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Veterans Hiring Measure Passes the Tennessee House of Representatives

Written by Joe Pitts
Tennessee State Representative

Tennessee State Representative - District 67Nashville, TN – Hiring Preferences for Veterans – House Bill 165/Senate Bill 209 (Senator Mark Green, R-Clarksville) passed the Senate and House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor for his signature on March 20th.

To paraphrase an old saying, the second time is the charm, or something like that.  House Bill 165 and Senate bill 209 recently passed the House and Senate after the second attempt. The proposal would enable private employers to create hiring preferences for veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses of deceased veterans without running afoul of provisions in the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting hiring discrimination among other areas.

Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts
Tennessee State Representative Joe Pitts

This same historic federal law allows states to use a carve-out for veterans and their spouses to shield employers from legal challenges.

In 2015, the same bill was introduced but failed to make it past the first round of subcommittee hearings. 

The members of the committee apparently did not understand the intent and effect of the bill and by voice vote they declined to support the idea.  While the reasons for the lack of support are not abundantly clear, we were undaunted and made another run at the idea this year.

While the language of the bill this year mirrored the 2015 version, there were some subtle changes in the strategy we used to gain approval.  The weapons we used were mighty.  We simply harnessed the power of our veterans to win the hearts and minds of the House and Senate members.  We also enlisted the U.S. Department of Defense to call on members to ensure them the proposed bill was the right thing to do.

On February 8th hundreds of veterans from across our state descended on Capitol Hill in Nashville and made this bill one of their priorities for the visit.  The event was coordinated by Montgomery County folks Sherry Pickering, Bill Summers, Steve Singleton, Vivian Fivecoat, just to name a few.  The event was a resounding success and shows the power of citizens who are positively engaged and active.

Unemployment and under-employment among veterans and their families are at high rates, and the steady stream of veterans transitioning out of the military and into our workforce remains robust.  I am grateful for our nation’s veterans and their families everyday but am especially thankful and indebted for their continuing service to this state and our nation.  And as I often say, “veterans never stop serving”.

This legislation was brought to us by the U.S. Department of Defense.  Many companies would like to give special consideration for hiring veterans because of their unique skill sets, proven work ethic, and reliability, but may be hesitant to do so out of concern of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Other bills of note, HB 500 sponsored by Rep. Pitts, has passed the Senate and after working with the Governor to provide the funding, will be heard again in the House Finance Sub Committee on March 29th.  This legislation was requested by members of the Board of Osteopathic Examination to increase members’ per diem reimbursement for their meetings. 

These volunteers spend precious time away from their medical practice, seeing patients, to provide guidance and oversight of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.  Senate Joint Resolution 0005 passed the Senate and House of Representatives and is on its way to the Governor for his signature.  This resolution would request the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to locate a veterans’ hospital in Clarksville.

House Bill 166/Senate Bill 156

House Bill 166/Senate Bill 156 sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) and (Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) would delete the 90-day limit a retired teacher, who is a member of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS), can be employed as a substitute teacher and continue to draw retirement allowance.  This legislation was brought to us by a retired teacher.

“The knowledge and experience our retired teachers have should be used by the school system when a substitute teacher is needed,” Pitts said.  The bill came out of the Council on Pensions and Insurance Committee on Monday, February 27, 2017, with a positive recommendation, and passed the Education Administration & Programs subcommittee and is scheduled for the Education Administration & Programs full committee on March 28th. It is also scheduled for the Senate Education Committee on March 29th.

House Bill 501/Senate Bill 481

House Bill 501/Senate Bill 481sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) and (Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) would add funding for three Response to Instruction and Intervention positions within each public school to the BEP calculation.  “Our schools need these positions in order to help students who have been identified as needing extra help in school,” Pitts said.  It is scheduled for the House Education Administration and Programs Full committee on March 28th.

House Bill 21/Senate Bill 17

House Bill 21/Senate Bill 17, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) passed the Senate and will be heard in the House Finance Sub Committee on March 29th.  The Governor has agreed to provide the funding ($150.00) for this legislation.

This legislation will allow families of victims of impaired drivers, where the impaired driver was also killed, to have a sign erected in memory of the family member.

House Bill 19/Senate Bill 152

House Bill 19/Senate Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) would allow motorcycle dealers, for a one-time event, to sell their merchandise at an off-site business location.  Current law prohibits this activity.

If you have questions about the above or other issues of concern, please call me at 615.741.2043, or email me at


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