Senate Judiciary Committee votes to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of Human Life Protection Act

   The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, during the week of April 8th, to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of the Human Life Protection Act. Senate Bill 1257 seeks to proactively trigger the restoration of Tennessee’s abortion law prior to the Roe v. Wade ruling, if and when the power to regulate abortion is returned to the states, to protect the life of unborn children.

  When the United States Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, it rendered Tennessee’s strong abortion law, which prohibited abortion except when the life of the mother was at risk, null and void. Since then, Tennessee Republicans have diligently worked to prevent abortion by initiating a constitutional amendment adopted by Tennessee voters that allowed the General Assembly to enact common-sense restrictions. These restrictions include a 48-hour waiting period and a requirement that abortion facilities be regulated as surgical centers with proper medical professionals on staff, making the laws as tight as constitutionally possible.

  The restoration of state power over abortion would occur in one of two ways. The U.S. Supreme Court could issue a decision overruling Roe v. Wade, or an amendment could be adopted to the U.S. Constitution that returns the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.

   Under this bill, the Attorney General and Reporter would be required to notify the Tennessee Code Commission in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned or a United States Constitutional amendment is adopted. The Code Commission directs the official compilation of statues, codes and laws of the state. Then thirty days following either event, Tennessee’s abortion law would be restored to its 1972 statute.

   The Human Life Protection Act will now proceed to the Senate floor to be voted on by the full Senate. Upon passage, Tennessee would join six other states across the country that have this type of trigger legislation on their books, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In addition, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas are also currently considering similar legislation.

   In Brief…

   Veterans -- Two bills endorsed by the General Assembly’s Veterans’ Caucus advanced in the Senate.  One bill approved by the full Senate increases the discount that disabled veterans receive at state parks. Currently, veterans get a 25 percent discount during the in season and a 50 percent discount in the off season in Tennessee state parks. Senate Bill 1119 gives 100 percent permanent and total service-connected disabled veterans a 50 percent discounted rate during all seasons at state parks. In order to receive the discount, such individuals will be required to provide certification of that status. The legislation now awaits approval from the House.

   The second bill seeking to support and protect Tennessee veterans requires the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) to provide training in suicide prevention to their employees who directly interact with veterans. The training is available free of charge to DVS through suicide prevention networks and can be viewed in a few hours. Senate Bill 673 will prepare and arm DVS employees with prevention measures while responding to veterans in crisis.

   Medical Cannabis – Legislation that would have allowed Tennesseans to receive medical cannabis under the care of a physician and pharmacist was deferred until 2020. Senate Bill 572 would have allowed patients with certain conditions to obtain a state-issued medical cannabis card which they could take to an Agricultural Medical Center staffed by pharmacists to receive a monthly dose. Sponsors will continue their work in finding consensus on the legislation over the summer and fall months.

   Budget – Senate committees successfully completed 59 hearings to review the individual budgets of all departments and agencies of state government.  State senators have been reviewing the budgets since the budget was presented to lawmakers in March. In other budget matters, the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee has received 196 amendments to the appropriations bill before the deadline on April 11th. Attention will now turn to the amendments and to Governor Bill Lee’s supplemental budget appropriation amendment, which will be delivered to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on April 16th. The budget will be the central focus of the General Assembly during the remaining weeks of the 2019 legislative session.

You May Contact Senator Hensley at

425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746

Nashville TN 37243

615-741-3100

Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100

Fax 615-253-0231

855 Summertown Highway

Hohenwald TN 38462

Phone 931-796-2018

Cell Phone 931-212-8823

E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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