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Firearms Registry Ban Passes State House of Representatives

The Capitol Review with Clay Doggett

Doggett, R-Pulaski, represents the 70th District of Giles and most of Lawrence counties in the State House.

“I am very happy to report that House Bill 902, my bill to ban the creation of a firearms registry in Tennessee, has passed the house, “ Doggett said in a statement.

“I’ve been working on this bill for many months, meeting with law enforcement agencies to create something that doesn’t restrict their operations while protecting second amendment rights from future incursion.

“After half a dozen revisions, the bill will make it an E Felony to pass any information from such a registry to federal agencies to enforce confiscation orders or other unconstitutional gun control. I’m awaiting passage of the Senate version before HB902 heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.”

House Passes 2021 Budget

The House and Senate of the 112th General Assembly have approved a no-debt $42.6 billion budget that provides strategic investments in education, health care, public safety and economic development.

As a result of careful spending decisions and governing by conservative principles, Republicans returned to many pre-pandemic priorities with the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. The spending plan makes key investments that strengthen Tennessee’s standing as the most fiscally responsible state in America.

The 2021-22 fiscal year budget invests $100 million into the Rainy-Day fund, bringing our state’s savings account to $1.55 billion.

Republicans have ensured the state honors its commitment to state employees and teachers by setting aside $250 million through the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. Tennessee remains on solid financial ground as one of the most indebted states with a AAA bond-rated state rating.

The budget provides $730 million in new spending for education, including spending from the special session. This includes more than $480 million on K-12 education and more than $240 million on higher education. The Basic Education Plan (BEP) will be fully funded at approximately $62 million. Tennessee educators will receive $120 million to provide a pay increase in addition to $43 million allocated for teacher salary increases during January’s special session.

The budget includes $79 million to address growing needs of Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology campuses. The budget funds $250 million for a Mental Health Trust Fund to provide mental health assistance and support for K-12 students.

Additionally, the budget cuts more than $50 million for a sales tax holiday on grocery sales and prepared foods from July 30-Aug. 5.

The budget also puts a strong emphasis on job creation and rural development with a significant $100 million investment to expand high-speed broadband to underserved Tennessee communities. These funds are in addition to federal coronavirus stimulus money.

In other jobs investments, the budget provides $190 million for Fast Track Infrastructure Grants to add high-quality jobs. It also provides $7 million to help support Tennessee entrepreneurs and innovators with promising start-up companies.

Health care is another essential priority. There is $37.9 million to fully fund medical inflation in the TennCare program and adds $5 million to widen the state’s Health Care Safety Net. The net focuses on services that help uninsured patients get preventative and disease management care and avoid more costly hospitalizations.

Key highlights include:

• $100 million for cities and counties with funds available in July for any non-recurring needs;

• $931 million for capital improvements to keep the state’s infrastructure strong without incurring debt for such needs;

• $30 million for deferred maintenance for state parks which had a record number of visitors in 2020;

• $9.5 million to improve salaries for probation and parole officers to offer competitive pay with other states and to keep Tennessee safe;

• $4.4 million for new agents in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) to meet increased investigative needs;

• $17 million for a new radio communication system, $2.3 million for body cameras and full funding of the salary plan

and survey for state troopers;

• $18 million to improve Tennessee’s statewide disaster communications system;

• $24 million to provide more funding for rural projects as part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Fund;

• $8 million to expand marketing and tourism initiatives;

• $145 million for air and rail transportation infrastructure;

• $5.3 million to fight human trafficking and support victims;

• $50 million for a sales tax holiday on grocery sales, restaurants and all prepared foods on July 30 – Aug. 5

• $400,000 for senior citizens centers to be distributed through the Tennessee Commission on Aging;

• $450,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations

• $250,000 for child advocacy centers to be distributed through the Department of Children’s Services.

The fiscal year 2021-22 budget takes effect July 1, 2021.

Republicans hold school districts harmless for BEP funding next year

The General Assembly has approved legislation that holds school districts harmless for their Basic Education Program (BEP) funds because of the effects on student attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

BEP funding is based on the average daily attendance of students. During the pandemic, school attendance has fluctuated greatly. House Bill 777 requires that a Local Education Agency’s (LEA) BEP funds for the 2021-22 school year may not be less than the LEA’s BEP calculation for the 2020-21 academic year.

School districts may receive more funds if their average daily attendance has increased. This legislation extends hold harmless provisions adopted by the General Assembly.

General Assembly sends Right to Work constitutional amendment to the ballot for final approval

Tennessee’s Right to Work law is one step closer to being added to the state constitution.

The House of Representatives has given final approval to a resolution to add the law protecting Tennessee workers to the state constitution.

Following three readings in the House, the measure received more than two-thirds of the supermajority vote required to pass. House Joint Resolution 72 fulfills the second required passage of this measure by the legislature.

In June 2020, Senate Joint Resolution 648 overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly, which was the first step to add the law to the Tennessee Constitution.

