Updates from the Legislature – April 5, 2019

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The following legislative highlights are from the week ending on April 5. After reviewing the information below, we urge you to contact your legislators to share your opinion on these bills.

Criminal Justice Reform

Citation in lieu of arrest. SB 587/HB 715, which removes unnecessary burdens on law enforcement, making it easier to issue a citation in lieu of arrest, has passed the Senate, and will be heard in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on April 10. SUPPORT

Preventing driver’s license suspension for failure to pay fines or costs. As introduced, SB 1143/HB 839 would prevent driver’s license suspension for those who cannot afford to pay the fines related to their driving offense. The Senate Transportation and Safety Committee recommended the bill for passage with an amendment. The House companion bill will be heard in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on April 9.

Limitations on the community oversight boards. SB 1407/HB 658, as introduced, sought to limit the power of community oversight boards by removing their authority to issue subpoenas. Different versions of this legislation have passed both the Senate and House and the two chambers are currently in discussion over amendments to the bill. OPPOSE

Fair Treatment of Immigrants

Verification of immigration status of parents obtaining birth certificates. SB 1278/HB 662 seeks to require doctors, nurses and hospitals to verify parents’ immigration status when obtaining a birth certificate. This bill is up for a vote in the House Public Health Subcommittee on April 10. OPPOSE

The following dangerous bills were also defeated:

  • SB 1167/HB 614, which would have criminalized any landlord who rents to undocumented people – OPPOSE;
  • SB 1279/HB 1238, which, as amended, would have required judges and jails to notify ICE whenever someone is booked – OPPOSE;
  • SB 1305/HB 835, which would have excluded driver’s licenses from states that provide licenses to undocumented people from serving as acceptable proof of identification in Tennessee – OPPOSE;
  • SB 1504/HB 562, which would have taxed Tennesseans to pay for a border wall  – OPPOSE; and
  • HJR 47, which sought to undermine the bedrock principle that all children born in the United States are U.S. citizens  – OPPOSE.

Thanks to everyone who joined with us to oppose these bills.

Free Speech

The Tennessee Public Participation Act. SB 1097/HB 777 would establish legal protections for victims of SLAPP lawsuits (lawsuits intended to chill the free speech of individuals who speak out against the actions of an individual or organization) by giving them the right to petition the court to dismiss legal action when a person’s First Amendment rights are involved. The Senate passed this legislation unanimously and it is up for a vote in the House floor on April 8. SUPPORT

LGBT Equality

Adoption discrimination. SB 1304/HB 836 would allow child placing agencies to discriminate against prospective foster and adoptive families based on the agency’s “religious or moral convictions or policies.” This legislation would have a targeted impact on the LGBT community, as well as single people and individuals from different religious traditions outside that of the agency. This legislation has passed the House, and will be placed on the final calendar for the Senate Judiciary Committee, delaying the bill until the end of the session. OPPOSE 

Attorney general representation for local education agencies with anti-transgender policies. SB 1499/HB 1274 would require the attorney general to represent local education agencies if they are sued for having anti-transgender policies. This bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on April 10 and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee but has not yet been scheduled. OPPOSE

Reproductive Justice

Criminalization of pregnant women struggling with addiction. As introduced, SB 659/HB 1168 would have targeted pregnant women struggling with a drug addiction for criminalization. However, the bill was amended to make it a Class E felony for a person to knowingly possess a child-like sex doll and a Class A misdemeanor to transport, distribute or possess such a doll.

Effective abortion ban. SB 1236/HB 77 would prohibit abortion from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively outlawing abortion in Tennessee. This bill has passed the House and will be in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 9. OPPOSE

The “trigger” bill, or outlawing abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. SB 1257/HB 1029 would ban abortion in Tennessee immediately should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.  This bill originally failed in the House Public Health Subcommittee on March 27, but we understand that there will be a movement to revive the bill by recalling it from the subcommittee to the full committee on Tuesday, April 9 at 8 a.m. It is also set to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 9. OPPOSE

Voting Rights

Restoration of voting rights to people with felony convictions. SB 589/HB 547 would restore the voting rights of eligible persons convicted of certain infamous crimes upon receipt of a pardon or after completion of their sentence, incarceration, parole or probation. This legislation is currently scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 9 and in the House Judiciary Committee on April 10. SUPPORT

Chilling of voter registration drives. SB 971/HB 1079, as amended, would chill voter registration drives conducted by individuals or groups who are not entirely volunteer driven by creating a burdensome list of requirements that must be met in order to hold voter registration drives. The measure threatens individuals and groups holding voter registration drives with criminal and civil penalties if the requirements are not met or if errors are found on registration forms. This legislation would make it harder for marginalized communities to have their voices heard in elections. This legislation passed the House Local Committee on April 3 and will be taken up in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on April 9. OPPOSE


For additional information, please visit our Legislative Action Center.

2019-04-08T16:35:04-05:00 April 5th, 2019|Categories: Take Action|