109th Tennessee General Assembly Comes to a Close

capitalbuildingThe 2015 session of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly came to a close on Wednesday April 22, 2015. The 2016 session of the 109th General Assembly will convene at Noon on Tuesday January 12, 2015.

During this session, a few items passed that impact people with disabilities and their family members, and one key piece of legislation failed. The critical legislation that failed was Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Plan. Insure Tennessee is Governor Haslam’s health care plan to use federal dollars to offer health insurance to 280,000 Tennesseans who have no access to health care coverage because they fall into what is called the “coverage gap.” Many believe that this legislation will likely come up again in a revised form when the legislature reconvenes.

Among bills that passed included:

SB0307/HB0894 Requires the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to seek approval from the statewide Family Support Council before making changes to the administration of the Family Support Program. Note: UCP is the state provider agency of the Family Support Program for Rutherford County.

SB1162/HB999 “The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act” of 2015, establishes the ABLE program to aid eligible individuals to save money to meet the individual’s disability expenses. This legislation will authorize Tennessee to implement ABLE accounts in Tennessee once the federal guidelines have been finalized.  The ABLE program will aid eligible individuals to save money to meet the needs of the individual’s disability expenses without losing eligibility for certain other benefits such as SSI or TennCare.

SB117/HB107 Protection of Volunteer-Insured Drivers of the Elderly (PROVIDE) Act grants immunity from civil liability to individuals providing volunteer transportation services to senior citizens through a charitable organization or human service agency, so long as the individual is acting in good faith within the scope of his or her official duties.

 SB17/HB115, more commonly known as the Aging Caregiver bill, passed. This bill requires that any person with an intellectual disability on the waiting list for the self-determination or similarly capped waivers be automatically enrolled within six months of their custodial parent or custodial caregiver turning 80 years of age. Note: the above bill (SB17/HB115) does not impact persons with developmental disabilities other than intellectual disabilities.

For more detailed information about the 2015 session and the bills impacting persons with disabilities, you can review the session wrap up report compiled by Disability Rights TN. CLICK HERE to view the report.

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