Legislature passes 3 bills before adjournment

Published 1:47 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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The Tennessee Senate passed three bills Wednesday before adjourning to complete the third day of a special session on public safety called by Gov. Bill Lee.

The three bills – addressing eliminating taxes on handgun safety devices, the communication timeline of criminal court proceedings to the Tennessee Bureau of Information and a bill creating a statewide report on human trafficking – passed unanimously before the body voted to adjourn until 9 a.m. on Thursday.

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Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, explained that Thursday sessions could occur at both 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. A group in the gallery chanted “You’ve done nothing” as the body adjourned.

“We need to be prepared for (two Thursday sessions) for procedural reasons,” Johnson explained.

The three bills the Senate passed had companion bills on the agenda for Wednesday’s House Criminal Justice Committee with the potential for differences in the companion bills being worked out in full sessions of each body on Thursday.

Several Tennessee Democrats voiced displeasure more was not passed during the special session.

“Thousands of people have gone to a lot of trouble to be here voicing their support for laws that will save lives,” Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, posted on social media. “The controlling party is gaveling in and out of every committee refusing to hear any of the bills that we’ve worked on.

“The data is clear – common-sense gun regulations (and yes, this is a very specific body of legislation) saves lives. Mental health, SSRIs, social programs, etc are all worthy of discussion, but one thing is irrefutable- you cannot have gun violence without guns!”

Senate Bill 7085, the handgun safety bill passed through the Senate committee, puts in new requirements to add safe storage training to future handgun safety courses and also eliminates sales taxes on firearm safes and safety devices starting on Nov. 1.

The bill also calls for the Tennessee Department of Safety to provide free firearm locks to residents upon request. The appropriation for those locks will be reviewed annually.

Senate Bill 7086 requires a clerk of the circuit or general sessions court to notify TBI of the result of criminal proceedings within three business days instead of within 30 days.

The third Senate bill to pass was Senate Bill 7088, which will create a new child and human trafficking crimes report from TBI’s human trafficking unit. The report will be due in December each year before the Legislature begins its session.

“It’s been 10 years since we had a report like this,” said Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston. “And the last comprehensive report that we had, a decade ago, resulted in many significant bills – with that information – to combat human trafficking exploitation of women and children.”