Legislative wrap-up: End of session nears

Editor's note:

A bill that would charge women with a crime if they use drugs while pregnant has not yet passed the House. The Senate approved SB 1391 Monday night, and lawmakers expect to discuss the House version of the bill (HB 1295) this week. Previous stories incorrectly reported that measure had already passed the House.

From the fate of pregnant women on drugs, to religions signs on state buildings -- lawmakers are finalizing some big decisions as they wind down the legislative session in Nashville.

Monday, Senators passed several bills, including:

  • Legislation that would charge women with a crime if they use drugs while pregnant. The House approved that measure last week, so it now heads to the governor's desk.
  • A bill that would change signage at the state capitol, so the phrase "In God We Trust" can be displayed above the Capitol entrances and behind the speaker's podiums in the House and Senate chambers. Knoxville Republican Senator Stacey Campfield sponsored that legislation

The Senate also recently passed the Channon Christian Act and the Chris Newsom Act. Those bills both make changes to the justice system. They are currently waiting for the governor's signature.

In their final days in Nashville, lawmakers are now turning their attention to the state's spending plan.

Governor Haslam is trying to close a $160 million budget gap. His proposal includes cutting a plan to raise salaries for teachers and state workers. He's also cutting proposed increases for higher education funding. some lawmakers are against the cuts during an election year.

The governor also proposed his "Tennessee Promise" plan, to provide free tuition to all two-year institutions for all graduating high school seniors. Both the House and Senate versions of that bill remain in committee.

Some widely-publicized bills are still pending, like a proposal to make pseudophedrine accessible by a prescription only.

Others have already passed:

  • Amelia's Law now allows a judge to order offenders and parolees to wear a monitoring devices if alcohol or drugs played a role in their crimes. It was passed in honor of Amelia Keown, who died in 2012.
  • The wine in grocery stores law passed, now leaving the next step up to the voters. They will get the chance to decide the issue in their own communities

Lawmakers expect the session will likely end sometime in the next week or two.


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