Capitol Hill Week February 27, 2020

Lawmakers join Governor Lee to Introduce Constitutional Carry Legislation

Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email: [email protected]

For Immediate Release: February 27, 2020

NASHVILLE -- Members of the General Assembly joined Governor Bill Lee at a press conference on Thursday to announce major legislation cracking down on criminals who steal guns or possess them illegally, while allowing law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to carry firearms without a permit. The move would make Tennessee the 17th state in the nation to pass a “constitutional carry” law.

When amended, Senate Bill 2671, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville), will allow law-abiding citizens in Tennessee who are at least 21 years old to carry a firearm without a permit, except in restricted areas. The legislation also includes increased penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:

  • Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a felony;
  • Providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car;
  • Increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days; and
  • Increasing the sentences for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.


“This legislation is about increasing freedom for law-abiding citizens and implementing harsher penalties for criminals,” said Governor Lee. “You don’t crack down on crime by penalizing law-abiding citizens. You crack down on crime by penalizing criminals,” he added.

“A big part of protecting the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens is cracking down on criminals who use guns. We will make sure those who commit crimes with firearms serve their full sentences and nothing less. Many states across the nation are moving towards permitless carry and I support the governor in this initiative,” said Lt. Governor Randy McNally.

“I applaud Governor Lee’s commitment to Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights guaranteed by our U.S. and state constitutions. This proposal will reduce barriers to ensure citizens have the ability to protect themselves and their families, while imposing stiffer penalties against criminals who possess guns illegally,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. 

“It’s time we start trusting Tennesseans with the constitutional rights that were guaranteed by our founders,” said Sen. Bell. “I am excited to be helping in this endeavor and look forward to working with my colleagues and Governor Lee in passing this legislation.”

“I appreciate Governor Lee for getting behind this effort to expand the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves,” said Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon). “The people who instituted our government believed that law-abiding citizens have this right. With rights, come responsibilities. Those who forfeit and misuse their rights will be dealt with harshly.”

Under the bill, those who carry without a permit must still meet current requirements used to determine eligibility for a permit holder. Among those eligibility requirements are that persons who carry have no felony convictions, orders of protection in effect, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, or stalking convictions.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration where it is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

Senate approves legislation to improve transportation options for Tennesseans with disabilities and the elderly

Legislation designed to improve transportation options for Tennesseans with disabilities and the elderly was approved by the Senate on Thursday. The Tennessee Accessible Transportation and Mobility Act of 2020, sponsored by Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville), creates an office within the Tennessee Department of Transportation to focus solely on expanding and improving accessible transportation across the state. It would be the first of its kind in the United States.

“Research and experiences confirm that the lack of accessible transportation is the number one barrier for people with disabilities in Tennessee and across the country for both employment and just to live fully included lives,” said Senator Massey. “This bill works to identify and remove those barriers so people with disabilities have opportunities to improve their quality of life through greater access to education, employment, health care, housing, and community life.”

Senate Bill 1612 requires the new Office for Accessible Transportation to do an assessment to identify transportation challenges in coordination with all appropriate state and local agencies. The office will consult with accessible transportation consumers and industry professionals. The office is also tasked with constructing a five-year strategic plan and will report back to the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee regarding needs for mobility and accessible transportation annually.

“A lot of Tennessee towns and the cities have good transportation, but often times they can’t cross over county lines,” added Sen. Massey. “When we get into the rural areas, it’s even harder. This assessment will help us make needed improvements so disabled and elderly citizens can be more engaged in the community and live more productive lives.”

Only 25 percent of people with disabilities are employed, many due to transportation barriers.

The legislation is pending action in the House of Representatives where it will be heard in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Judiciary Committee approves Holly Bobo Act

Legislation allowing the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to expand its missing and endangered child and young adult alert program to individuals under the age of 21 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.  Senate Bill 2464, which is sponsored by Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), is named the “Holly Bobo Act” for a 20-year-old young woman who was kidnapped from her Darden, Tennessee home and murdered in 2011. 

Currently, endangered child alerts are issued for abduction of persons under the age of 18.  

“The TBI has an effective endangered child alert system in place,” said Senator Gresham.  “When the Bureau issues an alert, they notify local media in specific regions and use social media to share the relevant information to help them locate missing persons during the most critical hours.  What this bill does is simply raises the maximum age that is eligible for that alert from 17 to 20, adding a lot of strength and urgency to the matter.” 

