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.
The 2017 session of the 110th General Assembly adjourned on Wed., May 10, 2017. You can visit the TN General Assembly website to search for specific bills.
Below are links for the Council's 3 top priority bills during the 2017 legislative session:
TN Council on Autism (SB1390/ HB1206)
This bill established the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder within the Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. A representative from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities will be an appointed member of the Autism Council. It was signed by Gov. Haslam in April 2017.
Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act (SB264 / HB941)
What is Supported Decision-Making?
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. Those “trusted people” might be friends, family members or professionals. These “supporters” agree to help the person with a disability understand and carefully consider decisions, and then effectively communicate those decisions.
The Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act has been deferred to Summer Study for further analysis.
This bill would define and authorize a legal option for adults with disabilities who seek assistance in making certain decisions about their lives, such as financial, medical, and other life decisions, but choose to retain their rights as the ultimate decision-maker about those decisions rather than seeking a legal representative to make such decisions on their behalf.
The Council's Executive Director and Public Policy Director will be closely involved in the summer study process.
The Council has been very involved with learning about Supported Decision-Making as a model that can be used in Tennessee with or without a formal law in place recognizing the agreement. As part of this effort, the Council sponsored national legal expert Jonathan Martinis to spend three days in Tennessee hosting intensive sessions for various audiences of stakeholders., including State and advocacy agency representatives, attorneys, representatives of the state’s Managed Care Organizations, and the Partners in Policymaking current class and graduates assembled for their 2017 Annual Reunion Conference.
Additional state and national resources and info on Supported Decision-Making:
- Web hub: National Resource Center on Supported Decision-Making
- TN white paper/policy brief: Supported Decision-Making: Creating a Continuum of Choice (Coordinated by Disability Rights TN, in partnership with the TN Disability Policy Alliance, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Family Voices of TN)
- TN video: The Arc Tennessee recently released a video featuring Tennesseans with disabilities, including Partners in Policymaking graduates, talking about Supported Decision-Making
- Video series: Introduction and Guide to Supported Decision-Making, featuring national legal and subject matter expert in Supported Decision-Making Jonathan Martinis
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network Guide to Supported Decision-Making
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.
- Learn more about the program and how to apply.
- Read an overview of the legislation, and the Council’s role in assisting the passage of the bill on this TennesseeWorks blog.
Other state resources on public policy:
- Disability Policy Alliance - A public policy collaborative that includes The Arc Tennessee, Disability Rights Tennessee, the Statewide Independent Living Council of TN and the Council.
- Disability Coalition on Education (DCE): Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD Public Policy Team
- Tennessee Disability Coalition