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State General Assembly Organizes For 113th Session

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley MD R Hohenwald, who represents Giles. Lewis, Marshall and Maury counties.

Upon completing organizational tasks, the General Assembly will work on issues facing Tennessee including some of these.

Abortion Laws

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

This action returned abortion law to the individual states and triggered Tennessee’s Human Life Protection Act, Almost immediately, Tennessee became one of the most pro-life states in the nation.

Tennessee’s law provides the strongest possible protections for the unborn by outlawing abortion in the state except when the life of the mother is at risk. A violation of this law punishes the abortionist, not the mother, with a Class C felony.

Critics of the law have called for more protections for physicians who perform an abortion to save a mother’s life.

The law provides an affirmative defense exception. Under this exception, if a doctor is charged or prosecuted for performing an abortion, the physician can avoid conviction by proving that, in their good faith medical judgment, the abortion was necessary to prevent the death or irreversible impairment of the pregnant woman.

Critics prefer a blanket exception that would not require a doctor to justify their actions in this manner.

Because the Dobbs decision returns abortion law to the states, it is likely many pieces of legislation will be filed on the subject by members of both parties. Lawmakers are expected to examine all aspects of Tennessee’s abortion law in the 2023 legislative session to determine whether any changes need to be made.

Criminal Justice Reform

In 2023, the General Assembly will continue efforts to be tough on crime and keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

The September 2022 Memphis murders were committed by two criminals released early from their prison sentences.

Following those murders, the Senate and House Speakers appointed the Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Adequacy and Supervision, Investigation and Release of Criminal Defendants.

The Committee will make legislative recommendations which could include expanding the 2022 Truth in Sentencing law to ensure that sentence credits are only awarded to inmates who have demonstrated good behavior and worked towards rehabilitation; and that violent, dangerous criminals with serious disciplinary infractions serve 100% of their full sentence.

Education

Third Grade Literacy and Retention – A 2021 law passed during a special session on education, ensures students can read at a third-grade level before moving on to the fourth grade. Concerns have risen from school districts about the lack of control at the local level. The General Assembly may look to build upon the changes made to literacy instruction for children in early grades and address concerns about third grade retention requirements.

Education Savings Accounts -- Another potential focus of the General Assembly this year is expected to be the expansion of the state’s Education Savings Account program, which was established in 2019 to serve low-income students zoned in Metro Nashville, Shelby County and the state’s Achievement School District (ASD).

The program is part of the Lee administration’s efforts to improve education opportunities for students, focusing on providing parental choice in school districts that have the state’s highest concentration of poverty and priority schools, which are schools most in need of support and improvement.

Legislation has already been filed which would expand the school choice program to the Hamilton County school district. This year look for similar legislation applying to additional counties.

Charter Schools – As part of the push for more school choice in Tennessee, charter schools are growing in popularity.

This session, the General Assembly will consider legislation on charter school authorization, composition, and powers of the Tennessee Charter School Commission, along with access to facilities for charter schools.

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. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823 and his email address is: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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