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State Rep. Jeremy Faison’s Capitol Report

The pace picked up this week on Capitol Hill with lawmakers advancing several bills through committee and on the House floor. The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee continued its work advancing the priorities of Tennesseans for next year by completing its seventh week of budget hearings. The House Education Committee on Wednesday held a special hearing to consider testimony from Tennessee teachers, superintendents and other experts on childhood literacy rates in Tennessee.  Much of the focus was on the impact of the bipartisan Tennessee Literary Success Act and Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act passed by the General Assembly in early 2021. The laws were aimed at improving literacy rates and tackling the learning loss related to COVID-19.

This week, I was proud to welcome constituents from the Chamber of Commerce (Cocke, Jefferson, and Hamblen) and Morristown East FFA.

It was an honor to meet football legend, Coach Tony Dungy, who was visiting our State Capitol this week to talk about his non-profit organization, Family First and All Pro Dad.

Coach Tony Dungy

Lastly, I was able to meet the owner of The Standard Banner, Dale Gentry, and Fox News contributor, Pete Hegseth. These are two men are strong, conservative voices that I was excited to meet and speak with.

General Assembly bans gender mutilation of children

Legislation that prohibits minors from undergoing irreversible and harmful medical procedures for the purpose of changing their gender identity now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature following a 77-16 vote in the House chamber on Thursday.

Tennessee now provides the nation’s strongest protections against the removal of a child’s healthy body parts. House Bill 1, sponsored by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, bans medical interference that alters a child’s hormonal balance and procedures that remove body parts to enable the minor to identify as a gender different from their biological sex. The Senate version passed on Feb. 13.

The legislation ensures that doctors can still prescribe hormone treatment to minors for medically necessary purposes and makes exceptions for children born with chromosomal anomalies or congenital defects.   House Bill 1 now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. It becomes effective July 1.

Constitutional carry expansion advances

Republican legislation to expand protections for Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights advanced out of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee this week.

House Bill 1005, as amended, would expand constitutional carry in Tennessee by allowing law-abiding adults to carry a firearm where they are legally allowed to. The legislation would also lower the minimum age required for a person to obtain an enhanced, lifetime enhanced or concealed handgun carry permit from 21 to 18 years of age.

If approved, the bill would also rename concealed handgun carry permits and enhanced handgun carry permits to concealed firearm carry permits and enhanced firearm carry permits. Permit holders and law-abiding adults would be allowed to carry any firearm they legally own in any place or manner currently authorized for handguns.

General Assembly protects children from adult entertainment

The House chamber on Thursday passed legislation that protects children from being exposed to sexually explicit performances. House Bill 9, sponsored by State Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, restricts adult-oriented cabaret performances from being performed on public property if children could be present.

The bill requires private establishments such as bars or restaurants that host sexually explicit shows to require patrons to show identification to ensure they are at least 18. The bill provides common-sense protection and clarity regarding what performances are not appropriate for children. 

A violation of this bill would result in a Class A misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent offense would result in a Class E felony.  The bill returns to the Senate chamber for a procedural vote before heading to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Subcommittee advances legislation targeting fentanyl dealers

The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week advanced Republican legislation to strengthen the punishment for those who sell certain dangerous and illegal drugs like fentanyl in Tennessee.

House Bill 702, as amended, would increase the punishment for the sale, manufacture and delivery of fentanyl, carfentanil, remifentanil, alfentanil, and thiafentanil from a Class C felony to a Class B felony for amounts between 0.5 grams and 15 grams.

“The only way that we can try to hopefully deter some of the fentanyl poisonings… in our state is to make our (laws) much tougher,” said bill co-sponsor State Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro. “Hopefully that will deter some people from selling this drug and pushing it on their friends and throughout our communities.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 2,734 fentanyl overdose deaths statewide in 2021 – a 446 percent increase when compared to 2017. House Bill 702 is scheduled to be heard in the House Criminal Justice Committee on Feb. 28.

Biological sex clarified in state law

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee this week advanced legislation to clarify the definition of “sex” in Tennessee state law.

House Bill 239 would define the term as a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth and evidence of their biological sex. There are currently multiple departments within state government where the term has not been previously defined.

According to the legislation, evidence of a person’s biological sex includes government-issued identification that accurately reflects a person’s sex listed on their original birth certificate. House Bill 239 is scheduled to be heard in the House Civil Justice Committee on March 1.

Bill eliminates probation for rape

Legislation that provides increased protections from convicted rapists advanced out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week.

House Bill 31, sponsored by State Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, would add rape to the list of crimes that a defendant is not eligible for probation under the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989. Current state law allows for a criminal to be eligible for probation if their sentence is less than 10 years. However, certain enumerated offenses are not eligible for probation regardless of the length of the sentence. If approved, this legislation would add rape to that list.

The General Assembly approved Truth in Sentencing legislation in 2021 and expanded it again in 2022 to ensure certain violent offenders, including those convicted of rape, serve 100 percent of the sentence imposed by a judge or jury. House Bill 31 is scheduled to be heard in the House Criminal Justice Committee on Feb. 28.


Ensuring fairness in girls’ sports: House Bill 306, sponsored by State Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, would further protect girls’ sports in Tennessee by requiring private school students who compete in an interscholastic athletic activity or event as part of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) to do so in accordance with their sex at birth. Similar legislation applying to public middle and high school interscholastic sports activities was approved by the General Assembly in 2021. The House Education Administration Committee is scheduled to discuss House Bill 306 on March 1.

Eliminating disabled license plate fee: House Bill 76, co-sponsored by State Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, would eliminate the disabled license plate fee in Tennessee for a parent or guardian of an individual who is permanently and totally confined to a wheelchair. Currently, the registration fee is $26.50. The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to discuss House Bill 76 on Feb. 28.

Tennessee Businesses Against Trafficking Program: House Bill 115, The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week advanced the Tennessee Businesses Against Trafficking program, which engages corporations and other private entities in voluntary efforts to identify, prevent and combat human trafficking. Sponsored by State Rep. Debra Moody, R- Covington, House Bill 115 requires the Secretary of State to establish a program that includes participating in training, public awareness campaigns and other measures. The Secretary of State will work collaboratively with other state agencies and advisory councils to promote the program.


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