LIST: Winning and losing legislation in Tennessee in 2019

Tennessee State of the State_1557224560008

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State Address Monday, March 4, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Over the last four months, Tennessee lawmakers pushed through bills that would create a two-county expanded education voucher program, seek federal permission to overhaul TennCare through block grant funding and allow online sports betting in the state.

The Republican-supermajority General Assembly wrapped up its annual legislative last week, clearing those contentious proposals and others.

There were noteworthy failures as well. Lawmakers opted against legalizing medical marijuana in non-smoking forms, a proposal to ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected and a proposal that would have let adoption agencies reject prospective parents due to written religious beliefs.

The action next moves to Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who will review a slew of bills that passed in his first year in office. However, he has said there are no bills he is considering vetoing. The closest call was the sports betting bill, but he has decided to let that one take effect without his signature.

Here is a look at some of the winning and losing bills of the 2019 session of the Tennessee General Assembly:


  • AMMUNITION TAX BREAK: Removes $435,400 worth annually of taxes on ammunition. SB423/HB494
  • BAN ON PLASTIC BAG BANS, TAXES: Bans local governments from regulating certain plastic bags, utensils or assessing fees on food and drink sales. SB431/HB1021
  • CHARTER SCHOOLS AUTHORIZER: Tweaks how Tennessee intervenes in charter school authorization cases by creating a commission to oversee such appeals. SB796/HB940
  • CHILD SEX DOLLS: Bans possessing, selling or distributing a child-like sex doll. SB659/HB1168
  • DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME: Keeps Tennessee on daylight saving time year-round — but only if Congress first passes a federal law allowing states to do so first. SB1100/HB247
  • DEATH PENALTY REVIEW: Removes one state court’s review before executing inmates and provides automatic state Supreme Court death penalty reviews. SB589/HB547
  • DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS: Allows people to still have a restricted driver’s license while they pay off their court fines. HB 839/SB 1143
  • FEDEX TAX BREAK: Awards FedEx $21.3 million in tax breaks for its $1.3 billion Memphis hub expansion. SB1161/HB1461
  • FISCAL REVIEW: Lets the House and Senate speakers appoint the executive director of the Fiscal Review Committee. HB1233/SB1235
  • GUNS, MENTAL ILLNESS: Outlaws transferring a gun to someone, knowing the person was committed to a mental institution or is receiving treatment, unless the right to have a gun was restored. SB1402/HB752
  • GYM TAX REPEAL: Repeal a $10 million amusement tax on gym memberships. SB960/HB1130
  • HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT TRAINING: Allows concealed carry of guns under a less expensive permit that doesn’t require live-fire training. SB705/HB1264
  • HANDHELD PHONE BAN WHILE DRIVING: Bans the use of handheld cellphones while driving. SB173/HB164
  • HYGIENE PRODUCTS FOR PRISONERS: Provides female hygiene products to female inmates for no charge. SB75/HB129
  • MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS: Requires the state’s top leaders to call on the federal government to send a fixed amount of money each year in the form of block grants. SB1428/HB1280
  • NATURAL HAIR STYLING: Loosens state regulations surrounding African-style hair braiding. SB1185/HB320
  • POLICE OVERSIGHT LIMITS: Limits community oversight boards that investigate police misconduct, but maintains reduced subpoena power for them. SB1407/HB658
  • PROFESSIONAL PRIVILEGE TAX: Eliminates $22 million worth annually of professional privilege taxes on 15 professions, from accountants to real estate brokers. SB398/HB1262
  • ROE V. WADE ABORTION BAN “TRIGGER”: Ensures most abortions would be outlawed should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. SB1257/HB1029
  • SCHOOL SAFETY: Provides $40 million through grants to help pay for school resource officers and other safety priorities. Schools would provide matching funds to get grants. SB803/HB947
  • SPORTS BETTING: Allows regulated statewide mobile and interactive sports gambling for people 21 years old and up. SB16/HB1
  • VOUCHERS: Diverts more tax money to private education, gives participating families debit cards worth up to $7,300 in state education money each year. SB795/HB939
  • VOTER REGISTRATION PENALTIES: Allows voter registration groups to face fines for submitting too many incomplete signup forms and criminal penalties for submitting registration forms too late. SB971/HB1079
  • WATERED-DOWN BATHROOM BILL: Spells out that Tennessee’s public indecency law applies to single-sex, multiperson bathrooms and changing rooms. SB1297/HB1151


  • ADOPTION RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS: Would have allowed faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay parents and other families because of their religious beliefs. SB848/HB1152
  • AGE LIMIT TO 21 FOR SMOKING, VAPING: Would have increased the age for tobacco and vaping device purchases to 21. SB1200/HB1454
  • ARMING TEACHERS: Would have permitted public school teachers to carry concealed firearms. SB1399/HB1380
  • BUSINESSES, ANTI-DISCRIMINATION: Would have banned cities and state agencies from taking “discriminatory action” against businesses if they have internal polices in compliance with state law. SB364/HB563
  • CLOSED PARTY PRIMARIES: Would have allowed only registered party members to vote in election primaries. SB1500/HB1273
  • DEATH PENALTY MENTAL ILLNESS BAN: Would have barred death sentences for people who had severe mental illness at the time of their offenses. SB1124/HB1455
  • E-VERIFY EXPANSION: Would have required more small businesses to use the E-Verify program to screen whether workers have legal immigration status to work in the U.S. SB1165/HB1239
  • FELON VOTING RIGHTS: Would have made it easier for some felons to get their voting rights restored. SB589/HB547
  • FETAL HEARTBEAT ABORTION BAN: Would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. SB1236/HB77
  • GUNS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY: Would have eliminated penalties when carry permit holders bring guns to some private properties and immediately leave when they realize firearms are banned. SB1401/HB545
  • IMMIGRATION LANDLORD PENALTIES: Would have banned landlords from renting or subleasing housing to people in the U.S. illegally. SB1167/HB614
  • INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING: Would have let Tennessee’s four biggest cities decide whether to allow instant runoff voting in local nonpartisan contests. SB970/HB599
  • MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Would have legalized and regulated medical marijuana in non-smoking forms. SB572/HB1011
  • SCHOOL TRANSGENDER BATHROOM POLICY: Would have authorized Tennessee’s attorney general to defend a public school’s transgender bathroom and locker room policy. SB1499/HB1274
  • SENATE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LIMITS: Would have doubled individual and political action committee campaign contribution limits for Senate candidates. SB1009/HB1278
  • SENATE PAC LIMITS: Would have doubled state Senate campaign contribution limits political action committees. SB 1231/HB 1232
  • SHACKLING PREGNANT INMATES: Would have banned shackling pregnant inmates, particularly during childbirth. SB1150/HB1240

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