What bills made it to Gov. Lee’s desk after chaotic special session on public safety

More than 100 bills were introduced during the special session attempting to make schools, neighborhoods and the public as a whole, safer.
Video obtained by WSMV4 shows an altercation between Sexton, Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Justin Pearson, D-Memphis.
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 11:54 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The legislative special session on public safety has come to a chaotic end as lawmakers worked from Aug. 21 to just before noon on Aug. 29 with four bills making it to the Governor’s desk.

More than 100 bills were introduced during the special session attempting to make schools, neighborhoods and the public as a whole, safer.

Both chambers held brief floor sessions on Tuesday morning before adjourning after a meeting between members of the Republican supermajority and Governor Bill Lee. Lawmakers finalized four bills but did not act on several of them proposed by Gov. Lee and Covenant School parents.

Here’s a look at what bills have made it to Lee’s desk:

  • SB7088/HB7041: Requires TBI to submit a report on child and human trafficking crimes and trends in Tennessee by Dec. 1, 2023, and annually thereafter.
    • This bill requires the TBI to track statewide data involving crimes against children. A formal report will be created every year and submitted to the governor and legislature.
  • SB7086/HB7013: 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.
    • This bill changes how soon a court clerk must notify the TBI of someone’s criminal proceedings. They now have 72 hours to file the proper paperwork, but there is no punishment for missing the deadline when acting in good faith.
  • SB7085/HB7012: Directs the Department of Safety to provide free firearm locks to Tennessee residents upon request; requires department-approved handgun safety courses to contain instruction on the safe storage of firearms; exempts the retail sale of firearm safes and firearm safety devices from sales and use taxes beginning Nov. 1, 2023.
    • This bill requires the Department of Safety to give out free gun locks to people who want them. It also creates a sales tax exemption for gun safes and allocated $1.1 million for a gun safety public service announcement campaign. There is no punishment for not using a gun lock.
  • SB7089/HB7070: Appropriates $50 million in grant funding to mental health agencies, $30 million in school safety grants to public and private higher education institutions, $12.1 million in recruitment and retention bonuses for mental health professionals, $10 million additional funding for school safety grant fund, $4 million in funding for the mental health safety net, $3 million in funding for the behavioral health scholarship program, and $1.1 million to fund a public safety campaign for safe storage.
    • This bill grants funding for more school resource officers and mental health services. It includes $12 million for mental health resource grants, $4 million for behavioral health safety grants and allocates $50 million in surplus money from TennCare to community mental health agencies. An additional $30 million has been earmarked from a prison improvement fund for higher education safety upgrades at campuses across the state.