Rep. John Holsclaw’s Newsroom

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Capitol Hill Review

February 26, 2021

House Republicans Introduce Constitutional Carry

House Republican leadership this week presented legislation making Tennessee the 19th state in the nation to enact a constitutional right to carry law. House Bill 786 upholds freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens in the U.S. Constitution while also stiffening penalties for criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms.

This legislation includes several provisions that will make Tennessee communities safer by providing more severe punishments for firearm-related crime. House Bill 786 includes sentencing enhancements for theft of a firearm in a car, increases the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 to 180 days and increases unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders. It also increases sentences for possession by a felon and unlawfully providing a handgun to a minor or allowing a minor to possess a firearm.

Currently, concealed carry permit holders have the right to carry a handgun, except in restricted areas. Law-abiding citizens without a carry permit may only carry a firearm in certain locations such as their home, car, or place of business. House Bill 786 would extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun without a permit to all law-abiding citizens 21 and older or 18 and older for active members of the military. Restricted areas include schools, colleges and universities, playgrounds, athletic events, government property signs posted prohibiting carry, places where judicial proceedings take place, parks, campgrounds and greenways.  House Bill 786 moves to Criminal Justice Subcommittee for consideration on March 3.

Legislation protects roadways and enhances penalties for rioting

Legislation protecting public roadways from mob violence began to move through the committee process this week in Nashville. House Bill 513 promotes law and order by increasing penalties for those who obstruct a roadway and creates new criminal offenses for those who participate in rioting.

House Bill 513 increases the penalty for obstructing a highway or other passage way to a Class E felony with a mandatory fine of $3,000. Currently, the offense carries a maximum $500 fine. It creates criminal immunity for a driver who unintentionally causes injury or death to a person illegally obstructing a roadway.

House Bill 513 also enhances penalties for violence committed during a riot. The bill defines a riot as a disturbance in a public place or penal institution involving three or more people who are participating in violent behavior, creating grave danger, substantial damage to property or serious bodily injury to others, obstructing law enforcement or a government function.

House Bill 513:

  • Creates a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 for a person who throws an object at another with the intent of harming the other person during a riot.
  • Creates a Class E felony punishable by one to six years in prison for a person who throws an object at another and causes bodily injury while participating in a riot.
  • Creates a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 for a person participating in a riot who intentionally intimidates or harasses an individual in public who is not participating in a riot.

House Bill 513 will be presented in the Criminal Justice Committee for a vote on March 3.

 

House advances legislation limiting health boards’ autonomy

Legislation aimed at scaling back the power of Tennessee’s six independent metropolitan health boards passed the Health Subcommittee on Tuesday. House Bill 7 would decrease the autonomy of health departments in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby, and Sullivan Counties. These boards are comprised of unelected members with their own authority to issue health directives independently from the state.

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the boards’ unchecked power to adopt rules and regulations as unelected bureaucrats in these counties. The bill proposes that any county health director, health officer and board of health would move to a strictly advisory role, while elected county mayors would have the final authority to establish and implement health policies.

House Bill 7 is scheduled to be heard in the full Health Committee on Wednesday, March 3.

 

 

Republicans honor legacy of missing toddler with “Evelyn Boswell’s Law”

House Bill 384, known as “Evelyn Boswell’s Law” honors a missing Sullivan County toddler who was reported missing in February 2020.

The legislation requires a parent or guardian who believes a child 12 years of age or younger is missing to report it to a law enforcement agency or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within 24 hours. Failure to report or delaying a report would result in a Class A misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Evelynn Boswell was 15-months-old when she was last seen in December 2019. She wasn’t reported missing until February 2020. Her remains were found weeks later on a family member’s property.

The child’s mother, Megan Boswell, never reported her daughter missing. She currently faces 19 felony charges, including felony murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.

Evelyn’s Law is scheduled for consideration in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 3.

 

Legislation targets drag racing in Tennessee

House Bill 22 increases the penalty for drag racing to a Class A misdemeanor, making it comparable to a Driving Under the Influence charge. Drag racing is a very intentional act that puts innocent lives in danger. Beyond the increase in force at the moment of impact in a collision, traveling at excessive speed imposes obstacles to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. These include decreased reaction time to avoid vehicles or pedestrians, inability to safely turn or to retain control through curves, increased risk of skidding off roads, increased rollover risk, etc.  The bill will now move forward for consideration by the Criminal Justice Committee on March 3.

