The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
After several days with only four bills having been filed in the Tennessee House to be considered for Governor Lee’s Special Session, six more bills have been introduced.
Newly filed bills focus in on topics ranging from handgun carry policies for private schools, redirecting state funds for psychiatric services, specifying what kinds of autopsy reports are public documents, reporting requirements for mental health professionals, a loan repayment program for mental health professionals, and creating a Class D felony for anyone who coerces a minor to steal firearms or commit certain crimes using firearms.
House Bill 7005 (HB7005), sponsored by Representative Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood-District 61), in summary reads, “As introduced, clarifies that a private school serving students in any of the grades pre-kindergarten through twelve is authorized to adopt a handgun carry policy for the private school’s property. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 1 and Title 49, Chapter 50.”
HB7005’s current text offers no further explanation of the bill beyond the summary.
House Bill 7006 (HB7006), sponsored by Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka-District 64), in summary reads, “As introduced, authorizes the department to direct available state funds to contract with additional private service providers across the state to provide inpatient psychiatric services for uninsured individuals in this state; requires the department to report to the speakers of both houses on whether additional inpatient psychiatric services are needed in the City of Knoxville and whether additional state funds should be expended for the construction of a state-owned and -operated inpatient psychiatric facility in the City of Knoxville. – Amends TCA Title 33, Chapter 1, Part 3.”
HB7006’s current text offers no further explanation of the bill beyond the summary.
House Bill 7007 (HB7007), sponsored by Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44), in summary reads, “As introduced, specifies that reports of county medical examiners and autopsy reports of victims of violent crime who are minors are not public documents; allows a parent or legal guardian of a minor victim of a violent crime to consent to the release of the report of the county medical examiner or autopsy report of the minor victim if the parent or legal guardian is not a suspect in the circumstances of the minor’s death. – Amends TCA Title 10, Chapter 7; Title 38; Title 39 and Title 40.”
HB7007’s text specifies that the reports of the county medical examiners, toxicological reports, and autopsy reports are public documents, except in cases outlined in the bill summary above.
Bill sponsor Rep. William Lamberth said in a statement, “This is an important step we can take to preserve the dignity of a murdered child and protect the privacy of parents and siblings who are suffering an unimaginable loss,” Lamberth said in a statement. “Sensitive information obtained in a medical examiner’s report or autopsy should never be used to further victimize and traumatize these families.”
Reporter Phil Williams from NewsChannel5 in Nashville, however, highlighted how his reporting on the death of a young child using an autopsy report led to the conviction of his murderer.
Williams wrote on X.com: “Jeffry Kelton Skaggs was a case that stuck with me. Eventually, we got justice. Again, that would NOT have happened if the autopsy reports had been closed. The legislation leaves it up to the discretion of a judge to determine what is “good cause,” but it’s difficult to even make that argument if you can’t see the autopsy report.”
House Bill 7008 (HB7008), sponsored by Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville-District 14), in summary reads, “As introduced, requires a qualified mental health professional or behavior analyst to take certain steps to warn or protect an identified victim or group of people when the professional determines that a service recipient has made an actual threat of bodily harm or has an intention to commit such harm; provides immunity from civil, criminal, and regulatory liability for a professional who takes reasonable action to provide such warning or protection. – Amends TCA Section 33-3-206.”
HB7008’s current text offers no further explanation of the bill beyond the summary, However Zachary said in a statement, “As public servants, our highest duty is to protect the safety and security of all Tennesseans,” Currently, existing state law only requires threats made against a clearly identified victim to be reported by mental health professionals. This is an immediate, life-saving action we can take that will significantly enhance reporting requirements and communication to the proper authorities when a credible threat is made.”
House Bill 7009 (HB7099), sponsored by Representative John Gillespie (R-Memphis-District 97), in summary, reads, “As introduced, establishes a mental healthcare professionals student loan repayment grant program to incentivize certain mental healthcare providers to provide services in this state. – Amends TCA Title 49; Title 56; Title 63; Title 68 and Title 71. “
HB7009’s text states that the purpose of the bill is to “attract and retain talented medical professionals by providing financial relief to eligible individuals dedicating a significant portion of their careers to serving the mental healthcare needs of the residents of this state.”
The bill text outlines the eligibility of individuals to participate in the loan repayment program and must provide mental health services in Tennessee for at least six years.
House Bill 7010 (HB7010), sponsored by Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis-District 98), in summary, reads, “As introduced, creates the Class D felony of knowingly inducing or coercing a minor under 18 to commit theft of a firearm or a robbery or burglary offense involving theft of a firearm. – Amends TCA Title 39.”
HB7010’s current text offers no further explanation of the bill beyond the summary.
As of the publication of this article, no Senate bills have yet been filed for the Special Session.
Based on “insider reports,” there may be several hundred bills filed for the Special Session.
The General Assembly should be placing bills HERE for public viewing as they are filed.
However, this is subject to change as we near the beginning of the Session on August 21st.
The Tennessee Conservative will strive to stay abreast of legislation, as it is filed, and keep our readers informed.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com