State Rep. Kelly Keisling's Capitol Hill Review for February 28, 2020
House Members Introduce Historic Constitutional Carry Legislation
This week in Nashville, House Members unveiled historic legislation designed to uphold the freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens of Tennessee under our Constitution, while also cracking down on bad actors who unlawfully possess a firearm.
When amended, House Bill 2817 extends the right to carry a handgun to all law-abiding citizens with or without a permit through constitutional carry who are 21 and older, except in current restricted areas.
The proposal sends a strong message to violent criminals, felons, and those who illegally obtain a firearm through a series of increased penalties for firearm-related crimes.
Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a felony;
Providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car;
Increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days;
Increasing the sentences for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.
This historic measure will make Tennessee the 16th state in the nation to enact constitutional carry. House Bill 2817 is expected to begin moving through the committee process in the Tennessee House of Representatives next week.
Holly Bobo Act Gains Support in House
Members of the House Judiciary Committee this week backed House Bill 2308, also known as the Holly Bobo Act. The measure expands Tennessee’s endangered alert system to include missing or endangered young adults under 21-years-old.
The legislation honors the memory of 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo who was abducted from her home in Decatur County in 2011. The young woman’s remains were found three years later.
Bobo’s mother, Karen Bobo, recently addressed members of the House Judiciary Committee about the hopelessness she experienced when her daughter went missing on April 13, 2011.
In powerful testimony from Karen Bobo, the panel heard how she begged law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert, but they couldn’t because the young woman was 20. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) currently only issues alerts for missing or endangered children under 18 and Silver Alerts for senior citizens.
The Holly Bobo Act would not change the activation criteria for AMBER Alerts, which is a federally funded program. Law enforcement reserves AMBER Alerts for the most serious of missing child cases when authorities believe a child is in imminent danger.
House Bill 2308 now heads to the House Calendar & Rules Committee, where it will be scheduled for a future vote in the House chamber.
Key Components of the CARE Plan Begin Journey through Committee
This week in Nashville, key components of the CARE Plan began their journey through the committee process in the House.
First introduced in 2019, the CARE Plan is designed to transform the healthcare system in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients.
House Bill 1699 on Tuesday moved out of the House Life & Health Insurance Subcommittee. The measure paves the way to increase the electronic delivery of healthcare in Tennessee — especially in our rural communities — through telemedicine. The legislation defines provider-based telemedicine by adding a private location that a patient deems appropriate to receive healthcare services. House Bill 1699 requires an in-person encounter between a service provider, the provider’s practice group or healthcare system, and the patient 24 months prior to a telehealth encounter. It also requires insurance entities to consider remote patient monitoring (RPM) services as a covered service if it also covered under Medicare.
House Bill 1699 now heads to the House Insurance Committee and is expected to be heard on March 3, 2020.
Additionally, House Bill 2350 makes various changes to the certificate of need (CON) process for health facilities and services in efforts to remove barriers to competition in the marketplace. House Bill 2350 now moves on for discussion and debate in the House Health Committee.
The Tennessee General Assembly remains committed to providing patient-centered health solutions that improve access and the quality of care available to all citizens, while lowering overall costs.
Contract Procurement Legislation Advances
Legislation designed to improve transparency for the process of how the state of Tennessee secures contracts for goods and services moved out of the Departments & Agencies Subcommittee this week.
House Bill 2727 will require Fiscal Review to examine and study all state contracts for goods or services over $250,000 that are greater than a year in contract length and are procured through a non-competitive process.
The legislation is scheduled to be heard in the House State Committee on March 3, 2020.
Lawmakers Introduce Evelyn’s Law
Lawmakers also filed an amendment to existing legislation this week that will increase penalties against parents or guardians who fail to expediently report a missing child to a law enforcement officer or appropriate agency.
Known as Evelyn’s Law in honor of 15-month-old missing Sullivan County toddler Evelyn Boswell, the proposal will require parents or guardians to verbally report a child in their care is missing, has been abducted, or has run away within 48 hours of that child’s disappearance, followed by a written report as requested by law enforcement.
This law applies in instances where a child’s whereabouts are unknown to a parent or guardian and that individual knows, believes, or has substantial reason to believe the child’s whereabouts are unknown to any other individual tasked with temporarily supervising a child. Situations where there is knowledge that a child has been abducted, has suffered serious bodily harm, abuse, sexual exploitation, or who has run away would also be included in reporting requirements outlined in Evelyn’s Law.
As a result of Evelyn’s Law, failure to report or delaying a report while demonstrating reckless disregard for the safety of a child will now be considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
If a parent or guardian fails to report or delay reporting with reckless disregard resulting in serious bodily harm or death, they will now be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by three to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The legislation will soon be introduced and assigned to the appropriate standing committee for discussion and debate.
Legislation Saving Taxpayers $18 Million through Drug-Free Zone Reform Advances in House
Legislation reclassifying Tennessee’s drug-free school zones gained momentum in the House this week.
House Bill 2517 would shrink drug-free school zones from 1,000 to 500 feet and allow judges to use discretion to waive mandatory school zone sentencing enhancements. The cost savings generated by the legislation could equate to a reinvestment of more than $18 million for public safety and rehabilitation.
Drug-free zones include public or private elementary, middle, secondary schools, child care agencies public libraries, recreational centers and parks. By shrinking drug-free zones, House Bill 2517 has the potential to create additional resources to make justice more efficient in Tennessee.
House Bill 2517 will be heard by members of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee in March.