So Long, Legislature


May 3, 2024 3:56PM

The Legislature adjourned sine die last week, signaling the end of the 113th General Assembly. 

I’ve seen the legislative session described as everything from a complete disaster to a success. For Beacon, the results are a mixed bag. While there are always disappointing results in politics, I’m reminded of Dumbledore saying, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”


From Beacon’s perspective, I have to start by saying that we are incredibly disappointed that the House and Senate could not come together on policy to give students and parents educational freedom. Those who oppose school choice continue to focus on the adults, but we’re committed to ensuring that students have the opportunity to attend a school that best fits their needs. 

But not all hope is lost in educational choice. This year brought on two major reforms to charter schools. The first provides a pathway for charter schools to use underutilized or vacant property owned by a local education agency. Unlike public schools run by the district, charter public schools have to pay for their own facilities, and in high-growth areas like Nashville, it is not uncommon for charters to pay above-market rates for properties.

The second reform created the framework for residential charter facilities for grades six through 12 for which at least 75% of the students must be “at-risk.” This means the student is a member of a household where the income is below 200% of the federal poverty level, and the student is either a juvenile delinquent, formerly incarcerated, or chronically absent from their original school. 


The post-pandemic world has brought a number of changes to healthcare. After years of calling for a repeal of certificate-of-need (CON) laws, the legislature took another large bite out of these laws that have prevented almost a billion dollars in healthcare investment across the state. This year’s CON reform bill phases out nine CONs and implements several procedural reforms over the next five years. These include repealing the CON for neonatal ICUs, MRI machines, and long-term care hospitals, among others. Additionally, procedural reforms include making it harder for competitors to use CONs for anti-competitive purposes and making it easier to appeal denials of a CON.

Tennessee’s telemedicine law also saw a tweak this year following a recommendation by Beacon to remove the requirement that you must see your provider in-person every 16 months to continue the telemedicine relationship. This served as more of a barrier to access healthcare than anything. Under the new law, a patient will establish the relationship in person, and then it is up to the provider and patient to make the determination on how often to come in person. 

Nearly 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacist, allowing pharmacists to have more autonomy and test and treat certain conditions is a significant expansion to healthcare access. A new law allowing pharmacists to prescribe medications following the results of certain rapid diagnostic tests, as well as other products such as fluoride, EpiPens, and naloxone. 

As if protectionism only existed with certificate-of-need, a bill intended to remove the decades-old prohibition against hospitals employing certain medical professionals failed to pass this year. Currently, anesthesiologists, emergency room physicians, radiologists, and pathologists cannot be directly employed by a hospital. This is often the source of unexpected medical bills when you go to the ER or hospital. This bill to allow more freedom took a beating from the aforementioned professions, which ultimately led to its downfall and with it, Tennesseans’ hope for more affordable care and transparent hospital bills.


The talk of the town this session was a cut to the state franchise tax on companies. At the risk of potential litigation, the legislature made major reforms to the tax, resulting in an annual $400 million tax cut for Tennessee businesses and an anticipated $1.6 billion in refunds. Franchise tax reform was one of the items that made our Making Tennessee the Innovation Capital of America

A tax-related bill that never saw the light of day, however, was a reform to local property taxes. Reforms, such as a referendum process for raising property taxes and straight caps on the assessment, never made it to committee thanks to the army of taxpayer-funded lobbyists representing local governments and mayors who want the unfettered ability to raise your property taxes. Tennessee is one of a few states nationwide that do not have some form of protection for property owners. Let’s be very clear about this, property owners want reforms that will protect them from massive property tax increases, while local governments want the ability to raise the tax any amount they deem necessary.

We’re pleased that the legislature made strides to address many of Tennesseans’ biggest challenges this session. And for those they failed to advance like property tax caps and school choice, we will continue to make them top priorities on behalf of Tennesseans.