2016 Legislative Review

This was an exciting year for the Healthy and Free TN coalition! We are incredibly proud of the work we did as leaders and in collaboration with an amazing group of powerful partners. 

Thank you to the 20 partners from across the state who traveled to Nashville on HFTN Day on the Hill 2016 to lobby their representatives and sponsors of the bills we watched most closely this session. Those face-to-face conversations made a real difference. Thank you to the hundreds of partners and supporters who flooded offices with THOUSANDS of e-mails and hundreds of phone calls making sure lawmakers heard us loud and clear. 

Special appreciation to all the FIERCE ADVOCATES who testified in committees this session and especially to Brittany Hudson who bravely told her story in committee, in legislator offices, on the news, and at events in her community. She educated with her experience and inspired many others to do the same. Thank you Healthy and Free TN advocates for your commitment to making sexual health and reproductive freedom a reality for ALL Tennesseans!

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2016 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Fetal Assault Law (HB 1660/SB 1629): Make the Fetal Assault Law permanent. 

  • Sponsors: Senator Tate and Representative Weaver 
  • Stance: Oppose
  • Status: Defeated !
  • No Votes: Representatives Stewart, Akbari and Farmer
  • Healthy and Free TN led the coalition working to defeat this harmful bill. 

Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (SB 1981/HB 2081): Authorize the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services, in consultation with the commissioner of health, to establish a pre-arrest diversion program from minor drug charges.

  • Sponsors: Senator Duncan Massey and Representative Dunn
  • Stance: Support
  • Status: Taken off notice 
  • Local advocates and professionals in Knoxville are looking to develop a pilot based on best practices. 
  • This bill was led by the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS).

Regarding Drug Use and Probation (SB 2276/HB 2044): As introduced, adds as a possible condition of probation that the court may impose participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program, if the defendant was charged with a drug offense, is pregnant or was pregnant at the time the offense was committed, and the defendant's use of alcohol or drugs was a contributing factor in the defendant's unlawful conduct.

  • Sponsors: Senator Kyle and Representative Farmer
  • Stance: Monitor
  • Status: Taken off notice     

Ensure Benefits for Pregnant Women Facing Complications (SB 2481/HB 2512): As introduced, requires the commissioner of labor and workforce development to publish the report concerning the condition of the unemployment trust fund during the first week of January and the first week of July of each year on the department's web site.

  • Sponsors: Senator Green and Representative Holt
  • Stance: Oppose
  • Status: 
  • The bill initially included a definition of pregnancy as an “illness or injury”, which would disqualify pregnant women from seeking benefits in the case of complications.  We worked with A Better Balance on an amendment to mitigate the impacts on pregnant women. 

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (SB 1159/HB 974): As introduced, enacts the "Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act."

  • Sponsors: Senator Kyle and Representative Farmer
  • Stance: Support 
  • Status: No votes/no hearings 
  • This bill was championed by A Better Balance.  

Opt Out of Eye Ointment (SB 2371/HB 2412): Authorizes a parent of a newborn to object and opt out of a treatment to the newborn's eyes to prevent certain conditions; removes Class C misdemeanor penalty for a physician, nurse, or midwife failing to administer the treatment.

  • Sponsors: Senator Watson and Representative Lynn
  • Stance: Support 
  • Status: Passed and transmitted to governor for action!      
  • We assisted the Nashville Birth Network in getting this legislation introduced. They led the efforts to advance the bill. 

Contraception Access (SB 1677/HB 1823): As amended would authorize pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptive patches and self-administered oral contraceptives in certain circumstances. 

  • Sponsors: Senator Dickerson and Representative Hazelwood  
  • Stance: Support 
  • Status: Enrolled and ready for action!
  • Similar bill was introduced, but did not move - SB 1958 (Yarbro)/HB 1847 (Jernigan).  

Restriction on Abortion Access (SB 1769/HB 1459): As introduced, requires that an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion, with an exception for medical emergencies.

  • Sponsors: Senator Beavers and Representative Womick   
  • Stance: Oppose  
  • Status: Sponsor withdrew the bill due to concerns

Limit Access to Later Abortion Care (SB 1770/HB 1758): As introduced, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to preserve the life and health of the mother. 

