Tennessee Legislature session opens with focus on congressional maps, proposed voting integrity laws

Proposed state Senate and congressional maps are scheduled to be released Wednesday

Updated: January 11, 2022 - 10:02am

The Tennessee General Assembly begins its legislative session Tuesday with two essential priorities: redistricting maps and a new K-12 public education funding model.

The assembly will also consider two bills that attempt to enhance voting integrity.

Proposed state Senate maps and Congressional maps are scheduled to be released Wednesday by the assembly's Select Committee on Redistricting. The new education funding formula is expected to be announced in the next week as well.

Tennessee state House map proposals were made public in December.

The Senate Finance, Ways, and Means committee is scheduled to discuss at least two bills – Senate Bill 1128 and Senate Bill 432 – at its meeting Tuesday during the session's opening day.

Both bills were introduced in the 2021 legislative session and passed at least one committee before being deferred to this year.

SB 1128, from GOP state Sen. Dawn White allows county governments to provide retirement credits for anyone who worked for a government entity, left for military service, then returned to work for the county.

White said in April she still was working with the Treasury on the bill and asked for it to be rolled to this year's session. The fiscal note on the bill said the cost would fall on local governments and it was unclear how many eligible county employees exist in the state.

SB 432 "authorizes electronic transmission of the copy of a judgment of conviction of a person for committing certain offenses of abuse of an elderly or vulnerable adult that is required to be sent to the department of health."

State GOP Rep. Bruce Griffey also has introduced a pair of bills – House Bill 1650 and House Bill 1662 – that have not been assigned to committees.

HB 1662 would require elections be conducted using hand-marked paper ballots instead of voting machines and authorizes pool watchers to record video at polling places.

"Improving election integrity was ranked the third most important issue among my constituents" just behind eliminating COVID-19 mandates and preserving Second Amendment rights,” Griffey said. "Moreover, 66% of my constituents stated that they believe paper ballots would help improve election security. All electronic voting machines are subject to fraud, manipulation, outright hacking and computer errors."

HB 1650  would reverse the gas tax increases in former Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act and replace the funding with sales tax dollars already set to be received by the state.