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HomePoliticsCurtis Johnson: News from the Tennessee Capitol, March 15th, 2020

Curtis Johnson: News from the Tennessee Capitol, March 15th, 2020

Constitutional Carry Legislation Moves Through First House Committee

Tennessee State Representative - District 68Nashville, TN – This week in Nashville, historic Republican legislation that allows Tennessee to become the 17th state to enact constitutional carry cleared its first committee in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Members of the House Constitutional Protections & Sentencing Subcommittee approved House Bill 2817 by a 5-2 vote tally Tuesday evening. The measure sends a strong “tough on gun crime” message to violent criminals, felons, and gang members through a series of sentencing enhancements that support our law enforcement and judicial communities as they work to protect our cities and towns.

Tennessee State Representative Curtis Johnson
Tennessee State Representative Curtis Johnson

At the same time, this legislation upholds the freedoms granted to law-abiding citizens under our Constitution by allowing open or concealed carry for citizens 21 and older (18 if certain military service requirements are met) without a permit. 

This legislation does not change current requirements for background checks on gun purchases. Law-abiding citizens are also encouraged to attend a class or undergo training to ensure safe operation. 

House Bill 2817 now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for a vote on March 18th, 2020.

Governor’s Key Initiatives Continue To Advance

Several of the governor’s key initiatives continued to advance in the Tennessee General Assembly this week. These measures include:

House Bill 2220: Authorizes action for the appointment of a guardian for individuals incarcerated in an institution of the Department of Correction or for those involuntarily hospitalized in institutions of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The bill passed by a 97-0 vote on the House floor and now awaits action in the Senate.

House Bill 2221: Prohibits individuals convicted of sexual offenses or violent sexual offenses from being eligible for an alternative form of punishment to incarceration. The measure also passed in the House chamber with a 96-0 vote this week.

House Bill 2223: Enhances standards applicable for certain food donations in order to increase access to high-quality food for our citizens. The legislation now awaits Governor Lee’s signature.

House Bill 2227: Creates a rural Brownfield Tax Credit Enhancement Program to support reinvestment in properties where former industries once stood. The measure will allow companies looking to reinvest in these properties and the rural communities they serve to receive a tax credit in order to encourage them to relocate and create new jobs. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.


Governor Issues Executive Order Declaring State Of Emergency In Response to COVID-19

On Thursday, Governor Lee issued Executive Order No. 14 declaring a state of emergency in Tennessee to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

The emergency declaration is designed to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19 through the following steps:

  • Implement the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan;
  • Permit health care professionals licensed in other states to provide health care services in Tennessee related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus);
  • Allow pharmacists to dispense an extra 30-day supply of maintenance prescriptions as needed in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus);
  • Allow health care professionals to provide localized treatment to patients in temporary residences;
  • Expand testing sites for COVID-19;
  • Allow the construction of temporary health care structures in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus);
  • Implement price gouging protections on medical and emergency supplies;
  • Suspend restrictions on vehicles transporting emergency supplies to areas affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus);
  • Permit the waiver of certain regulations on childcare centers as needed to respond to the effect of COVID-19;
  • Authorize TennCare policy changes to ensure that covered individuals receive medically necessary services without disruption; and
  • Direct coordination with health insurance plans to improve access to screening, testing, and treatment for COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

During this evolving situation, vulnerable populations should stay home where possible and avoid large gatherings or locations where they are more likely to contact the virus. Those most susceptible include older adults and adults with underlying conditions including diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illness. Non-essential visits to nursing homes and hospitals are also strongly discouraged at this time.

For more information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Tennessee, please click here.

Legislation Improving TANF Program Reporting Moves To The House Floor

This week, legislation improving reporting requirements within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program moved closer to a vote in the House chamber.

Members of both the House Health and House Calendar & Rules Committees approved House Bill 2153, which strengthens reporting requirements for the TANF program. The legislation instructs the Department of Human Services (DHS) to issue an annual report disclosing the amount of federal funding available to be spent during each fiscal year, the amount of federal funds budgeted to be spent and expected to be spent, the amount of federal funds set aside for a necessary reserve, and any restrictions.

It is a result of the TANF Working Group, established by both the House and Senate Speakers last fall, after it was determined DHS had built up a reserve of $730 million in unused block grant funds. These resources are designed to support working families who desire to move away from government assistance and achieve prosperity.

House Bill 2153 is set for a vote in the House on March 19th, 2020.

House Republicans Support Legislation To Improve Transportation For Disables and Aging

On Thursday, House Republicans unanimously supported legislation aimed at improving transportation options for the disabled and aging populations across the state.

The Tennessee Accessible Transportation and Mobility Act of 2020 (HB1596) creates an office within the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) dedicated to expanding and improving accessible transportation.  No state dollars will be used to create the new office.

Public transportation is a challenge in certain areas across Tennessee, and it is especially difficult to access for the disabled and aging. The new office created by this legislation will identify and work to eliminate those barriers. The overall goal is to give as much access to public transportation as possible so the elderly and disabled can be out in the community, engaged and living more productive lives.

House Bill 1596 now heads to the governor’s desk for his action.

For more information about the legislation, please click here.    

Tennessee Responsible Borrowing Initiative Act Passes Senate To Help Students Avoid Unnecessary Debt

Legislation requiring public higher education institutions to provide students with important financial information to help them better evaluate the impact of indebtedness will be heard in the House Education Committee on Wednesday.  House Bill 2601 provides that when a student is finalizing their acceptance of a financial aid package, the institution must provide them with the net cost in an interactive loan scenario calculator, along with pertinent information on responsible student borrowing.

Student debt is almost in a crisis mode.  “Over the last six years it has exploded 33 percent and now stands at about $1.5 trillion.  The average student in the United States graduates with about $27,000 of debt, while approximately 45 percent of Tennessee students graduate with about $25,000 of debt.   

What this bill does is mandates that we have a tool that the state higher education institutions give students to tell them what it’s going to cost them to go to school, what sort of financial aid they might have, what their potential indebtedness might be, and educates them to what the payoff is going to look like over time.  This will allow students who come to our public institutions to really understand how much they’re are going to owe at the end of their four years and how they’re going to have to grapple with that debt.

The bill follows passage of the Tuition Transparency and Accountability Act in 2018.  The law provided more transparency and accountability when it comes to tuition and fee hikes at the state’s colleges and universities. It provided that any tuition increase must be substantiated by stating the amount of increase, the reason for the increase, and any steps that may have been taken to control it.

Contract Information

Rep. Curtis Johnson
636 Cordell Hull Building
425 5th Avenue, North
Nashville, TN  37243

Phone: 615.741.4341



For more information about the Tennessee General Assembly, check our website at




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