Gresham said the intent is to allow local law enforcement agencies the opportunity to request this alert utilizing existing protocols already in place.  The National Crime Information Center claims that 73 percent of missing persons are 20 years of age or under.  In issuing an Endangered Child Alert, which is distinct from the America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert, the TBI notifies local media in specific regions of the state about the missing person, along with any additional information which is available. 

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for final consideration. 

Legislation seeks to increase access to food for Tennesseans in need

Two bills addressing access to food for Tennesseans in need advanced in Senate Committees this week. This includes approval by the Senate Commerce Committee of the Healthy Food Financing Act, establishing a statewide program to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, specifically those located in inner cities. The bill is sponsored by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga).

According to a study by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR), 21 percent of the state’s population lives in areas considered food deserts – 15 percent in urban food deserts and 6 percent in rural food deserts. Senate Bill 1619 aims to incentivize grocery stores to locate in inner cities by establishing the Healthy Foods Financing Fund. The fund would offer state, federal and private grants and loans, as well as federal tax cuts and other forms of financial assistance, to construct, rehabilitate, or expand grocery stores in underserved communities.

In order to qualify for the program, an applicant must meet certain guidelines. These include allocating at least 30 percent of food retail space for the sale of perishable goods, promoting the hiring of local residents, and demonstrating the capacity to successfully implement the project with the likelihood it will be economically self-sustaining.

“I’ve met with many large chain grocery stores,” said Gardenhire. “They simply do not find it profitable to go into inner city neighborhoods for a myriad of reasons, which is why these incentives are needed. The citizens in these neighborhoods have to rely on public transportation to get to a grocery store. This is a problem for many residents because a lot public transportation does not run after 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. We are trying to alleviate a major problem in our inner cities where food deserts absolutely exist.”

The second bill clarifies Tennessee’s laws regarding donations to encourage companies and organizations to donate healthy food that would otherwise go to waste. A large portion of uneaten food is wholesome and safe for consumption and can be donated to citizens who suffer from food insecurity. However, Tennessee’s current laws have created uncertainty regarding donor liability for food donations.

Senate Bill 2154, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington), aligns Tennessee’s donor liability protection standard with the federal standard of gross negligence. It explicitly allows liability protection for the donation of past-date foods and extends liability protection to individuals and organizations that donate directly to individuals for personal use, as long as the food is apparently wholesome and fit for human consumption at the time of distribution. Donated food must also meet the standards of the Tennessee Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

“The goal of this bill is to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals, which in turn reduces unnecessary waste in our landfills,” said Senator Paul Rose. “We must address food insecurity in Tennessee and this legislation is a step in the right direction to accomplish that goal.”

According to a study from Feeding America, one in seven Tennesseans, and one in five children, is considered food insecure. Over 40 percent of all food produced in the United States goes to waste, of which 98 percent goes to landfills.

In other news…..

Legislation protects the confidentiality of communications of sexual and domestic violence victims so they will seek needed services -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) advanced legislation this week protecting the confidentiality of communications between a victim of rape, human trafficking, or domestic abuse and their sexual violence advocate or counselor. Senate Bill 2742 encourages victims to seek needed services in a safe environment by making communications between victims and advocates who specialize in victim assistance subject to confidential privilege from any judicial, legislative, or administrative proceedings. The confidentiality would apply unless the victim waives this right through written permission.  

Thirty-seven states already protect certain communications from disclosure in court.   The expansion to volunteer advocates and employees of domestic violence shelters, crisis lines or victim’s services centers allows protection outside of the traditional patient-psychotherapist relationship that may not be an accessible or affordable option to many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Such action reinforces the long-standing ethical duty to protect a survivor’s control over personal information.

The bill now moves from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor for final consideration.

Bill allowing counties without regional planning commission to open or close roads comes to Senate floor— The full Senate approved legislation this week allowing 25 Tennessee counties without a Regional Planning Council to create a committee that can open, change or close certain roads in that county. Senate Bill 1734 allows the local county commission, by a two-thirds vote, to set up a five-member committee of the commissioners to only hear opening, changing and closing of roads. The proposal is sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).

