Legislative Update | April 8, 2024

April 8, 2024
Aerial of Capital at night

News from Nashville

Almost all legislative business has shifted from committees to the Senate floor. The full Senate will meet four times this week to deliberate and pass bills advanced from committees. All but two committees have completed their business for the year. The two remaining committees – Finance, Ways and Means and Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources – are set to meet next week.

TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act

The TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act, which establishes a buy-in program so that individuals with disabilities can continue gainfully working without losing their health insurance coverage through TennCare is advancing. Current TennCare policy strictly limits eligibility for supports and services based on income. These restrictions limit the types of work individuals with disabilities can do without losing health coverage. Senate Bill 2791 will allow enrollees to pay a monthly premium of 5% of their income to receive the care and benefits needed, allowing the individual to still work gainfully. 

The bill advances to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

Legislation to protect Second Amendment and promote firearm safety as session end nears

Senate members are proceeding with two proposals to amend the Tennessee Constitution to strengthen Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights.

Senate Joint Resolution 904 advanced to protect citizens’ right to bear arms in the Tennessee Constitution and limit the legislature’s ability to pass restrictive gun laws. The measure proposes to replace the current constitutional provision that authorizes the legislature to “regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime” and instead state that “citizens have a right to keep, bear and wear arms.” 

Senate Joint Resolution 904 was read for the first time on the Senate floor last week after passing the Judiciary Committee last month. 

The Senate also advanced House Joint Resolution 131 to establish that within the borders of Tennessee, only Tennessee’s gun laws can apply in court. This would ensure other states cannot enforce their gun laws in Tennessee. 

In 2023, the General Assembly passed a new law providing civil liability protection to firearm and ammunition manufacturers preventing them from being held liable for illegal acts carried out by criminals using their products.

HJR 131 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and passed the House of Representatives last year. It now advances to the Senate floor for its first passage by the General Assembly. 

In Tennessee, a proposed constitutional amendment must first be read aloud to the legislature three times in three separate sessions before being voted on. Then, it must pass the General Assembly twice. The first time it must pass with a simple majority voting in favor. The second time it must pass the next General Assembly by a two-thirds majority. Finally, the amendment is placed on the ballot. To be successful the proposed amendment must receive more yes votes than no votes, and the number of yes votes must be a majority of the total votes in the gubernatorial election.

Senate passes firearm safety education in public schools

The Senate passed legislation to expand firearm safety education in Tennessee public schools. Senate Bill 2923 would provide students with age and grade-appropriate instruction on firearm safety as part of the existing safety training currently offered in public schools. The curriculum would include safe storage information, how to identify a firearm, the safety risks associated with them and to notify an adult if one is found.

The Department of Education and Department of Safety, in consultation with the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, would determine the earliest appropriate grade for students to begin receiving education related to firearm safety. The instruction would continue through the 12th grade.

The legislation would prohibit the use of live firearms and ammunition as part of the curriculum. Instruction would also be required to remain neutral on political and gun-related issues.

Judiciary Committee passes legislation to prevent terrorist organizations from meeting in taxpayer funded spaces

Legislation has been introduced in an attempt to prevent harm caused by terrorist organizations across the state. Senate Bill 2610 will prevent taxpayer funded forums from knowingly allowing spaces for terrorist organizations to meet. 

The legislation creates a Class E felony offense, punishable by a fine of up to $3,000, for an entity receiving public funds to knowingly provide meeting spaces or other forums, including electronic and print platforms used to solicit support for terrorist organizations. 

Under Tennessee law, terrorist organizations include any entity designated by the United States Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization or by the United States Department of the Treasury as a specially designated national. 

The bill advances to the Senate floor for final consideration.

Boys and Girls Cub staff and students at the Capitol
Boys and Girls Cub staff and students stopped by while they were at the Capitol

Katie Beckett Waiver

Senate Bill 2864 will increase the number of slots available for part B of the Katie Beckett waiver, allowing more families to participate in the program. The Katie Beckett program provides TennCare coverage for in-home care for children with severe and medically complex disabilities. 

The Katie Beckett Waiver was started under President Ronald Reagan. It created the opportunity for states to apply for a Medicaid waiver to allow the use of federal and state dollars to cover in-home care for children with medically complex disabilities, instead of only covering hospital care.

The General Assembly approved the Katie Beckett Waiver in 2019 to expand TennCare coverage to in-home care for about 3,000 children with medical disabilities.

The bill advances out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee to the Senate Finance Committee.

Judicial redistricting 

Senate Bill 305 advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Because of the growth of Tennessee, there is a need to disperse judicial resources and redistrict according to population size. The proposed changes, which will take effect September 1, 2030. These changes will allow for accurate reflections of population, resulting in a more efficient and effective judicial system for the state. 

