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School Safety, Education Highlight House News

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

On Capitol Hill, Senate committees were in full swing. 

In the first week of hearings from state departments and agencies, Senate committees approved 11 of 63 budgets.

Lawmakers also advanced many important bills to protect children, improve school safety and increase educational opportunities.

Legislation Advances to Change Fire Alarm Protocols for Improved School Safety

The Senate Education Committee has voted unanimously to pass legislation requiring schools to determine the cause of a fire alarm before allowing children to leave classrooms.

Senate Bill 1679, is among several safety proposals filed in response to the Covenant School shooting in Nashville on March 27, 2023.

On that tragic day, smoke from the shooter’s weapon triggered the school’s fire alarm. Unaware of the active shooter and in response to the alarm, one of the six victims, William Kinney, 9, was leading his third-grade classmates to safety as line leader when he was fatally shot by a former student of the school.  Kinney was the first to encounter the shooter in the hallway of the school.

Legislation has passed the House of Representatives and moves to the Senate floor for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Committee Approves Legislation to Permanently Fund Tennessee Promise Completion Grant 

The Senate advanced legislation to make the TnAchieves COMPLETE Program a permanent part of the TN Promise scholarship to help low-income students complete college.

The COMPLETE program started as a pilot project in Knox County in 2019 and has been a statewide pilot program since 2022.

The program matches students with COMPLETE coaches and helps in various areas like developing soft skills, goal setting and accessing grant funds.

Students connected with a coach have access to $1,000 grants to aid students with costs outside of the TN Promise.

The Mathematics Support Act – To improve proficiency in math for Tennessee students, the Senate Education Committee approved legislation to strengthen educator preparation for mathematics instruction. 

"Senate Bill 1712, which I sponsored, creates a mathematics expert review committee to evaluate and report on the landscape of mathematics instruction in Tennessee as well as identify professional development options available to improve instruction and student proficiency," according to Hensley.

The Department of Education must also approve at least one standards-aligned mathematics professional development course for K-8 teachers by July 1, 2025.

The review committee would be required to report its findings to the Department of Education, State Board of Education and the education committees in the Senate and House of Representatives no later than December 31, 2024.

Helping Relative Caregivers With Children In Their Custody – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to make it easier for family members to care for children who have suffered parental neglect or abuse.

Senate Bill 2071, makes changes to the Relative Caregiver Program which provides stipends to those who meet a certain income threshold to care for children in their family.

Since the program’s inception in 2022, many interested families have not qualified for the stipend because they are over the income limit.

This legislation removes that limit, opening eligibility to all families.  It also streamlines the court process for a family member to become eligible for the stipend by allowing eligibility for relative caregivers awarded custody by a court.

Previously, a final custody order from Juvenile Court was required to receive the stipend, which was a burdensome and lengthy process.

Removing Barriers For State Employees To Become Foster Parents –  The Senate State and Local Government Committee advanced legislation to improve and increase the number of foster homes in Tennessee.

Under Senate Bill 1941, state employees will not have to use their paid time off to complete required training to become a foster parent. An estimated 200 state employees will become foster parents. The bill awaits final passage from the Senate floor.

Support for Israel

"The Senate Finance Committee passed SJR 870, which I sponsored, to express strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself from the October 7, 2023 terror attacks on the Jewish nation," according to Hensley.

On that day, Hamas terrorists brutally murdered  1,200 Israeli civilians and took over 200 Israelis hostage. To this day, over 130 Israelis remain in captivity by Hamas in Gaza. Following the attack, Israel declared war against Hamas and has been defending its country and people since, vowing to end Hamas.

This resolution expresses support for the State of Israel and the Israeli people, condemns the violent events of Oct. 7, 2023 and affirms Tennessee is an unequivocal supporter of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself against terror and threats.

It expresses hope that Israel and its neighbors can live in freedom and peace with mutual recognition of dignity and autonomy.

Israel has been a strong ally of the United States of America for over 75 years. Tennessee recognizes the importance of Israel and the value of sustained friendship.

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

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462,or call 931-796-2018, or call his cell phone at 931-212-8823 or E-mail:


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