2022 Legislative Session in Review

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During the second year of the 112th General Assembly, ACLU-TN defended against attacks and advanced legislation to uphold the civil liberties and rights of Tennesseans. Despite an uphill battle against backwards thinking and hateful rhetoric, our supporters contacted legislators to advocate on a range of issues. Below we catalog some of our efforts and successes this session as we worked to promote justice and equity for Tennessee.

Criminal Justice and Policing

Bills ACLU-TN Supported:

  • SB 827/HB 916 will prohibit the use of solitary confinement and “safekeeping” transfer for pregnant people. – PASSED WIN
  • SB 1791/HB 1936 would have ensured that a defendant is entitled to a bail hearing within 48 hours of arrest, a practice which is not adhered to across the state. – DID NOT ADVANCE WIN
  • SB 2172/HB 2307 would have ended fee and fine assessments for juveniles and their families. While the bill did not advance this session, we are optimistic that we laid crucial groundwork for its passage in the future. – DID NOT ADVANCE WIN
  • SB 2769/HB 2875 will place new restrictions on the use of restraints on pregnant people in prisons. – PASSED  WIN
  • SB 2176/HB 2037 revokes the ability of the Department of Safety to suspend licenses for “unsatisfactory academic progress.” Our so-called “no pass, no drive” law is a senseless and punitive approach to student discipline, and we are glad lawmakers have eliminated one of the law’s most harmful aspects – PASSEDLOSS

Bills ACLU-TN Opposed:

  • SB 1610/HB 978 will criminalize unhoused people for sleeping on public property. This bill takes a heartless approach to the problem of homelessness, which cannot be punished away. It also raises serious constitutional concerns under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 1999/HB 2586 was an anti-accountability and anti-transparency bill that was filed late this session. It would have severely restricted public access to body camera and in-car camera footage and preempted local power to regulate surveillance technology. – DID NOT ADVANCE  WIN
  • SB 2248/HB 2656, the so-called “truth-in-sentencing” bill, would force certain offenders to serve 100 percent of their sentence without the possibility of sentence reduction for good behavior or program participation. We expect this legislation will decrease public safety, cost Tennessee taxpayers tens of millions to incarcerate more community members, and worsen conditions in prisons. – PASSEDLOSS

Education Equity

  • SB 2173/HB 2258 would end suspension and expulsion of students pre-kindergarten through second grade. Removing young children from the classroom leads to worse outcomes for our students – more behavioral problems, more dropouts, and more interactions with the criminal justice system. – FAILED LOSS

Free Speech and Classroom Censorship

  • SB 1944/HB 1944 would have allowed any parent to enforce their definition of “obscenity” on a whole school district and force the removal of books from library shelves for at least 30 days. – DID NOT ADVANCE  WIN
  • SB 2407/HB 2154 forces schools to develop removal procedures for books deemed “inappropriate.” – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 2292/HB 2454 threatens to prevent student access to a range of content on school computers, including possibly blocking content related to LGBTQ+ issues. – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 2247/HB 2666 will allow the state Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission to categorically ban books deemed “inappropriate” across the state based on a successful appeal from one parent in one district. – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 2290/HB 2670 places vague restrictions on overbroad “concepts” related to race and gender, and will chill expression in classrooms and across campuses. It al so intentionally targets and denies access to equitable, culturally relevant teaching and ideas that reflect the history and lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; women and girls; and LGBTQ+ individuals. – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 1993/HB 2050 is an anti-free speech measure that would force government contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel. – PASSEDLOSS

LGBT+ Equality

  • SB 562/HB 233 sought to create a separate, “common law” marriage for people who “object” to same-sex marriage. – DID NOT ADVANCE WIN
  • SB 1216/HB 800 would have banned textbooks in schools which address or “normalize” LGBT+ issues. – DID NOT ADVANCE WIN
  • SB 1861/HB 1895 forces public schools to adhere to transphobic policies by withholding funds from districts that chose to affirm trans athletes rather than incriminate and silo them for being who they are. – DEFEATED WIN
  • SB 2153/HB 2316 takes authority away from Tennessee colleges and universities to make crucial decisions about their athletic programs by completely banning trans women from participating in intercollegiate sports. – PASSEDLOSS
  • SB 2696/HB 2835 would have had prevented trans kids from accessing crucial, life-saving care. – DEFEATED WIN
  • SB 2777/HB 2633 would have insulated teachers who choose to misgender and deadname a trans student from accountability or adverse action. – DEFEATED WIN

