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Tennessee joins state network using data for governing

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

Tennessee is joining a growing network of states advancing use of evidence-based policymaking.

The Office of Evidence and Impact in the Department of Finance and Administration will join what’s called the Governing for Results Network, a community of state leaders who exchange insights and best practices to improve services to citizens.

In partnership with the Council of State Governments and The Policy Lab at Brown University, the network was launched by the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2021.

The network engages state legislators, budget directors and legislative and agency staff who advance the use of data and evidence in government. It facilitates candid conversations, allowing members to exchange ideas and challenges and learn from other states’ approaches.

It’s exciting to be part of a network of states using data for budget and policy decisions and working closely with one another to improve state government.

As a Vice-Chair of the Finance Ways and Means Committee, I’m confident this network will improve Tennessee’s budgetary and policymaking processes, and ensure we invest in what works to best serve Tennesseans.

Joining this network is just the latest move to enhance the role of data in Tennessee government.

The aforementioned Office of Evidence and Impact was formed in 2019 to improve access to reliable data as well as capacity to analyze and share across agencies. OEI works with agencies to classify state programs based on the level of available supporting evidence and to follow principles of evidence-based budgeting.

These and other efforts are getting noticed. In 2020 and 2021, the national group Results for America named Tennessee one of the top states in the nation for using data to make decisions.

And OEI Director Christin Lotz was selected in 2020 to serve on the Federal Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building, which makes recommendations to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget on improving data sharing and data linkage.

There are 11 member states in the network, including Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina.

"I’m confident that list will continue to grow, and with it our access to data and best practices that will ultimately improve government for all Tennesseans," Hensley said.

Lee says abortion law protects doctors in severe cases. Critics say it's not so clear.

Gov. Bill Lee said Tennessee is focused on implementing its total abortion ban on Aug. 25, which will prohibit all abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Medical professionals, including a group of doctors planning to address media, have raised increasing concerns about the lack of a true exception for abortions performed to save the life of a pregnant patient.

The law threatens doctors with criminal charges for any abortion performed, critics say, even when a patient's life is in danger.

The new law provides an "affirmative defense" clause, through which an abortion provider could defend the procedure if the pregnant patient was in danger of dying or debilitating injury. But the defense would come after criminal felony charges.

Lee appeared to dismiss these concerns.

"I think the law provides for treatment of dangerous maternal health issues. The doctor will make their best judgment for that danger to the mother, and that exists in the law now," Lee told reporters.

"I think what we need to make sure is that there is an ability for a doctor to perform in the case of a dangerous maternal health situation. My sense and understanding from the law is that does exist now."

Confusion around implementation and prosecution under the law signals a potential legal quagmire for state hospitals, doctors and potentially lawmakers who passed the Human Life Protection Act largely as a theoretical measure in 2019 before the Roe v. Wade precedent was overturned.

Legislators may need to revisit this law to address the issue of protecting medical professionals in the rare event where there is a risk to the mother’s health.

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

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald TN 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823 and E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov



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