The full Senate voted 26 to 5 on April 22nd to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life stance with approval of the Human Life Protection Act. Senate Bill 1257 would proactively trigger the restoration of Tennessee’s abortion laws 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 U.S. Supreme Court once again allows states to decide abortion policy, we want to be in a position to restore the common sense protections that express the pro-life views and sentiments of Tennesseans,” said Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), sponsor of the bill. “This legislation is the next step towards restoring constitutional protections for the unborn.”

    When the United States Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, it rendered Tennessee’s strong abortion laws null and void, which prohibited abortion except when the life of the mother was at risk. Since then, Tennessee Republicans have worked diligently to prevent abortion through the passage of numerous laws. This includes initiating a constitutional amendment adopted by Tennessee voters that allowed the General Assembly to enact common-sense restrictions, like a 48-hour waiting period and a requirement that abortion facilities be regulated as surgical centers with proper medical professionals on staff. It also included action to defund Planned Parenthood.

   The restoration of state power over abortion would occur in one of two ways under the legislation. 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 U.S. constitutional amendment is adopted. Then thirty days following either event, Tennessee’s abortion law would be restored to its 1972 statute.

In Brief…

    Election Integrity – The Senate gave final approval to legislation which addresses those who intentionally, knowingly turn in fraudulent or incomplete voter registration forms. It aims to preserve the integrity of Tennessee’s election process, while encouraging voter registration and the work of well-intended voter activist groups. The proposal comes after election officials in Davidson and Shelby counties experienced a last-minute surge in voter registration applications with faulty or grossly incomplete information. Senate Bill 971 would enhance election security by (1) requiring a person or organization conducting a supplemental voter registration drive of 100 people or more to be trained to properly complete applications and protect confidential information; (2) prohibiting organizations from paying individuals based on the number of voter registration forms submitted; (3) requiring applications collected by designated people or organizations to be filed in a timely manner, within ten days of receiving the voter registration; and (4) permitting the State Election Commission to assess a civil penalty to organizations paid to conduct voter registration that submit 100 or more deficient forms, excluding omission of Social Security numbers. This provision does not affect unpaid volunteers or organizations which use only unpaid volunteers to conduct voter registration such as the League of Women Voters, Boy Scouts, churches, and college Student Government Associations. Tennessee voters may register to vote or change their information on their computer, tablet or mobile device at https://govotetn.com/.

   Medicaid Block Grant Waiver – Major legislation was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee calling for Tennessee’s Commissioner of Finance and Administration to request a block grant waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to better serve recipients of the state’s TennCare program was approved by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this week. Senate Bill 1428, sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) is designed to maximize flexibility in constructing an innovative plan that serves the needs of Tennesseans, while ensuring the state continues to receive its full share of federal Medicaid dollars. The overall goal is to provide an effective and innovative plan that is specific to the healthcare needs of all Tennesseans, while lowering costs and increasing access to patient-centered care. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.

   Tax Revenues Show Healthy Growth -- Tennessee tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates in March according to the latest reports from the Department of Finance and Administration.  Overall March revenues totaled $1.1 billion, which is $52.8 million more than the state received in March of 2018 and $28.6 million more than the budgeted estimate for the month. Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter said, “The state’s year-to-date tax revenue growth indicates a promising finish to the 2018-2019 fiscal year.  However, a fourth of the state’s volatile corporate tax revenue collections typically occur within the next month. Therefore, we will continue to monitor our monthly tax receipts closely.”  On an accrual basis, March is the eighth month in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Year-to-date revenues, August through March, are $251.5 million more than the budgeted estimate. The growth rate for eight months is 4.1 percent. General fund revenues are $224.3 million more than the budgeted estimate and the four other funds are $27.2 million more than estimated.

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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