NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In the final hours of the 113th General Assembly, Tennessee Republicans passed two bills that target the transgender community and puts the state at risk of losing billions in federal funding.
According to the fiscal notes provided by the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, the state could lose more than $2 billion this upcoming fiscal year.
One of the bills would allow teachers and public school employees to not use a student’s preferred pronouns, which according to the fiscal note could violate the U.S. Department of Education’s 2022 rules on gender identity, sexuality and sex-based discrimination.
“Tennessee’s federal awards for education total $1,293,583,239,” according to Fiscal Review Committee Executive Director, Krista Lee Carsner.
The other bill would define the word “sex” in Tennessee Code as, “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.”
According to the fiscal note on the bill, in addition to risking Dept. of Education funding, the bill could jeopardize $750,000,000 in federal grant funding from the Dept. of Health.
However, Rep. Mark Cochran (R—Englewood) said that because of a recent court decision, the Biden Administration’s 2022 rules on gender identity and sexuality don’t apply to Tennessee.
“I refer you to Tennessee v The Department of Education,” Cochran said when asked about the funding risk.
“It seems the Fiscal Committee didn’t get that memo because federal dollars would be at risk, so they evidently disagree with you,” responded Rep. GA Hardaway (D—Memphis).
When Democrats said his bill allows teachers to bully transgender students, Cochran said that is not the intention of the legislation.
“It does protect our teachers from bullying from some of the greatest perpetrators of the act in human history, the ‘woke left,'” Cochran said.
Cochran’s Republican colleagues not only voted for his bill but also applauded him for fighting for the legislation.
“Legislation like this to protects individual rights, honors God, promotes a Christian world view, it’s why Tennessee is growing economically and by population,” said Rep. Rusty Grills (R—Newbern).
Regarding the legislation defining the word “sex” in the Tennessee code, sponsor Rep. Gino Bulso (R—Brentwood) said it is “good policy.”
“What this bill does is it recognizes the importance of the family, which is the bedrock of our society and civilization and attempts to undermine the family through legislation is frankly at the root of this plague of violence that is throughout our entire nation right now,” Bulso said.
However, Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D—Nashville) said that Bulso’s views on “family” aren’t relevant to his legislation.
“His theological views are not pertinent to the definition of ‘sex’ in this context,” Rep. Clemmons said.
Both pieces of legislation passed with more than 70 votes in the House out of a total of 99 members and will now head to the governor’s desk.