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Senators Support AG Lawsuit Defending Rights of NCAA Student Athletes 

Updated: Feb 6

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

Senate lawmakers expressed support for a lawsuit filed by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for violating federal antitrust laws by placing anticompetitive restrictions on current and future student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). 

The AG action is consistent with legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2021 to push back against unfair NCAA policies and ensure student athletes attending Tennessee universities could financially benefit from their NIL. Tennessee law clearly stands on the side of NCAA athletes on this issue.

Tennessee law is very clear. The NCAA cannot impair a student athlete’s right to earn a living based upon their name, image or likeness if they have not violated NCAA rules.

Attorneys General of Tennessee and Virginia have filed suit against the NCAA for student athletes in and outside Tennessee who come to universities to maximize educational and financial opportunities.

When prospective student-athletes decide where to attend college, the NCAA prohibits them from discussing potential NIL opportunities with schools prior to enrolling.

These restrictions leave prospective student-athletes unable to consider all NIL-related services a school might offer.

UT is under investigation by the NCAA for violations of their NIL policies.  NCAA rules are unclear and unfairly punish student athletes. Hopefully the AG lawsuit against the NCAA will result in clear and fair policies for student-athletes.

New security technology eligible for school safety grants is approved.

A new security technology alert device is eligible for school safety grants funded by the General Assembly in 2023.

The device will reduce response times in emergencies and help protect teachers and students.

At the push of a button from teachers, the new technology can alert law enforcement and school administrators to threats while also providing real-time video footage of the classroom or surrounding area.

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) approved the safety technology administratively.

Now, instead of waiting on the months-long legislative process, new technology can be available to schools immediately.

TDOE will notify school districts across the state that the school safety grant eligibility is expanded to cover this technology. 

This technology can save lives. It will improve the response time of law enforcement and EMS to immediate classroom threats such as discipline issues, medical emergencies or active shooters.

It will be like having a Ring doorbell on teachers’ lanyards that alerts appropriate personnel. When teachers press that button, they know help is coming.

The new device must have GPS tracking along with real-time video and audio recording capabilities that would turn on when one of three color-coded buttons is pressed to dispatch emergency personnel and/or school administrators to the teacher.

Each button designates a different emergency: a dangerous behavior issue with a student, a medical emergency, and an active shooter or threat.

Funding for school safety grants is a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2023.

Lawmakers approved over $230 million to place a school resource officer (SRO) at every Tennessee public school, boost physical security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans. 

 Fighting Violent Crime

To fight violent crime in Memphis, legislation was filed to ensure law enforcement can conduct routine traffic stops to protect public safety. The legislation would prohibit local governments from restricting routine traffic stops by law enforcement. 

Crime is on the rise across the country. Violent crime has reached a crisis level in Memphis. Police officers and deputy sheriff’s need more tools to combat rising crime, not fewer. This proposed law will prohibit cities and counties from restricting routine traffic stops and other crime-fighting tactics.

The Memphis City Council passed a resolution last year to prohibit Memphis Police from stopping vehicles for expired tags, broken tail lights, loose bumpers, and similar offenses. The Shelby County Commission defeated a comparable ordinance. 

Routine traffic stops have resulted in major arrests and apprehension of violent criminals for years.

Whether it’s the random drug trafficker pulled over for running a stop sign or the most well-known case—Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh—routine traffic stops are a proven means of catching violent offenders, drug traffickers, and other dangerous criminals. 

Governor's Early Literacy Foundation shows significant impact on students access to literacy

The Senate Finance, Ways and Means committee heard updates from the President and CEO of the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation about the significant impact of Tennessee's investment in the program.

The foundation, which is celebrating its 20th year of service, began with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1996 and has grown into a statewide foundation aimed at providing children with guidance, resources and support for literacy in formative years of learning. Over the past two decades, the state has funded $4.5 million to the foundation and has served 70% of the birth to five population yearly.

In 2020, the foundation focused on K-3rd grade students, rolling out the new program in succession year by year.

Six books, fiction and nonfiction, think sheets and parent resources have been sent to every child in every school district, teachers and school librarians each summer.

In 2023, 1.2 million books were mailed to over 200,000 students and 11,000 teachers. The foundation plans to roll out their kindergarten program this summer and hopes to continually reach more students and communities.

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

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

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