Legislation to ban convicted animal abusers from owning pets for two years approved by Senate — Final approval was given to legislation this week which bans some convicted animal abusers from owning any pets again. Senate Bill 1747, sponsored by Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), prohibits individuals convicted of some of the worst offenses against animals from owning companion animals for at least two years from the date of conviction and may impose a lifetime prohibition. Upon a subsequent offense, the court shall prohibit the individual from having custody of any companion animal for the person’s lifetime. The measure builds on a 2015 law that created the Tennessee Animal Abuse Registry, the first ever animal abuse registry in the nation.

Legislation requires creation of a bank of possible TCAP questions to help teachers prepare their students — Legislation giving teachers more tools to help them prepare their students for end-of-year assessments has received final Senate approval. Senate Bill 1946, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), requires the Department of Education (DOE) to release a bank of possible Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) questions to local education agencies (LEAs) that are aligned to the current assessments. “This bank of questions will allow teachers to know what to expect on the TCAPs going forward,” said Sen. Hensley.

The bill requires the DOE commissioner to begin developing the question bank no later than July 1, 2020.

Raw Milk Safety / Cow Share Programs -- The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved legislation this week which encourages farmers who produce raw milk to complete a safe milk-handling course to help ensure health and safety for consumers.  The bill is sponsored by Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville).

Presently, only commercial dairies produce pasteurized milk, while small farmers are allowed to produce raw milk for themselves and their herd co-owners. Cow share programs involve a contractual agreement between a farmer and livestock shareholders through which a person is able to obtain raw milk.   

Senate Bill 1123 provides that when a farmer producing raw milk completes a brief University of Tennessee Ag Extension course in safe milk production, they can participate in the cooperative agriculture extension fund. It also provides that to operate in a herd-share program, farmers must maintain the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all partial owners; as well as, maintain a transaction log. The contract must include a warning label regarding consumption of raw foods. If contamination occurs, the farm owner would be required to allow the Department of Health to access the farm within 24 hours to investigate and partial owners must be notified.

Resolution asks Major League Baseball not to break ties with Tennessee’s Minor League teams -- The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee has approved a resolution urging Major League Baseball to maintain affiliation will all current Minor League Baseball teams. Senate Joint Resolution 889 officially expresses the state’s concerns about the effects of cutting ties with Minor League teams on its communities. It is sponsored by Senators Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) and Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City).

The action comes after part of a renegotiated Professional Baseball Agreement proposed severing ties with forty-two minor league teams, including the Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals, Kingsport Mets, Chattanooga Lookouts and Jackson Generals in Tennessee. The resolution references the impact such a move would have in damaging fan loyalty and limiting opportunities for talented athletes to achieve success as professionals, as well as its negative effects on local communities. Crowe and Lundberg also signed a letter to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred urging Major League Baseball to save the minor league teams.  

Bill to make money transmitting safer goes to the Senate floor -- The Senate has approved legislation to make money transmitting safer in the digital age by changing and updating provisions in Tennessee’s Money Transmitter Act of 1994. Senate Bill 2166, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), redefines a key shareholder of a money transmitting entity to include persons owning 10 percent or more of the applicants stock, rather than the 25 percent previously. The bill also authorizes the commissioner to require money transmitters to submit quarterly reports to the multi-state automated licensing system. In addition, the legislation authorizes the commissioner to require a criminal records check and finger print sample from executive officers, key shareholders or the director of the applicant as well as any other individual associated with the applicant as reasonably necessary. The measure is pending final action in the House of Representatives.

Resolution honors Senator Lamar Alexander upon his retirement from the U.S. Senate -- On Monday, the full Senate honored U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander with a resolution commending him for “his lifetime of exemplary service to the State of Tennessee.” House Joint Resolution 836, sponsored by Senator Art Swann (R-Maryville), lists the numerous offices Alexander has held since being elected governor in 1978. This includes President of the University of Tennessee; U.S. Secretary of Education; Chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Alexander has served in the U.S. Senate for 18 years.

ECD Commissioner talks about New Jobs Report Card and efforts to expand broadband -- Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe appeared before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this week where he presented his department’s New Jobs Report Card for 2019. Last year, Tennessee secured 104 new projects, yielding a commitment of over 14,300 jobs and representing $3.3 billion in capital expenditures. Approximately 4,400 of these new job commitments were from foreign-owned businesses who directly invested $1.4 billion for 34 projects.

Rolfe also talked about the state’s Broadband Accessibility Grants which were distributed through his department in 2019. Since 2018, TNECD has awarded more than $25 million in broadband accessibility grants to support projects within 30 Tennessee counties. The department anticipates announcing nearly $20 million worth of additional broadband grants this spring.

