2019 Legislative Watch List

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Incarcerated People's Family and Reproductive Rights

SB 0075 sponsored by Senator Robinson / HB 0129 by Rep. Love requires custodians of women prisoners to provide feminine hygiene products, moisturizing soap that is not lye-based, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and any other healthcare product a custodian deems appropriate to women prisoners at no charge and in an appropriate quantity.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Passed Corrections Subcommittee in the House on 3/5/2019. Set for House State Committee 04/02/19.

SB 1150 sponsored by Senator Akbari / HB 1240 by Rep. Camper requires a penal institution, correctional facility, or jail, to use the least restrictive restraints on a pregnant inmate. Declares that, unless directed by physician, no restraints will be used in transportation, during any stage of labor, and while recovering from child labor unless deemed a threat. Defines types of restraints. Prohibits solitary confinement for a pregnant inmate.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Corrections Subcommittee 04/02/19. Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 04/02/19.
  • This is Healthy and Free Tennessee's pro-active legislation. 

SB 0958 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 1189 by Rep. Chism prohibits the removal of pregnant prisoners to a state penitentiary or branch prison for safekeeping; prohibits solitary confinement of pregnant prisoners. 

  • Stance: Support

SB 0956 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 1189 by Rep. Chism requires youth development centers, jails, and the department of correction to provide free telephone calls between minors and their parents or guardians. 

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Failed in House Corrections Subcommittee 03/19/19.

Criminalization of Pregnant Women

SB 0659 sponsored by Senator Bowling / HB 1168 by Rep. Weaver authorizes prosecution of a woman for assault based on the woman's illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant if the child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of the woman's use of a narcotic drug while pregnant; provides enrollment in an addiction recovery program while pregnant and successful completion of the program is an affirmative defense. 

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Set for House Criminal Justice Subcommittee 04/03/19. Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/02/19.

Family-Friendly Workplace Policies

SB 0057 sponsored by Senator Gilmore / HB 0978 by Rep. Cooper prohibits public employers from discriminating against applicants for employment and employees with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing the applicants and employees with reasonable accommodations.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 04/03/19.

SB 0420 sponsored by Senator Robinson / HB 0363 by Rep. G Johnson requires employers to provide employees four hours of leave, paid or unpaid, each year for parental involvement in schools, subject to certain conditions; establishes a private cause of action for employer violations.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Failed in House Employee Affairs Subcommittee 03/19/19.

SB 0647 sponsored by Senator Kyle / HB 0514 by Rep. G Johnson enacts the "Tennessee State Family Leave Act." Establishes that family and medial leave insurance benefits are payable to a covered individual who meets one of the requirements of birth, adoption, or placement through foster care, or a serious health concern. Establishes maximum number of weeks family and medical leave insurance benefits are payable. Defines benefit time frame and costs associated. Establishes that the state treasury shall create a fund to benefit the family and medical leave program. Establishes the application for receiving benefit and legality in cases of fraud or tampering from an employer. 

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Failed in House Employee Affairs Subcommittee 03/19/19.

SB 0741 sponsored by Senator Kyle / HB 1207 by Rep. Mitchell authorizes state agencies to provide child care services for state employees, with the department tasked to approve, administer, and coordinate such services. 

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 04/03/19. Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 04/02/19.

SB 0758 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 0986 by Rep. Shaw enacts the "Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act." Defines reasonable accommodations in respect to employees who are pregnant. Declares that an employer is not required to construct a permanent, dedicated space for pressing milk. Establishes what an employer is not required to do unless the same accommodations are made for other employees including creating a light duty position and compensate an employee for more frequent or longer break periods. Declares it to be discriminatory based on sex for an employer to fail to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation can be made, and take adverse action against an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations.

  • Stance: Support 

  • Status: Taken off notice in House Consumer & Human Resources Committee 03/25/19.

Abortion Restrictions

SB 1257 sponsored by Senator Gresham / HB 1029 by Rep. Lynn enacts the "Human Life Protection Act," which bans abortion in this state effective upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade or amending the U.S. Constitution to allow states to prohibit abortion. This is a "trigger law" similar to what has been passed in other states

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Failed in House Public Health Subcommittee 03/27/19.

SB 1236 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 0077 sponsored by Rep. Van Huss prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected; requires fetal heartbeat testing prior to an abortion; creates exceptions. Amended to change the legal definition of viability to "viable pregnancy" rather than viable fetus. Prohibits abortion after the point at which a pregnancy is determined to be viable, six weeks.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed House floor vote on 3/7/2019 Ayes 65, Nays 21, PNV 7 as amended. Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/02/19.

SB 1306 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 0078 by Rep. Van Huss increases by $500 the minimum fine imposed for a first or second violation of the requirement that a physician who reports suspected sexual abuse due to being requested to perform an abortion on a minor include in that report information regarding the sampling and preservation of embryonic or fetal tissue; increased fine amounts will be $1,000 and $1,500 respectively. 

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Set for House Public Health Subcommittee 04/03/19.

