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113th Tennessee General Assembly: Proposed bills from crimes to the classrooms

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By Sabrina Bates

MVP Regional News Editor

[email protected]

With the filing deadline for proposed legislation drawing near, Tennessee lawmakers are busy wading through more than 3,000 bills that impact their citizens. Topics range from crime to classrooms to social media and everything in between. Republicans now hold the majority in both chambers for the 113th Tennessee General Assembly.

Here is a brief breakdown of some of these proposed bills headed to subcommittees in the coming weeks.

House Bill 930 would delete a provision that revokes a person’s driver’s or attorney’s license for failure to pay child support.

HB 682 would label social media platforms as a “common carrier” in Tennessee and require the platforms to apply for a carrier license. Platforms that do not receive a carrier license would be fined and subject to court proceedings. Users would also have the leadway to bring civil actions against platforms that censor users and content.

HB 621 would change the speed limit on four-lane interstates from 70 to 75 miles per hour.

HB 479 would require jails, juvenile detention centers and the Tennessee Department of Corrections to provide telecommunications services free of charge for inmates and those receiving phone calls from inmates.

Senate Bill 1402 would make it a Class C misdemeanor for people under 21 to use or possess vape products on school grounds.

HB 539 requires an interrogation of a juvenile accused of a delinquent act to be recorded and in the presence of an attorney representing that child.

HB 537 lowers the legal BAC (blood-alcohol content) limit for an Aggravated Driving Under the Influence with Enhanced Penalties charge from .20 percent or more to .15 percent or more.

HB 369 would eliminate inquiries of criminal history on student applications for public institutions of higher education.

HB 557 allows a forensic interview of a child under 18 who is a victim of abuse to be admissible in court during any part of the judicial process.

SB 1497 does not allow law enforcement officers to conduct a traffic stop with an unmarked vehicle unless in the case of an emergency.

During the business shutdowns across the state due to COVID, Gov. Bill Lee allowed restaurants to serve drinks with liquor in a to-go fashion. That provision expires July 1. HB 624 deletes the expiration of the provision and would allow restaurants to indefinitely continue the practice after undergoing additional training.

Also as a result of COVID, school systems were required to provide after-school mini-camps and summer learning camps for at-risk students. SB 249 would put those camps in place indefinitely for public and public charter school systems.

In related education legislation, HB 1075 opens up dual-enrollment course eligibility for sophomores, in addition to juniors and seniors, in high school.

SB 706 would create a statewide financial literacy commission that would be able to provide incentives in the form of cash, gift cards or both for middle and high school educators who teach a commission-approved personal finance course to students for one semester.

Further proposed legislation relative to student courses is HB 1293, which would not allow public and public-charter school systems to utilize services of an individual or organization to teach “family life classes” that endorses student non-abstinence as appropriate or acceptable behavior or one that promotes gateway sexual activity.

HB 1269 emphasizes a teacher’s freedom of speech right, according to the proposed bill. An educator or employee of a school system does not have to refer to a student’s preferred pronoun when it is not consistent with the student’s biological sex and they are not civilly liable or subject to disciplinary action by a school system under the suggested legislation.

For more summaries and updates into proposed legislation, see future editions of this publication.

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