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  • Writer's pictureState Rep. Kelly Keisling

State Rep. Kelly Keisling: Capitol Hill Review for June 8-12, 2020

House passes pro-life abortion reversal legislation

Recently in Nashville, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed pro-life abortion reversal legislation by a 77-22 vote.

House Bill 2568 requires facilities where 50 or more abortions are performed each year to post a sign informing chemical abortion patients that their procedure is reversible after the first dose of a two-dose treatment.

The measure also requires a patient to receive the same notice prior to and after the first dose of an abortion-inducing drug has been administered.

Failure by a provider to inform patients about the reversal option would result in criminal penalties or civil action.

House Bill 2568 now awaits passage by the Senate.

To view discussion and debate on the measure from the House floor, please click the image above.

Mental Health Care Reform Act gains momentum in House

Legislation that creates a pathway for families and people with the most severe and violent cases of mental illnesses to access treatment continues to gain momentum in the House.

Known as the Violent Mental Health Care Reform Act of 2020, House Bill 969 creates a process for a parent, legal guardian, spouse, responsible relative, physician, or law enforcement to petition a court to order treatment when a person is determined to pose a serious threat of violence to others.

The measure would only apply to individuals who make multiple threats of violence. It is only applicable in 14 Tennessee counties that currently have a mental health court, but could be expanded later.

House Bill 969 allows a judge to order an evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist who would then determine if the individual met criteria for hospitalization or for treatment. The law also provides protections for the rights of individuals believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis and guarantees them the right to counsel.

More information on House Bill 969 is available here.

House approves measure designating Women’s Suffrage Day in Tennessee

This week in Nashville, the House unanimously approved legislation officially designating August 18th as Women’s Suffrage Day in Tennessee.

House Bill 2586 declares the annual day of observation to celebrate the day that Tennessee officially became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting American women everywhere the right to vote.

All eyes turned to Tennessee as the last, best hope for ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 1920. Suffragists descended on Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel to gain support for their efforts during an extraordinary session of the Tennessee General Assembly. The suffragists adopted yellow roses as a symbol for their cause, while anti-suffragists adopted a red rose.

Following what became known as Tennessee’s “War of the Roses” between suffragists and anti-suffragists, 24-year-old Republican Harry T. Burn switched his position and cast the deciding vote, fulfilling the wishes penned in a letter by his mother, Febb Burn. Days later, the 19th Amendment, also known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” became national law.

August 18, 2020 will mark the 100-year anniversary of this momentous occasion in Tennessee and U.S. history. To learn more about the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, click here.

For more information on House Bill 2586, please click here.

House approves measure reducing student debt in Tennessee

This week, a measure reducing student debt in Tennessee was also unanimously approved by the House.

House Bill 2601 passed by a 95-0 vote tally in Nashville. It requires all public colleges and universities to provide a breakdown of total attendance costs - including tuition, fees, and all award amounts received - before a student accepts a student loan.

According to LendEDU, the average graduate from a Tennessee institution is leaving campus with $26,840 in student loan debt. The overall goal of this solution is to reduce debt burdens on our students as they pursue their certificate or degree and work to establish themselves in their careers.

House Bill 2601 now heads to Gov. Lee’s desk for his signature. For information, please click here.

Certificate of Need legislation moves in key House finance committee

Legislation that increases access to quality health care in Tennessee continues to gain momentum in key House committees.

House Bill 2350 removes barriers to entry into the health care marketplace to increase competition, which will ultimately improve access to quality care, while lowering overall costs for patients and families.

This certificate of need reform (CON) legislation eliminates red tape for entities moving forward in securing a certificate of need. The measure also collapses the timeline from 135 days for application and review to 60 days. Additionally, House Bill 2350 reduces burdensome fees and regulations on certain services, while also limiting the ability of existing entities within 35 miles of a new project to oppose applications.

Finally, House Bill 2350 creates flexibility for existing facilities with a certificate of need, and it removes CON requirements for projects in rural, distressed counties — including mental health facilities and micro-hospitals.

First introduced in 2019, the CARE Plan is designed to transform the health care system in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients.

House Bill 2350 now awaits additional action in the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee. For more information, click here.

Lawmakers enhance protections for our aging and vulnerable citizens

Lawmakers on June 10 approved legislation that strengthens existing state laws designed to protect older Tennesseans.

Known as the Safe Seniors Act of 2020, House Bill 2653 targets those who abuse vulnerable or aging citizens. The measure adds abuse, aggravated abuse, neglect, and aggravated neglect of an older adult to the list of offenses where a court must consider the offense as a threat to the victim or to public safety.

This initiative strengthens existing protections for aging and vulnerable Tennesseans who have made lasting contributions to their communities and our state.

The bill now awaits additional action. More information is available here.

To reach State Representative Kelly Keisling, call 615-741-6853 or email him at


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