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Christians at Yale Law School Get ‘OutLaw’-ed

Thanks to Yale Law School’s LGBT group, the OutLaws, students who work for any public interest organizations that have hiring policies that “discriminate” against the LGBT community—namely, faith-based law firms that follow the Bible’s views on sexuality—will be ineligible for Yale’s public interest fellowships and the loan forgiveness program.

That means that if students choose to work for a Christian nonprofit legal organization, they won’t get any financial assistance from Yale. Yale Law School announced this new policy in March.

Writing for The Federalist, current Christian Yale Law student Aaron Haviland says, “Yale has found a roundabout way to blacklist legal and nonprofit organizations that don’t adhere to Yale’s understanding of gender identity.”

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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.

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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

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Mt. Juliet Mayor Proposes Rezoning of Abortion Clinic

The Mt. Juliet City Commission held a special meeting on Sunday to begin the process of amending the city’s zoning ordinance so that surgical abortion clinics would be allowed only in the city’s industrial-zoned areas.

The action is being taken in response to Atlanta-based Carafem opening an abortion facility in an area currently zoned for commercial use. According to Carafem COO Melissa Grant, the facility was opened in response to the influx of women in the Nashville area visiting their Atlanta branch for abortion procedures.

Carafem currently only offers the abortion pill for medical abortions for babies up to 10 weeks old, which would not be impacted by the proposed change. However, Carafem officials have indicated an intention to expand the Mt. Juliet facility to also provide surgical abortions.

The city zoning ordinance will go to the planning commission, which is scheduled to meet March 21. The ordinance could then go back to the city commission for a second reading on March 25.

There is also a question as to whether Carafem has filed the proper paperwork to do business in the city. If the city finds that the Carafem clinic is operating without the necessary paperwork, the clinic could be slapped with a stop work order at its current location.

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Tennessee Capitol Building

Business Protection Act Scheduled for Full House Next Thursday

There was legislative activity this week in addition to the heartbeat bill discussed in today’s blog post. Specifically, the Business Protection Act, House Bill 563, by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) passed out of the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday. It is now scheduled to be heard by the full House on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee was scheduled to hear House Bill 998 by Representative Bill Beck (D-Nashville) that, as amended, would have been a first step toward establishing sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in Tennessee. Sensing the subcommittee’s resistance to his bill, Rep. Beck took the bill off notice. We are grateful to those subcommittee members who expressed their concerns with the bill.

Of the bills mentioned last week, Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) took off notice his two bills, House Bill 1151 to apply indecent exposure law to activity in restrooms and locker rooms and House Bill 1152 to provide conscience protection to faith-based adoption agencies. However, Representative Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro) will present a nearly identical conscience protection bill, House Bill 836, to the Children and Families Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Also scheduled for next week are the following:

  • House Bill 307 by Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) that would extend the current law that allows students to receive release time to take non-credit religious courses to allow local boards of education to develop release time religious elective courses offered for credit.
  • House Bill 1 by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) that would authorize sports wagering will be in the House State Committee.
  • House Bill 1033 by Representative 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 will be heard in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hear SJR 97 that would authorize the operation of bingo games to benefit public and private schools. A similar measure, HJR 102, by Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) was defeated in the House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee last week.
  • Senate Bill 1389 by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) that would authorize the development and issuance of a commemorative certificate of a nonviable birth by the Department of Health will be heard by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

To see more about the Business Protection Act, click on the plus sign next to SB 364/HB 563 under the “Bills About Religious Liberty” section on our Bill Tracking page.


Will Burns is FACT’s Public Policy Director.

Read more “This Week at the Capitol” articles