The department announced on Thursday that Tennessee’s broadband initiatives are highlighted in a new report released this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The report, ‘How States are Expanding Broadband Access,’ features best practices from nine states that are developing leading broadband programs to address critical connectivity gaps in their communities.

Tennessee’s best practices include the Department of Economic and Community Development’s broadband accessibility grant program; the broadband adoption program; a partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives to fund digital literacy instruction; and the change in legislation that permits electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband. 

Lawmakers are considering increasing broadband accessibility through an additional $25 million investment as part of the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. This would add to the significant investments phased in over the past four years.

Legislation to promote tourism and agritourism advances in Senate – As Tennessee’s tourism industry continues to outpace the nation, the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means’ Revenue Subcommittee advanced legislation to continue that positive trend, especially in the state’s rural and distressed counties. In 2010, the General Assembly adopted the Adventure Tourism and Rural Development Act as a way to promote adventure tourism through tax credits and enhance the economies in rural counties where many adventure tourism districts are located. However, the requirements to access these tax credits have been too high for many potential projects.

Senate Bill 1810, sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), boosts these efforts by lowering the investment and job-producing requirements adventure tourism outfits must meet to receive Franchise and Excise (F&E) tax credits. The legislation lowers the necessary real estate investment from $500,000 to $100,000. For middle-income counties, the job creation requirement per project would also be lowered from 13 to 10 full time jobs or from 26 to 20 part time jobs. In lower-income counties, the job creation requirement would be lowered from 10 to 5 full time jobs or from 20 to 10 part time jobs. These adjustments aim to encourage further economic development in adventure tourism, specifically in rural and distressed counties where some of Tennessee’s most beautiful destinations are located.

In similar action, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to add protections for owners of agritourism businesses. Agritourism is a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates supplemental income for the owner. It is a big part of Tennessee’s tourism industry and can include activities such as pumpkin patches, corn mazes, petting zoos, and weddings.  Senate Bill 2423, sponsored by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), ensures that an owner of an agritourism business is not liable for damage of a participant’s property caused by inherent risks of agritourism activities. Farms and agritourism operate under unique circumstances and require immunity from liability to protect agritourism professionals.

Bill to expand Health Care Empowerment Act to all medical professionals passes Senate committee -- The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted this week to expand Tennessee’s Health Care Empowerment Act to allow all licensed medical professionals, instead of only physicians, to use direct medical care agreements without regulation by the insurance laws of this state. The bill is sponsored by Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).

The Health Care Empowerment Act is designed to give healthcare consumers who are struggling to pay the increasing costs of premiums or who have been priced out of the market, an affordable option to contract directly with their physician for primary care services. Senate Bill 2317 holds that a person seeking medical care outside of an insurance plan, TennCare or Medicare programs and chooses to pay out of pocket, does not forfeit their coverage plan. The bill passed 7-0 and now moves to the full Senate for a final vote.

Legislation creates new judicial district for Tennessee -- The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Thursday creating a new judicial district in Tennessee. Senate Bill 561, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), adds District 32 to the state’s judicial districts, serving the citizens of Hickman, Lewis, and Perry Counties. Currently, the counties are comprised in the 21st district, along with Williamson County. The measure allows Williamson County to become its own standalone judicial district.

Action on the bill follows recommendations made by the Advisory Task Force on Composition of Judicial Districts which was created by lawmakers in 2018 to increase resources to the state’s judicial system.   The 32nd Judicial District will allow for more specialized legal attention to better address the unique needs of citizens in these counties by reducing the backlog of court cases currently on the books because of exponential growth.

The measure now goes to Governor Bill Lee for his signature.

Bill to give state of Tennessee the power to inspect meat and poultry moves to Senate Finance Committee—Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) introduced Senate Bill 2050 to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday. The legislation revises the state meat and poultry inspection program to enable the state to operate the program instead of the federal government.

“I think the long range of the effect of this bill could be greater than anything we’ve ever done,” said Niceley. He touted support from the governor and other officials on the legislation. The bill passed 7-2 and will now move on to the Senate Finance Committee. 

Sen. Niceley calls for labeling meat and poultry products produced in the state as Tennessee Raised -- The Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee approved legislation this week which calls for labeling meat produced in the state as ‘Tennessee raised.’ The bill is sponsored by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains). Niceley said, “When you buy local meat the money stays in your community.” He says that right now there is a big push among state residents to buy local produce and meats, and that buying local has many economic benefits to the community.

