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State Senate Aims At Foreign Influence on College Campuses

From 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald

It has been busy on Capitol Hill the week of April 19, with Tennessee lawmakers acting on some of the most important bills of this legislative session.

Transparency of Foreign Influence on State College and University Campuses – State senators voted to provide greater transparency regarding foreign influences on state college and university campuses.

Senate Bill 1191, which I sponsored, also prohibits the establishment of Confucius Institutes with ties to communist regimes.

The legislation requires state higher education institutions to disclose gifts received from and contracts initiated with a foreign source in excess of $10,000.

The bill requires the institution to submit a disclosure report to the Comptroller of the Treasury and Department of Safety for review. It goes to Governor Bill Lee for his signature before becoming law on July 1.

BEP Funds / Hold Harmless -- Legislation which holds school districts in Tennessee harmless on their Basic Education Program (BEP) funds due to COVID-19’s negative effects on student attendance was approved by the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

BEP funding is based on the average daily attendance of students. During the pandemic, school attendance has fluctuated greatly.

Senate Bill 774 requires that a Local Education Agency’s (LEA) BEP funds for the 2021-2022 school year to not be less than the LEA’s BEP calculation for the 2020-2021 school year. School districts can receive additional funds if their average daily attendance has increased.

Firearms / Protection of Rights -- Legislation to protect the anonymity of citizens related to firearm ownership was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 1142, also known as the Firearm Information Privacy Protection Act, will protect Tennesseans who are exercising their constitutional right to own and purchase firearms.

This legislation will create a Class A misdemeanor for public personnel who intentionally disclose information about an owner of a firearm for the purpose of compiling a federal firearms database or confiscation of firearms.

The Firearm Information Privacy Protection Act will serve as buffer between Tennessee and any federal government attempt to prohibit citizens from exercising their right to protect themselves and their families.

In similar action, Judiciary Committee members approved the Tennessee Firearm Protection Act prohibiting the expenditure of state or local funds to enforce any federal law or executive order regulating the sale of firearms, ammunition or firearm accessories if they violate state law or the Tennessee Constitution.

Senate Bill 557 also prohibits the use of employees for this purpose. It allows the State Attorney General and the General Assembly to review violations of this law and to decide whether to revoke the offending entity’s state funding for the next fiscal year.

Unborn Child Dignity ActSenate Bill 828, which advocates for the dignity of the unborn by requiring proper burial or cremation for a surgically aborted child, was approved by the Tennessee Senate.

The legislation grants the same protection, respect and dignity to a deceased, surgically aborted child required by law to any other deceased human being.

The bill is based on an Indiana law that survived a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2019. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that states have a legitimate interest in the proper disposition of human fetal remains and did not impose a burden or interfere with an abortion choice.

In Tennessee, about one in nine pregnancies ends in abortion. At last reporting, 10,880 children were lost to abortion in one year statewide. Eleven states require burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains. The bill goes to Governor Bill Lee for his signature.

Hensley represents Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry and Wayne counties in the senate.

To contact Hensley by mail, his address is 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, Tenn., 37243; or call 615-741-3100, or 1-800-449-8366, extension 13100 or fax 615-253-0231.

His address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, Tenn., 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, cell phone is 931-212-8823 and e-mail is 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