The 111th General Assembly is in its second year. Lawmakers will have plenty to consider in 2020, including some debates that will return from last year. You can find the bill blog last year to see some of those proposals here.
We're here to help you keep track of the bills that could have the biggest impact on East Tennessee. I've linked to each bill's page on the General Assembly's website, so you can keep track of the ones you're interested in or contact your lawmakers about the proposals. You can find your lawmaker by clicking here and filling out your street address.
The bill blog isn't a comprehensive list of every single bill, just a selection of the key proposals that caught our attention.
If you've heard of something that's not on our list or want us to keep up with something that matters to you, let us know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you want to see. Check back for regular updates.
Filed as of Jan. 17, 2020
- SB1720 - declares a person who holds a valid medical marijuana patient identification card issued by another state does not commit an offense if they have less than a half ounce of marijuana in Tennessee
- SB1722 - repeals the law that allows gun owners keep a gun in a car in a parking lot
- SB1724 - exempts feminine hygiene products from sales tax on tax-free weekend
- HB1694 - bans a public institution of higher education from preventing a student athlete from earning compensation as a result of the use of the student athlete's name, image, or likeness
- HB1697 - exempts the retail sale of food and food ingredients from sales tax for the months of June and July in 2020
- SB1718 - caps the amount a health insurance carrier can require a covered patient with diabetes to pay for a 30-day supply of insulin at no more than $100
Filed as of Jan. 15, 2020
- HB1648 – requires school systems to provide pre-k to four-year-olds
- HB1651 – requires pre and post-natal care for pregnant prisoners and detainees
- HB1656 – bans unmanned traffic camera tickets
- HB1657 – requires the state flag to be displayed on every public school building
- HB1669 – requires any pregnancy counseling given to a pregnant minor be provided by a group that does not do abortions
- HB1670 – removes Nathan Bedford Forrest Day as a day of observance
- HB1688 - deletes requirement for LEAs to provide a physical education class taught by a licensed teacher with an endorsement in physical education or by a specialist in physical education
- HB1689 - prohibits a student from participating in a single-sex interscholastic sport or athletic event provided by the student's public school unless the student verifies with the public school that the student is of the respective sex
Filed as of Jan. 14, 2020
- HB1616 – exempts taxi/Uber drivers from the handheld phone while driving ban
- HB1626 – makes Juneteenth a legal holiday
- HB1629 – makes it a misdemeanor to wear a mask or hood while on public property
- HB1643 – requires a court to ban someone convicted of certain offenses against animals from owning a pet for at least two years
- SB1600 – requires doctors to report vaping illness to department of health
Filed as of Jan. 13, 2020
- HJR686 - suggests removing Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from state capitol and replacing it with “more deserving Tennessean”
- HB1608 -Safe Seniors Act of 2020
- HB1610 - allows counties to hold referendum elections to allow the growing, processing, manufacture, delivery and retail sale of marijuana. Also decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana statewide.
- SB1581 - adds rape, aggravated rape and rape of a child to the list of offenses for which a defendant younger than 14 can be transferred to criminal court and tried as an adult
- SB1580 - deletes the requirement that a high school student has to live in Tennessee for at least a year in order to get a dual enrollment grant
Filed as of Jan. 8, 2020
- HB1585 – requires a person convicted of a sexual offense involved someone under 13 to be chemically castrated
- HB1588 – Tennessee Pay Equality Act. Deals with discrimination, equal pay for equal work, liability for employers
- HB1589 – Tennessee Anti-Lunch Shaming Act. Bans a school from taking certain actions against kids who can’t pay for their lunch or have meal debt
- HB1590 – allows students at public colleges/universities to use their college IDs to vote
Filed as of Jan. 1, 2020
- SB1556 –makes it an “unfair and deceptive practice” for vape vendors to not include a warning label on packaging
- SB1557 – requires the Department of Health to post information from the CDC about dangers of vaping; requires Department of Education to teach students about dangers in middle and high schools
- HB1572 – requires elementary and middle schools that get state funding to “ensure” that student athletes participate in school sports “based on the student’s biological sex as indicated on certificate issued at time of birth”
- HB1575 – adds “imminent danger of serious sexual abuse” as a justification for the use of deadly force in self defense
- HB1578 – requires Tennessee to refuse refugees who want to resettle in the US. Also requires all local governments within the state to refuse refugees unless it’s specially approved
- HB1583 – allows sex offenders to live with, stay overnight with, or be alone with his or her own child unless their parental rights have been terminated or if any child of the sex offender was a victim of the sexual offense
- HB1580 – adds an exemption to the warrant requirement for drones used by law enforcement for an event open to the public where 100+ people are expected
- HB1584 – allows dept. of revenue to issue special license plate to people with disabilities to identify them to first responders
Filed as of Dec. 1, 2019
This is a collection of bills that have slowly been trickling in since October. All of these bills are just preliminary plans. There's a good chance they'll change before lawmakers vote on them.
- HB1554 - allows school system to choose to administer standardized tests in a paper format
- HB1547 - creates a post-graduation “scholarship” for NCAA athletes who earn a four-year degree but don’t go pr
- HB1562 - designates "The Volunteer State" as the official nickname of this state. Who knew it wasn't already?
- HB1559 - requires school systems to teach kids about 9/11 every year on 9/11
- HB1558 - increases from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony the penalty for knowingly allowing a minor to consume alcohol on your property
- HB1557 - increases from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor the penalty for littering if the litter includes human waste in a container
- HR7006 - expels Rep. David Byrd from the House of Representatives
- HR7098 - denounces hate groups and their actions. A similar resolution failed last year
The General Assembly has a new leader in the House going into 2020. House Speaker Cameron Sexton from Crossville was selected to replace former Speaker Glen Casada after a scandal involving sexually explicit text messages.
The Republicans still hold a supermajority in the General Assembly. There are 26 Republicans and 5 Democrats in the 33-member state Senate. There are still 2 vacant Middle Tennessee seats. The 99-member state House includes 73 Republicans and 26 Democrats.
In order to pass most bills each chamber needs a simple majority. That means the magic numbers are 17 in the Senate and 50 in the House.