The federal government repealed the Country of Origin Labeling Act (COOL Act) and replaced it with labeling meat as a ‘product of the USA.’ Sen. Niceley says this means the meat may come from any country in the world but as long as it is repackaged in the United States it would be allowed to have that label. Senate Bill 2049, which received unanimous approval, now moves to the Senate floor for final consideration.

Bill strengthening penalties for traffic ticket quotas approved by Senate Judiciary Committee -- Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) advanced Senate Bill 2458 through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday strengthening penalties for public officials to set traffic ticket quotas. The bill makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a public official to set a traffic ticket quota for their municipality, subject to a $500 fine. The bill adds to a 2010 law sponsored by Congressman Tim Burchett, a former state senator who currently represents Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District, which made the crime illegal.

Lee administration is working daily to prepare for potential coronavirus cases in Tennessee -- On Thursday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee addressed how his administration is preparing for a potential coronavirus outbreak in Tennessee. “The most important thing we can do is be prepared,” said Lee.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey is working to develop a coordinated response with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and other local, statewide and federal agencies. Gov. Lee says he met with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials during a trip to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago and his administration interacts daily with health and federal officials. He also stressed his administration will be transparent in reporting any cases if or when one is diagnosed in the state.

Currently there have been 14 Americans that have tested positive for the coronavirus according to the CDC. Of those testing positive, 12 were related to travel and two have been spread by person-to-person transmission. The Lee administration has scheduled a meeting this week to bring local, state, and federal teams together to continue developing a plan and strategy to be prepared.

Legislation imposes minimum fine in domestic assault cases – Legislation to impose a minimum fine of $100 in domestic assault cases passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Currently, the law provides that in domestic assault cases a court may order a defendant to pay a maximum fine of $200 if the court determines the defendant possesses the ability to pay a fine. Senate Bill 2330, sponsored by Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro), maintains the maximum $200 fine and adds a floor of $100.  The goal of this legislation is to ensure this fine is uniform across the state. 

Legislation seeks to support veterans in crisis -- Legislation seeking to support and protect Tennessee veterans was given final approval in the Senate on Thursday. Senate Bill 673, sponsored by Senator Briggs (R- Knoxville), requires the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) to provide training in suicide prevention to their employees who directly interact with veterans. The training is available free of charge to DVS through suicide prevention networks. The measure now goes to Governor Lee for his signature before becoming law.

Sen. Reeves calls for more accepted alternative pain treatments to opioids — Legislation encouraging the use of more alternative pain treatments rather than opioids has been approved by the full Senate on final consideration.   Senate Bill 1912, sponsored by Senator Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro), amends the state’s opioid reform legislation to include medical devices like pain pumps, spinal cord stimulators, occupational therapy and non-opioid medicinal drugs as non-opioid based alternative therapies for chronic pain. This legislation adds to a new 2019 law sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), calling for chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other treatments to be encouraged for pain relief before opioids are dispensed. Both measures are part of an ongoing effort in Tennessee to provide alternative pathways to treat pain in order to curb opioid addiction, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Tennesseans.

Bill to clarify organized crime retail law passes Senate Judiciary Committee—Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) won approval of Senate Bill 1943 in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The legislation clarifies previous organized retail crime legislation to now include that the illegal purchase of merchandise or stored value cards may be made by physical or electronic means.

Briggs said under current legislation, “The offense of organized retail crime includes an individual that acts in concert with one or more individuals to commit theft of any merchandise with a value greater than $1,000 aggregated over a 90 day period with the intent to fraudulently return the material to retail merchant.”

The bill passed 9-0 and moves forward to the full Senate for final consideration.

Senate committee votes to support rural ambulance providers -- The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted this week to continue the state’s Ground Ambulance Service Provider Assessment Act. Senate Bill 2078, sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), allows Tennessee to continue drawing essential federal funds to help ambulance services transport patients. Many of rural ambulance services have a difficult time staying in the black on current operating revenue. The assessment sets a mechanism in place for cash-strapped Tennessee ambulance services to generate needed additional revenue. It is modeled after the successful Hospital Assessment Act which has prevented catastrophic TennCare cuts and is supported by the State Ambulance Service Association.