Reproductive Rights

  • SB 2582/HB 2779 was a “copycat” bill of Texas’ infamous SB 8. This legislation would have made providers of and patients receiving abortion care vulnerable to unconstitutional lawsuits and penalties. – DEFEATED WIN
  • SB 2158/HB 2557, which prohibits schools from entering into agreements with entities that fund or perform abortions (like Planned Parenthood). – PASSED LOSS
  • SB 2281/HB 2416 will place new restrictions on abortion inducing drugs: it forces patients to pick up abortion-inducing drugs in-person rather than receiving them by mail, and requires doctors schedule follow-up visits with patients seven to 14 days later – PASSED LOSS

Voting Rights

  • SB 18/HB 561 would have made voting more accessible for formerly incarcerated Tennesseans. – DID NOT ADVANCE WIN
  • SB 2711/HB 2813 would have launched a study on the use of college ID cards for voter identification. – FAILED LOSS
  • SB 2064/HB 2489, the “Tennessee Student Voter Act,” would have required high schools to provide high school seniors information about voting. – FAILED LOSS
  • SB 2558/HB 2331 would require the creation of a voter-verifiable paper audit trail for every ballot cast. – PASSED WIN




This past week, the Tennessee General Assembly passed its annual appropriations bill. While this budget – as is the case every year – provides crucial funding for services like education and transportation, we are reminded of Tennessee’s distorted priorities. We budget over a billion dollars for incarceration while we spend too little on healthcare, housing, and other priorities that could improve the lives of Tennesseans across our state – particularly Tennesseans of color, who have for too long been deprived equal opportunities to succeed. Budgets are moral documents, and we will continue to advocate for budgets that reflect our national systemic equality agenda.

Criminal Justice

  • SB 1610/HB 978 – a cruel bill that would criminalize unhoused people for sleeping on public property, passed both houses and was transmitted to the governor this past week.
  • SB 2248/HB 2656 – the so-called “truth-in-sentencing” bill that will arbitrarily increase sentences for thousands of prisoners, passed both houses this past week.
  • SB 2769/HB 2875– which addresses the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners or detainees, passed both houses this past week.

LGBT+ Rights

  • SB 562/HB 233 – which intends to create a separate, “common law” marriage for people who “object” to same-sex marriage, was deferred to summer study and will not progress further this year.
  • SB 1861/HB 1895 – the bill that forces public schools to adhere to transphobic policies by withholding funds from districts that chose to affirm trans athletes rather than discriminate against them was signed by the governor this past week.
  • SB 2153/HB 2316 – the bill that takes authority away from Tennessee colleges and universities to make crucial decisions about their athletic programs by completely banning trans women from participating in intercollegiate sports, passed the Senate and will be heard in the House the week of April 25.
  • SB 2777/HB 2633 – the bill that insulates teachers who choose to misgender a trans student from any accountability or adverse action will be heard on the House floor and in the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee the week of April 25.

Reproductive Rights

  • SB 2158/HB 2557 – which would prohibit LEAs from entering into agreements with entities that fund/perform abortions, like Planned Parenthood, passed both houses and was transmitted to the governor for his signature this past week.
  • SB 2281/HB 2416 – which would place new restrictions on abortion inducing drugs, passed both houses this past week.

Free Speech

  • SB 2292/HB 2454 – which would place stricter and potentially discriminatory regulations on filtering internet content in schools, passed the Senate and House floors this past week.




Criminal Justice

  • SB 1610/HB 978 – a cruel bill which would criminalize unhoused people for sleeping on public property, may be heard on the Senate floor this week. This bill passed the House last year.
  • SB 2769/HB 2875– which addresses the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners or detainees, will be heard on the House floor and possibly the Senate floor this week.

LGBT+ Rights

  • SB 562/HB 233 – which intends to create a separate, “common law” marriage for people who “object” to same-sex marriage, is set for the Senate Floor and the House Civil Justice Committee.
  • SB 1861/HB 1895 – the bill that forces public schools to adhere to transphobic policies by withholding funds from districts that chose to affirm trans athletes rather than incriminate and silo them will be heard on the Senate floor.
  • SB 2153/HB 2316 – the bill that takes authority away from Tennessee colleges and universities to make crucial decisions about their athletic programs by completely banning trans women from participating in intercollegiate sports, will be heard on the Senate floor and in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee.

