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Gov. Lee introduces legislative goals for 2021

The initiatives would support youth who age out of the foster care system, provide payments for trained volunteer firefights and reform criminal justice.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee outlined his legislative goals for 2021 on Thursday. His goals focus on supporting families, reforming Tennessee's criminal justice system, helping members of the military when returning from service, supporting volunteer firefighters and boosting the state's economy.

“These proposals will also position us well to continue the recovery that has already begun across our state," Lee said in a release.

A full list of his legislative initiatives are below:

Supporting Tennessee Families

  • Foster Youth Reach Act, SB0722/HB0139: Provides higher education support for youth aging out of the foster care system through a new outreach program. 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Proposal, SB0751/HB0142: Reforms the TANF program and is meant to promote economic mobility and create better outcomes for recipients.

Supporting Education

  • Common Core Supplemental Materials, SB0769/HB0782: Prohibits local schools and districts from choosing supplemental materials that are aligned to Common Core. The proposal is meant to close a loophole in state law.

Serving Military Members and Volunteer Firefighters

  • STRONG Act Expansion, SB0755/HB0083: Expands tuition reimbursement to include technical certificates and master’s programs for Tennessee National Guard Members. 
  • National Guard Reemployment Act, SB0754/HB0082: Ensures Tennessee National Guard members retain employment after returning from active state duty.
  • Volunteer Firefighter Reimbursement, SB0778/HB0772: Provides $600 payments to volunteer firefighters who successfully complete 40 hours of in-service training.

Strengthening Tennessee Businesses

  • Tennessee Apprenticeship Act, SB0752/HB0771: Requires Tennessee apprenticeship programs to be registered through the state instead of the federal government. The proposal is meant to expand access to the programs and improve their quality.
  • Business Supports and Taxation, SB0775/HB0776: Permits the deduction of state business relief payments from the state's franchise and excise tax, supporting the economic recovery of Tennessee small businesses.
  • Entertainment Tax Credit, SB0736/HB0141: Creates a sales and use tax exemption and a franchise and excise tax credit for film production in Tennessee.

Criminal Justice Reform and Constitutional Carry

  • Constitutional Carry, SB0765/HB0786: Allows law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a permit while enhancing penalties for firearm theft.
  • Reentry Success Act, SB0768/HB0785: Increases transparency in the parole process and enhancing practices that support success for inmates after they are released.
  • Alternatives to Incarceration, SB0767/HB0784: Expands treatment services and community-based supervision for offenders as alternatives to incarceration.

Addressing Foreign Influences on College Campuses

  • Transparency in Foreign Investment Act, SB1191/HB1238: Requires more transparency for any foreign investment activity on college campuses, particularly programs and partnerships with Confucius Institutes that have concerning ties to communist regimes.

Governor Lee also discussed the bills in his 2021 State of the State address.

During the address, he also spoke about the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as allowing students to return to in-person learning, sending PPE to teachers and distributing the vaccine. He also spoke about the state's efforts to support businesses through the pandemic, and its support to improve rural infrastructure.