The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
A Tennessee Bill that expands current state law requiring mental health professionals to report the possibility of potentially violent acts by their patients passed by another voice vote, this time in the full House Health Committee led by Chairman Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro-District 48).
The bill passed the House Health Subcommittee at the end of last month in much the same way.
Sponsor of the bill, Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville-District 14), who worked with Covenant School parents on the language, says that the Tennessee Psychological Association is in support of the proposed expansion of the law.
During discussion on the bill in the House Health Committee, Zachary said that to date, no mental health professionals have yet to exercise the “duty to warn” provision already in current law. Zachary said that the statute is “vague” and does not tell these care providers to whom they must report a “clearly identified victim” at risk of harm.
Zachary’s bill informs mental health providers that in cases of risk of imminent harm they must report to law enforcement. If the threat is more vague, they may call 988 which is the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line.
For the vote in the full House Health Committee, Chairman Terry chose to use a voice vote to hide the voting records of committee members from public scrutiny. We can only assume that Chairman Terry supports HB1625 and is responsible for its passage. Chairman Terry could have used a transparent roll call vote but opted for a voice vote to shield committee members and from accountability. Terry can be heard on mic voting yes.
All a legislator has to do in order to have their voice vote recorded is give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the clerk. This means that it is very easy for legislators to put their vote on the record and create transparency with their constituents if they choose to.
However, according to the General Assembly website, only two Republican Representatives requested to have their No votes put on the record. Those two members of the committee are Representatives Kip Capley (R-Summertown-District 71) and Timothy Hill (R-Blountville-District 3).
The House Health Committee members who we can assume voted Yes are:
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative.
You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.