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  • Writer's pictureState Rep. Kelly Keisling

State Rep. Kelly Keisling's Capitol Hill Review (June 1-5, 2020)

House resumes legislative session following recess caused by Covid-19

This week, the Tennessee General Assembly officially returned to the House chamber following recess caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Floor sessions resumed inside the Capitol with certain safety measures in place to allow for a limited amount of the general public to attend proceedings. These included temperature screenings, spacing in the galleries, and the addition of Lexan barriers in between members’ seats on the House floor.

A total of 72 bills were heard in the chamber during this first week in June, with 58 officially passing.

While all members will continue to focus on addressing the budget shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, discussion and debate on good public policy for Tennessee will continue as the 2020 legislative session moves towards a conclusion.

Speaker Sexton’s remarks on recent unrest in Tennessee and our nation

Before House members officially resumed their legislative business Monday night, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) made the following remarks on the recent unrest in Nashville, Tennessee, and across our nation:

“Our State and nation is hurting – And there is anger everywhere.

The right to peacefully assembly is a founding principle of our representative republic, and we have seen many positive examples of peaceful and effective protests in recent days and throughout the history of Tennessee and our nation.

Each has encouraged an honest dialogue, which is essential for us to evolve as a society, and they have also remind us about the importance of respect, civility, partnership and that we all are created by the same God.

The actions of a very few individuals who have vandalized, who have set fires to buildings, and those who have escalated otherwise peaceful situations to jeopardize public safety and destroy property are an attempt to make us forget these guiding principles, and the value of human life.

These disruptive actions are not representative of the large number of those who have peacefully gathered to exercise their rights. They do not aid in bringing awareness to the events in Minneapolis. In fact, they have the opposite effect. What took place in Minneapolis is reprehensible and indefensible.

However, uncontrolled, rogue individuals defacing our public buildings or criminally abusing their powers do not represent our population or a movement. They are simply bad people doing bad things - nothing more, and nothing less. It is our job to rise above anger, to rise above frustration, and come together as a body to focus on the work ahead of us as a state and a nation.

We are all leaders in our communities, and our state, and how we react, how we speak, how we interact with one another, and our ability to continue to respect one another even when our opinions differ will set an example to all those who are watching us in the days ahead.

Life is precious, and if we don’t value life, we do not value our creation or our creator. As we finish our work in Nashville, conclude our legislative duties and business for the year, and as we return to our homes and to our families, let’s all continue to pray for guidance, for wisdom, and for peace. Tennessee needs leaders; now, is the time for all of us to answer the call to lead our great state.”

Stimulus Accountability Group announces Tennessee Business Relief Program

Members of the Stimulus Accountability Group joined with Gov. Lee at Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville on Tuesday to announce a program designed to support all small businesses adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief (CARES Act) Funds through the Department of Revenue directly to small family, rural, minority-owned and other businesses that were unable to obtain funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and who qualify for this much-needed relief.

Amounts awarded will be based on a businesses’ annual gross sales. Approximately 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify, with more than 73 percent earning annual gross sales of $500,000 or less.

The following types of small businesses are eligible under the Tennessee Business Relief Program:

  • Barber shops

  • Beauty shops

  • Nail salons

  • Tattoo parlors, spas, and other personal care services

  • Gyms and fitness centers

  • Restaurants

  • Bars

  • Hotels and other travel accommodations

  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and similar facilities

  • Museums, zoos, and other similar attractions

  • Amusement parks

  • Bowling centers and arcades

  • Marinas

  • Amusement, sports and recreational industries

  • Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events

  • Agents and managers of artists, athletes, and entertainers

  • Independent artists, writers, and performers

In addition, the following small businesses are eligible if their sales were reduced by at least 25 percent, as shown on their April sales tax returns (filed in May):

  • Furniture stores

  • Home furnishing stores

  • Clothing stores

  • Shoe stores

  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

  • Sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores

  • Book stores

  • Department stores

  • Office supply, stationery and gift stores

  • Used merchandise stores

  • Other miscellaneous stores

Our small businesses are the backbone of our local and statewide economies, and we are committed to fighting for them as they continue to rally and recover in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

House Republicans approve resolution welcoming Republican National Convention to Tennessee

House Republicans Thursday morning approved House Resolution 326, which expresses that Tennessee is well-suited to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.