 

House advances legislation protecting women’s sports

A bill protecting women’s sports has been recommended for passage and referred to Calendars and Rules Committee.  House Bill 003 seeks to protect the competitive balance of girls’ sports. Women’s sports were created to give girls a fair chance at competition. That includes fair victories and fair defeats.   House Bill 003 makes clear that participation in public middle and high school interscholastic sports must correspond with a student’s biological gender at birth. Local school districts have a legitimate interest and obligation to ensure they are not creating opportunities for undue injury to children who participate in interscholastic activities and sports. The bill ensures boys are not able to displace girls in competitive events which could deny female athletes’ victories, opportunities or scholarships.

 

House honors U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander with resolution

The House unanimously passed HJR99 on Tuesday, a resolution honoring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander for his lifetime of service to Tennessee. Alexander served as governor of Tennessee from 1979-87 and in the United States Senate from 2003-21, leaving office in January.

The Maryville native graduated from Vanderbilt University and New York University Law School. Throughout his life of public service, Alexander served as staffer under U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker, Jr. and President Richard Nixon, was president of the University of Tennessee, and served as the 45th governor of Tennessee. While in the Senate, Alexander chaired the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus by his colleagues.

Alexander retired to his home in East Tennessee, where he resides with his wife Honey and dog Rufus. The senator built a legacy in public service that is second to none and will be remembered by Tennesseans as a true statesman.

 

Tennessee commemorates 225 years of statehood

Tennessee will celebrate 225 years of statehood on June 1. The House this week marked this milestone by passing a resolution to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the State of Tennessee.

Nicknamed the ‘Volunteer State’ following the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, Tennessee has led the way in the areas of leadership, bravery, and perseverance. The state is the proud home to three U.S. presidents, Presidents Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.

The resolution boasts of Tennessee’s rich history, acknowledging the economic, social, technological, and military contributions Tennessee has made to our nation.

To read the complete resolution, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Capitol Hill Review

February 12, 2021

Governor delivers State of the State address

Gov. Bill Lee delivered his third State of the State address this week in a joint convention of the House and Senate at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. The governor’s speech focused on recent Republican accomplishments and shared legislative and budget priorities for the 2021 legislative session. Lee presented his $41.8 billion budget plan to members which included key investments in public education, economic recovery, health care, public safety, and an emphasis on business and rural Tennessee communities.  His spending package includes a $341 million increase for K-12 education, $200 million to expand broadband to every Tennessean, $931 million for capital maintenance and improvements, $150 million for pandemic relief and Covid-19 vaccine support, $200 million to improve local infrastructure, and $135 million to expand transportation.

Tennessee marks 225 years of statehood this year, and to mark the occasion, Lee announced he would travel to all 95 counties beginning this summer.

The governor also provided an update of Tennessee’s Covid-19 response and continued economic recovery.  Case counts have dropped significantly and hospitalizations for Covid have declined more than 60 percent in the past six weeks, Lee said.

The governor announced plans to make Tennessee a national leader in foster care and adoption.  The proposed budget provides TennCare coverage assistance allowing adopted youth to retain their eligibility for physical, mental and behavioral health services until age 18 which reduces the financial burden on their adopted family.

Legislative priorities include:

  • Legislation aimed at reducing crime, supporting families, and continued economic recovery
  • Preparing students for successful life beyond the classroom
  • Expanding broadband to most communities in Tennessee
  • Legislation making Tennessee a national leader in foster care and adoption

Gov. Lee’s proposed budget for FY 2021-22 includes the following investments:

  • $71 million to fully fund the Basic Education Plan
  • $200 million for broadband expansion
  • $120 million for teacher pay raises
  • $50 million rainy-day fund deposit
  • $150 million in COVID relief and support
  • $931 million in capital maintenance and improvements
  • $2 million for health care safety net
  • $7 million in postpartum care for TennCare population
  • $21 million for rural opportunity site grants
  • $200 million in local infrastructure grants
  • $30 million for state park improvements
  • $8 million in tourism incentives

The full transcript of Lee’s speech and a video can be found here.

 

Teacher Discipline Act moves through K-12 Education

House Bill 16, also known as the “Teacher Discipline Act” began moving through committees this week. The House of Representatives unanimously approved the legislation 91-0 last June, however, the bill did not come to a vote in the Senate Chamber due to the pandemic. The legislation establishes a process for local school districts to enable teachers to remove a student who causes repeated disruptions.

Once the disruptive student is disciplined, principals could use their discretion to send them back into the classroom or permanently remove the child. The bill allows teachers to file an appeal with a schools’ director or local superintendent if they disagree with that decision.

House Bill 16 paves the way for local directors to work with school officials to address issues impacting a disruptive student’s ability to learn. To read more about House Bill 16, go here.

 

‘Keep Nine’ resolution urges Congress to make court packing unconstitutional

The Tennessee House of Representatives this week approved HJR0065, a resolution urging Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure the U.S. Supreme Court remains composed of nine members.

