NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A bill to dismantle an independent child welfare reporting agency in Tennessee appears to be dead in the water, state legislators said on Monday.
Senate Bill 0282, filed by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), was put forward originally as a placeholder bill with reportedly little effect on the bill’s target: the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY).
Just days before the bill’s discussion in committee, however, an amendment was added that effectively dissolved the commission and distributed its responsibilities throughout state offices. Johnson’s office said the legislation was an administration bill filed on behalf of Governor Bill Lee (R). You can find the full document below:
According to Sen. Johnson, that bill will not be heading anywhere soon.
“There is no plan to move Senate Bill 282 forward this year,” a statement from Johnson’s office said. “However, this legislation is initiating important discussions that highlight issues the Legislature has long had with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, which largely stem from the Commission’s lack of accountability to taxpayers through the legislative oversight process. Under the oversight process, lawmakers – who directly represent taxpayers – have the authority to ensure government organizations are efficient, effective and responsible with tax dollars.”
Under the current Tennessee code, the commission was set to dissolve in 2024 unless renewed by the legislature after sunset hearings. TCCY policy specialist Kylie Graves previously told WATE’s sister station, News Channel 11, that the commission had received spotless audit results from the state comptroller’s office and passed through several sunset hearings in the past.
“Criticism of the efficiency of TCCY is not in conflict with our commitment to care for Tennessee children,” Johnson said. “This legislative session we are focused on improving the lives of children and families, including investing an additional $190 million in DCS. I look forward to continue discussions on ways to maximize services that directly improve the lives of children, while also maintain Tennessee’s principles of fiscal responsibility and government efficiency.”
News Channel 11 has also reached out to the sponsor of the bill’s House counterpart, Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland), for comment. The bill is set for discussion in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday and the House Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee on Tuesday.