The measure comes after reports that Republican National Committee (RNC) officials were planning to tour possible locations in Nashville this week to potentially accommodate this year’s convention.

Recent disagreements between party officials, President Trump and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper over the originally contracted convention in Charlotte remain unresolved. This could result in a new venue for August’s convention.

Other locations under possible consideration include Las Vegas, Orlando, and Jacksonville, according to media reports.

Hosting the Republican National Convention could have a financial impact between $100-$150 million on Tennessee’s economy.

The Volunteer State is poised and stands ready to nominate President Donald J. Trump as the Republican nominee during this year’s Republican National Convention.

For more details about House Resolution 326, please click here.

Republican-led Certificate of Need legislation clears House Health Committee

Republican-led legislation that increases access to quality healthcare in Tennessee continues to gain momentum in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

House Bill 2350 cleared the House Health Committee Tuesday. Part of the Republican CARE Plan, the measure makes various changes to the certificate of need (CON) process for health facilities in order to remove barriers to competition in the market place. This competition will drive down costs and provide more options for patients.

This innovative measure is the culmination of years of work on behalf of Tennessee patients by Republican leaders in efforts to transform our health care system through patient-centered solutions that are consumer-driven, increase access, provide high quality care and lower overall costs.

House Bill 2350 changes the CON process by collapsing the calendar for an application from 120 days to 60 days. Additionally, the bill limits opposition to an application by existing entities within 35 miles of a new project.

The legislation now moves on to the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee for additional discussion and debate on June 10, 2020.

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.

Republican lawmakers remain committed to providing patient-centered solutions that improve access and the quality of care available to all citizens, while lowering overall costs.

Republican lawmakers support age-appropriate firearm safety in our public schools

This week in Nashville, Republican lawmakers supported commonsense legislation that will allow for firearm safety education in our public schools.

House Bill 2761 was approved in the House chamber Wednesday afternoon. The bill enables the Department of Education, the Department of Safety and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to study the earliest, appropriate grade level for the implementation of firearm safety education.

Training under this legislation will help young people identify a firearm, understand safety risks, and encourage them to notify an adult should they encounter a firearm.

House Republicans are committed to the safety and well-being of our current and future generations of leaders.

House Republicans pass legislation supporting veterans as they obtain occupations

This week, House Republicans renewed their commitment to the brave men and women who have so proudly served our state and nation through House Bill 1946.

This legislation was approved Wednesday in the House by a 94-0 vote tally. It enables our military veterans to receive credit for training and course work completed during their service time to be used towards an occupational license.

House Republicans are proud to support those who have made extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our state so they successfully transition to civilian life. We appreciate and we are forever indebted to them and to their families.

House unanimously approves Teacher Discipline Act

The Tennessee House of Representatives this week also approved legislation that establishes a process for a continuously disruptive student to be removed from their classroom.

Known as the Teacher Discipline Act, House Bill 2134 passed by a 91-0 vote Wednesday. The legislation has more than 70 cosponsors and will enable Tennessee teachers to spend more time with students who desire to learn.

Under House Bill 2134, each Local Education Agency (LEA) would create a process that would allow for a teacher to remove a student who causes repeated disruptions in the classroom and send that student to the principal’s office for disciplinary action — including the possibility of permanent removal.

Once the disruptive student is disciplined, principals would use their discretion to send them back into the classroom. However, educators would also be allowed to file an appeal with the director of schools if they disagree with that decision.

The legislation also paves the way for directors to work with school officials to help address issues that are impacting a disruptive student’s ability to learn, so they become a productive member of society.

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


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