Govenor Bill Lee has urged schools to remain closed until March 31st. We stanchly support the Governor in his efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus here in Tennessee by encouraging school districts to close through the end of the month to protect the health and wellbeing of Tennessee’s students, teachers, and entire communities across the state.
US Representative from Tennessee Mark Green said, “The COVID-19 outbreak is an international health crisis that will require an unprecedented response, and our Nation’s schools are facing extreme difficulties in the face of this pandemic, including sending their students home indefinitely. The gravity of the situation schools are facing navigating the COVID-19 pandemic creates an undue burden for preparing and administering statewide assessments.” To wholly protect educators and students from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee General Assembly must take a few additional steps for public education:
• Attendance: The state must waive attendance requirements and excuse the chronic absenteeism of students. The legislature should also consider waivers for the instructional day requirement for districts.
• TNReady: Stop standardized testing for this academic year. They should also ask the Department of Education to immediately enter into negotiations to suspend the contract with our current testing vendor to save taxpayer dollars. That contract should be extended to fulfill our obligations. This means, as Representative Scott Cepicky has suggested, that the Commissioner of Education must request a waiver from the Federal Government on testing, which we have suggested and endorse. When schools resume, teachers should be free to teach, and re-teach if necessary, without the burden of testing.
• Hold Harmless: We must ensure that “no adverse action may be taken” against any student, teacher, school, or district based on results from the cancelation of state standardized tests. This also means that no assessment will impact students’ final grades. The lack of assessment results should not be used for any decisions related to hiring, firing, or not compensating teachers. We should also prohibit identifying a school as a “priority school” in Tennessee’s bottom 5 percent, the starting point for state intervention, although a district should be free to request any assistance for schools that self-identify and are in need.
Tennessee is a resilient state made up of incredible people with a generous spirit. We will defeat COVID-19, the coronavirus. However, each of us must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat and help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses (Coronavirus or the flu) by maintaining high standards of hygiene and using common sense. We are confident that district leaders will continue to make the right decisions for their communities with the support of our Governor and Legislature.
As the world embraces the benefits and science surrounding cannabis-based treatments, State Rep. Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) and State Sen. Steve Dickerson, MD (R-Nashville) have filed the Clinical Cannabis Authorization & Research Act to provide a pathway for Tennesseans under medical direction to participate in a statewide clinical cannabis program, focused on medical research and patient safety.
Today, over two thirds of states recognize the clinical value of cannabis and have exerted their 10th Amendment rights to help patients by providing them an alternative to the black market. However, Tennessee continues to deny citizens the ability to participate in research and development of cannabis-based treatments, as well as prohibiting patients from their right to determine their own healthcare decisions. The Clinical Cannabis Authorization and Research Act seeks to make changes in these areas.
“The World Health Organization, Federal judges, and a multitude of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals have opined about the medicinal value of the chemicals found in cannabis,” stated Dr. Terry. “Unfortunately, outdated laws and unconstitutional treaties relying on erroneous information brought forth a prohibition on all uses — including medical treatments and research. It is time for Tennessee to join other states in standing up for patients.”
Tennessee is currently ranked third in the nation in an illicit marijuana market behind California and Kentucky. Much of this black market is generated by legitimate patients looking for alternative treatments for chronic pain or other debilitating diseases, who put their lives and livelihood at risk in search of relief. Others who could benefit but do not utilize the black market either continue to suffer, or they look for relief in other states. This bill provides an alternative by decriminalizing patients through offering a clinical pathway where they can enroll in a medically supervised program that includes research and use of no-smoke, cannabis-based modalities.
“Criminal justice reform is a big issue that Governor Lee’s administration is looking to address, and it is also frequently discussed nationally,” added Dr. Terry. “It is my belief that most elected officials do not want to criminalize patients, and this bill is a positive step towards reforming an archaic system that harms them. If Tennessee is going to be serious about criminal justice reform, we need to ensure that we are sending criminals to jail, not patients.”
The Clinical Cannabis Authorization and Research Act authorizes medical treatments in the form of oils, pills, breathing treatments, patches, creams, and other known medical modalities. It explicitly prohibits recreational forms of cannabis including smoking, vaping, candies, or anything that targets children. The bill also prohibits usage of the cannabis flower, except in the processing of chemicals to make medicines. Additionally, the bill bases safety and decriminalization regulations on current science and criminal statutes. Dosage and possession include monthly limits of non-flower THC containing medical modalities mirroring those of current known medical standards and Tennessee statutes.
These physician legislators have spoken to other medical providers, patients, and legislators from other states that have passed similar legislation, as well as their own colleagues in order to craft this bill.
“Dr. Terry and I have worked very hard to create legislation to allow Tennessee’s sickest patients to have the option to use clinical cannabis. Our bill provides the framework to allow health professionals to work with patients and give them access to this important medication. We are hopeful our colleagues will join us in standing up for patients here in Tennessee,” concluded Sen. Dickerson.
The bill is scheduled to be heard in both the House and Senate this week.
Tennessee’s Driver Service Centers may soon be able to provide quicker wait times and more efficient customer service. Gov. Bill Lee on Feb. 3 announced in his State of the State address he would propose funding for 80 additional positions at Driver Service Centers to help decrease wait times for customers. State Representative Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) applauds the announcement as he has been a leader in the General Assembly in looking for solutions to the problems at the DMV.
“I think this is a step in the right direction in helping to improve the long wait times customers are seeing,” said State Rep. Bryan Terry, MD, R-Murfreesboro. “I’ve taken an active role in pushing for solutions and changes in the system in order to help our citizens. It’s encouraging that Governor Lee and his administration recognize the problem and are proposing action.”
Driver Service Centers across Tennessee, including in Rutherford County, have been overwhelmed with customers attempting obtain their REAL ID or schedule road tests. Many of the state’s 44 service centers are experiencing issues providing timely and efficient services to citizens because of staffing shortages and higher demand the new identification.
Terry has been an outspoken advocate for improving the customer service experience at Tennessee’s Driver Service Centers. Terry said he has received many complaints from constituents who reported having to wait up to four hours for service and up to 28 days for a road-test appointment.
Rutherford County has a driver’s service center located off Middle Tennessee Boulevard. The center provides driving permits, driver’s licenses, road testing, renewals, handgun permits, commercial driver’s licenses, and Real ID to Tennesseans. In addition, there are four license renewal kiosks throughout the county including one in the Rutherford County center.
All Tennesseans will be required to have a REAL ID by Oct. 1, 2020 for access to all federal buildings, entrance to nuclear facilities, and travel onboard domestic U.S. flights.
Citizens aren’t required to obtain a REAL ID compliant license. Those who desire to obtain the credential need the following: proof to establish citizenship or legal presence, proof of Social Security and two proofs of Tennessee residency.
Bryan Terry, MD represents Tennessee House District 48, which is the eastern portion of Rutherford County and a portion of Murfreesboro. Terry lives in Murfreesboro and can be reached by email at: or by calling 615-741-2180.