Monday, April 22, 2024

Rep. Susan Lynn, Week 14 Recap


Rep. Susan Lynn 

                 General Assembly Passes $52.8 Billion Budget

Budget highlights supermajority’s efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally conservative

Members of the 113th General Assembly on Thursday fulfilled their constitutional duty with the passage of a $52.8 billion balanced budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

This year’s budget highlights lawmakers’ continuous efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally responsible while prioritizing the needs of Tennesseans. The zero-debt budget is a spending plan that advances Republicans’ efforts to strengthen families, improve public safety, advance education, and create new opportunities for businesses to grow. 

“This budget addresses a diverse range of needs across our state while continuing our tradition of good fiscal governance,” said House Finance Chair State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. “Crafting this budget was a challenge because we are facing increasing demands due to rising inflation. Tennessee remains a model for economic prosperity because we’ve managed our spending limits and planned well for the future.” 

Total legislative initiatives make up nearly $21 million in recurring investments and $141.5 million in nonrecurring expenditures. While revenues have slowed considerably, Tennessee continues to be among the most fiscally stable states in the nation with no state income tax and low tax burden overall.

The slate of budget and legislative priorities includes significant investments in rural and behavioral health care with $303 million in new dollars directed to 17 programs. These funds will help to expand bed capacity, fund infrastructure projects for children’s hospitals and expand access to behavioral health inpatient care. 

The budget adds $261 million in new recurring dollars for K-12 education, bringing the total base Tennessee Investment in Achievement (TISA) budget to $6.8 billion and the overall budget for public education to $8.55 billion. The new dollars will cover medical insurance premiums, retirement for teachers, and funding for teacher raises to bring the annual starting base salary up to $50,000 by 2026. 

Among new investments in public safety, are a $17 million investment for 60 new Tennessee State Trooper positions and $750,000 in security grants for houses of worship

The budget includes a $36 million investment to help distressed counties and rural communities with economic development, such as community asset improvements, marketing and downtown revitalization grants. 

It also makes a $100 million deposit in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund, which serves as the state’s savings account to help withstand economic downturns, bringing the fund to a historic balance of more than $2.15 billion. 

Tennessee is among the lowest-taxed states in the nation and collects zero income tax. Tennessee holds the highest bond rating issued by all three of the nation’s credit rating agencies, which reflects extreme confidence in the Volunteer State’s preparedness in meeting financial commitments in tough economic times. 

House Approves CON Reform to Increase Health Care Access, Lower Costs

The House chamber this week approved legislation allowing for additional health care services to be more quickly and easily accessible in Tennessee. 

House Bill 2269, sponsored by State Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, would gradually phase out the Certificate of Need (CON) permit requirements needed to provide nearly a dozen various health care services in the state during the next five years.

The Tennessee Health Facilities Commission currently regulates the health care industry statewide through the CON program. This process, which can be lengthy and costly, requires a permit to be issued for the establishment or modification of a health care institution, facility or service at a designated location.

“It is essential that every community in Tennessee has access to vital health care facilities and services,” Boyd said. “This legislation represents the culmination of years of diligent work by various stakeholder groups from across Tennessee committed to ensuring that happens. These reforms will not only improve access to potentially lifesaving medical services in our state, but they will help reduce costs for patients as well.”

The timeline for removal of CON permit requirements includes:

  • July 1, 2025: Freestanding emergency departments not located within 10 miles of a competing acute care hospital or other freestanding emergency department would no longer need a CON. Additionally, any county without an actively licensed acute care hospital would also not require a CON for any services except rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, hospice, methadone clinics and nursing homes.
  • Dec. 1, 2025: Intellectual disability institutional habilitation facilities, burn units, neonatal intensive care units, magnetic resonance imagining services and positron emission tomography
  • Dec. 1, 2027: Ambulatory surgical treatment centers, linear accelerator procedures and long-term care hospitals
  • Dec. 1, 2029: Open heart surgery


The bill requires rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, methadone clinics, and nursing homes to continue operating under CON in all 95 counties. Cardiac catheterization services, outpatient diagnostic clinics, acute care hospitals, and organ transplants will, for now, remain under CON in counties that currently have a licensed acute care hospital. The companion version of House Bill 2269 is expected to be heard on the Senate floor next week. 

