Legislative Update


News from Nashville
Governor’s extraordinary session on public safety concludes

Senate fulfills constitutional obligation, incentivizes safe storage, attacks human trafficking and bolsters mental health funding 

On Tuesday, August 29, the General Assembly concluded Governor Lee’s extraordinary session on public safety and accomplished the business he called on the General Assembly to address. In the special session, the legislature continued efforts to prioritize investments in mental health and school safety and approved the majority of the governor’s legislative package. The new laws passed aim to enhance public safety by encouraging responsible gun ownership, speeding up the background check process for purchasing firearms and addressing human trafficking. Over 100 additional bills were filed for the special session. Historically, when the Governor calls a special session, the only bills the General Assembly votes on are the bills that the Governor proposes. Given the volume and complexity of this additional legislation, lawmakers agreed any issues outside the governor’s legislative package would be more appropriately addressed in the regular session starting in January to provide more time for stakeholder input and public testimony. Many lawmakers have committed to continue the important conversations and legislative work prompted by the special session. 

Investing in school security and mental health 
In the special session, lawmakers invested over $100 million in school security and mental health. The General Assembly continued efforts to enhance school security by investing an additional $10 million in grants for School Resource Officers (SRO) and School Safety Officers (SSO). Following the Covenant School attack in March 2023, the General Assembly passed comprehensive measures to strengthen security at public and private schools across Tennessee. Lawmakers invested $223 million to improve school safety, including $140 million to put a School Resource Officer in every public school. Other investments made during the special session to enhance public safety and strengthen mental health include:
$30 million for campus security upgrades at public higher education institutions$50 million for grants to licensed community mental health agencies to improve mental health services$4 million for the Behavioral Health Safety Net which provides mental health services to low-income, uninsured Tennesseans$12 million to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) to provide sign on and retention bonuses to prospective and current behavioral health professionals $3 million to TDMHSAS to provide a behavioral health scholarship program 

Encouraging responsible gun ownership 
As part of the governor’s legislative package, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 7085 to encourage the safe storage of firearms to prevent thefts and accidents. The legislation eliminates the sales tax on firearm safes and safety devices to reduce financial barriers for practicing safe storage. It also creates a public awareness campaign to promote firearm safety and responsible gun ownership. 

Speeding up reporting of criminal and mental health history to the TBI
To speed up the background check process for purchasing firearms, the General Assembly approved Senate Bill 7086, which codifies Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 100, issued on April 11 of this year to enhance protective procedures for the purchase of firearms. The legislation expedites the reporting of criminal history and court mental health information which is reviewed as part of the background check required to purchase firearms. The bill changes the reporting requirement for court clerks to report criminal and mental health history  to the TBI’s Tennessee Instant Check System (TICS) from 30 days to 72 hours. TICS keeps track of those convicted of felonies, adjudicated as mentally defective or involuntarily committed. The system has been working well since the new rules went into effect. 

Fighting human trafficking 
To aid in the General Assembly’s continued fight against human trafficking, the Senate approved Senate Bill 7088 which requires the TBI to issue an annual report on the agency’s efforts to fight human trafficking. The first report is due on December 1, 2023, and it will be provided to the Governor and the speakers of the Senate and House. These reports will be an important tool for the General Assembly when contemplating further legislation to combat child and human trafficking in our state. For over a decade Tennessee has been a leader in the recognition and identification of victims of human trafficking. In 2013, the TBI issued a comprehensive report on the statistics and issues facing human trafficking throughout our state but that was the last report. Since 2011, the General Assembly has passed several bills to crack down on human trafficking throughout the state and protect victims.

It was a moving ceremony at the memorial event for Army SSG Ryan Christian Knauss and the Kabul 13

I joined Governor Lee on his visit of the Pellissippi State Mortorsports Formula SAE Racing Team.

Members of the Knox and Blount County delegations joined TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley as GovernorBill Lee signed the Transportation Modernization Act(which I was the sponsor of)on Ag Day on the Hill

I want to thank Department of Health CommissionerRalph Alvarado and his wife for joining me on atour of the LMU Dental School

I enjoyed my tour of the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base and the update of all the great work they are doing.
I enjoyed stopping by and speaking to theparticipants of the Elder Justice Conference.
It was great visiting the TDOT employees that makeall of our road signs in East Tennessee

I participated at the press conference to bringawareness to the Boating Under the Influence bill that I passed this year

What an amazing large mural that Paris Woodhull painted at Sertoma Center. Thanks to the Dogwood Arts Festival and the Tennessee Arts Commission for sponsoring this.

If our office can ever be of service to you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact us. On the left is Carly Nelson, my Legislative Assistant. On the right is Debbie Gazzaway, our Research Analyst for the Transportation and Safety Committee. We can help with issues with a state department, information on legislation, setting up a tour of the Capitol or scheduling an appointment or speaking engagements.For information on State Senators including phone numbers and email addresses, click Tennessee State Senators.For House members, click Tennessee House MembersFor all other information on the General Assembly including legislation, schedules and videos, click Tennessee General AssemblyAs always thank you for continued support!Sincerely,Becky MasseyDistrict 6 Senator615-741-1648sen.becky.massey@capitol.tn.govSee what’s happening socially    Visit our website
Senator Becky Duncan Massey | 425 Rep John Lewis Way North, Suite 776, Nashville, TN 37243Unsubscribe becky.massey@comcast.netUpdate Profile | Constant Contact Data NoticeSent by becky.massey@comcast.net powered byTry email marketing for free today!