Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: June 3, 2020

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   House Resumes Committee Meetings under Tennessee Pledge

   Lawmakers were back in Nashville this week to resume their committee meetings and complete calendars for the year with members of the public present. As part of the House’s return from their recess caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, several safety precautions were enacted inside the Cordell Hull Building in accordance with the Tennessee Pledge.

   Just as businesses have utilized the Tennessee Pledge to safely reopen, the House implemented several measures like temperature checks, social distancing reminders and thorough cleaning practices to protect the safety and well-being of all who visited the building.

   Committee room seating for members of the public was properly spaced at six feet apart. Lexan barriers were also installed in between members’ chairs to increase protections and limit possible exposure to the virus and other illnesses. Members will return to the House chamber at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 1. Addressing revenue shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will remain a top priority. At the same time, the House remains focused on passing good public policy that continues addressing the needs of all Tennesseans.

   Constitutional Carry Legislation Moves through First House Committee

   Historic legislation that allows Tennessee to become the 17th state to enact constitutional carry continued to move through the committee process in the House of Representatives this week. Members of the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 2817 by a 16-7 vote tally Tuesday evening. The measure sends a strong “tough on gun crime” message to violent criminals, felons, and gang members through a series of sentencing enhancements that support our law enforcement and judicial communities as they work to protect our cities and towns.

   At the same time, House Bill 2817 upholds the freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens under our Constitution by allowing open or concealed carry for citizens 21 and older (18 if certain military service requirements are met) without a permit. House Bill 2817 now moves to the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee for a vote on Wednesday, June 3.

   Governor’s pro-life initiative clears Public Health Subcommittee

   Wednesday, members of the House Public Health Subcommittee advanced strong pro-life legislation that builds upon previous initiatives passed to protect our unborn in Tennessee. House Bill 2263 bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected or around six weeks. The measure also includes additional prohibitions as well as a ladder provision that enacts additional bans at various other gestation intervals up to 24 weeks. These would take effect if the courts struck down the six-week ban or any additional part of the bill.

   The measure also requires doctors to conduct an ultrasound and show images to an expectant mother, and inform her about her baby’s development. Tennessee is a strong pro-life state, and this measure and others demonstrate the commitment of Republican leaders to enhance protections for our unborn children.

   Innovative literacy Bill heads to Government Operations Committee

   Members of the House Education Committee this week approved innovative legislation that will transform the way Tennessee children learn to read. House Bill 2229 advanced through the committee with an 18-6 vote Thursday evening. The measure is a research-based approach to literacy instruction that is founded on phonics and focused on the individual needs of students.

   Under the measure, this new approach will focus on phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension to improve childhood literacy rates in Tennessee. The state will invest in training teachers so they are well prepared to implement this new method of literacy instruction and will provide additional resources in the form of grants to Local Education Agencies (LEA).  

   Education is the cornerstone in the foundation of the future leaders of Tennessee. House Republicans remain committed to building upon the improvements we have made changing the academic trajectories of our children. House Bill 2229 now heads to the House Government Operations Committee for additional discussion and debate.

   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 rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the second half of the 111th General Assembly.