SB 0331 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 0299 by Rep. Hill changes from "10 days" to "seven business days" after an abortion the time within which the abortion must be reported to the office of vital records by the person in charge of the institution where the abortion was performed or by the attending physician.

  • Stance: Oppose

SB 0487 sponsored by Senator Bowling / HB 574 by Rep. Faison changes the age that triggers the requirement that a physician report suspected sexual abuse of a minor who is seeking an abortion from under 13 years of age to under 18 years of age.

  • Stance: 

  • Status: Passed Criminal Justice Subcommittee on 3/20/2019. Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/03/19.

SB 1418 sponsored by Senator Jackson / HB 1490 by Rep. Ragan enacts the "Life Appropriation Act" which designates secular humanism as a religion and finds that naked assertions that "abortion is not murder" and that "life does not begin at conception" are unproven faith-based assumptions that are implicitly religious and are unproven truth claims that are inseparably linked to the religion of secular humanism. Finds that some taxpayers in Tennessee consider convenience abortions to be modern day child sacrifice conducted on the altar of convenience, which is a practice that is nonsecular and controversial. The state of Tennessee may not favor or endorse one religion over another, nor may the state of Tennessee favor or endorse the religion of secular humanism generally over nonreligion. Thus, it is the policy of the state of Tennessee to favor childbirth and family planning services that do not include convenience abortions or the promotion of convenience abortions within the continuum of care or services. And, the state of Tennessee has a compelling interest to uphold community standards of decency. Facilities that provide convenient abortions tend to erode community standards of decency by encouraging promiscuity and normalizing false permission-giving beliefs about sex, and should not be funded.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Set for House Health Committee 04/02/19.

Addition of Neonatal Care to Dept of Health's Perinatal Health Plan 

SB 1470 sponsored by Senator Bailey / HB 1388 by Rep. Williams adds neonatal care as a component of the department of health's plan for perinatal care; adds a reporting requirement for the Bureau of TennCare.

  • Stance: Support 

  • Status: Passed House Health Committee 3/26/19. Referred to Calendar & Rules Committee.

Denial of Reproductive Rights to Undocumented People

SB 1279 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 1238 by Rep. Griffey requires verification of United States citizenship or lawful presence for each applicant 18 years of age or older, who applies for prenatal care administered by the department of health and the special supplemental food program for women, infants and children administered by the department of health. 

  • Stance: Oppose 

  • Status: Failed in House Criminal Justice Subcommittee 3/27/19.

SB 1278 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 662 by Rep. Griffey denies birth certificates to children with undocumented parents.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Set for Public Health Subcommittee for 4/3/2019.

Eliminate Sales Tax on Diapers

SB 0964 sponsored by Senator Gilmore / HB 1059 by Rep. Clemmons eliminates the sales tax on diapers.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Placed behind the budget on 2/20/2019.

Free Menstrual Hygiene Products for Public High School Students

SB 1046 sponsored by Senator Kyle / HB 1483 by Rep. Hardaway requires LEAs to provide free feminine hygiene products in eligible public high schools.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Education K-12 Subcommittee 04/03/19.

Use of Force by a Minor Who Was a Victim of a Sexual Offense

SB 0024 sponsored by Senator Gilmore / HB 0017 by Rep. Lamar establishes a presumption that a minor who is the victim of a sexual offense or engaged in prostitution held a reasonable belief that the use of force is immediately necessary to avoid imminent death or serious bodily injury. 

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Deferred to Summer Study on 2/20/2019.

Community-Based Sentencing Alternatives for Primary Caregivers

SB 0985 sponsored by Senator Gilmore / HB 1449 by Rep. Camper allows a court to sentence a person to an individually assessed sentence based on community rehabilitation with a focus on parent-child unity and support, if the person has been convicted of a nonviolent offense and is the primary caretaker of a dependent child.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Criminal Justice Subcommittee 04/03/19. Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/02/19.

HOPE Scholarship Extension for Pregnant Students

SB 0831 sponsored by Senator Akbari / HB 0689 sponsored by Rep. Lamar extends for a student who becomes pregnant during the four-month period immediately preceding the date on which the student completes high school in a Tennessee home school program, obtains a GED® or HiSET®, or graduates from high school, the time within which the student must be admitted to, and enrolled in, an eligible postsecondary institution to be eligible for a Tennessee HOPE scholarship. 

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Set for House Education Committee 04/03/19. Set for Senate Education Committee 04/03/19.

Use of Campaign Funds for Childcare Expenditures

SB 0086 sponsored by Senator Akbari / HB 0007 by Rep. Powell authorizes the use of campaign funds for the child care expenditures of a candidate that are incurred by the candidate as a direct result of the candidate's participation in campaign-related events and activities.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Failed in House Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee 3/13/19.

Child Care Payments to Relative Caregivers 

SB 0011 sponsored by Senator Briggs / HB 0004 by Rep. Staples establishes a pilot program for three years to provide child care payments to eligible relative caregivers; requires the department of children's services to publish an annual report containing certain data about the pilot program, including the amount of payments made pursuant to the pilot program and the number of children that remained out of state custody due to the pilot program.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Returned to Clerk's Desk 3/26/19.