Republican Leaders joined a growing coalition of bipartisan leaders and former state attorney generals from across the nation seeking to preserve the independence of the judicial branch and prevent a radical makeover of the United States government by the Biden Administration.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the world’s greatest example of judicial independence and integrity and should remain free of political manipulation.  The joint resolution encourages members of Congress to protect the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court by passing a constitutional amendment that safeguards against partisan court packing.

Currently, the number of Supreme Court Justices is set by Congress.  The Coalition to Preserve the Independence of the Supreme Court is leading the “Keep Nine Amendment” movement which is encouraging Congress to include language in the U.S. Constitution saying, “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.”

The Judiciary Act of 1869 changed the number of Supreme Court justices from six to nine.  Congress last rejected an effort to expand the nation’s highest court in 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed adding eight new justices which would have expanded the court to 15 members.

 

House Bill 0141 creates more opportunities for animation and film in Tennessee

Local animators and film industry professionals on Monday visited legislators in Nashville to discuss the future of animation in Tennessee. Mike Nawrocki, creator of Veggie Tales and Dead Sea Squirrels, Tom Bancroft from Tom Bancroft Studio, and Steve Taylor with Big Idea Entertainment met with Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, and Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, along with representatives from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development about House Bill 0141. This administration bill, carried by Williams, offers incentives for qualified animation or film productions to do business in Tennessee. It will create more opportunities for high-profile productions to be made in Tennessee. The Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission has incentivized 68 productions, recruiting 7,300 new full-time jobs totaling $655 million in economic output in the Volunteer State since 2007.   House Bill 0141 has been assigned to the Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee.

For more about HB0141, visit here.

General Assembly reconvenes for 61st extraordinary session

August 14, 2020

This week, the General Assembly reconvened in Nashville for the 61st Extraordinary Session in Tennessee history.

As part of this historic special session, four new committees were created so that every House member had the opportunity to work on the three issues that comprised Governor Lee’s call for the session.

These panels focused on setting new standards to address the possibility of frivolous lawsuits related to the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing access to telehealth services for Tennessee patients during these unprecedented times, and holding those who promote lawlessness or who attack law enforcement and first responders accountable.

The special session began at 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10 in the House chamber, and it concluded shortly after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12 with the sine die adjournment resolution.

 

 

Republican leaders increase access to telehealth services for Tennesseans

During the special session, House Republicans led efforts to increase access to telehealth services for Tennesseans through passage of House Bill 8002.

This legislation has been a priority of House Republican leadership throughout the 111th General Assembly, and it was carefully vetted to prioritize Tennessee patients having access to their very own doctors and health care providers.

House Bill 8002 increases access to electronic health care services and provides payment parity for clinically appropriate, medically necessary services so insurance companies reimburse providers at the same rates they would for in-person visits.

Under this legislation, patients must have been seen in person by a physician or health service provider’s practice group within 16 months of a telemedicine visit. The bill also enables Tennesseans to utilize telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits with their physicians or providers during the pandemic.

As part of the Republican CARE Plan that was first introduced in 2019, this innovative solution puts Tennessee patients first, by increasing access, promoting affordability, and improving overall health outcomes.

The measure now awaits the governor’s signature.

 

House Republicans support business sustainability in Tennessee

House Republicans this week also set new standards to address the potential for frivolous lawsuits against a person or entity resulting from the ongoing pandemic in Tennessee through House Bill 8001.

The Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act was approved in the House chamber by an 80-10 vote Wednesday. This legislation increases liability protections for businesses, schools, institutions of higher learning, churches, as well as civic organizations that operate in good faith from frivolous claims by raising standards for action from the current standard of simple negligence to a new standard of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Under this proposal, any individual alleging injury must file a verified complaint, citing specific facts, as well as clear and convincing evidence that the injury was caused by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or that an entity demonstrated willful misconduct, resulting in a loss, damage, injury, or death from Covid-19.

All lawsuits already filed or in process on or before the date of the governor’s call for a special session on Aug. 3 would not be affected by the Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act and may still proceed.

These are extraordinary times, and our businesses have suffered considerable hardships because of unexpected closures in recent months. Additionally, schools have worked tirelessly to implement protocols and procedures so they can safely reopen and educate our children.

The Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act protects these and other entities by establishing predictable standards moving forward for future pandemic-related lawsuits so individuals or groups seeking a payday do not abuse our legal system to file a baseless claim against an individual or organization in our state.

 

Republican lawmakers push for law and order, support Tennessee’s first responders

House Republicans on Wednesday evening approved legislation that holds those who promote lawlessness or who attack law enforcement and first responders in Tennessee accountable.

