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Changes to Appeals Process Passes 2013 Legislative Session

Updated: May 28, 2023

This information is from the office of 28th District State Sen. and Dr. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall and Maury counties ,about legislation passed in the 2023 session of the State Legislature.

Enhancing the appeals process for capital offenses - When defendants are convicted of a capital offense, they are awarded a request for collateral review, which is a judicial re-examination of evidence that is handled by the original trial court.

These requests are the defendants’ right, but they often come late into the appeals process and can be cumbersome and disjointed, causing problems for the attorneys general, district attorneys and victim’s families.

Often the district attorney is handed a collateral challenge to a decades-old case with which he or she is unfamiliar, and those challenges lose their adversarial characteristic that ensures justice. The victim’s families can also lose contact with the system because the collateral challenge is handled by the new prosecutor at the local level.

Senate Bill 1500

Senate Bill 1500 gives the Attorney General control over the state’s defense in a collateral review of a conviction or sentence.

Doing so will enhance efficiency of the appeals process, ensure the case is handled by those familiar with it and improve transparency for victim’s families.

Senate Bill 542

Strengthening enforcement against illegal adoption facilitatorsSenate Bill 542, seeks to protect expectant parents, prospective adoptive parents and defenseless children against fraud by unlicensed and unregulated adoption facilitators.

These facilitators are often based out of state and charge high, nonrefundable payments in advance typically upwards of $50,000 to match expectant parents with prospective adoptive parents. These facilitators provide no other service other than matchmaking and prey on victims through online advertising.

In Tennessee and in most states, these facilitators are prohibited, but enforcement has been a challenge.

The bill strengthens enforcement of existing prohibitions against illegal adoption facilitators by enhancing the Consumer Protection Act to more specifically address the problem, and by creating an adoption facilitation claim under the state’s tort law.

The bill allows for civil penalties against illegal facilitators of at least $100,000 in damages with the goal of deterring the crime by making it so cost prohibitive illegal facilitators won’t risk operating in Tennessee.

Senate Bill 814

Facilitating successful re-entry - The Senate passed Senate Bill 814, to help inmates released from prison become productive members of society faster.

The bill requires the Department of Corrections to provide identifying documentation such as birth certificates and Social Security cards to inmates who are discharged for a felony offense, and who intend to live in the state.

The bill also requires the department to coordinate with the Department of Safety to provide a photo identification or driver license if the inmate does not have one.

Senate Bill 1345

Studying the effectiveness of the federal No Surprises Act on surprise medical billing - Senate Bill 1345 requires the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce to study implementation of the federal No Surprises Act and its implications for physicians and healthcare facilities in Tennessee.

The No Surprises Act went into effect last year and aims to protect people from surprise medical bills and remove them from payment disputes between providers and insurers.

The report required by Senate Bill 1345 will include recommendations for solutions to persisting challenges related to the No Surprises Act and potential legislative changes.

Senate Bill 979

Defining “financial abuse” to protect older and vulnerable adults -- To crack down on elder abuse, Senate Bill 979, which establishes a legal definition for financial abuse as behavior that is coercive, deceptive or that unreasonably controls or restrains a person’s ability to maintain economic resources to which they are entitled.

Older populations are at a significantly higher risk of becoming victims of financial abuse. This legislation is part of the General Assembly’s efforts over many years to crack down on elder abuse.

Senate Bill 1007

Procedural changes for polling places - Senate Bill 1007 removes the requirement that a voter’s Social Security number be part of the information that election offices send to precincts on election day. This will prevent sensitive information from being released to the public.

The bill also removes the antiquated requirement that colored ballots be used for primary elections and requires polling places to have a printed polling book and an electronic one.

Senate Bill 201

Jabari Bailey Highway Safety Act - In Tennessee, citizens are required by law to move over for stopped emergency vehicles, but not civilian ones. Senate Bill 201 will require all drivers to move over for any stopped vehicle with hazard lights on.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN., 37243, at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by fax at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, at 931-796-2018, by cell phone at 931-212-8823 or by email: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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