House approves 10 official state books

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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The House chamber last week approved legislation naming the first 10 official state books for Tennessee.

House Bill 1828, sponsored by State Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, highlights a collection of fiction and nonfiction works that are significant to the Volunteer State and its history.

“We’ve got state songs, state poems, state reptiles, but we have no official books,” Bulso said. “What we are doing (is recognizing) the rich cultural, literary and political heritage of our state dating all the way back to its beginning on June 1, 1796.”

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The list includes:

“Farewell Address to the American People” by George Washington (1796)

“The Papers of Andrew Jackson”

“Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville (1835, 1840)

“All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren (1947)

“A Death in the Family” by James Agee (1958”

“Roots” by Alex Haley (1977)

“The Civil War: A Narrative” by Shelby Foote (1958-1974)

“American Lion” by Jon Meacham (2009)

“Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton (2016)


The Tennessee House of Representativeshas approved Republican legislation to increase protections for those targeted by threats of violence.

House Bill 1625, also known as the Duty to Warn Act, requires mental health professionals and behavior analysts in Tennessee to inform local law enforcement if a patient makes an imminent threat to harm a specific individual or clearly identified group. Threats that are more general in nature must be reported to either the 988 Lifeline or a local crisis response service.

“This will strengthen duty to warn, provide some clarity and ensure that mental health practitioners do not have to call law enforcement when a patient makes a threat to them,” said bill sponsor State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville.

The legislation includes protections from civil, criminal and disciplinary penalties for mental health professionals and behavior analysts who make reasonable attempts to comply with the law. The companion version of House Bill 1625 is still advancing through the Senate.


A proposal to expand the availability of Safe Haven Baby Boxes for newborns in Tennessee has advanced in the House.

House Bill 2067, introduced by State Rep. Ed Butler, R-Rickman, would require the Department of Children’s Services to issue grants to counties for the installation of newborn safety devices while House Bill 1922 would add assisted living facilities, nursing homes and emergency communications centers to the list of approved locations for the devices.

The legislation will expand “the opportunity for a woman to safely give up her baby, whether it’s at a Safe Haven Baby Box or whether it’s at a safe haven location,” Butler said, adding the intent is to “save babies’ lives.”

Since 2001, Tennessee’s Safe Haven law has allowed mothers in certain cases to surrender their newborn without fear of being prosecuted. The child must be no more than 14 days old, unharmed and left voluntarily.

The General Assembly previously approved legislation in 2022 that expands the state’s safe haven law by allowing for the installation of Safe Haven Baby Boxes at police and fire stations in Tennessee.

House Bill 2067 is scheduled to be heard in the Civil Justice Committee on Feb. 28 while House Bill 1922 is scheduled to be heard in the Health Committee on the same day.


The House Health Subcommittee has advanced Republican legislation aimed at increasing the availability of publicly available adult-sized changing tables in Tennessee.

House Bill 2690, sponsored by State Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, would allow the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to increase grant amounts from $5,000 to $10,000 to support the installation of powered, height-adjustable, adult-sized changing tables in public restrooms statewide.

“We’ve worked through the appropriation process… but we had to have something in legislation that could authorize the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to be able to handle those funds and get those grants out into the public,” Doggett said Tuesday.

The legislation also allows for the creation of an ad-hoc committee to advise and assist with grant applications.

The General Assembly in 2022 allocated $1 million in state funding to expand the availability of adult-sized changing tables in public restrooms in Tennessee. House Bill 2690 is scheduled to be heard in the Health Committee on Feb. 28.


Legislation to ensure an automatic electronic defibrillator (AED) is easily accessible during high school sporting events advanced out of the House K-12 Subcommittee this week.

The Smart Heart Act, sponsored by State Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, would require public and nonpublic schools that serve grades nine through 12 to have an AED accessible during the school day as well as during athletic activities students participate in at the school.

“We’ve already done something on this with our high schools,” Cepicky said Tuesday about the proposed legislation. “This further brings that into our sports facilities, making sure that we have the quick response time in case a heart would stop on one of our athletes we can have an automatic electronic defibrillator there within three minutes to save the life of that student.”

The legislation would require districts to develop a cardiac emergency response plan as well as an athletics emergency action plan for when a student suffers a serious or life-threatening injury while participating in school youth athletic activities. Coaches and school athletic directors must also have annual training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid and how to properly use an AED. House Bill 2251 is scheduled to be heard in the Education Administration Committee on Feb. 28.

(Rep. John Holsclaw represents Carter County in the Tennessee House)