Since the legislature adjourned earlier this year, I have been tirelessly preparing for the Governor’s Special Session on Public Safety that begins August 21st. I have held numerous meetings with constituents as well as with the Governor and his staff, Law Enforcement Officers, TBI, District Attorneys, Gun Safety and Mental Health Advocates. I have also hosted a series of bi-partisan webinars open only to legislators, with expert speakers focused on gun safety and mental health.
The Governor’s decision to call a special session is appreciated, but it falls short of what is needed in terms of common sense gun reforms. Bold leadership is required as many Tennesseans demand real reforms to ensure our children’s safety. While I share in the disappointment from many that our state leaders aren’t meeting the call of the moment, there are a few positive developments, including movement on secure storage and healthcare proposals.
I’ve been working diligently with federal officials behind the scenes to establish a modified version of Medicaid Expansion for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which I believe is a step in the right direction. Another one of my key priorities is to continue advocating for responsible gun ownership and secure storage of firearms. Alongside supporting the Governor’s initiatives on secure storage, I intend to propose a bill that:
1. Allows communities, such as Nashville, to have their own regulations on securely storing firearms.
2. Provides limited civil liability protection to individuals who have had their weapons stolen from cars, thereby encouraging them to report such crimes to law enforcement.
3. Encourages the Department of Safety to include language on secure firearm storage in driver’s license testing and renewals.
So what did the Governor’s call for Special Session include?
Gov. Lee will present legislative and budget priorities during the public safety special session including:
Codification of EO 100 and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Report Implementation: Requires reporting of accurate, complete and timely records from court clerks to the TBI within 72-hours and requires electronic submissions of dispositions and expungements to the TBI.
TennCare Mental Health Coverage Waiver: Directs TennCare to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow federal matching funds for Medicaid to cover services for mental illness and substance use disorders at institutions of mental diseases.
Addressing Mental Health Workforce Challenges: Budget initiatives that prioritize opportunities to grow and retain mental health professionals in the state.
Reforms for Mental Health: Expands access to mental health treatment by eliminating certain collaborative practice requirements for Advanced Registered Practice Nurses with psychiatric training.
Strengthening the Identification of Individuals Arrested for Felonies: Provides for the collection of DNA at the time of an arrest for all feloniesHuman Trafficking Report: Resolution directing TBI to report on the state of human trafficking in Tennessee.
Promoting Safe Storage: Eliminates taxes on firearm safes and safety devices, provides free gun locks, expands safe storage training in state-approved safety courses, and creates a public service announcement to promote safe storage.
Due to the constitutional rules involving Special Sessions, Legislators can only file bills that meet the specific subjects in the Governor’s proclamation. The full special session proclamation can be viewed here. The Governor has also asked for feedback from Tennesseans, which can be given through this link.
Additionally, I encourage everyone to attend the Special Session and have your voice heard at the Capitol during the week of August 21st. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to assist you. I’m ready to get to work, as nothing is more important than our children’s safety!
Rep. Caleb Hemmer
With elections coming up next year, help me continue this important work at the State Capitol and in the community by contributing to our campaign at the link below.
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Tennessee stiffened the penalty for stealing a gun. Amid a theft crisis, is the law working?
A Community Conversation on Gun Safety, Belle Meade United Methodist Church. August 17, 6p. To RSVP or learn more details click here.