Tennessee Legislation

On Monday, April 26, 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation (HB1062/SB1349) to prevent the execution of those with intellectual disability in Tennessee and to provide a few individuals, already on death row, the opportunity to have their intellectual disability considered by the courts.

The Tennessee Senate voted 28-1 and the House voted 89-4 in support of this legislation. Legislators on both sides of the aisle fought hard for this bill, and TADP is deeply grateful for their leadership.

The Tennessee Disability Coalition approached Representative David Hawk and Senator Todd Gardenhire about sponsoring the bill at the beginning of the legislative session, and they rose to the challenge. These lawmakers worked tirelessly to educate their colleagues about the necessity of this bill to modernize Tennessee’s intellectual disability definition in the criminal code to meet current medical and constitutional standards.

Representative G.A. Hardaway, a lawmaker from Memphis, began the conversation about the need for this legislation in the fall of 2020, and he sponsored another version of the bill. Senator Brenda Gilmore served as the Senate sponsor for that legislation. Language from this version of the bill was incorporated into HB1062/SB1349, leading to the final version.

The passage of this legislation demonstrates that lawmakers can work together in a bipartisan way to do things that matter, likeĀ  protecting those with intellectual disability from execution in Tennessee.