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Indoctrination Argued Against In Higher Education

Information is provided by 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other area counties.

The State Senate has passed legislation that protects students and employees at public universities from being forced to believe or embrace divisive concepts.

Senate Bill 2290 stipulates that students or employees at public higher education institutions must not be penalized, discriminated against, or adversely treated due to the student’s or employee’s refusal to endorse divisive concepts.

The bill also prohibits public universities from requiring training programs that include divisive concepts.

The proposed legislation lists 15 definitions of a divisive concept that are nearly identical to those in legislation pertaining to public K-12 schools that passed last year, including the following:

• One race or sex is inherently superior or inferior to another race or sex.

• An individual by virtue of their race or sex is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously, or subconsciously.

• An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex.

• This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.

This bill doesn’t say faculty members can’t teach or mention these divisive concepts, but it does say no adverse action can be taken against a student who doesn’t conform or doesn’t believe these divisive concepts.

Whether a faculty member or a student, Hensley said we need to make sure no one is punished either through denial of tenure, promotion or a grade because they don’t go along with these divisive concepts.

The bill also requires public universities to conduct a biennial survey of students and employees to assess the campus climate about diversity of thought and the respondents’ comfort level in speaking freely on campus.

Findings would be presented to legislative committees at budget hearings. If a student or employee feels unfairly treated with regard to divisive concepts, the bill states they can pursue legal remedies. The bill does not establish new legal processes for resolving complaints.

Gov. Lee announces 30-day grocery tax suspension

Lee has announced his proposal for a 30-day suspension of state and local grocery sales tax to provide direct financial relief to Tennesseans amid surging inflation nationwide.

“As Americans see their cost-of-living skyrocket amid historic inflation, suspending the grocery tax is the most effective way to provide direct relief to every Tennessean,” Lee said. “Our state has the ability to put dollars back in the pockets of hardworking Tennesseans, and I thank members of the General Assembly for their continued partnership in maintaining our fiscally conservative approach.”

The proposal to suspend state and local sales tax on groceries for 30 days will be in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget amendment.

Lee has hosted a roundtable with business leaders in Covington to discuss the tax cut proposal and hear about the local impacts of nationwide economic challenges.

Senate passes bill addressing school staffing challenges

The Senate has passed legislation to help school districts address staffing challenges. Senate Bill 2702 would allow retired members of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) to be reemployed as a K-12 teacher, K-12 substitute teacher, or as a K-12 bus driver without loss or suspension of the retired member’s TCRS benefits.

Many retirees are helping their local school districts and want to continue to help but are held back by current requirements. This bill temporarily removes those barriers to provide much needed support in our schools.

Retired members of TCRS may return to work, but only for a maximum of 120 days. This bill removes that limit as long as each retiree is 60 or more days past their retirement date.

During reemployment, retirement benefits would be reduced to 70 percent of the retirement allowance the member is otherwise entitled to receive, and the existing salary cap would be removed. The bill would be effective from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025.

COVID-19 visitation law passes in Senate

Senate Bill 2574 makes it clear that nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be required to allow a resident to have visitors not only during normal conditions, but also during an end-of-life situation if a disaster, emergency or public health emergency for COVID-19 has been declared. The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate.

The bill stipulates that visitors must agree to follow safety protocols, cannot exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, and cannot violate federal or state law regulating each facility.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Tennesseans were prevented from being with their grandparents, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and other loved ones during their final days of life. This bill ensures this never happens again.

Bill would prohibit restrictions on religious institutions during emergencies

A bill that would prohibit restrictions on religious organizations in emergencies received Senate approval.

Senate Bill 1197 would prohibit the state, political subdivisions or a public official from limiting lawful operations of a church or religious organization during a state of emergency or natural disaster. This bill codifies our first amendment rights in the Constitution.

Committee advances voter integrity legislation

"Senate Bill 2245, which I sponsored, prohibits non-U.S. citizens from participating in federal, state, or local elections in Tennessee," Hensley said.

The bill has passed out of the State and Local Government Committee.

This legislation ensures that no local government entity attempts to give voting rights to non-U.S. citizens as has happened in other states.

This bill helps to make sure the proper people are registered to vote. The bill also gives additional tools to the coordinator of elections to identify non-U.S. citizens on the voter rolls as well as Tennesseans who’ve moved to another state.

TelehealthSenate Bill 2453 deletes the sunset provision of the telehealth bill enacted by the General Assembly in 2020, requiring health insurance entities to reimburse for healthcare services provided during telehealth encounters consistent with what is provided for in-person encounters.

Without the bill, the 2020 legislation would have expired in April.

Computer scienceSenate Bill 2406 requires the Department of Education to adopt standards for computer science education by the 2023-2024 school year.

Under the bill, by the 2024-2025 school year all high school students would be required to take a full year of computer science education to graduate, and middle schoolers would have to take at least one computer science course.

VeteransSenate Bill 2551 authorizes the issuance of a disabled veteran registration plate without payment of a fee to a veteran with a service-connected disability.

Landlord and Tenant — When a landlord seeks to reclaim a rental property from a tenant who has breached the contract by not paying rent, if the tenant appeals the judgement then they must execute a bond. Senate Bill 1994 extends that provision to all appeals by a tenant.

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

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

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