Known as the Law & Order bill, House Bill 8005 protects the rights of citizens enshrined in our Constitution to peaceful assemble. However, those few individuals who escalate peaceful demonstrations into acts of aggression, intimidation, rioting, vandalism or who seek violence towards law enforcement, firefighters and first responders will be held totally accountable for their actions.

The legislation has statewide application, and it is necessary because of recent incidents across Tennessee and our nation where a few bad actors have escalated peaceful demonstrations and have turned them into acts of total lawlessness.

House Bill 8005 creates mandatory minimum prison sentences for assault and aggravated assault of law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders, as well as rioting and aggravated rioting.

These mandatory minimums include:

  • A 30 day mandatory minimum sentence for assault of a first responder.
  • A 90 day mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault of a first responder.
  • A 30 day mandatory minimum sentence for participation in a riot and an order of restitution for property damage or loss associated with the offense.
  • A 45 day mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated rioting and an order of restitution for property damage.

The legislation also clarifies and strengthens our existing laws related to illegal camping on state property, and it addresses those who deface our state and public buildings, while keeping peaceful protestors, law enforcement, first responders, and our citizens safe.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first began, Tennessee’s first responders were our heroes, and this is an opportunity to once again join together to support all who protect and serve us and who risk their lives each and every day for the citizens of Tennessee.

We want our citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and participate in peaceful demonstrations, but at the same time, House Republicans will not stand for anarchy or lawlessness here in our state.

 

Government accountability measure passes House chamber

Legislation that holds local governments accountable for prohibiting emergency response during public demonstrations was also approved this week. House Bill 8006 removes immunity for mayors, chief executives, governing boards or government entities if they choose to prohibit law enforcement or fire and rescue services from accessing specific areas within their jurisdiction which they have left unprotected during a public demonstration.

The measure — which is the first of its kind — does not apply to any decisions made by local law enforcement, fire or rescue services personnel based on safety risks to those responding or to the general public. Under this legislation, anyone who violates this law will be held financially liable if damages, injury or death occurs to our citizens and their property.

House Bill 8006 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

State Rep. Holsclaw announces grants for Carter and Unicoi counties, tax free holiday expanded

June 26, 2020

 

NASHVILLE-TENN. –   State Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, this week announced Carter and Unicoi counties will receive grant dollars as part of the overall $39.45 budget passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in June.

Carter County will receive about $1,175,000 and Unicoi County will receive $800,000.

The money is part of an overall $210 million support grant program for Tennessee cities and counties. These funds have no restrictions and will be used to address unique needs that are best determined by local and county leaders.

“I’m very pleased we were able to include this one-time funding in our budget to help address local revenue shortfalls caused by Covid-19,” Holsclaw said. “This money will go directly to local counties and city governments and they will determine how best to use it to provide services to residents,” Holsclaw said.

Other key allocations include $1,503,688 to Johnson City, Elizabethton will receive $327,858 and Watauga will receive $38,232.

In Unicoi County, the city of Erwin will receive $159,166 and the city of Unicoi will receive $$108, 938.

$39.45 billion budget expands tax free holiday

The Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate on June 19 approved a $39.45 billion budget that addresses the unexpected revenue shortfalls caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Tennessee.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 budget reduces the size of government through common sense reductions and cuts totaling $1.5 billion over a two-year period in efforts to address historic revenue losses.  The budget does not raise taxes on Tennesseans.

The new state spending plan invests $350 million into Tennessee’s savings account, also called the Rainy Day Fund, totaling $1.45 billion. The budget also fully funds the Basic Education Program (BEP), covering both growth and inflation with a $50.3 million investment. It includes $10.6 million for health insurance and retirement for teachers and principals. The FY 20-21 budget supports higher education with a $50 million investment in new facilities.

The FY 20-21 budget focuses on boosting consumer and business confidence through the creation of a $25 million sales tax holiday, which will take place over two weekends in late July and early August 2020.

“We were very focused on boosting consumer and business confidence with the expansion of the sales tax holiday.  This is great way to encourage people to shop and support local businesses hurt by shutdown, but also return tax dollars to citizens,” Holsclaw said.

Tennesseans will enjoy a sales tax holiday beginning Friday, July 31-Sunday Aug. 2. This year it will include goods normally included, like clothing and school supplies, but with double caps for any single item. That means the holiday applies to items under $200 for most eligible goods and computers under $3,000. Electronics not normally eligible – like televisions – will be included for the first time this year.

Also new this year is a tax free holiday for restaurants, which will begin Friday, Aug 7 and end Sunday, Aug. 9.

John Holsclaw serves as Chairman of the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resource Committee, Commerce Committee, Business Subcommittee, and Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Holsclaw lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and part of Carter Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.John.Holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7450.

