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Legislative Session Recap May 10, 2021

Community Impact, Nonprofit Leadership

May 10, 2021

The 112th General Assembly adjourned on May 5, 2021. During this year’s session, over 1,500 bills and resolutions were filed. The following items are highlights of bills that may be of most interest to many Tennessee nonprofit organizations. These items include bills that were passed and not passed, and include categories of: education, health/public benefits, nonprofits, racial and social justice, and miscellaneous/general interest.

The General Assembly will reconvene January 11, 2022. All bills that did not pass this year are still filed and will remain at the same status where they ended in the process this year. New bills will be filed next year. To learn more about the state legislative process and the effects on nonprofits, check out our upcoming workshops: Advocacy for Tennessee Nonprofits and Lifting the Veil on Tennessee’s State Budget.



SB230/HB16 Teacher’s Discipline Act

Broadens authority of classroom teachers to enforce student disciplinary policy or code of conduct and to request removal of a student from the classroom in certain situations.

Enacted as Public Chapter 77 effective 1.1.22.


SB455/HB535 Charter schools contracting with for-profits organizations

A charter school may contract for management with a for-profit entity.

Will not pass this year.


SB677/HB598 Creates the Tennessee child care task force

Task force is to recommend a strategic action plan to address challenges of quality, affordability and accessibility.

Passed Senate and House and sent to Governor for signature.


SB1252/HB837 Opportunity Scholarships Program

Establishes a state tax-funded scholarship program for students attending private schools.

Did not pass this year.


SB1257/HB44  Provides more funding for full-time school social worker positions

Has passed Senate and House committees but still did not pass due to cost. The bill remains where it ended this year, having passed all the committees.

Taken off notice in Senate and House. Did not pass this year.



Health and Public Benefits

SB1/HB2 Independent dispute resolution procedures for emergency services

Establishes independent dispute resolution procedures for emergency services. Allows for greater billing transparency and notice and less “surprise billing.”

Deferred to a summer study committee. Did not pass this year.


SB7/HB10 Vaccinations and religious objections

Removes current law provisions that override ability of persons to object to vaccinations and immunizations on the basis of religious beliefs.

Failed in House subcommittee.


SB102/HB119 Creates Silver Alert program

Requires that TBI implement program to assist in locating missing vulnerable citizens. Initiated by Alzheimer’s Tennessee in response to deaths of persons with dementia due to “wandering”.

Passed Senate and House and sent to Governor for signature.


SB118/HB490 Establishes study of Medical Cannabis

Establishes medical cannabis commission to study laws and regulations in other states and propose legislation to establish a medical cannabis program.

Passed Senate and House and sent to Governor for signature.


SB751/HB142 Relates to DHS bill dealing with funding and not accumulating surplus reserves

Specifies benefits and programs including community grants, opportunity pilot programs, increases in monthly grants and lifetime benefits. Provides funding for some contracts with nonprofit groups. Bill filed at request of Governor.

Passed  Senate and House and sent to Governor for signature.


Nonprofit (bills primarily impacting nonprofits and charitable organizations)

SB426/HB820 Funds collected by the department of state

Specifies how funds from charitable organizations will be used.

Passed Senate and House. Governor has signed. Will become law.


SB664/HB720 Authorizes a nonprofit organization to conduct bingo games as its annual event

Passed Senate and House and sent to the Governor.


SB1608/HB159 Personal Privacy Protection Act

Prohibits public agencies from requiring an individual, 501(c)s, or contractors with the agency to provide personal information. Info is confidential, not an open record.

Passed Senate and House and sent to Governor.


HJR3 Constitutional amendment – bingo games conducted by 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organizations

Proposes amendment to Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of Tennessee, to allow for bingo games conducted by 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organizations,

Did not pass.


Miscellaneous and general interest

SB550/HB797 Tennessee Minimum Wage Act

Enacts “Tennessee Minimum Wage Act,” to establish a schedule for annual minimum wage increases beginning on January 1, 2022. Provides a minimum wage of (1) $9.25 per hour in 2022; (2) $10 per hour in 2023; (3) $11 per hour in 2024; and (4) $12 per hour in 2025.

Failed in Senate committee.


SB765/HB786 Handgun carry permits and offenses involving handguns

Detailed bill creates exemption for carrying of firearm if person meets qualifications for enhanced handgun carry permit, lawfully possesses handgun and is in a place where they have a right to be. Must be 21 (18 if member of armed services). Sets out some exceptions.

Passed Senate and House. Governor strongly supported and has now signed bill. Will become effective 7.1.21.


SB1402/HB1039 Limits eligibility for unemployment benefits to 12 weeks.

May be amended to lengthen somewhat. Current law  provides up to 26 weeks. 12 is fewer than any other state. Some increase in weekly benefits.

Passed Senate and House and will be sent to Governor.


Racial and Social Justice

SB600/HB1227 Vacates and reconstitutes the Tennessee historical commission

Fires all members of TN Historical Commission. Motivated by Commission’s vote recommending removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest statue from the Capitol to the State Museum. Did not pass this year.


SB968/HB1165 Creates the Tennessee African American historical commission

Creates commission and process for membership,  position of state historian for African American history and a fund for acquiring properties.

Did not pass this year.


SB1101/HB1460 Establishes age-appropriate instruction to public school students on Black history and culture

Requires this instruction for students in grades 5-8 on Black history and culture.

Did not become law this year.


SB1216/HB800 Prohibits use of textbooks and instructional materials that promote LGBTQ issues or lifestyles

Passed a House committee but did not become law this year.


SB1610/HB978 Creates a new misdemeanor for homeless persons who solicit funds or camp near certain roadways.

Failed in Senate Judiciary Committee. Passed House floor. Did not become law.


SB1328/HB21 Receiving refugees for resettlement

Requires TN to refuse to consent to receive refugees for purposes of resettlement.

Withdrawn in the House.


SB623/HB580 Prohibits teaching ‘critical race theory” and may prohibit teaching that institutional racism exists.

Makes various changes to present law about education and was amended to include provisions that schools cannot teach about critical race theory.

Passed in both Senate and House. Will be sent to the Governor.


SB843/HB513 Penalty for obstructing a highway

Makes it a felony for a protester to obstruct a highway while protesting or injuring someone while throwing an object. Grants immunity to drivers who unintentionally hit someone who is obstructing highway.

Passed House. Deferred to first calendar of 2022 in  Senate.