective Judiciary Committees and will soon be before the full House and Senate.

For the status of this bill and others discussed previously, go to the Bill Tracking page.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles