2017 Legislative Session in Review

    

The 110th General Assembly ended on May 10, 2017. As with most sessions, we had losses and some gains. But our wins go beyond what bills were passed or not, as we know that real winning is when people use their power to speak out on issues that matter to them. Thank you to all our supporters who spoke to legislators this session and especially to Hadleigh Tweedall who bravely told her story in Committee, in legislative offices, and in the news. She educated with her experience and hopefully inspired others to do the same.

Healthy and Free mobilized hundreds of Tennesseans to action in contacting or directly visiting their legislators, we hosted a Lobby Day on February 21st, supported people directly impacted to testify before Committees, supported a new coalition partner, Free Hearts, in drafting their own legislation and lobbying for more humane rights for incarcerated families, and coalition partner Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network had a big win in passing needle exchange. A detailed synopsis on the status of bills HFTN was watching is below.  


Fetal Personhood

SB 0754 sponsored by Senator Beavers / HB 0895 by Rep. Pody codifies that human life and legal personhood begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent:

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Referred to committee but never scheduled for a hearing. We will be watching to see if they move the bill forward next year.

Fetal Assault Law

SB 1381 sponsored by Senator Tate with no House co-sponsor.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Bill did not have a House co-sponsor so it did not move this year, however we will be watching next year.

SB 1385 sponsored by Senator Tate / HB 0620 by Rep. Favors requires reporting to the commissioner on geographic distribution and program adequacy of treatment resources for people affected by substance abuse.

  • Stance: Watching

  • Status: Taken off notice in House subcommittee. This is a broadly captioned bill so there was some concern that it could affect fetal assault. We will be watching next session.

Abortion Access

HB 0663 sponsored by Rep. Hill with no Senate sponsor amends tort law to create a cause of action for emotional distress resulting from an abortion.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Status: Bill did not have a Senate sponsor so it did not move this year, however we will be watching next year.

SB0766 sponsored by Senator Beavers / HB 0101 by Rep. Weaver prohibits abortions after 20 weeks except to preserve the life and health of the mother.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Referred to committee but never scheduled for a hearing. We will be watching to see if they move the bill forward next year.

SB 0244 sponsored by Senator Beavers / HB 0108 by Rep. VanHuss requires fetal heartbeat testing prior to abortion and prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Action deferred in Health Subcommittee, moved to first calendar of 2018. We will be watching next year.

SB 1180 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 1189 by Rep. Hill enacts the “Tennessee Infants Protection Act” which prohibits abortion of a viable fetus except in a medical emergency and requires testing to determine viability if at least 20 weeks pregnant.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed and signed by the governor. Becomes law July 1, 2017.

  • Healthy and Free Tennessee, Planned Parenthood, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and ACLU actively lobbied against this bill.

Contraception Access

SB 1142 sponsored by Senator Kyle / HB 0721 by Rep. Powell enacts the “Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act” which requires all health insurance policies to cover contraception with some exceptions.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in House subcommittee. We will be watching to see if this bill moves next year.

SB 0883 sponsored by Senator Harris / HB 1320 by Rep. Stewart enacts the “Long-Acting Birth Control Information Act” which requires family planning centers to provide information and access to LARCs Long-Acting Birth Control.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Passed in the House 75 ayes/3 nays but deferred in Senate committee to 2018. We will be watching next year.

Needle Sharing Program to Prevent HIV and Heptitis B and C Transmission

SB 806 sponsored by Senator Dickerson / HB 770 by Rep. Hazelwood authorizes nongovernmental organizations to take action to mitigate health risks associated with drug use and HIV infection including distribution of syringes and naloxone which is a drug used to stop an overdose. As originally written the bill would just require the Health Department to report on health issues related to drug use. But an amendment to the bill expanded its reach to include needle sharing and overdose drug distribution by nonprofits.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Passed and signed by the governor. Became law on May 18, 2017.

  • HFTN coalition partner Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network led the effort to pass this bill.

Minimum Healthcare Standards

SB 0830 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 0842 by Rep. Fitzhugh establishes minimum essential benefits for health insurance coverage in the state of Tennessee that is no less extensive than that available under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in the House subcommittee. We will be watching next year.

Menstruation Hygiene Access

SB 0741 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 0804 by Rep. Fitzhugh eliminates the sales tax on over-the-counter medicine, diapers, and menstruation products and reduces sales and use tax rate on food and food ingredients by 0.5% each year beginning on January 1, 2018.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in the House subcommittee. We will be watching next year.