General Assembly Makes Voter Registration Process More Secure

Legislation making the voter registration process more secure in Tennessee was approved by the General Assembly this week. 

House Bill 1955, sponsored by State Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, prohibits people and organizations from pre-filling out voter registration applications. The legislation also requires third-party voter registration organizations to register with the Secretary of State’s office and prevents certain felons from handling applications.

“The last thing we need is someone who’s been convicted of voter fraud, perjury or abuse of a senior citizen is having senior citizens’ Social Security numbers,” Rudd said. 

The legislation states that it’s presumed the date an applicant signs a voter registration application is the date the person or organization received or collected the application. It also ensures no alterations to the voter registration form are made without the applicant’s consent. The state election commission can impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for violations of bill. The legislation now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. 

Parental Notification Required for Gender Affirmation Accommodations

Legislation expanding parental rights in Tennessee public schools was approved by the General Assembly this week. 

House Bill 2165, sponsored by State Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, requires parents and school administrators to be informed if a student makes a request for an accommodation to affirm their gender identity. 

The legislation also prohibits school employees from knowingly giving false or misleading information to parents regarding their child’s gender identity or their intention to transition to a gender that differs from their biological sex. Accommodations could include the student asking to be called a name not on their school registration forms or using pronouns that do not correspond with the sex listed on the child’s birth certificate. 

A student’s parent may also bring civil action against a non-compliant school system, according to the legislation. House Bill 2165 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. 

Nearly Two Dozen People Killed in Work Zone Crashes

TDOT Reminds Motorists to Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down During National Work Zone Awareness Week April 15-19


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is joining states across the nation to ask motorists to Work with Us – move over and slow down for highway workers. TDOT will spread that message statewide during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 15-19) to improve safety in Tennessee’s interstate and highway construction and maintenance work zones. This year’s theme is Work zones are temporary, your actions behind the wheel can last forever. We welcome the media to use TDOT’s PSA online or on air to help us share the message. 


“We engineer our roads to be as safe as possible,” said Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “But there’s no amount of engineering that can change driver behavior. 113 TDOT workers have been killed while working on our roads. This is very personal for me. Everyone must slow down, move over, and pay attention every time they’re behind the wheel, especially in work zones.”


So far this year, there have been 29 incidents where drivers crashed into TDOT equipment and vehicles. The spring and summer months provide perfect weather for highway work. Work zones include everything from major interstate widening projects to repaving and Litter pickup. Motorists will encounter work zones across the state. Last year in Tennessee, 22 people died in work zone crashes.


TDOT launched the Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down safety campaign in 2017 to help bring awareness to the importance of safety in work zones all year long. To learn more about the campaign, see the answers to many frequently asked questions about work zones, and take the Work with Us pledge, click on the Work with Us link below. 


TDOT’s overhead Dynamic Message Signs will display work zone safety messages on interstates in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. Prominent buildings and bridges will be lit in orange, and “Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down”signs are posted at work zones across the state, displaying this message at various locations statewide.


This Wednesday, April 17th, is “Wear Orange Day”. Please show your support for National Work Zone Awareness by wearing orange. Throughout this week, follow @myTDOT on Facebook, X, and Instagram as we will be posting photos, infographics, and videos to broaden awareness of the importance of driving safely and undistracted, especially through work zones. 


In 2023, there were 2,832 total crashes634 with injuries in work zones on Tennessee roads. Do your part to keep yourself and TDOT road workers safe – check TDOT SmartWay in advance and Know BEFORE You Go, secure your phone in a hands-free device, and Work With Us by moving over and slowing down when you see vehicles with flashing lights.

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