Baby Changing Stations in New Public Buildings 

SB 1008 sponsored by Senator Gilmore / HB 0054 by Rep. Potts requires that each newly constructed or renovated public building owned, operated, or under the control of a public entity be equipped with a baby diaper changing station accessible to men and women.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in House Public Service & Employee Subcommittee 2/27/19.

Anti-LGBT Bills

SB 0364 sponsored by Senator Gardenhire / HB 0563 by Rep. Zachary prohibits state and local governmental entities from taking discriminatory action against a business based on that business's internal policies, such as health insurance coverage, paid family leave policies, minimum wage, or anti-discrimination policies. Tennessee Equality Project calls this bill the "Business License to Discriminate bill." The bill casts businesses rather than the LGBTQ community as possible victims of discrimination. Government would not be able to disadvantage businesses in public contracts or grants if the internal policies of the business or nonprofit are discriminatory. In other words, it opens the door to taxpayer funded discrimination. Amended in committee to say "does not limit the authority of the department of economic and community development to award grants pursuant to § 4-3-717."

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed House floor vote as amended on 3/21/2019.

SB 0848 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 1152 by Rep. Ragan protects private adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective parents based on the religious or moral views of the agency.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Taken off notice in House Children & Families Subcommittee 3/5/19.

SB 1304 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 0836 by Rep. Rudd protects private adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective parents based on the religious or moral views of the agency.

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed House Judiciary Committee as amended 3/20/19. Set for House Floor for 04/01/19. Set for Senate Judiciary Committee 04/02/19.

SB 1297 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 1151 by Rep. Ragan expands the offense of indecent exposure to include incidents occurring in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, or shower, designated for single-sex, multi-person use, if the offender is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use. On its face, this bill seems to be about indecent exposure. But it is a way of criminalizing trans and nonbinary people in restrooms and locker rooms. 

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Passed the House Judiciary Committee as amended 3/26/2019. Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee as amended 3/26/2019. 

SB 1499 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 1274 by Rep. Holt expands the attorney general and reporter's duties to include representation of an LEA or certain LEA employees in a court or administrative tribunal arising out of the adoption of a policy requiring students, faculty, and staff to utilize the restroom, locker room, or other facility that corresponds to that individual's biological sex. This bill is similar to a bill last year that required the Attorney General to defend school districts that engage in anti-transgender bathroom discrimination.  

  • Stance: Oppose

  • Status: Set for House Civil Justice Subcommittee 04/02/19.

SB 1282 sponsored by Senator Pody / HB 1369 by Rep. J. Sexton enacts the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act," which states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

  • Stance: Oppose

Pro-LGBT Bills

SB 0463 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 0998 by Rep. Beck as amended, makes the Tennessee Human Rights Act LGBTQ-inclusive.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: Taken off notice in House Departments & Agencies Subcommittee 3/6/19.

Pregnant Voter Access

SB 1014 sponsored by Senator Yarbro / HB 1413 by Rep. Towns requires, rather than permits, an elections officer to escort a voter who is a person with a disability or who is visibly pregnant or frail to the front of the line at a polling place at the request of the voter.

  • Stance: Support

  • Status: House Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee deferred to summer study 3/27/19. Set for Senate State & Local Government Committee 04/02/19. 

Female Genital Mutilation

SB 1166 sponsored by Senator Hensley / HB 1364 by Rep. Weaver rewrites the criminal offense of female genital mutilation; extends the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions or civil actions for female genital mutilation.

  • Stance: Support

  • Healthy and Free TN does not support genital mutilation, period. And yet, we are concerned that this bill targets immigrant communities of color. It is our belief that the movement to end genital mutilation must be led by those who are directly affected and not be rooted in Islamophobia. Senator Weaver has made Islamophobic comments in the past saying we are "at war with with an ideology that wants to fundamentally change who we are, our principles, and what we believe in as Americans" and Senator Hensley sponsored a bill that would have eliminated teaching about Islam in schools before grade 10 in order to avoid "indoctrination" even though teaching about Christianity is allowed. Therefore, we support, but with grave concerns about the motivation behind the bill. 

  • Status: Set for House Judiciary Committee 04/03/19. Senate passed with Amendments 1, 2, and 3 Ayes 33, Nays 0. Amendment 1 requires any medical who performs, participates, or facilitates a female genital mutilation procedure, not subject to an exception to be subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing board. Amendment 2 clarifies that cosmetic rejuvenation and reconstruction in accordance with the standards of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is an exception to the offense of female genital mutilation. Amendment 3 specifies that body piercing is not female genital mutilation when performed on a consenting adult.

Training in Domestic Violence For Health Providers

SB 0826 sponsored by Senator Akbari / HB 0682 by Rep. Helton requires facilities that employ licensed healthcare providers and deliver care to patients to adopt protocols requiring training in the detection and treatment of victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking; provides immunity from liability for the failure to detect, identify, or refer victims to local resources. 

  • Stance: Support

  • AWAKE is leading the work to pass this legislation.

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