  • Sponsors: Senator Beavers and Representative Weaver
  • Stance: Oppose  
  • Status: Taken off notice! 

Regarding Medical Research and Fetal Remains (HB 2577/SB 2568): As introduced, establishes requirements regarding the disposition of fetal remains resulting from surgical abortions, including reporting requirements and requirements for interim inspections of and certain reporting by facilities where surgical abortions are performed.

  • Sponsors: Senator Norris and Representative McCormick     
  • Stance: Oppose  
  • Status: Enrolled and ready for signatures     
  • Similar legislation regarding fetal remains were introduced, but did not move – SB 1624 (Bailey)/HB 1709 (VanHuss) and SB 2522 (Bowling)/HB 2518 (Lynn).

Regarding Consent for Use of Fetal Remains for Medical Research (SB 2240/HB 1654): As introduced, clarifies that the consent required of a woman in order for medical experiments, research, or the taking of photographs upon her aborted fetus must be in writing.

  • Sponsors: Senator Hensley and Representative Terry
  • Stance: Oppose
  • Status: Enrolled and ready for signatures

Reporting Requirements for Abortion (SB 1985/HB 2075): As introduced, revises the reporting requirements for abortions.

  • Sponsors: Senator Bowling and Representative Sexton    
  • Stance: Oppose  
  • Status: Taken off notice!  

Extra Inspections of Abortion Clinics (SB 1986/HB 2076): As introduced, requires financial records of facilities and physician's offices that perform abortions to be available for inspection by the comptroller and district attorneys general.

  • Sponsors: Senator Bowling and Representative Sexton 
  • Stance: Oppose
  • Status: Taken off notice! 

Reporting on Abortion Funding (SB 2330/HB 2076): As introduced, requires the bureau of TennCare to report to the chair of the health and welfare committee of the senate and the chair of the health committee of the house by January 31 of each year on the number of abortions paid for by the medical assistance program during the prior calendar year that comply with the exceptions permitted by budget statute.

  • Sponsors: Senator Haile and Representative Hill
  • Stance: Oppose
  • Status: No votes/no hearings 

Gender Identity Protections (SB 2283/HB 2057): As introduced, allows amendment of birth certificate to reflect a change in gender.

Deny Transgender Students Bathroom Access (HB 2414/SB 2387): As introduced, requires students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students' birth certificates.

  • Sponsors: Senator Bell and Representative Lynn
  • Stance: Oppose 
  • Status: Taken off notice!  (a lot more story behind that – click HERE for more info)  
  • The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), TTPC and the ACLU of TN led this effort

Counseling Discrimination (HB 1840/SB 1556): As introduced, declares that no person providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.

  • Sponsors: Senator Johnson and Representative Howell
  • Stance: Oppose 
  • Status: Passed and transmitted to governor for action.
  • TEP is pushing the governor to veto the bill along with many other advocates, organizations and health professionals.  It is worth noting that the legislature can override a veto with a simple majority, but this is an important political statement!    
  • The TEP and the ACLU of TN directed the opposition to this bill. 

Healthy and Free TN is proud of the work that we did to help defeat the legislation disrespecting transgender young people and our efforts to speak out about the legislation allowing health professionals to deny services.  There were several other anti-LGBTQ bills this year.  Check out TEP’s comprehensive list of bills

Support for People Experiencing Domestic Violence (SB 2592/HB 2116): As introduced, prohibits a landlord from evicting victims of domestic abuse, minor children, and innocent occupants when domestic abuse is the underlying reason for terminating a lease.

  • Sponsors: Senator Norris and Representative McCormick
  • Stance: Support
  • Status: Passed and transmitted to governor for action 
  • This bill was led by the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga

Maternal Mortality Review and Prevention Act of 2016 (SB 2303 / HB 1757): Requires the TN health department to maintain data on maternal mortality, including the number of deaths reported by county and race.

  • Sponsors: Senator Kyle and Representative Love
  • Stance: Support
  • Status: Passed and signed by the governor 
  • This bill was led by Dr. Cornelia Graves, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Vanderbilt.

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