Sen. Southerland Update: Senate winding down work on important bills

From the desk of Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown)

NASHVILLE  – The Senate continued to wind down its business as many important bills received final approval this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee completed its last meeting, where it approved two judicial appointments to the Court of Criminal Appeals and one to the Court of Appeals. Next week, the Finance, Ways and Means Committee – the final Senate committee to remain open – is expected to present the Senate’s amended state budget.

Senate votes to remove roadblocks to obtain a Commercial Driver License – Consumers everywhere have felt the effects of the backlog in moving freight across the country. The American Trucking Association currently estimates that the United States is 80,000 truck drivers short, causing supply chain issues across Tennessee and the nation. To address this issue, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2399 this week to help increase the number of Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs) issued to Tennesseans by expanding eligibility, implementing a faster turnaround for issuing CDLs, and creating a program within the Department of Safety to train qualifying individuals and prepare them for a job in the trucking industry.

Cracking down on child abusers during Child Abuse Prevention Month  –  National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. On Thursday, the Senate approved legislation that strengthens penalties for emotional and mental abuse or neglect of children at unlicensed child care facilities.

Taking action against abortion advocacy in public schools — The Senate this week passed Senate Bill 2158 which prohibits an LEA or public charter school seeking assistance in teaching family life from knowingly entering into an agreement with a person or entity that performs abortions, induces abortions, provides abortion referrals, or provides funding, advocacy, or other support for abortions.

Ensuring privacy of homeowners — Senate Bill 2695 allows residential property owners to request concealment of their home address on searchable public databases. Homeowners must file a written request with the property assessor to have their first and last name appear as “unlisted” in the ownership field of online property databases. The legislation ensures the privacy of Tennesseans, including law enforcement officials, who may not want their home addresses to be easily accessible. This bill received final approval from the Senate and now goes to Governor Lee for his review.

Thank you for reading this edition! My office is still mailing unclaimed funds letters so please keep an eye out for them. I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts and concerns. My office can be reached by phone at: (800) 449-8366, extension: 13851 or by e-mail at: sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov. Thank you for the honor to serve you in state government and I hope you have a wonderful Easter!