The following legislative highlights are from the week ending on April 19. This list includes bills where there were developments this week. 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 by the Full House on Monday, April 22. SUPPORT
Fair Treatment of Immigrants
The only remaining bill now under consideration that explicitly discriminates against undocumented families is the school voucher bill (please see the “Religious Freedom” section for more information.)
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. The bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 23 and in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on Thursday, April 25. OPPOSE
Adoption discrimination bill. SB 1304/SB 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 bill targets LGBT parents and parents who ascribe to religious beliefs the adoption agency doesn’t agree with, which ultimately would make it harder for children in need of a home to find loving, forever families. This bill has already passed the House and will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 23.
Effective abortion ban. SB1236/HB77 would prohibit abortion from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively outlawing abortion in Tennessee. While HB77 passed on the House Floor, SB1236 ,the companion bill, was sent to summer study. However, the senate sponsor has recalled the bill and has said he wants the Senate to reconsider their action. 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 legislation is scheduled to be heard on both the Senate and House floor on Monday, April 22. OPPOSE
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 bill has passed the House on April 17 and will be heard by the Full Senate on April 22. It has received a great deal of opposition from constituents as well as Senator Kamala Harris and Rev. William Barber. National media is covering our coalition’s opposition to the bill. OPPOSE
School Vouchers. SB 795/HB 939 proposes a voucher system that would provide parents with tax money to help pay for students to attend private or religious schools. This anti-public education bill weakens equal access to education by diverting desperately needed resources away from public schools, which accept all students, and discriminating against students from undocumented families. These vouchers would also violate religious freedom by funding religious education with taxpayer money. This legislation will be heard by the Full House on April 23 and by the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means committee that same day. OPPOSE
For additional information, please visit our Legislative Action Center.