Reproductive Rights

  • SB 2158/HB 2557 – which would prohibit LEAs from entering into agreements with entities that fund/perform abortions, like Planned Parenthood, will be heard on the Senate floor.
  • SB 2281/HB 2416 – which would place new restrictions on abortion inducing drugs, will be heard on the House floor and possibly the Senate floor this week.

Youth & Students’ Rights

  • SB 2064/HB 2489 – which would require high schools to inform seniors about their eligibility to vote, is set to be heard on the Senate floor this week despite failing in a House committee last week.




Criminal Justice

  • SB 1610/HB 978 – a cruel bill which would criminalize unhoused people for sleeping on public property, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 1791/HB 1936 – which addresses unconstitutional bail practices in Tennessee, was assigned to the general subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary committee, rendering the bill dead this session.
  • SB 1999/HB 2586 – which would take away local control over the regulation of police surveillance tech and allow DAs/police to indefinitely retain and not release body cam footage, was taken off notice in the House and sent to the general subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 2769/HB 2875– which addresses the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners or detainees, passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

LGBT+ Rights

  • SB 562/HB 233 – which intends to create a separate, “common law” marriage for people who “object” to same-sex marriage, was rolled a week in both houses after national press coverage about the lack of a minimum age requirement.
  • SB 2153/HB 2316 – the bill that takes authority away from Tennessee colleges and universities to make crucial decisions about their athletic programs by completely banning trans women from participating in intercollegiate sports was rolled a week in the House Finance, Ways, and Means subcommittee.
  • SB 2777/HB 2633 – the bill that insulates teachers who choose to misgender and deadname a trans student from any accountability or adverse action was rolled two weeks in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee and re-referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee and re-referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

Reproductive Rights

  • SB 2281/HB 2416 – which would place new restrictions on abortion inducing drugs, passed the House Government Operations Committee.
  • SB 2779/HB 2114 – the “sue thy neighbor” Texas copycat abortion bill, was taken off notice in the House Health Committee.

Youth & Students’ Rights

  • SB 1944/HB 1944 – which allows any parent to enforce their definition of “obscenity” on a whole school district and force the removal of books from library shelves for at least 30 days, was re-referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee sent the bill to summer study, which means it will not be passed this year.
  • SB 2064/HB 2489 – which would require high schools to inform seniors about their eligibility to vote, failed in the House Local Government Committee.




  • SB 827/HB 916 – which would ban solitary confinement for pregnant inmates, passed the House State Government Committee.
  • SB 1861/HB 1895 – which forces public schools to adhere to transphobic policies by withholding funds from districts that chose to affirm trans athletes rather than incriminate and silo them for being who they are, passed the House floor and the Senate Education Committee this week.
  • SB 1944/HB 1944 – which allows any parent to enforce their definition of “obscenity” on a whole school district and force the removal of books from library shelves for at least 30 days, passed the House floor and the Senate Education Committee recommended the bill for passage.
  • SB 2064/HB 2489 – the “Tennessee Student Voter Act,” which would require each high school to inform all seniors about their eligibility to vote how to register, passed House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee.
  • SB 2153/HB 2316 – the bill that takes authority away from Tennessee colleges and universities to make crucial decisions about their athletic programs by completely banning trans women from participating in intercollegiate sports, passed both the Senate Education Committee and the House Civil Justice committee.
  • SB 2158/HB 2557 – which would prohibit LEAs from entering into agreements with entities that fund/perform abortions (like Planned Parenthood) passed the Senate Education Committee.
  • SB 2172/HB 2307 – which would end fee and fine assessments for juveniles and their families, was assigned to the general subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which likely closes off its path to passage.
  • SB 2281/HB 2416 – which would place new restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, passed the House Health Committee.
  • SB 2638/HB 2323 – this bill says threatening to use deadly force is not considered deadly force when a private citizen is making an arrest. The bill was sent to summer study.
  • SB 2769/HB 2875 – which addresses the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners or detainees, passed in the State Government Committee in the House.
  • SB 2777/HB 2633 – the bill that insulates teachers who choose to misgender and deadname a trans student from any accountability or adverse action passed both the Senate Education Committee and the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee.