The amendment must be adopted by a majority vote in the 2022 governor’s election to be added to the state constitution.

Tennessee’s Right to Work statute has been state law since 1947. It provides workers cannot be hired or fired based on their membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.

In 1947, supporters argued the bill would “be of great advantage to the average member of organized labor.” It also protects the rights of those who choose not to join a union.

Twenty-seven other states have Right to Work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional amendments, including neighboring Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. The Alabama amendment passed most recently in 2016. Another neighbor, Virginia, has considered repealing its Right to Work statute.

A constitutional amendment in Tennessee would offer greater protection for workers against such repeal efforts. The resolution has also gained support from prominent business leaders.

House Bill 37 prohibits local governments from classifying workers as essential or nonessential

Both chambers of the General Assembly passed legislation recognizing that every job in Tennessee is essential to the state’s economy. House Bill 37 protects citizens and businesses from burdensome government restrictions.

House Bill 37 prohibits a local government from classifying workers as essential or nonessential. Government should not be allowed to impose restrictions and inequities that threaten the livelihood of millions of Tennesseans. The bill recognizes all workers are essential and ensures government does not impede on any individual’s right to work or earn a living.

This legislation clarifies a local governmental entity may not create categories or classes of essential and nonessential businesses, trades, professions, or industries for the purpose of suspending lawful commerce, encumber trade, or denying citizens the right to work. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Republicans give student-athletes right to capitalize on name, image

Republicans have passed legislation allowing college athletes to benefit financially from the use of their name, image and likeness.

The bill passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.

As amended, House Bill 1351 puts student-athletes first rather than the financial interests of schools by ensuring the right to earn compensation by a third party. This bill modernizes the college sports revenue model while protecting the integrity of higher education athletics programs. The bill authorizes colleges and universities to prohibit student-athletes from accepting payment for activities reasonably considered in conflict with the institution’s values.

Athletes may not profit or lend their name, image or likeness to promote gambling, tobacco, alcohol and adult entertainment. Scholarships awarded for athletics do not qualify as compensation for name, image, or likeness, nor does it provide an opportunity for “pay for play” by the institutions. The bill awaits the governor’s signature. Once signed, House Bill 1351 will take effect on Jan. 1.

The Tennessee Election Integrity Act passes both chambers

Both chambers of the General Assembly gave final approval to legislation that aims to uphold the integrity of elections by ensuring absentee ballots are not fraudulent.

House Bill 1276 requires all absentee ballots to include an easily discernible watermark approved by Tennessee’s

Coordinator of Elections, except those officially authorized to be delivered electronically.

The Tennessee Election Integrity Act also requires absentee ballot counting boards of local county election commissions to reject absentee ballots without the approved watermark to prevent election fraud. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Major Trevor Joseph Act provides flexibility for the interment of active duty service members

The General Assembly unanimously passed the ‘Major Trevor Joseph Act’. which modifies burial practices for active-duty military.

House Bill 442 requires the Department of Veterans Services to provide burial services for a person who died while on active duty with the United States Armed Forces, Tennessee National Guard or Tennessee Air National Guard and is being interred in a state veterans’ cemetery on a date requested by family members with at least 72 hours notice.

Joseph, a Collierville native and medical services officer in the US Army, commanded the “Cajun Dustoff” MEDEVAC unit in Fort Polk, La. His family requested his burial in a state veterans’ cemetery on a weekend to accommodate friends and family wishing to attend, but he was instead required to be interred on a weekday.

House Bill 442 ensures Tennessee honors those who make the ultimate sacrifice by giving them a proper burial service that aligns with familiy requests.

The General Assembly passes the Mercenary Rioter Act

The House chamber approved the Mercenary Rioter Act which aims to ensure protests remain peaceful.

House Bill 881 increases penalties for those paid to participate in riots, and who come from outside the state to commit a criminal offense and riot.

This legislation makes it a Class E felony and increases the punishment for aggravated rioting to a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days imprisonment for one offense or 60 days for two or more offenses.

Tennessee law defines a riot as three or more individuals inciting a violent disturbance that creates grave danger of substantial property damage, serious bodily injury, or obstruction of law enforcement or government functions.

The bill has passed the Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.

Statewide Silver Alert program passes General Assembly

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will implement a statewide Silver Alert program after House Bill 119 unanimously passed the General Assembly.

The Silver Alert program will benefit persons who are age 60 or older, suffer from dementia, are at least 18 or older with an intellectual, developmental, or physical disability when their whereabouts are unknown or they are believed in danger.

Local police or sheriff departments were gatekeepers for Silver Alert and left to judge on when or if a Silver Alert is warranted.

House Bill 119 moves this responsibility to the TBI, who will be required to alert law enforcement agencies and designated media outlets of a missing citizen. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Open for business once again!

Doggett’s office may be contacted at: 615-741-7476, or email: rep.clay.doggett@capitol.tn.gov

His mailing address is: 672 Cordell Hull Building, 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N, Nashville, Tenn. 37423

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