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State Public Policy and Legislative Priorities

At the state level, the Council tracks and provides education about proposed state legislation and policy changes that would affect Tennesseans with disabilities and their families. 

You can visit the TN General Assembly website to search for specific bills.

The 111th General Assembly convened on January 8, 2019. The Council typically focuses its energies on 1-3 top priority bills, while also tracking a number of relevant disability-related legislation and policy proposals.  Keep up to date by subscribing to the Council’s Weekly Policy Newsletter.

Priority bills tracked in 2018

PASSED: Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act (SB264 / HB941)

What is Supported Decision-Making (SDM)?

Supported Decision-Making is a tool that allows people with disabilities to keep their decision-making capacity by choosing trusted people that they know that can support them in making choices. This may be through an informal arrangement by which the person consults with trusted family and friends, or through more formal arrangements like Financial Powers of Attorney or Health Care Directives that designate a person who can view records with the person and help make decisions in certain areas.

The key to Supported Decision-Making is that support should target only the areas the person needs assistance in making choices (usually, financial and/or medical decisions); the person’s rights to make as many of their own decisions as possible is paramount.

The Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act (SB 264 / HB 941) has been amended several times in response to feedback from a broad array of stakeholders including lawyers, judges, individuals & families, and disability advocates. The final bill adds to current law related to conservatorship, which is designed to assist people who cannot make decisions, states that the courts must "ascertain and impose the least restrictive alternative upon a person with a disability." This new law will add a new definition to current law stating that "least restrictive alternatives" means techniques and processes that preserve as many decision-making rights as possible for the person with a disability. That concept is known as Supported Decision Making (SDM).

Read more about Supported Decision Making here on our SDM resource page.

3 photos with accompanying blocks of text: 1) about a dozen disability advocates, self-advocates and Sen. Becky Massey at the Sept. 2016 summer study hearing for the supported decision making legislation posing for a group photo at the legislature; beside the photo it says “Supported Decision Making”, under the Council logo; 2) text reads: On April 2, 2018, Gov. Bill Haslam signed SB264/HB941, Tennessee’s supported decision making legislation. Photo shows Council Policy Director Lauren Pearcy, Council Executive Director Wanda Willis and Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities staff Theresa Sloan seated at a desk with microphones, testifying at a legislative committee hearing about supported decision making; 3) final photo shows about a dozen adults who are members of the Council’s Employment Roundtable, along with national expert Jonathan Martinis; text reads: “We are proud to have worked with the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) & Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) and a workgroup of 8 disability organizations on bringing this topic to TN. We will continue working together to educate Tennesseans about how to use Supported Decision Making.”]
group of about 15 adults sitting around a conference room posing for a photo

Priority bills passed last year (2017)

The 2017 session of the 110th General Assembly adjourned on Wed., May 10, 2017.

​​PASSED: TN Council on Autism (SB1390/ HB1206)

This bill established the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder within the Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is an appointed member of the Autism Council. It was signed by Gov. Haslam in April 2017 and held its first meeting Oct. 2017. See meeting minutes and a list of members on the Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website here.

PASSED: Supporting Businesses Owners with Disabilities (SB 1224 / HB 1276)

As enacted, the bill adds "businesses owned by persons with disabilities" to the state's existing business diversity program, known as the "Governors Office of Diversity Business Enterprise" (Go-DBE). Go-DBE is the central point of contact to attract and assist business enterprises interested in competing in State of Tennessee procurement and contracting activities.

Other state resources on public policy