Diversity and Guns: Today in the Tennessee Legislature

Category: Gun Legislation

Today, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee heard HB118 (Faison, R-Cosby).  The legislation is the companion bill to SB142 (Ramsey, R-Blountville) relative to firearms in personal vehicles which passed in the Senate last week.  The legislation as drafted, would allow valid handgun carry permit holders to transport and store firearms and ammunition in personal motor vehicles in areas not otherwise prohibited by federal law.  The bill, if passed unamended, will permit students, employees, and visitors on campus (with valid handgun carry permits) to transport and store firearms in their personal vehicles despite current University policy to the contrary.  The legislation also impacts private business, courthouses, K-12 education, hospitals–most public and private employers in the State of TN.  The bill, which was fourth on the original committee agenda, was moved to the top of the agenda as soon as the committee began.  With very limited discussion lasting approximately six minutes, the bill passed on a voice voice, with one committee member, Representative Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) requesting to be on the record as voting no.  The bill will now move to the full House Civil Justice Committee.

In the Senate Education Committee, roughly two hours were spent discussing SB8 (Summerville, R-Dickson).   SB8 as originally drafted would prohibit any higher education institution from granting preference based on race, gender, or ethnicity to any student, employee, or contractor.  “Preference” in this legislation is presently undefined and could impact any number of areas, including all female or all male student groups such as fraternities and sororities. Despite numerous questions raised by Committee members and higher education officials regarding what, exactly, preference refers to, the speaker present to testify on the bill requested that this would be best “interpreted by the courts.”  There was no resolution over whether or not preference will be defined in a later amended version of the bill.

Several amendments were suggested by Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), the first of which would clarify that “Diversity preferences, outreach, and recruitment shall not be based on gender, race or ethnicity.”

This language presents a problem in reaching out to underrepresented groups in a number of areas.  Examples include women in engineering and men in nursing.  Under the amendment as proposed, simple outreach to these groups would be prohibited by law.

Sen. Campfield also made clear he intends to file several additional amendments this week.  After two hours of deliberation, the bill was rolled one week by the sponsor.

Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) made clear that this bill will be first on the committee agenda next week.

Please be on the lookout for important updates on this legislation.  We will distribute more details as they become available.


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