NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, today introduced legislation increasing protections for anyone targeted by threats of violence in Tennessee.
The Duty to Report Act, House Bill 7008, would require mental health professionals and behavior analysts to inform either the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse or local law enforcement if a patient threatened violence against a group of people such as school or daycare students, individuals at a place of worship or a person’s family, among others.
“As public servants, our highest duty is to protect the safety and security of all Tennesseans,” Zachary said. “Currently, state law only requires threats made against a clearly identified victim to be reported by mental health professionals. These improvements are immediate, life-saving actions we can take that will significantly enhance reporting requirements and communication to the proper authorities when a credible threat is made.”
House Bill 7008 also includes protections from civil, criminal and disciplinary penalties for mental health professionals and behavior analysts who make reasonable attempts to comply with the law.
Gov. Bill Lee issued an official proclamation last week calling for a special session of the state legislature to consider several proposals dealing with public safety and mental health.
The 66th Extraordinary Special Session of the Tennessee General Assembly is scheduled to convene Aug. 21 at 4 p.m.