  • Legislators also rejected, deferred, or weakened bills which would expand voting rights. SB 18/HB 561, Senator Gilmore’s voter restoration bill, was deferred to a summer study. We gave testimony on a bill to study the use of college ID cards for voter identification, SB 2711/HB 2813, but it failed in a House subcommittee. SB 2064/HB 2489, the “Tennessee Student Voter Act,” would have meaningfully expanded students’ abilities to cast ballots, but the most impactful portions of bill were removed – it was amended to require high schools to provide high school seniors information about voting. On the bright side, the Senate State and Local Committee recommended passage of SB 2558/HB 2331, which would require the creation of a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for every ballot cast. Tennessee will now comply with best practices for election security that are already in place in most states across the country.
  • SB 562/HB 233, which intends to create a separate, “common law” marriage for people who “object” to same-sex marriage, passed House Children & Family Subcommittee.
  • SB 1216/HB 800 bans LGBTQ topics from being discussed in any classroom, written about in any textbooks, or spoken to in any class materials. Last week, this bill was sent to the General Subcommittee of Senate Education, and is not scheduled to be heard this upcoming week.
  • SB 1861/HB 1895 – the bill that forces public schools to adhere to transphobic policies by withholding funds from districts that chose to affirm trans athletes rather than incriminate and silo them for being who they are was deferred in the Senate Education Committee, but passed in the House Government Operations Committee.
  • SB 1993/HB 2050, which would force government contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel, passed the House floor and was signed by the senate speaker this week. This anti-free-speech bill will head to the governor’s desk in the next few weeks.
  • SB 2172/HB 2307, which would end fee and fine assessments for juveniles and their families, cleared its first hurdle and passed the House Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee.
  • SB 2281/HB 2416, which would place new restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs, passed the House Health Subcommittee this week.
  • SB 2290/HB 2670, the higher ed “divisive concepts” bill, passed the Senate floor this week. Democratic senators spoke to the dangers of the bill and emphasized the potential chilling effects on speech in the classroom, but only one Republican senator, Sen. Briggs, opposed it.
  • SB 2440/HB 2569, which would ban affirmative action by stating that any Tennessee entity that is authorized by the state cannot “discriminate” or “grant preferential treatment” to an individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin when it comes to employment, education, or contracting. This bill was taken off-notice in the Senate, and will not be heard this upcoming week.
  • SB 2696/HB 2835, which bans hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgeries from being given to minors, and protects and encourages mental health professionals to discriminate against LGBTQ youth was taken off-notice in the House, and will not be heard this upcoming week.
  • SB 2769/HB 2875, which addresses the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners or detainees, passed the House Corrections Subcommittee this week.



  • SB 2172 – Our bill eliminating juvenile fines and fees is calendared for this week in the Senate Judiciary committee, though it is unlikely to be heard given its position on the calendar.
  • HB 2258 – Our bill prohibiting suspension or expulsion of a student enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through two is scheduled to be heard in the House K-12 Subcommittee this week, though it could be rolled. It is also calendared for the Senate Education Committee this week.
  • HB 969 – Rep. Dixie has calendared the “wandering officers” bill, which would prohibit the hiring of police officers who have been fired or resigned for misconduct at another department.
  • HB 1944 – The obscenity bill will be back up this Wednesday in the full House Criminal Justice Committee
  • HB 2835, HB 2316, HB 2633 – A slate of anti-trans bills are also set to be heard this week: respectively, a bill that bans crucial gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors, a bill extending last year’s prohibition on sports to higher education, and a bill prohibiting schools from requiring teachers to use a student’s preferred pronoun.



  • HB 1944 – the biggest news this past week was the “obscenity” bill, which would require schools to remove any “obscene” material from their libraries. The bill had two long hearings in Criminal Justice Subcommittee, with extensive testimony from a wide range of stakeholders – everyone from the Tennessee Library Association to Moms for Liberty to country artist John Rich. The bill passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee 7-3.
  • HB 2037 – The “No Pass, No Drive” bill revoking the Department of Safety’s ability to suspend licenses for “unsatisfactory academic progress” passed through both the House Transportation and the Senate Transportation and Safety committees, setting it up for passage on the floor. Read more about this bill here.
  • HB 2331 – An interesting bill that would require voting machines to have the capability of producing a voter-verified paper audit trail moved forward this past week in the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee.
  • Every major anti-trans bill up for consideration last week was rolled.


2022-05-26T10:49:42-05:00 May 13th, 2022|Categories: General News, Take Action|