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Senate Approves Compensation For Families of Deputy Jailers Killed In Line Of Duty

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen.Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald, whose district includes Giles and five other area counties.

Tennessee offers a compensation program for families of first responders killed in the line of duty. Senate Bill 278, recently passed by the Senate, adds deputy jailers, retroactive to March 1, 2020.

Under the program, families of first responders killed in the line of duty receive a $250,000 annuity paid over five years in $50,000 installments.

Deputy jailers risk their lives to serve Tennessee and their families and deserve compensation in the unlikely event of a tragic loss of life.

That compensation will go a long way to help those families adjust to their new normal. The estimated fiscal impact of the bill is “not significant” because the Finance Administration Committee budgets for seven deaths of law enforcement officers in the line of duty each year. There were two deputy jailer deaths while on duty in 2020 and none between that year and 1996 in Tennessee.

Residency requirement for U.S. Senate, House of Representatives passes in Senate

The Senate has voted to establish an immediate three-year residency requirement to run in Democratic or Republican primaries for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The Tennessee State Constitution requires seven years of residency in the state to run for Governor, five years of residency to run for judge or district attorney, and three years of residency to run for the State Senate or House.

But the state and U.S. Constitution are silent in regard to residency for U.S. Senate or House of Representatives candidates.

When the constitution is silent, states can do what they want. Senate Bill 2616 does not prohibit anyone from running for U.S. Senate or House of Representatives; it only applies to primary elections for those offices.

A proposed House amendment to the bill would make the residency requirement take effect after the upcoming general election.

Bill would allow TEMA to use drones for emergency response

The Judiciary Committee passed a bill to allow the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to use drones to aid in emergency responses.

Current state law prohibits the agency from doing so.

Senate Bill 2428 would permit TEMA to use drones to survey the scene of a catastrophe or other damage, coordinate a disaster response, conduct damage assessments of property and infrastructure following a disaster, and help with search and rescue efforts.

Drones are an efficient, low-cost quick-response tool. This will help Tennessee complete damage assessments faster and enable requests for federal assistance to be completed quicker.

The bill would allow images captured for damage assessment to be retained no more than one year unless the disaster has been declared a major disaster by the president of the United States, in which case images may be retained for a designated time by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for data related to the assessment, according to Roberts.

Bill would lower tuition costs for out-of-state military

Passed by the Education Committee, Senate Bill 2486 would allow active-duty military and veterans living outside of Tennessee to be eligible for in-state tuition rates.

The bill authorizes boards of state universities to choose to offer in-state tuition to veterans. Current law requires veterans to live in the state, though their formal residence may be out of the state, to receive in-state tuition.

The bill would apply to active-duty military, U.S. Army Reserve, members of the National Guard and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.

The bill would also provide public universities the opportunity to decrease out-of-pocket tuition costs for military students and increase their ability to recruit these students from across the country.

In Brief

Human trafficking — Passed by the Senate, Senate Bill 1378 changes the age of a victim of a Class A felony offense of trafficking for a commercial sex act from under 15 years of age to between the ages of 13 and 17.

It also creates a Class A felony offense of aggravated trafficking for a commercial sex act, and requires those convicted to serve 100% of any sentence imposed.

Road safety — The Senate unanimously approved the Hannah Eimers Memorial Tennessee Roadside Safety Hardware Act (Senate Bill 1671), which requires robust safety testing of crash cushions and guardrail end terminals on public highways and roads.

The bill is named after 17-year-old Hannah Eimers, who was tragically killed in 2016 in a car crash involving a guardrail on Interstate 75 in McMinn County. That particular guardrail design saw insufficient safety testing and has since been removed in the state.

COVID-19 liability protection — The General Assembly in 2020 passed Gov. Lee’s Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act, which provides COVID-19 liability protection to businesses, schools, churches and other entities. Senate Bill 2448, passed by the Senate extends the termination date of the act from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023.

Constables — Law enforcement has a mechanism to address criminal or unethical conduct among the ranks, except constables.

Senate Bill 1782, approved by the Senate , establishes a mechanism to do just that.

Under the bill, whenever a constable is arrested or indicted for a felony or specific misdemeanors, a court judge may put the constable on administrative leave or even remove them from office. The constable would be provided a right to a hearing, and the right to appeal by a court of appeals.

Opioid antagonistsSenate Bill 2572, passed by the Senate, enables a broader distribution of opioid antagonists such as naloxone, which are used to reverse drug overdoses. Roughly 40 states have passed similar bills.

Foster youth — A bill aimed at enhancing the support system for youth in foster care cleared the Senate.

Senate Bill 2398 proposes the state reimburse eligible relatives of foster youth to support the cost of raising the child. It would also expand eligibility to ages 18-21 for foster youth who are transitioning from state custody to adulthood to access services.

Wakesurfing — The Senate approved regulations on wakesurfing in Senate Bill 2107. The bill prohibits wakesurfing between sunset and sunrise, on a body of water less than 50 acres in size and within 200 feet of any shoreline, among other new rules.

Large wakes can be very dangerous. They’re contributing to substantial soil erosion along many of our riverbanks and the shorelines of our lakes, they’re damaging many docks along the rivers and lakes of Tennessee. There are many instances of people in the water in front of their property who have been injured by large wakes.

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

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

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Information in this column comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley M.D., who represents Giles and five other counties. From school bus drivers to trucking, the lack of Commercia