 

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Capitol Hill Review

June 22, 2020

Tennessee General Assembly passes $39.45 billion budget

 This week in Nashville, both the House and Senate approved a $39.45 billion budget that addresses the unexpected revenue shortfalls caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Tennessee.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-2021 budget reduces the size of government through common sense reductions and cuts totaling $1.5 billion over a two-year period in efforts to address historic revenue losses.  The budget finalizes the elimination of the Hall Income Tax and does not raise taxes on Tennesseans.

The new state spending plan invests $350 million into Tennessee’s savings account (Rainy Day Fund), bringing the total to $1.45 billion. The budget also fully funds the Basic Education Program (BEP), covering both growth and inflation with a $50.3 million investment. It includes $10.6 million for health insurance and retirement for teachers and principals. The FY 2020-2021 budget supports higher education with a $50 million investment in new facilities.

The budget also focuses on boosting consumer and business confidence through the creation of a $25 million sales tax holiday, which will take place over two weekends in late July and early August 2020.

Other key allocations include a $210 million grant program for all Tennessee cities and counties. These funds have no restrictions and will be used to address unique needs that are best determined by local and county leaders. Approximately $15 million will be used to support economic and community development through broadband accessibility grants.

Finally, the FY 2020-2021 budget invests $19 million to strengthen the state’s health care safety network and $7.5 million in new funding will create a children’s behavioral safety network.

Tennessee’s new budget supports citizens across all three grand divisions of our state as they continue to recover from these extraordinary circumstances. Under conservative leadership, the Volunteer State will remain the best place in the entire nation to live, work, raise a family, and retire.

 

Lawmakers pass historic pro-life legislation

Lawmakers this week also passed historic pro-life legislation that bans abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat is detected or around six weeks.

House Bill 2263 passed by a 68-17 vote tally Thursday morning. The legislation includes a ladder provision that enacts bans at various other gestation intervals up to 24 weeks. These provisions would take effect if the courts struck down the six-week ban or any other component of this measure.

House Bill 2263 requires doctors to conduct an ultrasound, show images to an expectant mother and inform her about her baby’s development.

An amendment added to the bill also requires abortion facilities where 50 or more procedures are performed a year to post signage informing patients their chemical abortion procedure is reversible. Patients would also receive the same notification prior to and after the first dose of a two dose abortion-inducing drug treatment has been administered.

Tennessee is a strong pro-life state, and this historic measure and others demonstrate our continued commitment to fight for our unborn.

 

House approves Right to Work constitutional amendment

The House also approved a resolution adding Tennessee’s Right to Work law to the state constitution this week.

The resolution must pass by a two-thirds majority during the 2021 or 2022 legislative sessions in order to appear on the ballot for a statewide referendum in November 2022. The Right to Work constitutional amendment would also become part of the state constitution if adopted by a majority vote during the 2022 election cycle.

Tennessee’s Right to Work statute has been state law since 1947. It stipulates workers cannot be hired or fired based on their membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization. When it was introduced in 1947, supporters of the bill argued it would “be of great advantage to the average member of organized labor.” Right to Work also protects the rights of those who choose not to join a union.

Twenty-seven states have Right to Work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional amendments, including neighboring states Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Alabama amendment passed most recently in 2016. Another neighbor, Virginia, is presently considering repealing its Right to Work statute. A constitutional amendment would offer greater protection for workers against such repeal efforts.

The Tennessee General Assembly remains committed to support Tennessee’s workers and businesses.

 

House passes drug-free zone reform

The House this week also passed legislation reforming drug-free zone laws currently on the books.

House Bill 2517 passed by an 88-4 vote on June 17, 2020. The measure right-sizes drug-free zones from 1,000 feet to 500 feet and strengthens penalties against those who sell drugs to children within these zones. At the same time, the legislation allows for a judge to use discretion and apply more appropriate sentencing in certain instances.

Drug-free zones include public or private elementary, middle, secondary schools, child care agencies public libraries, recreational centers and parks. By shrinking these zones, House Bill 2517 has the potential to create additional resources to make justice more efficient in our state.

House Bill 2517 now heads the governor’s desk for his signature.

 

 

 

 

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Capitol Hill Review

June 12, 2020

House passes pro-life abortion reversal legislation  

Recently in Nashville, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed pro-life abortion reversal legislation by a 77-22 vote.

House Bill 2568 requires facilities where 50 or more abortions are performed each year to post a sign informing chemical abortion patients that their procedure is reversible after the first dose of a two-dose treatment.

The measure also requires a patient to receive the same notice prior to and after the first dose of an abortion-inducing drug has been administered.

