Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: Session Highlights

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   Confucius Institutes / Foreign Influence on Higher Education – Public Chapter 344 prohibits the establishment of Confucius Institutes which have ties to communist regimes and requires state institutions to disclose gifts received from and contracts initiated with a foreign source in excess of $10,000. 

   Compensating College Athletes for their Name, Image, Likeness – Public Chapter 400 allows athletes at Tennessee universities to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness. If passed, college athletes would be permitted to sign contracts to advertise for local businesses or other companies. 

   Higher Education Support / Children in Foster Care System – Public Chapter 547 provides additional resources and support to youth who have aged out of foster care by expanding eligibility for the HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant and creating a campus foster liaison pilot program at Tennessee’s public universities and community colleges.

   Child Protection / Adoption / Health Check – Public Chapter 163 requires adoptive parents receiving subsidies to annually provide the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) with medical or school enrollment records to ascertain a health check. This legislation comes after the horrific deaths of two Roane County children.  It also authorizes DCS to initiate a face-to-face visit if the adoptive parent fails to provide the documentation and foul play might be suspected. 

   Child Custody / Best Interest of the Child – Public Chapter 190 expands the factors a court may consider in determining or terminating parental rights with an emphasis that they be child centered. It allows a judge the discretion to apply the best interest of a child factors in a particular case to make these weighty decisions. 

   Child Care Task Force / High Quality Day Care –  Public Chapter 474 creates the Tennessee Child Care Task Force to develop a strategic plan to address the current challenges of providing and accessing high-quality affordable childcare.  

   Child Care Quality Rating Improvement System – Public Chapter 280 makes significant revisions to the Child Care Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS), the mechanisms for conducting quality assessment of child care providers, the child care report card system and the child care rated licensing systems. It replaces the outdated Report Card system with a new assessment tool to weave quality indicators into the licensing rules so that it is a seamless system for parents and providers to navigate.

   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.

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