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Bill blog: What Tennessee lawmakers are talking about in 2020

In 2020, lawmakers will return to familiar debates, including marijuana and school vouchers, but they'll also talk about dozens of new proposals.

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 acarr@wbir.com and tell me what you want to see. Check back for regular updates. 

Filed as of Feb. 7, 2020

  • HB2778 - designates the Holy Bible as the official state book.

Filed as of Jan. 30, 2020

  • HB2068 - requires the department of education to create a pilot program of at least 40 hours of training for school resource officers; permits the department to contract with a private provider for the required training.
  • HB2079 -  clarifies that the offense of indecent exposure does not include the knowing performance of an excretory function in a public place when performed without intent to abuse, torment, harass, or embarrass another person, or attain sexual arousal or gratification
  • HB2100 - requires correctional institutions to provide postpartum prisoners access to breast pumps to express milk, provide sanitary storage for the expressed milk, and allow for visits to enable breastfeeding
  • HB2102 - authorizes a registered student at a public institution of higher education to carry a handgun in a concealed manner on property owned, operated, or controlled by that institution if the student is a handgun carry permit holder 

Filed as of Jan. 29, 2020

  • HB2000 – exempts smokeless nicotine products from the tax on tobacco products and cigarettes
  • HB2016 – prohibits the governor from making a decision on behalf of the state with regard to the resettlement of refugees unless the governor has been previously authorized to do so by joint resolution of the general assembly
  • HB2046 – redefines organized retail crime
  • SB1944 – prohibits revocation of parole, probation, or bail based on drug test result that is positive for THC below a certain level; prohibits public employers from taking adverse employment action and denying certain benefits based on such test result
  • SB1945 – requires the placement of a monument or statue honoring David Crockett on the pedestal above the entrance to Motlow Tunnel on Charlotte Avenue; requires the State Capitol Commission to determine an appropriate site on capitol grounds for the relocation of the statue of Edward Carmack
  • SB2013 – allows retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages and retail food stores to sell wine on Thanksgiving
  • HB1922 – allows a sexual or violent sexual offender to attend a house of worship within the restricted area if the offender has notified the house of worship's leader of the person's offender status and received permission
  • HB1954 – prohibits a public school from requiring a teacher to be on duty more than one hour per week outside of the required workday established by the local board of education, except in the event of extraordinary circumstances approved by the principal.
  • HB1966 – creates the rural at-risk pre-kindergarten fund to provide an additional source of funding for local education agencies operating a pre-kindergarten program in a distressed rural county
  • SB1904 – increases the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $10
  • SB1905 – eliminates sales tax on diapers and wipes
  • HJR774 – honors Kobe Bryant

Filed as of Jan. 27, 2020

  • HB1901 – requires inmates to be screened for chemical dependency, mental illness and “serious emotional disturbance”
  • SB1876 – creates the Tennessee violence intervention program within the TBI to invest in "evidence-based violence reduction initiatives" 
  • HB1904 – authorizes the ownership, possession, purchase, and sale of antique gambling machines

Filed as of Jan. 23, 2020

  • SB1832 – enacts the "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act," which defines race and protective hairstyle for purposes of the Tennessee Human Rights Act
  • SB1841 – prohibits a direct-to-consumer genetic testing business entity from sharing personally identifiable genetic test data with a third party without the written consent of the consumer 
  • SB1849 – authorizes the retail sale of marijuana; levies a 12 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana
  • SB1851 – increases the minimum hourly wage for an employee who receives tips, from "$2.13 plus tips that must equal at least $7.25" to "$7.25 in addition to any tips the employee receives”
  • HJR0732  – Urges DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug

RELATED: Tennessee bill would allow sale of small amounts of marijuana taxed for schools and infrastructure

RELATED: Will Tennessee legalize marijuana? | Why no recent bills have passed

RELATED: Tennessee bill seeks to prevent discrimination based on a person's hairstyle

RELATED: Tennessee lawmaker wants tipped employees to receive basic minimum wage on top of tips

Filed as of Jan. 23, 2020

  • SB1788 – increases Tennessee's minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $15
  • HB1873 – allows court to issue emergency protection order if someone poses an imminent risk to themselves or others if they’re allowed to buy a gun
  • SB1812 – exempts doctors and nurses from hand-held phone law

RELATED: Don't expect $15 minimum wage in Tennessee; lawmakers disagree on impact

RELATED: Tennessee bill seeks to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Filed as of Jan. 22, 2020

  • SB1776 – allows sale of sparklers "under certain circumstances" in every municipality in the state
  • HB1833 – limits number of TCAP tests given to kids grades 3-12
  • HB1839 – prohibits a governing board of a public institution of higher education from contracting or affiliating with a foreign nation or a political subdivision of a foreign nation
  • SB1793 – enacts the "Opioid Addiction Recovery Program for Pregnant Women and Women with Newborns Act"
  • SB1797 – requires state to pay at least $15 an hour to state employees

Filed as of Jan. 21, 2020

  • HB1713 – bans leaving a gun that’s not locked up in an unattended car or boat if a person under the age of 18 is in there
  • HB1717 – exempts veterans with 100 percent service-connected disability from the sales tax on food
  • HB1722/SB1753– allows beer manufacturers to self-distribute beer within 100-mile radius if they make less than 50,000 gallons
  • SB1751 – repeals Tennessee's hands-free phone law
  • HB1797 – requires Department of Veterans Services to train employees in suicide prevention
  • HB1798 – requires nursing homes to put monitoring device in resident’s room at request of resident or lawyer
  • HB1808 – allows people 65 years old or older to be excused from jury service
  • SB1767 –  creates a student athlete graduation grant fund to provide a source of funding for one-time payments to eligible student athletes who graduate from public four-year universities or colleges in Tennessee 

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

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

RELATED: Lee: Tennessee panel expected to address Confederate bust

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

RELATED: TN lawmaker introduces 'anti-lunch shaming' bill aimed at helping students who cannot pay

RELATED: TN considering bill that would require child sex offenders to undergo chemical castration for parole

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

RELATED: Tennessee lawmakers to discuss vaping bills in 2020

  • 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

RELATED: 10Listens: Questions about proposed law to label license plates of people with certain conditions

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

RELATED: Tennessee House GOP won’t pursue Rep. Byrd's expulsion

RELATED: Resolution filed in Illinois calls out Tennessee for failing to denounce neo-Nazis

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.