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Senate Suspends Floor Activities After Shooting

This information is provided courtesy of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD., who represents, Giles, Lewis, Marshall and Maury counties.

Like all Tennesseans, the Senate mourns the horrific and senseless attack on Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, that stole the lives of three children and three adults.

In recognition of the horrific attack, the Senate conducted no business in its Monday floor session.

The Rev. Russell Hall of Mt. Olive Church of God in Cleveland, Tenn., led the Senate in a prayer and members were then dismissed to reflect on the tragic events.

School security has been a top priority for the General Assembly this year. Legislators remain committed to efforts to fortify school buildings and increase security measures to prevent tragedies like this.

A comprehensive school safety bill was set to be considered by the Senate Education Committee, but a vote has been delayed to review potential improvements to the proposed legislation.

Efforts are being made for the most comprehensive school security package.

Because of what happened at Covenant School, legislators want to explore any potential improvements we can make to this important legislation. We want to do all we can to strengthen school security.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally wrote a letter to Gov. Lee outlining several ideas for enhancing school safety. Those include securing windows and glass in school buildings as the perpetrator of the Covenant School shooting shot out the glass of the school’s doors to gain entry.

Other ideas include magnetic locks on doors, which keep shooters out and allow first responders speedier access in crisis; centralized and modernized camera systems to help police quickly identify a perpetrator’s location; and armed guards at all public and private schools.

Protecting the free exchange of ideas on college campuses - To promote freedom of expression and educational excellence on college campuses, the Education Committee advanced the Tennessee Higher Education Freedom of Expression and Transparency Act, which I sponsored.

Senate Bill 817 strengthens the prohibition on higher education institutions from being biased in favor of divisive concepts such as critical race theory.

It establishes a transparent system for reporting alleged violations and complaints regarding divisive concept restrictions and requires institutions to report violations to the comptroller’s office.

This bill prohibits bias or favoritism in the treatment of student groups and the use of school property.

Under the bill, student-invited guest speakers may not be denied solely on race, religion or non-violent political ideology.

Finally, the bill requires institutions to ensure employees whose job duties include diversity, equity or inclusion to be devoted to supporting student academic achievement and workforce readiness of all students.

Enhancing transparency and integrity of elections -The State & Local Government Committee passed a bill to ensure voters are citizens and properly registered.

"Senate Bill 137 which I sponsored requires the coordinator of elections to compare statewide voter registration databases with other state agencies and county records to identify any voters who have changed addresses without notifying their county election commission, and to compare statewide voter registration databases with the Department of Safety," Hensley said.

Helping military veterans and their families - Under the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, children of active duty service members can receive benefits and opportunities to help support them when they transition to a new school or area as a result of their parent’s service to the country.

Senate Bill 317 extends the benefits and opportunities provided by the compact to children of a member of any reserve component of the armed forces enrolled in grades K-12.

"Senate Bill 724, which I sponsored, allows honorably discharged veterans to obtain a temporary teaching license to fill a vacant position in a school,"

The permit will only be valid for a short time and must be used to fill a vacant position. Both were passed by the Education Committee.

Increasing penalties for desecrating a house of worship – The Judiciary Committee passed legislation to expand the Class E felony offense for desecrating a house of worship.

Senate Bill 848 adds “knowingly or recklessly” to the current Class E felony offense to “intentionally desecrate” a house of worship.

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

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, by phone 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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