Tennessee Senate passes bill to end residency requirements for first responders

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from having residency requirements as a condition of employment for first responders.

Senate Bill 29 was approved Thursday in a 26–6 vote.

The legislation prohibits county, municipal, and metropolitan governments from terminating or penalizing a first responder or denying employment to a person applying to be a first responder based on where they live.

Under the bill, “first responder” means “paid, full-time law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers of law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical service departments.” It does not include chiefs or department heads.

It would not affect a local agency’s policies regarding the use of a department vehicle while not on duty. It also would not apply to policies that require responses by employees who, based on their assignment, are required to respond to an emergency or call out within a specific amount of time.

Hamilton County would be exempt from the new law.

The House version of the bill has been assigned to the Cities and Counties Subcommittee.

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