TN House Bill 407 went before the house committee on Wednesday.
In summary, the bill which was proposed by House Rep. Doggett and Senator Hensley sought two amendments to the current registrant residency restriction law.
First, it sought to increase from 1,000ft to 2,000ft, the current residency restrictions for registrants. Second, it asked to mandate that no registrant whose victim was a minor, shall knowingly reside or conduct an overnight visit at a residence in which a minor resides or is present.
For weeks before this committee meeting myself and others furiously sent emails pleading our case, the already devastatingly punitive registrant restrictions, to all the senators and house representatives. I didn’t expect many replies, I’d been told that if you’re outside their district and can’t offer them a vote, you probably wouldn’t get any response.
But I did get responses. Not a lot compared to the enormous amount of emails I’d sent, but enough replies, some “form replies” and some personal responses that made me think some people are actually beginning to hear us.
The House Rep. that sponsored the bill had their legal assistant respond. When I had first requested research info on their bill they were happy to provide it, but when they deduced that I was a registry advocate rather than someone wanting to write a story on how great their amendments would be for public safety, well, the emails became a bit “snarky ”. One particular email indicated there was not much they could do for me since I hadn’t provided them with fact sources.
I sent them a plethora of resources and links to facts and statistics, state and federal, journals, references and just about anything else I thought they should read. I requested one thing from them, that they do their research on BOTH sides of the issue before proposing bills such as this. After all, their job is to represent “the people”, all the people, not just those that agree with them.
The bill went to committee. Time ran over, it was continued till the following week.
Did you ever watch these committee meetings? The bills the representatives and senators consider “important” seem to take up the entire meeting, time is spent discussing them and their constituents are invited to speak. Bills such as HB 407 are held till the last few minutes of the meeting when time is running out and the bills are voted on in a flash.
HB 407 was quickly addressed.
Miraculously, the residency restriction amendment from 1000 ft to 2000ft was returned back to 1000ft. There was no discussion of how or why the change, it just happened and that’s good enough for me.
The second part of the bill, registrants residing in the same home with minors, was sent to the full judiciary committee for vote the following week.
So there’s a lot more work to do, more emails to send. (By the way, the legal assistant with the snarky emails got back to me after I sent her the reference info and with a much more “pleasant” tone she actually thanked me for sending the links to resources. She said she planned to share them with the representative.) Maybe she will, maybe she won’t, but at least the attitude was better.
Fighting this battle is exhausting and so often it seems like it gets us nowhere.
But Wednesday, in TN, one small battle was won.
Was it was worth all of the effort?
Wars are won one battle at a time.