Failure by a provider to inform patients about the reversal option would result in criminal penalties or civil action.

House Bill 2568 now awaits passage by the Senate.

To view discussion and debate on the measure from the House floor, please click the image above.

 

 

Mental Health Care Reform Act gains momentum in House

Legislation that creates a pathway for families and people with the most severe and violent cases of mental illnesses to access treatment continues to gain momentum in the House.

Known as the Violent Mental Health Care Reform Act of 2020, House Bill 969 creates a process for a parent, legal guardian, spouse, responsible relative, physician, or law enforcement to petition a court to order treatment when a person is determined to pose a serious threat of violence to others.

The measure would only apply to individuals who make multiple threats of violence. It is only applicable in 14 Tennessee counties that currently have a mental health court, but could be expanded later.

House Bill 969 allows a judge to order an evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist who would then determine if the individual met criteria for hospitalization or for treatment. The law also provides protections for the rights of individuals believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis and guarantees them the right to counsel.

More information on House Bill 969 is available here.

 

 

House Republicans approve measure designating Womens Suffrage Day in Tennessee

This week in Nashville, House Republicans unanimously approved legislation officially designating August 18th as Women’s Suffrage Day in Tennessee.

House Bill 2586 declares the annual day of observation to celebrate the day that Tennessee officially became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting American women everywhere the right to vote.

All eyes turned to Tennessee as the last, best hope for ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 1920. Suffragists descended on Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel to gain support for their efforts during an extraordinary session of the Tennessee General Assembly. The suffragists adopted yellow roses as a symbol for their cause, while anti-suffragists adopted a red rose.

Following what became known as Tennessee’s “War of the Roses” between suffragists and anti-suffragists, 24-year-old Republican Harry T. Burn switched his position and cast the deciding vote, fulfilling the wishes penned in a letter by his mother, Febb Burn. Days later, the 19th Amendment, also known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” became national law.

August 18, 2020 will mark the 100-year anniversary of this momentous occasion in Tennessee and U.S. history. To learn more about the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, click here.

For more information on House Bill 2586, please click here.

 

 

Republican leaders approve measure reducing student debt in Tennessee

This week, a measure reducing student debt in Tennessee was also unanimously approved by the House.

House Bill 2601 passed by a 95-0 vote tally in Nashville. It requires all public colleges and universities to provide a breakdown of total attendance costs – including tuition, fees, and all award amounts received – before a student accepts a student loan.

According to LendEDU, the average graduate from a Tennessee institution is leaving campus with $26,840 in student loan debt. The overall goal of this solution is to reduce debt burdens on our students as they pursue their certificate or degree and work to establish themselves in their careers.

House Bill 2601 now heads to Gov. Lee’s desk for his signature. For information, please click here.

 

 

Certificate of Need legislation moves in key House finance committee

Legislation that increases access to quality health care in Tennessee continues to gain momentum in key House committees.

House Bill 2350 removes barriers to entry into the health care marketplace to increase competition, which will ultimately improve access to quality care, while lowering overall costs for patients and families.

This certificate of need reform (CON) legislation eliminates red tape for entities moving forward in securing a certificate of need. The measure also collapses the timeline from 135 days for application and review to 60 days. Additionally, House Bill 2350 reduces burdensome fees and regulations on certain services, while also limiting the ability of existing entities within 35 miles of a new project to oppose applications.

Finally, House Bill 2350 creates flexibility for existing facilities with a certificate of need, and it removes CON requirements for projects in rural, distressed counties — including mental health facilities and micro-hospitals.

First introduced in 2019, the CARE Plan is designed to transform the health care system in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients.

House Bill 2350 now awaits additional action in the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee. For more information, click here.

 

 

Republican lawmakers enhance protections for senior citizens

Republican lawmakers on June 10 approved legislation that strengthens existing state laws designed to protect older Tennesseans.

Known as the Safe Seniors Act of 2020, House Bill 2653 targets those who abuse aging citizens. The measure adds abuse, aggravated abuse, neglect, and aggravated neglect of an older adult to the list of offenses where a court must consider the offense as a threat to the victim or to public safety.

 This initiative strengthens existing protections for aging and vulnerable Tennesseans who have made lasting contributions to their communities and our state.

The bill now awaits additional action. More information is available here.

 

John Holsclaw serves as Chairman of the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resource Committee, Commerce Committee, Business Subcommittee, and Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Holsclaw lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and part of Carter Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.John.Holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7450.

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Capitol Hill Review

June 5, 2020

House resumes legislative session following 10-week recess caused by Covid-19

The Tennessee General Assembly officially returned to the House chamber following a 10-week recess caused by the Covid-19 pandemic this week.

