Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd 12-4-19


   Marriage Ceremony – A new law passed this year adding members and former members of the General Assembly, law enforcement chaplains who are duly appointed and members of local legislative bodies, to the list of those who may solemnize a marriage. Members of the General Assembly are not automatically vested with the right; they must first opt-in by filing a notice with the Office of Vital Records. The new law, Public Chapter 415, also expressly states that a person who receives an online ordination may not solemnize after July 1, 2019. Couples who had their marriages performed prior to July 1, 2019, by a person ordained online are grandfathered in under the statute.

   Open Records / Transparency in Government – In action to make government more transparent, the General Assembly approved a new statute, Public Chapter 221, which requires that future legislation creating any exceptions to the public records law go through the House Government Operations Committee after passing an initial House committee. The purpose is to ensure that greater scrutiny is given to any legislation which would close a public record.

   Annexation – A new law, Public Chapter 408, was passed this year which specifies that those “who reside in or own property in the territory proposed for annexation” rather than just residents of a territory proposed for annexation may vote in the annexation referendum. No more than two persons are entitled to vote based upon ownership of an individual tract of property, regardless of the number of owners of such property.

   State Employees / Prison Workers — The State Legislature approved legislation to protect workers at Tennessee’s penal institutions from lewd and indecent actions by prisoners.  Presently, the offense of indecent exposure in a penal institution applies to actions committed against guards. Public Chapter 45 expands the offense to indecent actions committed against any staff member.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the second half of the 111th General Assembly.