The bill advances to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Empowering parents in vaccine decisions

To protect parental authority in decisions regarding their children’s health, the Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 2641 to ensure parents play a role in the decision-making process of childhood vaccinations. 

Instead of declaring that parents and legal guardians should adhere strictly to predefined vaccination guidelines, the legislation proposes that vaccination decisions should be guided by recommendations from healthcare providers, in consultation with parents or guardians, aligning with the commissioner of health’s recommendations when deemed appropriate. The bill advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee for further consideration. 

Members of the UT Knoxville Student Government Association pictured with Becky Massey
Members of the UT Knoxville Student Government Association stopped by to discuss legislation.

Equal coverage for non-opioid medications

In an effort to curb excessive opioid usage in Tennessee, legislation ensuring equal coverage for non-opioid pain medications has been sponsored. Senate Bill 2011 would make sure that non-opioid drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pain are not at a disadvantage compared to opioid or narcotic drugs in terms of coverage for pain treatment or management on the Prescription Drug List (PDL). The bill passed the Senate and awaits the Governor’s signature.

Textbook accessibility

Legislation ensuring students have reasonable access to necessary classroom materials passed the Senate chamber this week. Senate Bill 2312 requires schools that provide electronic textbooks and instructional materials to students to also provide a physical copy if the child’s parent requests it. The bill passed the Senate floor last week and awaits the Governor’s signature.

Giving trained teachers the option to conceal carry a firearm to protect their school

To give teachers more tools to protect themselves and their students, Senate Bill 1325 would allow school faculty and staff with enhanced handgun carry permits to carry concealed firearms within the school. 

The school staff who chose to carry a firearm would also be required to complete 40 hours of annual training, be approved by their local education association and pass a psychological evaluation. The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and awaits passage on the Senate floor.

Threats of violence

Senate Judiciary Committee members advanced legislation strengthening the punishment for threatening to commit mass violence on school property or at a school-related activity in Tennessee. 

Senate Bill 2263 would increase the crime from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. The legislation includes an exception for individuals with an intellectual disability. The bill advances to the Senate floor for final approval. If approved, the new law would take effect July 1.

Reporting funding for broadband services

It is important for Tennessee to ensure recipients of taxpayer funds are held accountable for the services promised. Legislation is sponsored that would require bi-annual reports from broadband providers that received state or federal grants to provide broadband internet to unserved areas. 

The reports must be submitted to the Department of Economic and Community Development and must include the list of locations that remain unserved and the date on which they plan to serve these locations. Senate Bill 2907 passed the Senate floor and is moving through committee in the House of Representatives.

Protecting victims of cybercrimes from litigation

Cybersecurity is an increasingly large issue hurting businesses and consumers. To help protect businesses from class action lawsuits caused by predatory cybersecurity attacks, legislation that would ensure businesses that are victims of cyberattacks are not held civilly liable is advancing. Senate Bill 2018 would not cover cases of willful or gross negligence on the part of the private entity. Senate Bill 2018 passed the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now awaits passage on the Senate floor.

Protecting Tennessee workers

Legislation passed the Senate last week ensuring that workers are properly compensated for all hours worked. Senate Bill 2017 would require causes of action for all compensation owed to employees or independent contractors to be brought within three years of accruing the cause of action. These actions include breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or quantum merit for unpaid wages for hours worked, overtime, minimum wage, salary, bonuses, commissions, or other compensation. The three-year timeline brings Tennessee in line with federal standards. This bill has also passed the House and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Inmate sentencing

Senate Bill 2044 would ensure that an inmate’s actual sentence could not be reduced with good-time credits. The Tennessee Department of Correction can issue good-time credits for inmates, but the bill clarifies that these credits can only be used toward release eligibility, not towards reduction of the actual sentence. The bill advances to the Senate Finance Committee.

Justice for victims of illegal distribution of obscene material

Legislation advanced to ensure anyone who produces and distributes illegal obscene material can be held civilly liable for injuries and damages to victims. Individuals and entities who produce, sell, send, or distribute obscene material are already in violation of state and federal law. Senate Bill 2041 will further discourage the production and distribution of child pornography and obscenity in Tennessee. The bill moves to the Senate floor for final approval. 

Keith Carver, Senior Vice Chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriulture pictured with Becky Massey.
I enjoyed catching up with Keith Carver, Senior Vice Chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriulture during AG Day on the Hill.
Becky Massey pictured with baby lamb
It was also fun to cuddle a baby lamb at UT Institute of Agriulture during AG Day on the Hill

In brief…

Strengthening sex offender registry

The Tennessee General Assembly is taking active steps to protect communities from sexual offenders. Senate Bill 2630 aims to do this by extending the period of time that an offender may request for their names to be taken off of the sexual offender registry from 10 to 15 years. The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate floor for final consideration.

Holding juvenile delinquents accountable

Legislation aimed at enhancing community safety and preventing juvenile offenders from accessing firearms is being considered. Under current law, juvenile delinquents can purchase firearms upon reaching 18 years old. Senate Bill 2911, would raise the age limit to 25 for juveniles convicted of specific crimes to purchase firearms. If approved, this bill would apply if a juvenile over the age of 14 was convicted of crimes that if committed by an adult would constitute a charge like criminal homicide and aggravated assault. The legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and moves to the Senate floor for final consideration. 

Veteran treatment court programs

Tennessee values and supports veterans. Legislation that would create more support for veterans by requiring funding for veteran treatment court programs has been sponsored. These programs have helped many veterans through rehabilitation and mental health struggles they often face. Senate Bill 2677 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Ensuring retired law enforcement can carry firearms at all times

Legislation is advancing that seeks to enhance public safety by allowing retired officers to carry firearms at all times. Senate Bill 2797 would expand the definition of law enforcement officer to include retired officers to ensure these officers can be armed to protect in times of need. The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now awaits passage on the Senate floor.

Increasing penalties for assaulting officers

Legislation would increase the penalties for assaulting a police officer from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. Senate Bill 2062 would also increase the mandatory minimum sentence from 30 days to 60 days and the fine from $5,000 to $10,000. Senate Bill 2062 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Enhancing charges for unlawful photography

Legislation that would enhance the charges for the harmful act of unlawful photography is advancing. Senate Bill 2669 would raise the offense of unlawful photography from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. 

Supporting and protecting other states

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to help support other states in need of assistance. Senate Bill 2624 would allow Tennessee state or local law enforcement to provide assistance to other states during an emergency if directed by the executive officer of that law enforcement agency. The legislation now awaits passage in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Ensuring public meetings are open

To keep governing bodies accountable, proposed legislation would allow courts to impose fees on a governing body if the court finds that the governing body knowingly and willfully refuses to comply with open meeting laws. Senate Bill 1963 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Dr. Randall Dabbs pictured with Becky Massey
Dr. Randall Dabbs stopped by while he was serving as the Doctor for the Day.

Senate Bill 1715 – would ensure that all schools have a school resource office (SRO) on campus. 

Senate Bill 1801 – allows victims to sue up to 30 years after they turn 18 for any injuries or illnesses that occurred as a result of the sexual abuse. 

Senate Bill 2004 – adds licensed professional counselors, marital and family therapists and clinical pastoral therapists to the list of medical practitioners in code. 

Senate Bill 2097 – will safeguard children from harmful content found on social media platforms. 

Senate Bill 2315 – creates a process for financing infrastructure to facilitate more residential development in cities and counties that desire to use it. 

Senate Bill 2482 – will ensure parents are informed by physicians about their minor child’s prescription medications and/or suicidal ideation.

Men of Valor pictured with Becky Massey.
I enjoyed visiting with representative with the Men of Valor.
Genevieve Turner pictured with Becky Massey
I met with Genevieve Turner who is also with the Men of Valor.
Allison Comer, with the Muse Knoxville, pictured with Becky Massey
Allison Comer, with the Muse Knoxville, came by to discuss the Science Alliance programs
Will Bowen and Walker Kinsler pictured with Becky Massey.
I enjoyed visiting with Will Bowen and Walker Kinsler while they were in Nashville.

Legislation I’m Sponsoring

Prioritizing safety of children in custody cases 

I am the sponsor of legislation to ensure judges are equipped to handle custody proceedings involving child abuse. Senate Bill 2627 (Abrial’s Law) requires the court to always ensure the safety of the child i all cases of custody or reunification treatment. This legislation would also require the courts to consider evidence of abuse of the sibling in thise cases. The legislation passed unanimously by the full Senate last Thursday and had already passed unanimously in the House. It is awaiting the Govenor’s signature.

Increasing responsibility for medication aides

Last Monday, the Senate passed legislation that would expand the abilities of medication aides to administer medications. Senate Bill 1993 would remove certain restrictions on medication aides, allowing them to administer oral and topical medications without the requirement of a prior nursing assessment completed by a licensed nurse.

They will also be allowed to administer medications delivered by aerosol, nebulizers or material hand-held inhalers. The current restrictions have often led to delays in medication administration and increased burdens on nursing staff, ultimately impacting patient care.


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 Members

For all other information on the General Assembly including legislation, schedules and videos, click Tennessee General Assembly

As always thank you for continued support!

Becky Massey
District 6 Senator