Floor sessions resumed inside the Capitol with certain safety measures in place to allow for a limited amount of the general public to attend proceedings. These included temperature screenings, spacing in the galleries, and the addition of Lexan barriers in between members’ seats on the House floor.

A total of 72 bills were heard in the chamber during this first week in June, with 58 officially passing.

While all members will continue to focus on addressing the budget shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, discussion and debate on good public policy for Tennessee will continue as the 2020 legislative session moves towards a conclusion.

 

 

Speaker Sexton’s remarks on recent unrest in Tennessee and our nation

Before House members officially resumed their legislative business Monday night, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) made the following remarks on the recent unrest in Nashville, Tennessee, and across our nation:

“Our State and nation is hurting – And there is anger everywhere.

The right to peacefully assembly is a founding principle of our representative republic, and we have seen many positive examples of peaceful and effective protests in recent days and throughout the history of Tennessee and our nation.

Each has encouraged an honest dialogue, which is essential for us to evolve as a society, and they have also remind us about the importance of respect, civility, partnership and that we all are created by the same God.

The actions of a very few individuals who have vandalized, who have set fires to buildings, and those who have escalated otherwise peaceful situations to jeopardize public safety and destroy property are an attempt to make us forget these guiding principles, and the value of human life.

These disruptive actions are not representative of the large number of those who have peacefully gathered to exercise their rights. They do not aid in bringing awareness to the events in Minneapolis. In fact, they have the opposite effect. What took place in Minneapolis is reprehensible and indefensible.

However, uncontrolled, rogue individuals defacing our public buildings or criminally abusing their powers do not represent our population or a movement. They are simply bad people doing bad things – nothing more, and nothing less. It is our job to rise above anger, to rise above frustration, and come together as a body to focus on the work ahead of us as a state and a nation. 

We are all leaders in our communities, and our state, and how we react, how we speak, how we  interact with one another, and our ability to continue to respect one another even when our opinions differ will set an example to all those who are watching us in the days ahead.

Life is precious, and if we don’t value life, we do not value our creation or our creator. As we finish our work in Nashville, conclude our legislative duties and business for the year, and as we return to our homes and to our families, let’s all continue to pray for guidance, for wisdom, and for peace. Tennessee needs leaders; now, is the time for all of us to answer the call to lead our great state.”

 

 

Stimulus Accountability Group announces Tennessee Business Relief Program

Members of the Stimulus Accountability Group joined with Gov. Bill Lee at Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville on Tuesday to announce a program designed to support all small businesses adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief (CARES Act) Funds through the Department of Revenue directly to small family, rural, minority-owned and other businesses that were unable to obtain funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and who qualify for this much-needed relief.

Amounts awarded will be based on a businesses’ annual gross sales. Approximately 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify, with more than 73 percent earning annual gross sales of $500,000 or less.

 

 

The following types of small businesses are eligible under the Tennessee Business Relief Program:

 

  • Barber shops
  • Beauty shops
  • Nail salons
  • Tattoo parlors, spas, and other personal care services
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Hotels and other travel accommodations
  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and similar facilities
  • Museums, zoos, and other similar attractions
  • Amusement parks
  • Bowling centers and arcades
  • Marinas
  • Amusement, sports and recreational industries
  • Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events
  • Agents and managers of artists, athletes, and entertainers
  • Independent artists, writers, and performers

 

In addition, the following small businesses are eligible if their sales were reduced by at least 25 percent, as shown on their April sales tax returns (filed in May):

 

  • Furniture stores
  • Home furnishing stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Shoe stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores
  • Book stores
  • Department stores
  • Office supply, stationery and gift stores
  • Used merchandise stores
  • Other miscellaneous stores

 

Our small businesses are the backbone of our local and statewide economies, and we are committed to fighting for them as they continue to rally and recover in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

 

 

House Republicans approve resolution welcoming Republican National Convention to Tennessee

House Republicans Thursday morning approved House Resolution 326, which expresses that Tennessee is well-suited to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.

The measure comes after reports that Republican National Committee (RNC) officials were planning to tour possible locations in Nashville this week to potentially accommodate this year’s convention.

Recent disagreements between party officials, President Donald Trump and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper over the originally contracted convention in Charlotte remain unresolved. This could result in a new venue for August’s convention.

Other locations under possible consideration include Las Vegas, Orlando, and Jacksonville, according to media reports.

Hosting the Republican National Convention could have a financial impact between $100-$150 million on Tennessee’s economy.

The Volunteer State is poised and stands ready to nominate President Donald Trump as the Republican nominee during this year’s Republican National Convention.

For more details about House Resolution 326, please click here.

