Abortion, Highways Among Bills Filed by DeKalb State Lawmakers

February 15, 2017

With the filing deadline passed, the three state lawmakers that represent DeKalb County have numerous bills up for consideration by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) have jointly filed a bill in the respective chambers that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to preserve the life and health of the mother.

Generally under present law, if all other requirements for a lawful abortion are met, an abortion may be performed as follows:

(1) During the first three months of pregnancy, if the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage is performed with the pregnant woman's consent and pursuant to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician;

(2) After three months, but before viability of the fetus, if the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage is performed with the pregnant woman's consent, by the pregnant woman's attending physician, pursuant to the attending physician's medical judgment; or

(3) During viability of the fetus, if the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage is performed with the pregnant woman's consent and by the pregnant woman's attending physician, in a hospital; and if, prior to the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage the physician has certified in writing to the hospital in which the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage is to be performed, that the abortion or attempt to procure a miscarriage is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

This bill revises the above provisions to make the provisions in (2) applicable "after three months, but before 20 weeks or viability of the fetus" and to make (3) applicable to abortions performed "after 20 weeks or during viability," so that under this bill abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy will be allowed only when necessary to preserve the life or health of the pregnant woman.

The two have also filed legislation that would authorize county road superintendents to expend state-aid funds for roads that are not part of the state-aid highway system.

Present law authorizes the commissioner of transportation to designate highways and roads for the state-aid highway system. The local authorities having authority over the selected highways and roads submit an annual program to the department specifying the type of work to be performed, including the planning, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, improvement, and rehabilitation of roads and bridges. With the commissioner's approval, funds are allocated to the local agencies and expended on the designated highways and roads. No funds will be either obligated or expended unless the local agency agrees to match the proposed expenditures in an amount of 25 percent.

Present law additionally authorizes, until July 1, 2017, a county with remaining funds to use the unexpended balance, in whole or in part, to provide a portion of the local agency share; however, the county must provide at least 2 percent of the approved project costs from county funds or in-kind project work approved by the commissioner, or both. The county must initiate the project during the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Under this bill, once the local governments within a county have addressed the project priorities established by the commissioner, the county road superintendent or other similar highway official may expend funds allocated for the state-aid highway system for other roadway purposes, including other roads and highways that are not part of the state-aid highway system. The commissioner's approval will not be required for the expenditure, and no conditions will be imposed by the commissioner in conjuncture with the expenditure.

Senator Beavers and Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) have filed a measure that would require students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students' birth certificates.

The two have also filed bills that would enact the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act," which states the policy of Tennessee to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

Rep. Pody is also co-sponsoring a bill that prohibits state employees from lobbying for 12 months following departure from office or employment.

All the bills sponsored or co-sponsored by the three lawmakers can be found at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/.

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