110th Tennessee General Assembly 

The Tennessee General Assembly is in Session. We are monitoring hundreds of bills. We will highlight bills of particular interest to counselors and the practice of counseling across all work settings. 

 

To help you with your phone calls and meetings with your legislators, we have put together some resources. Find your legislator here.

SB771/HB888: UPDATE: Failed in Senate Education Committee

3/22/17
After being deferred in the House Education & Administration Planning Subcommittee, the “bathroom bill” was brought back up in the Senate Education Committee. When the bill was brought up, no other committee member would second it, killing the bill on the spot. If your legislator is on the Senate Education Committee, call and thank him or her for the great insight.

SB211/HB709: Tennessee Public Safety Behavioral Health Act

3/22/17 
For weeks we have negotiated with the sponsor, lobbyist and association who wrote and promote the Tennessee Public Safety Behavioral Health Act to ensure properly trained mental health providers for those serving public safety employees and the acute traumas they experience. It has been an honor to help make sure our first responders get the care they need and deserve. More to come on this bill. 

SB1: UPDATE: Senator Johnson Takes SB0001 Off Notice

2/8/17
In a press conference at the Tennessee State Capitol this afternoon, Senator Jack Johnson (R-Williamson) announced he would not be pursuing passage of SB0001 and has opted instead to support legislation filed by Senator Mike Bell (R-Bradley) designed to require all organizations governed by licensure boards to utilize the same processes for the adoption of professional ethics. At this time we are reviewing the proposed legislation and will be working with representatives of other professions to evaluate the new legislation. 

Our TCA team worked hard behind the scenes to protect counselors from being singled out by SB0001 and to maintain our opposition to overreach into our professional ethics. Our fellow members made sure your elected Senators and Representatives heard your opposition. 

We plan to continue fighting legislation that harms the integrity of our professional ethics and supporting the bills that allow the best possible service of the counseling profession. Our members, colleagues and clients we serve deserve nothing less. 

Resources: 
Video of the Tennessee Licensing Board. You will garner an understanding of the Board’s position, in addition to a variety of viewpoints from counselors who spoke. All counselors were against the bill. Click here.
TCA – Talking Points SB1
One Counselor’s Reflection on SB1: Position Paper on SB0001

SB4:
1. TCA – Talking Points for SB4 – Talking Points SB4
2. One Counselor’s Reflection on SB4: PublicSchoolCounselorSB4
3. Why do we need Social Emotional Learning – we think these facts speak to how important it is in Tennessee. Perhaps this will get your legislators attention. Social Emotional TN Facts

Veterans' Mental Health Advocacy

TMHCA is joining other licensed clinicians in Tennessee let’s take the lead nationally in stepping up to solve this alarming crisis of veterans’ mental health care in our country.  We are creating a website that will give veterans a place to locate licensed clinical counselors who have graciously agreed to be part of the solution. 

Our profession is impacted at local, state and federal levels. We represent the voice of Tennessee counselors at each of those levels. Stay up to date with how you can affect public policy.
Just like the rest of our work, it all starts with the Relationship. Get to know your elected officials. Download the GoVoteTN app to find out who your elected officials are, who is on upcoming ballots and voter information. Your officials represent you. Make sure you let them know what you think, what you care about.

Local Initiatives

  • School Boards
  • City Councils

State Initiatives

  • Find My Representative
  • Department of Education
  • Upcoming Legislation
  • Board of Licensed Professional Counselors

Federal Initiatives

  • Medicare Coverage for LPCs & LMFTs
  • School Counselors & ESSA
  • Tricare Reimbursement

National Initiatives

  • LPC License Portability
  • ASCA National Standards
  • Coaching Standardization

Ways to Effectively Affect Public Policy

  1. It starts with a relationship.
    Get to know your officials. They can only represent you if they know you and what you stand for. Call them, visit them while they are at home in their districts, attend their functions and invite them to your functions. A school or facility tour will help them understand the work you do and the environment you work in better.
  2. Visit, Call, Email, in that order.
    When something is up for debate, let your representative know what you think about it. Visits are best, but if you can’t make it in person, a phone call works well, too. Emails are much less effective, but better than nothing.
  3. Vote.
    Make sure that you are actively engaged in selecting our representatives. Make sure your representatives know that you are actively engaged. It matters that they see you as someone who is informed and is active.
  4. Be Polite.
    When we passionately disagree with people, it can be easy to forget to be polite. In fact, in the current political climate, being polite is often viewed negatively. That does not change the fact that we are counselors and we value the dignity of all humans and we should behave accordingly – even when we passionately disagree.

One Counselor’s Story of Advocacy: SB341/HB720

Tracy Cagle School Counselor, Retired

Our very own, Tracy Cagle, retired school counselor in Knox County, was tired of not being able to help her students get the additional mental health care they needed. As a school counselor, she would hear from teachers and see first hand a student struggling in ways that were not related to special education needs, but serious. Because of prior lawsuits resulting in referrals from school staff requiring schools pay for mental health care, many districts do not allow school counselors to refer to mental health providers unless it is educationally significant. Tracy knew we can do better than that for our students. School counselors serve an important role in the continuum of mental health and emotional wellbeing. By seeing risk factors and early emergence of emotional suffering, they can facilitate the proper care and help prevent the emergence of serious mental and behavioral health conditions. 

With this in mind, Tracy worked with Senator Frank Niceley (R-Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union Counties), Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-part of Shelby Co.) and our TCA Lobbyist, Chris Ford, to craft bi-partisan legislation that allows for proper referrals to mental health services without disrupting educational and other services in place in schools.

TCA is proud to have members like Tracy who take a proactive approach to promoting counseling in Tennessee! 

Additional Legislation to Watch

Tennessee Counseling Association Opposes SB771/HB888

The sensitive issues surrounding transgender students, including which bathroom and locker room should be used, are best left up to the local school districts those students in which students reside. TCA opposes a statewide mandate that determines which bathrooms students should use. Our membership includes school counselors and mental health counselors, both of which address the complexity of gender in the school system. We support local school districts making the best decisions for their students in concert with the students and parents based on the unique qualities of each student’s circumstances.

Tennessee Counseling Association Supports SB669/HB1209

Despite long standing attempts to dissuade drug use through the criminal justice system, the rates of drug use and addiction and the result of death continues to increase. Attempts to curb drug use through arresting people who use drugs has not been successful. By separating the medical care for overdose from arresting someone for possession, it maintains clear boundaries between law enforcement and medical care. This bill will help curb the ever-rising death rate from addiction, as people will be willing to seek medical care in cases of overdose. The addiction epidemic cannot be solved through the criminal justice system. Medical care and behavioral health treatment are the pathways for people who are addicted to recover.

Tennessee Counseling Association Supports SB884/HB919 

Domestic Violence affects families in many ways, perpetuating violence, abuse, trauma and instability. It must be addressed effectively. We have seen drug court and mental health court have positive impacts on people who are diverted from the general criminal justice system to these specialized programs. It is our hope that we can apply the lessons learned in how to effectively address complex problems through these specialized courts. The value a domestic violence court has is in its ability to tie accountability to treatment, rather than punishment. Our state has much to gain from effectively addressing domestic violence through consistent oversight, access to treatment for those affected, and accountability for those working toward treating the roots of their violence behaviors and learning new ways of interacting within families and relationships.