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General Assembly Puts More Curbs On State Investments


This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Senator Joey Hensley, MD, who represents Giles Lewis, Maury, Marshall and part of Williamson counties.

He summarizes more legislation passed during the recent session of the State legislature or General Assembly.

• Ensuring smart, financially responsible investment – The General Assembly passed legislation to ensure that the state is only investing taxpayer funds into financially responsible companies.

The new law specifically prohibits the Tennessee Treasurer from making investments based on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings, which value companies based on their advancement of environmental and social causes unrelated to core business functions. The legislation will ensure Tennessee tax dollars are invested to maximize investment returns rather than to push a public policy agenda.

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor implemented the ESG rule, which allows retirement plan managers to make investment decisions based on ESG factors instead of focusing on financial ones.

Congress passed legislation that would nullify the department’s new rule, but President Joseph Biden vetoed that legislation.

Tennessee is one of at least nine other states that have prohibited or discouraged ESG investments, including Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Montana.

• The Tennessee Monuments and Memorials Commission – This law creates the Tennessee Monuments and Memorials Commission of nine members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Members will be responsible for waivers related to monuments and historical sites. The new commission will help the Tennessee Historical Commission run more efficiently.

• Enforcing nepotism laws - In 2022, a District Attorney was found to have violated the Tennessee State Employees Uniform Nepotism Policy Act of 1980, but there was no available statute to enforce the law.

A new law creates a clarifies that a state employee is any person employed by a government entity regardless of funding source, and anyone receiving funding from federal, state, or local government is subject to state nepotism laws.

Furthermore, it creates a criminal penalty, a Class A misdemeanor, for state employees who violate the state nepotism policy.

• Enhancing transparency of business transactions with the state - The Senate passed a bill that enhances transparency of business transactions with the state.

It requires domestic and foreign corporations, limited liability partnerships and other entities to disclose identities of each incorporator, partner or member of the corporation when doing business with the state, counties or municipalities.

• Changes to Sports Wagering - This law allows the Sports Wagering Advisory Council to keep a 2% privilege tax on the gross handle of the licensee instead of the 20% of the adjusted gross income.

It also clarifies language pertaining to background checks on vendors, codifies the registration process for vendors and removes the mandate requiring use of official league data since Tennessee is the only state with the mandate.

• Consolidating utility regulation boards - This law merges the Utility Management Review Board and the Waste and Wastewater Financing Board into one board called the Tennessee Board of Utility Regulation in the Comptroller’s Office.

The new board will handle the ongoing business and supervision of all entities under the former two boards. This law makes government work better by reducing redundancies and creating uniformity across government utility regulation.

• Funding Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives - The General Assembly passed a law providing more resources to community services powered by compassionate and faithful Tennesseans.

The law allows the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to use state dollars to fund its partnerships with nonprofit organizations.

The Office leverages the power of faith communities, nonprofits, and government to improve life for every Tennessean by bringing people together to solve tough issues.

In recent years, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has taken on more responsibilities as a result of its success, and this law allows the office to strengthen its services and continue to improve lives.

Marriage – Besides current and former state judges, the law allows current and former county and municipal judges to solemnize marriages.

Biological sex clarified in law - A law clarifies existing code so all branches of government use the same definition of “sex”.

In Tennessee code, “sex” is defined as a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics at birth and evidence of their biological sex.

According to law, evidence of a person’s biological sex includes government-issued identification that accurately reflects a person’s sex on their original birth certificate.

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 ext. 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 931-212-8823 or e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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