Legislative Update from Representative Johnny Garrett

April 29, 2019

Representative Hill (Blountville) Sent A Washington State Senator A Deck of Cards and Letter

As many of you have probably heard, a Washington State Senator recently made demeaning comments towards nurses saying they “probably spend a considerable amount of time sitting around playing cards”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a nurse who just sits around playing cards all day.

My wife, Kara, is one of the hardest working and dedicated nurses to her patients that I know. Many, many other nurses dedicate that same care to their patients across our state and country.

I’m proud to sign my name to this letter below to Senator Walsh voicing Tennessee’s support to our nurses.

I hope you can do the same! If you want to reach out to her this is her contact information

G.I.V.E Act

I’m proud to co-sponsor and support the GIVE Act (the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education Act).  The GIVE Act passed both the House and the Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature! This legislation will enhance and expand vocational education in TN to high school students and adults alike and assist with economic development by developing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of Sumner County.  It will also open new job opportunities and increased income to those willing to complete vocational training! It’s a win across the board!

House Bill 394, Funded in the Budget

House Bill 394 which started as a simple clean up and clarification bill dealing with the state code on first-degree murder. An amendment was added by Sumner Counties own, Leader Lamberth, the amendment added substantive changes to the bill. The changes added an $83,000 fiscal note to the bill; the substantive changes are to: (1) create a Class A misdemeanor offense for violation a condition of release imposed pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-11-150; (2) authorize the bail of such person to be revoked by the court having jurisdiction over the condition or release; and (3) require the venue for the new offense to be the county where the violation of a condition of release occurred. Due to the addition of this fiscal note, the bill was placed “Behind the Budget” which meant that I would have to wait and see if it would receive funding. House Bill 394 will be heard in Calendar and Rules on Monday, April 29th.

Legislation To Establish Daylight Saving Time Passes The House

This week, Republicans supported legislation paving the way for Tennessee to remain on summertime hours throughout the year.

House Bill 247 establishes daylight savings time as the standard time in Tennessee. As amended, this legislation would only take effect once the federal government acts on this issue. Once this occurs, the General Assembly would need to take additional action before daylight saving time could take effect.

Daylight saving time was originally adopted in the United States as a method of saving energy back in the 1900s. More daylight means less need for artificial light (electricity) — especially during the evening hours.

Additionally, Daylight saving time was considered to have an economic benefit because citizens across the country would spend more time away from their homes and out supporting their local economies.

House Bill 247 has been referred to the Senate Calendar Committee and is now awaiting action.

Strong, Fiscally Responsible Budget Passed By House Of Representatives

This week, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed the state’s annual budget with a nearly unanimous vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a balanced budget that builds upon recent, strategic Republican-led investments.

The $38.5 billion budget makes thoughtful investments across state government as it preserves Tennessee’s AAA bond rating. The budget adds more than $225 million in Rainy Day funding for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, bringing the state’s savings account to $1.1 billion.

Additionally, the budget fully funds one of the House’s major priorities, the Katie Beckett Waiver Program, investing $27 million to provide life-saving medical services through TennCare for Tennessee children with the most significant disabilities and the highest medical needs, regardless of their parental income levels.

The Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget also continues our commitment to education by making an $11.3 billion total investment in our future leaders. This includes $6.5 billion to directly benefit K-12 education in our public schools. Of this K-12 total, $71 million has been allocated for teacher salaries, a 2.5 percent increase. Approximately $46 million will fully fund the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP), to cover growth and inflation in the funding formula, and $40 million will also be invested to help secure our Tennessee schools through school resource officers and additional safety measures.

Finally, the budget targets healthcare, opioids, job growth, and economic development, while supporting our veterans and elderly citizens, and it continues to build upon Republican-led tax cuts. With the budget officially passed, lawmakers now turn their attention to debating the last few legislative items for the year while remaining focused on continuing work to make Tennessee an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.

The House Passes Legislation To Improve School Bus Safety

Earlier this week, lawmakers supported House Bill 268, which will help protect students from unlawful drivers in Tennessee.

The measure provides an option for local education agencies (LEA) and school systems to install, operate, and maintain external cameras on school buses for the purpose of recording vehicles that fail to stop upon approaching a school bus.

Additionally, House Bill 268 allows LEAs to enter into a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement for the purpose of preserving all evidence captured by these cameras. Monies generated by citations issued to drivers who violate the law can be used by districts to cover the costs of purchasing or installing these cameras.

The measure now awaits action in the Senate.

Bills coming up next week

House Bill 394 will be heard in Calendar and Rules, then will hopefully be heard on the House floor this week!

Republican-led Initiative To Address Mental Health Illness Passes House

A Republican-led initiative to help address mental illnesses has passed in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

House Bill 643 requires the Department of Finance & Administration, in consultation with the Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services and the Division of TennCare to develop and administer a grant program to assist sheriffs who are required by present law to transport individuals who require mental health examinations to determine whether an individual should be involuntarily admitted.

Currently, mental health patients who are transported by sheriffs are done so in custody. This important legislation will ensure the transportation of patients will be distinguished from the transportation of criminals – patients should be treated as patients, not criminals. It also improved safety for members of our law enforcement community.

House Bill 643 now awaits passage in the Senate.

Republicans Continue To Protect Sanctity Of Life

House Republicans continued their commitment to protecting the sanctity of life this week, supporting House Bill 1029, known as the Human Life Protection Act.

This significant measure bans abortion in Tennessee upon the 30th day following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade or amending the U.S. Constitution to allow states to prohibit abortion. As amended, the Attorney General is required to notify in writing the Tennessee Code Commission as to the occurrence of a qualifying circumstance and what date is the 30th day following such a qualifying circumstance.

Earlier this year, Republican Leaders strongly approved the Heartbeat Bill. This measure prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected but makes an exception if the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

These measures are the latest in a series of Republican-led pro-life initiatives. House Republicans also supported and passed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act during the 110th General Assembly, which prohibits abortions, except in a medical emergency, after 24 weeks and requires testing to determine the viability of an unborn child if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant.