Legislative Update from Representative Johnny Garrett

April 8, 2019

StepParent Bill, House Bill 674

The Judiciary Committee heard from me several times on Wednesday, as introduced, House Bill 674 revises various provisions related to stepparent visitation. My stepparent bill is one that I am personally advocating as I believe this is a step in the right direction for families in our state. In Tennessee, a stepparent who has a substantial relationship with their stepchild or stepchildren have little rights to maintain a relationship.

This bill allows a stepparent to petition the court to establish parenting time with a stepchild where they have a substantial attachment and a prolonged separation will cause harm to the child. This bill passed through Children and Families Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee and is now going to be heard in Calendar and Rules before hopefully being placed on the House Floor calendar.

Trusts Bill, House Bill 676

Tennessee has become one of the leading trust jurisdictions in the country, frequently ranking in the top 3 states to locate a trust because of the strength of our laws. House Bill 676 represents recommendations from the Tennessee Bankers Association’s working committee of trust officers and lawyers from across the state, which reviewed Tennessee’s trust laws and determined what updates were needed for us to remain a leading jurisdiction. The last update to the code made in 2013 resulted in an increase in trust companies chartering in Tennessee and increased business opportunities for existing trust companies.

This bill includes technical changes to the code such as adopting the Tennessee Disclaimer of Property Interests Act, authorizing the creation of Special Purpose Entities as trust protectors and/or advisors and specifying that courts have authority to approve final accountings when a trustee resigns or is removed from office. These are a few of the changes that are being made by House Bill 676. Starting in the Children and Families Subcommittee then passing in the Judiciary committee has now been placed on notice with the Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee.

Recognizing Sumner County Kindergarten Teacher Jama Cook

This week in the Curriculum, Testing and Innovation Subcommittee, Jama Cook from Sumner County, testified on House Bill 993. As introduced this bill amends Tennessee Code Annotated, section 49-6-105(f) which will eliminate the portfolio model from LEA’s. Helping in the fight for what is right for teachers, Jama Cook a Sumner County kindergarten teacher testified to the committee on the burdens portfolios place on teachers. They add about 50 extra hours that the teacher must spend creating and compiling data for each student.  Removing this standard would allow our school teachers to focus on the students in their class. I am a proud cosponsor of House Bill 993 introduced by Chairman Moon.

Republican Women’s Luncheon

The Tennessee Federation of Republican Women held their annual Ladies’ Day on the Hill Monday, April 1. I took a break from the legislature and made my way over to the event where I ate lunch with several Sumner County GOP ladies. The event celebrated our victories in the recent election cycles.

Named Recycling Chairman

 Thursday morning, during session Leader Lamberth, announced that I was named Chairman of recycling! Which means that I was in charge of recycling all of the paper which members graciously left for me on my desk.

Bills coming up next week

Being heard Monday night on the House Floor: House Bill 391, House Bill 677 and House Bill 761.

Once again in Judiciary it will be the Vice-Chairman Garrett show as I will be presenting three more of my bills: House Bill 394, House Bill 395 and House Bill 760.  Judiciary will have two meetings this week, one on Tuesday at 12:30 PM and at our normally scheduled time of 12:30 PM on Wednesday.

Republican-Led Initiative To Secure Our Tennessee Schools Passes House

This week, Republican lawmakers passed House Bill 947, which will help secure our Tennessee schools and provide additional safety resources to protect our future leaders.

The initiative proposes a $30 million investment for the school safety grant fund and additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to help secure school resource officers and other safety measures.

Total proposed funding for school resources officers and additional safety measures for FY 2019-2020 is $50 million. Approximately $10 million of this funding total was allocated last year, $30 million is new money as part of the Governor’s proposed budget, and House Bill 947 also paves the way for an additional $10 million through a local match.

The safety and security of our children and teachers is a top priority for House Republicans, and this funding will ensure they have the resources needed to better protect our schools.

Republican lawmakers remain committed to improving schools safety, and this measure is a major step in the right direction.

House Republicans Continue To Advance Criminal Justice Legislation

House Republican lawmakers also continued to advance several criminal justice initiatives through the committee process.

To combat the growing fentanyl epidemic, Republicans advanced House Bill 942 through the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The measure builds upon Tennessee’s efforts to address the opioid crisis by cracking down on synthetic drug trafficking in our state. The legislation increases penalties against fentanyl dealers and those who traffic any derivative or analogue of this deadly synthetic drug.

On Wednesday, House Bill 950 passed the Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. This legislation provides $1.5 million in funding for the electronic monitoring indigency fund, while also making monitoring vendors whole. Additionally, it transitions the program into a matching grant program at the local level.

This week, House Bill 941 advanced out of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. This important legislation would remove the $180 fee for an individual seeking an expunction while also removing the $350 fee for a defendant applying for an expunction following the completion of a diversion program.

Republicans remain committed to advancing legislation that improves our system of justice so it meets present day standards, not those of 30 years ago.

Republicans Working To Curb Robocalls

Republican lawmakers approved an initiative to crack down on robocalls in Tennessee earlier this week.

House Bill 1245 raises the penalty of misleading a phone subscriber from $10,000 to $30,000 per violation against a person or entity that makes an unwanted robocall. The bill also encourages carriers offering telephone services in the state to implement SHAKEN/STIR technology to help detect robocalls. Finally, it urges the Attorney General to call on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules that will allow carriers to block more of these illegal, annoying robocalls.

Tennessee is taking strong steps to address this issue, and House Bill 1245 moves us in the right direction to deter robocalls. Although this is an issue that is primarily under the jurisdiction of the FCC at the federal level, Republican lawmakers will continue to support this initiative and others that curb this growing problem.

House Bill 1245 now makes its way through the Senate.

You May Contact Representative Garrett at:

425 5th Avenue North, Suite 508

Nashville TN 37243

Phone: 615-741-3893

Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 44136

E-mail: rep.johnny.garrett@capitol.tn.gov