SB 1118 sponsored by Senator Kyle/ HB 0833 by Rep. Jones reduces the state sales and use tax rate on retail sales of diapers, feminine hygiene products, and nonexempt over-the-counter drugs from 7 percent to 5 percent.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Assigned to committee but did not move forward. We will be watching next year.

SB 1115 sponsored by Senator Kyle/ HB 0832 by Rep. Jones requires all public high schools to provide free feminine hygiene products.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in House subcommittee. We will be watching next year.

Pregnant and Parenting Worker Rights 

SB 1141 sponsored by Senator Kyle / HB 1184 by Rep. Powell requires that all employers give their employees six weeks of paid leave for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth, or nursing an infant.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Action deferred in House subcommittee for a calendar in 2018. We will be watching next year.

SB 1029 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 0834 by Rep. Jones requires employers to provide notice of a pregnant employee’s right to a reasonable accommodation and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees upon request.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Assigned to committee but did not move. We will be watching next year.

Lactation Consultant Regulation

SB 0049 sponsored by Senator Massy / HB 0622 by Rep. Favors enacts the “Tennessee Lactation Consultant Practice Act” which creates a process for licensing and regulation of lactation consultants.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Failed in House Health subcommittee. Will not move forward.

Primary Caregiver Sentencing Reform

SB 0919 sponsored by Senator Dickerson / HB 0825 by Rep. Gilmore requires a court to sentence a person who was convicted of a nonviolent offense and is the primary caretaker of a dependent child to an individually assessed sentence based on community rehabilitation with a focus on parent-child unity and support.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Action deferred until 2018.

  • HFTN coalition partner Free Hearts took the lead in introducing and lobbying this bill. We plan to support their efforts next year.

Anti-Transgender Student Bathroom Bill

SB 0771 sponsored by Senator Beavers / HB 0888 by Rep. Pody requires students in public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms assigned to persons of the same sex as shown on the students’ birth certificates.

Tennessee Anti-LGBTQ Marriage Act

SB 0752 sponsored by Senator Beavers / HB 0892 by Rep. Pody enacts the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” which defines natural marriage as between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Action deferred until 2018. We will be watching next year.

Anti-LGBTQ Parent Bills

SB 1153 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 1406 by Rep. Weaver repeals the statute that deems a child born as a result of artificial insemination to be the legitimate child of the parents.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Assigned to committee but was not scheduled for a hearing. We will be watching next year.

SB 0300 sponsored by Senator Bowling / HB 0033 by Rep. Ragan requires that words “husband” “wife” “mother” “father” apply in Tennessee code to only heterosexual cisgendered parents.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Assigned to committee but was not scheduled for a hearing. We will be watching next year.

SB 1085 sponsored by Senator Stevens/ HB 1111 by Rep. Farmer requires that undefined words be given their "natural and ordinary" meaning.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed and signed by the governor. Became law on May 5, 2017.

  • Coalition partner Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) led efforts to defeat this bill.

Teachers' Bill of Rights

SB 0014 sponsored by Senator Jim Tracy / HB 0174 by Rep. Jay Reedy enables teachers to identify threats to a student's wellbeing based on a teacher's own conscience and to notify the parents of the threats. This was flagged because it could in theory apply to LGBT students or students seeking reproductive or sexual health services because of teachers' religious beliefs. 

  • Stance: Oppose as written.

  • Status: Passed and signed by the governor. 

  • Coalition partner GLSEN-TN was tracking this bill. Listen to Justin Sweatman-Weaver discuss the bill in this podcast (starting at about the 10-minute mark).

Business Right to LGBTQ Discrimination

SB 0127 sponsored by Senator Green / HB 0054 by Rep. Zachary prohibits discriminatory action against businesses based on their internal policies, including discriminating against LGBT employees or customers, among other discriminatory practices.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed in the Senate. Deferred for action in the House until 2018. We will be watching next year.

  • Coalition partner Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) led efforts to defeat this bill.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy in Higher Education

SB0521 sponsored by Senator Massey/ HB 1388 by Rep. Jernigan requires the commission to develop a plan, in collaboration with the boards of public universities and community colleges, to address the prevention of unintended pregnancies among older teens and single students.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in the House. We will be watching next year.


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