Friday, April 26, 2024

Rep. Susan Lynn's wrap-up Report of the 113th General Assembly.

Rep. Susan Lynn 
From Rep. Susan Lynn, April 26, 2024- The 2024 session successfully carried into law a slate of conservative policies that prioritized public safety, economic development, rural health care, education, and conservation.  

“This session was the most tough on crime in the history of Tennessee,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “We took additional steps to reduce crime by passing stricter sentencing laws for violent adult and juvenile offenders. I’m thankful for the 113th General Assembly and how we are protecting our communities and fighting to keep our families safe.” 

The session was highlighted by the supermajority’s continuous efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally responsible while prioritizing Tennesseans' needs. 

“Tennessee leads because Republicans continue to stand strong to preserve the common-sense conservative values that are important to the people of this state,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland. “Republicans have wisely and responsibly invested in making government work more effectively and efficiently for our citizens. We will continue to build on our successes and deliver on our promise to build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous Tennessee.”

Lawmakers were well prepared to face new budgeting challenges this session with lower state revenue collections, passing a $52.8 billion zero-debt balanced budget which is $10 billion less than last year’s budget. More than a decade of consistent conservative budgeting during times of record-high revenue growth enabled lawmakers to make strategic investments and keep recurring expenses low. This year’s budget deposits $100 million in the state’s Rainy-Day fund, bringing the total to more than $2 billion. 

“The 113th General Assembly cast a bold vision. I’m incredibly pleased that we rose to the occasion by exceeding expectations and ensuring Tennessee remains the greatest state in the union,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby. “I appreciate the strong conservative fortitude and unwavering dedication of my colleagues. Our state economy is strong and our Rainy-Day fund is healthy. We are well-positioned to face any challenge that comes our way. Tennessee’s future is brighter than ever because of the strong conservative values of this General Assembly.”

Law and Order

The General Assembly passed legislation that continues Tennessee’s efforts to improve public safety and provides proactive measures to combat illegal immigration. Tennessee is a law-and-order state that values and appreciates its law enforcement and first responders. These investments include:

  • $17 million for 60 new Tennessee State Trooper positions 
  • $15 million for grant pools for volunteer firefighters, rescue squads, and EMS
  • $6.4 million for military border deployment of Tennessee National Guard
  • $4.4 million to implement blended sentencing to address juvenile crime
  • $3.3 million for mental health evaluations / treatment for certain misdemeanor defendants 
  • $1.5 million to reduce recidivism of repeat misdemeanor offenders
  • $750,000 in security grants for houses of worship 
  • $383,500 to collect data on illegal immigrants in Tennessee from law enforcement 
  • 13 new positions for the TBI
  • Criminalized abortion trafficking of minors (HB1895)
  • Duty to Warn Act (HB1625)
  • Strengthened deterrents to curb juvenile crime (HB2126)
  • Prioritized public safety when setting bond amounts (HB1642)
  • Increased protections for domestic violence victims (HB2692)
  • Increased support for victims of child sex trafficking (HB1906)
  • Enhanced penalties for threats of mass violence (HB2538) 
  • Strengthened the punishment for bullying (HB2590)
  • Parental Accountability Act (HB1930) 
  • Increased protections for law enforcement officers from assault (HB1881/Back the Blue Act) 

Healthy Tennessee Families

Budget and legislative priorities include 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. These priorities are funded through shared savings from Tennessee’s successful TennCare waiver, which allows the state to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the TennCare program. 

  • Legislative initiatives will support Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens, including individuals with disabilities
  • Expanded TennCare health coverage for mental health services (HB 2921)

Economic Development

Tennessee delivered the strongest protections in the nation when it comes to managing the risks and potential of artificial intelligence. The ELVIS (Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security) Act puts in critical safeguards to protect the humanity and artistic expression of Tennessee innovators and creators from theft through AI-generated media.  

  • $393 million to deliver tax cuts and provide $1.5 billion in nonrecurring funds to simplify franchise tax
  • $36 million to help distressed counties and rural communities with economic development initiatives for community asset improvements, marketing and downtown revitalization grants


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. 

  • $30 million for summer learning programs 
  • $3.2 million for AP courses to students across rural and urban Tennessee
  • $2.5 million to strengthen students’ reading and phonics skills
  • Protected students from political indoctrination in the classroom (HB1605)
  • Ensuring AI regulations in education (HB1630)
  • Allow college students to protect themselves on campus (HB1909)
  • Improved school safety by allowing school faculty and staff to participate in voluntary training programs for crisis management  

Children and Families

  • Enshrined parental rights in state law (HB2936)
  • Increased protections for children online from accessing pornography (HB1614)
  • Protected children from abortion trafficking (HB1895)
  • Required parental consent for minors using social media (HB1891)


  • $59 million for Tennessee State Parks capital projects
  • $51 million to the Heritage Preservation Fund to preserve land across this state
  • $20 million to expand blueways trail access with new recreational access points 
  • $10 million to improve water quality at rivers, lakes and streams across the state
  • $10 million to expedite the Bill Dance Signature Lakes initiative
  • $5 million to protect and enhance scenic beauty along our major highways
  • $3 million to make state parks more accessible to Tennesseans with disabilities

Open Meetings Act Bill Passes!!

Rep. Lynn informs you that HB2176 has passed. This bill adds a little "teeth" in our sunshine law.  As introduced, permits a court to award the reasonable court costs and attorney's fees to a petitioner successfully proves that a governing body knowingly and willfully violated the public meetings laws in this state.

Republicans Increase Protections for Children From Adult Content Online

Republicans passed legislation that will further protect children from accessing pornography online in Tennessee.


The General Assembly this week passed the Protect Tennessee Minors Act, sponsored by State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. The act requires websites to implement an age-verification process if a substantial portion of their content is harmful to minors. 

“We do not allow minors to go into adult establishments,” Hazlewood said. “We do not allow minors access to written materials that are inappropriate. This bill would do the same thing in the cyber world. There is a great deal of in-depth research and data that shows exposure to these kinds of materials at a young age is very damaging to our children.”

The legislation requires website owners with adult content to match a user’s photo to a valid form of identification issued in the United States. Stored data must not include any personal identifying information and the active user must remain anonymous after access has been granted.

Search engines, internet service providers and public interest broadcasts and publications are excluded from the age verification requirement. Any website owner or operator found to be in violation of the law would face a Class C felony.

national survey found that 73 percent of teen respondents between the ages of 13 and 17 admitted to having viewed pornography online. House Bill 1614 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

General Assembly Approves Penalties for Abortion Trafficking

The General Assembly this week approved legislation further protecting the unborn in Tennessee. 

House Bill 1895, sponsored by State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, makes abortion trafficking a minor a Class A misdemeanor. The legislation seeks to prevent anyone from attempting to circumvent the state’s current abortion law by helping to facilitate an abortion for a minor without parental consent. 

“The legislation that you have in front of you ensures that parents can make the best decision for their children,” Zachary said. “(It) is critically important because the recruitment and transporting of a minor to facilitate an abortion is happening in our state.”

The legislation also allows any adult who illegally transports a minor for an abortion to be held civilly liable for the wrongful death of the unborn child.

Republicans in the General Assembly in 2019 laid the groundwork to ensure life is protected at conception in Tennessee should the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverse its decision to legalize abortion. The General Assembly that year passed the Human Life Protection Act, a conditional trigger law written to go into effect 30 days following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade. 

When the high court overturned its 1973 decision on June 24, 2022, the Human Life Protection Act became law and automatically made abortion for any reason a felony in Tennessee. 

House Bill 1895 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. It will take effect July 1.

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