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Senate Takes Steps To Protect Children From Danger Online

Updated: Mar 29

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, M.D., who represents Giles, Lewis, and parts of Marshall, Maury and Williamson counties.

Lawmakers prioritized legislation to protect children from harmful online content, as well as protect the religious freedom of foster and adoptive parents in Tennessee.

Other legislation advanced to crack down on the opioid crisis by punishing distributors of deadly drugs and expanding the ability for providers to treat opioid addiction.

Protecting Children From Social Media Act

It is vital to ensure the safety and well-being of Tennessee youth in the digital age.

With the exponential growth of social media platforms, the Protecting Children from Social Media Act aims to safeguard children from harmful content on social media platforms.

The bill would require social media companies to verify the age of any individual creating an account on their platform. If the account holder is a minor, the company must obtain express consent from the parent or guardian for the account creation.

Additionally, the bill would require social media companies to provide parents and guardians with account restriction options for their child.

These restrictions include privacy settings, daily time restrictions, and implemented breaks from the platform.

Lawmakers Seek To Protect Children From Accessing Pornography Online

Protecting children is a top priority of Republicans in the state. Legislation advanced in the Senate seeking to shield kids from the harmful effects of pornography.

Senate Bill 1792, seeks to prevent children from accessing explicit adult content by requiring online media companies and operators to verify users' age for access. Known as the Protect Tennessee Minors Act, the bill would require companies to verify users are at least 18 using a valid form of identification issued in the United States.

The legislation would create a Class C felony for website owners and operators convicted of violating the law.

The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security would be responsible for enforcing compliance with the law.

A national survey by Common Sense Media cited 73 percent of teen respondents ages 13-17 had watched pornography online. Fifty-four percent reported first watching pornography online before age 13.

Bill Tries To Fight Sexual Exploitaton

Similarly, another bill advanced to strengthen laws regarding the sexual exploitation of children.

Senate Bill 2668, would add AI-generated images are punishable under the state’s laws dealing with sexual exploitation of children.

The legislation advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor.

Lawmakers Advance Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that will enact the Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act.

The legislation aims to protect religious freedom for existing and prospective foster and adoptive parents in Tennessee and ensure that the number of foster care homes in Tennessee continues to grow.

In other states, families seeking to adopt or foster have been denied approval because of their religious beliefs on marriage or traditional sexuality. 

Senate Bill 1738 prohibits the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from requiring foster parents to adopt, affirm, or support any government policy.

It also prevents DCS from denying eligibility to foster or adopt because of religious and moral beliefs. The bill also maintains that a child’s best interest is prioritized during placement.

Paid Leave for State Employee Foster Parents - Senate Bill 1545,  will grant state employees who become foster parents six weeks of paid leave to promote the consistent stability and support crucial to a child’s well-being.

Last year, the General Assembly enacted legislation to extend paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child for state employees, and this legislation expands that effort.

The bill received unanimous approval in the State and Local Government Committee and advanced to the Senate floor for final approval.

Lawmakers Move To Punish Distributors Of Deadly Fentanyl With Second-Degree Murder

Tennessee lawmakers are taking active steps to address the state's opioid crisis, particularly the alarming rate of fentanyl overdoses.

The Senate recently passed a resolution to assist Texas with its border crisis, recognizing the link between border security and drug trafficking. This week, the Tennessee General Assembly is moving forward with legislation to enhance the penalties for fentanyl distribution.

Senate Bill 1754, would enable District Attorneys to pursue second-degree murder charges for offenders who distribute fentanyl that results in the death of another person. 

The legislation would allow an offender to be prosecuted for both drug distribution and second-degree murder charges.

The bill also addresses intrastate drug trafficking by allowing the use of geotracking services to find and prosecute distributors that are crossing county lines.

Increasing Access To Opioid Addiction Treatment - Those battling opioid addiction can seek treatment at a federally qualified treatment center where mid-level physicians, like nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can prescribe buprenorphine which is used in medication-assisted treatment.

Those mid-level physicians are capped at 50 patients they can treat with buprenorphine. To increase access to treatment centers the bill will increase the number of patients from 50 to 100 that a mid-level physician can see and treat with buprenorphine.

The bill would also increase the number of mid-level physicians a physician can supervise from four to five.

Senate Bill 2019 advanced out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee to the Senate floor for final approval.

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

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

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This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties. On Capitol Hill, Senat

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