 

 

Republican-led Certificate of Need legislation clears House Health Committee

Republican-led legislation that increases access to quality healthcare in Tennessee continues to gain momentum in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

House Bill 2350 cleared the House Health Committee Tuesday. Part of the Republican CARE Plan, the measure makes various changes to the certificate of need (CON) process for health facilities in order to remove barriers to competition in the market place. This competition will drive down costs and provide more options for patients.

This innovative measure is the culmination of years of work on behalf of Tennessee patients by Republican leaders in efforts to transform our health care system through patient-centered solutions that are consumer-driven, increase access, provide high quality care and lower overall costs.

House Bill 2350 changes the CON process by collapsing the calendar for an application from 120 days to 60 days. Additionally, the bill limits opposition to an application by existing entities within 35 miles of a new project.

The legislation now moves on to the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee for additional discussion and debate on June 10.

First introduced in 2019, the CARE Plan is designed to transform the health care system in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients.

Republican lawmakers remain committed to providing patient-centered solutions that improve access and the quality of care available to all citizens, while lowering overall costs.

 

Republican lawmakers support age-appropriate firearm safety in our public schools

This week in Nashville, Republican lawmakers supported commonsense legislation that will allow for firearm safety education in our public schools.

House Bill 2761 was approved in the House chamber Wednesday afternoon. The bill enables the Department of Education, the Department of Safety and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to study the earliest, appropriate grade level for the implementation of firearm safety education.

Training under this legislation will help young people identify a firearm, understand safety risks, and encourage them to notify an adult should they encounter a firearm.

House Republicans are committed to the safety and well-being of our current and future generations of leaders.

 

House Republicans pass legislation supporting veterans as they obtain occupations

House Republicans renewed their commitment to the brave men and women who have so proudly served our state and nation through House Bill 1946.

This legislation was approved Wednesday in the House by a 94-0 vote tally. It enables our military veterans to receive credit for training and course work completed during their service time to be used towards an occupational license.

House Republicans are proud to support those who have made extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our state so they successfully transition to civilian life. We appreciate and we are forever indebted to them and to their families.

 

House unanimously approves Teacher Discipline Act

The Tennessee House of Representatives this week also approved legislation that establishes a process for a continuously disruptive student to be removed from their classroom.

Known as the Teacher Discipline Act, House Bill 2134 passed by a 91-0 vote Wednesday. The legislation has more than 70 cosponsors and will enable Tennessee teachers to spend more time with students who desire to learn.

Under House Bill 2134, each Local Education Agency (LEA) would create a process that would allow for a teacher to remove a student who causes repeated disruptions in the classroom and send that student to the principal’s office for disciplinary action — including the possibility of permanent removal.

Once the disruptive student is disciplined, principals would use their discretion to send them back into the classroom. However, educators would also be allowed to file an appeal with the director of schools if they disagree with that decision.

The legislation also paves the way for directors to work with school officials to help address issues that are impacting a disruptive student’s ability to learn, so they become a productive member of society.

 

 

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Weekly Wrap (May 29, 2020)

May 29, 2020
Edited WeeklyWrap05.28.20

State Rep. John Holsclaw’s Weekly Wrap

May 29, 2020
WeeklyWrap 05.29.20

State Rep. John Holsclaw offers benefit resource guide for constituents

May 7, 2020

NASHVILLE, TENN. – State Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, has released the following resource guide for small business owners and Tennesseans who may have recently been laid off or experienced a reduction in pay as a result of Covid-19.

“Unemployment benefits provide a much-needed lifeline for thousands of Tennesseans who suddenly find themselves laid off, furloughed or working reduced hours as a result of COVID-19,” said Holsclaw. “This virus has been devastating for our workforce and for business owners. My office stands ready to assist the citizens of Unicoi and Carter counties who urgently need these benefits and resources.”

Tennesseans who have lost income, contracts, or their jobs will be eligible to receive significantly expanded unemployment compensation benefits as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act.

The maximum weekly benefit amount in Tennessee is $275, but between now and July 31, an additional $600 will be added to every unemployment compensation check

Visit the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development website to file for Unemployment Insurance and other forms of assistance here or go to www.tn.gov/workforce

 

To track an unemployment claim’s status, visit here.

 

If you are a business owner and you are concerned about making payroll or paying bills:

 The Paycheck Protection Program provides eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who keep paying their employees during this emergency.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations. For information, go here.

The IRS is extending payroll tax credits to eligible small and midsize businesses. Go here for information.

If you have questions about new federal paid leave requirements related to the Coronavirus visit the U.S. Labor Department’s Fact Sheet for Employees

To contact State Rep. John Holsclaw, call 615-741-7450 or email him at rep.john.holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov