As of March 27, 2015

Counseling Students (HB 566) –An amendment to the bill is being worked on. The bill is designed to protect the religious liberty of students in the counseling-related fields of study. Right now, concerns that accrediting agencies could withdraw accreditation of our university’s programs has some legislators skittish about the comparative value or importance of protecting religious liberty vis a vis accreditation.

Egg/Sperm Data Collection (HB 950) – On the egg/sperm data collection bill, the opposition has finally come forward, which has helped clarify some of the issues. Most likely more study and investigation will be needed over the summer before the bill is ready to move forward.

Abortion – The informed consent/waiting period bill (HB 977) and the clinic regulation bill (HB 1368) were both approved by the House Health subcommittee and will be heard in the full committee this week. Those voting for the bills were Barry Doss, Jeremy Faison, Matthew Hill, Sabi Kumar, Judd Matheny, Cameron Sexton, and Bryan Terry. Those voting against the bills were John Ray Clemmons and JoAnne Favors.

Sexual Orientation/Gender identityHouse Bill 296 that would have amended multiple sections of the Tennessee Code to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression as protected activities or statuses failed in the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee. Representatives voting for the bill were Bo Mitchell and Johnnie Turner. Representatives voting against the bill were Glen Casada, Jimmy Eldridge, Susan Lynn, and Mark Pody.

Common Core – It appears that HB 1035 will be the bill dealing with Common Core and future curriculum standards. According to the House sponsor, Rep. Spivey, “The legislation establishes a process by which the state will formally replace the controversial Common Core education standards with a new set of standards crafted solely by Tennesseans.” You can read the amendment that will become the entire bill at this link. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week and by the House Education Administration and Planning Committee. Senators voting for the bill were Rusty Crowe, Steve Dickerson, Todd Gardenhire, Dolores Gresham, Ferrell Haile, Joey Hensley, Brian Kelsey, and Jim Tracy. Senator Reginald Tate was present but did not vote. The House vote was not recorded but was done on a voice vote.

Opportunity Scholarships – The scholarship/voucher bill that appears to have momentum is SB 999/HB1049. This document is perhaps the best explanation of what the bill does. It was approved this week by the House Education Administration and Planning Committee and will be heard next week in the House Government Operations Committee (March 31st). Representatives voting for the bill were Harry Brooks, Kevin Brooks, John DeBerry, Debra Moody, Eddie Smith, Dawn White, Mark White, and Rick Womick. Representatives voting against the bill were Kent Calfee, Jim Coley, Kevin Dunlap, Craig Fitzhugh, and JohnnieTurner.