Controversial bills advance quickly in the Tennessee Legislature

Feb 27, 2019

Rep. Micah Van Huss and Rep. Barbara Cooper

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Several controversial bills are moving steadily through the Tennessee General Assembly.


On Tuesday Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss presented a bill to the House Health Committee that would ban all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.


Amid gasps, jeers and applause Van Huss defended the measure during questioning by Democratic lawmakers, including Memphis Rep. Barbara Cooper. 


Cooper asked "Are you stating that even in the case of rape, (or) incest, that you are banning or prohibiting an abortion?” 

Van Huss responded, "I am. I do not think Mrs. Cooper that you would think that killing babies is the right thing to do.”


The GOP majority easily passed the bill. It goes next to the full House. However, the companion bill in the Senate has yet to be heard by any committee.


The measure’s supports hope that passage will give a now more conservative U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.


Judge John Everett Williams

Another controversial bill is advancing in the State Senate. The measure seeks to shorten Tennessee’s death penalty appeals process.


The bill would have those appeals jump directly to the State Supreme Court, bypassing the State Court of Appeals.


In a rare appearance, Appeals Court Presiding Judge John Williams testified against the measure. He told lawmakers the bill will actually slow the appeals process. Williamson fears it will give defendants grounds to move their appeals to the federal courts.


“Every time we change the law we add another round of challenges in the federal court system,” Williams concluded.


Republican Senators passed the measure in spite of Judge Williams' recommendation. It goes next to the full Senate for consideration.