News from the state of Tennessee

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By: State Senator Page Walley

Supporting firefighters suffering from PTSD

Among many important bills we are advancing in the Senate is a proposal that seeks to reduce stigma and provide support for firefighters following a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. The measure was unanimously passed in our Commerce and Labor committee.
The bill allows firefighters diagnosed with PTSD as a result of their service to receive resources through their workers’ compensation benefits plan. It also establishes a grant program to mitigate the cost to an employer providing worker’s compensation for firefighters diagnosed with PTSD. In order to qualify for the grant, employers must provide mental health awareness training as part of their continuing education program.
The most significant threat to firefighters in Tennessee is suicide, which far exceeds the number of deaths while responding, and research has confirmed that unresolved PTSD is the root cause. Reducing the stigma and removing barriers to early care will make for cheaper claims, healthier firefighters and safer communities.
Prohibiting implicit bias training requirements in schools
A bill that prohibits school districts, public charter schools and public institutions of higher education from requiring employees to take implicit bias training passed the Education Committee. It also prohibits adverse employment actions from being taken against employees who refuse to participate in the training. The bill defines “implicit bias training” as a training or educational program designed to expose an individual to biases that the training’s developer presumes the individual to unconsciously, subconsciously, or unintentionally possess. As defined in the bill, implicit bias training predisposes the individual to be unfairly prejudiced in favor of or against a person or group and seeks to adjust the individual’s patterns of thinking in order to eliminate the individual’s unconscious bias or prejudice. Employment at Tennessee education institutions should not be contingent on a training program that presumes them to be racist or biased. Expanding virtual programs at schools
My bill which allows a school district that has an established virtual school to enter an agreement with a school district that doesn’t have one. The virtual school may provide remote instruction to students enrolled in either school district who have been suspended or expelled from the regular school program. This legislation would be especially useful in our rural counties.
I want to hear from you.
I also want to invite everyone to participate in a telephone townhall with me on March 14 at 6 p.m. During this event, I will be taking questions from callers about issues before us in the General Assembly. If you would like to participate please call 855-269-4484 at the start of the event.
If you need to contact me for any reason please email me at or call my office at 615-741-2368. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your state senator.

Conserving Tennessee’s natural resources and maintaining freedom

Our Senate is in full swing. We are passing legislation on the Senate floor and advancing many bills through committees to ensure Tennessee remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. Last week, our Senate committees completed their first of five weeks of budget hearings and heard budget proposals from 18 different state departments and agencies.
One of Gov. Lee’s legislative priorities to conserve Tennessee’s natural resources and environment passed in our Energy and Ag Committee last week. I am a cosponsor of this bill which would establish a grant fund and tax incentives to clean up contaminated brownfield properties across rural Tennessee, including several in our district.
Legislation to protect vulnerable citizens also advanced in the Senate. Senate Republicans approved legislation to protect children from harmful and irreversible medical procedures to change their gender identity. We also passed other legislation in committees to crack down on child predators and engage businesses in human trafficking training and awareness.
Protecting the freedom to cook
Our State and Local Government Committee voted to advance my bill which protects the ability of Tennesseans to choose the type of appliances they use in their homes. Senate Bill 367 is in response to the federal government expressing interest in discontinuing or restricting the use of home appliances that run on natural gas, such as gas stoves. The legislation would prohibit local governments from banning, based on energy source, the type of appliances used by citizens in their homes.
Safeguarding citizens from government overreach regarding COVID-19
Our Senate made permanent several laws passed during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect citizens from government overreach and provide businesses and health care providers with liability protections from health-related claims. By making these laws permanent, lawmakers ensure that state and local governments cannot require COVID-19 vaccine mandates and that statewide standards are met before local governments can issue mask mandates in public and in schools. Among other things, it also guarantees a person hospitalized can be accompanied by a family member during their stay.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your state senator. I am working hard in Nashville to serve you. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you in any way at 615-741-2368 or

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The Chester County Independent is a weekly newspaper, published on Thursdays, serving Chester County, Tennessee.

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