Rep. Mike Carter said bills passed into legislation he was involved with during the last session ranged from getting sheriffs out of the business of mental health transports to an ID system for those unable to give their names to police.
He said the state had a situation in which those who were dealing with mental issues and acted out wound up being handcuffed in a patrol car rather than getting needed treatment.
He said, "We need to treat criminals as criminals and treat those with mental health problems with mental health treatment."
Rep. Carter told members of the Pachyderm Club that a meeting was arranged with new Governor Bill Lee on the issue. He said the governor immediately responded favorably, saying it was one of the biggest issues he heard about while campaigning. Gov. Lee said, "This has to be fixed."
He said, "The next morning the governor's chief of staff was in my office. The governor wound up putting $4 million in the budget."
The speaker said local sheriffs will line up transport services and the cost will be covered by the governor's appropriation.
He said Governor Lee "has no political background He never asked me who does this benefit and who's behind it. We've got the right governor and he's doing a great job."
He said Tennessee is the first state in the union to provide such a transport, that also allows sheriff deputies to spend more time on police work.
Rep. Carter said he was told by a citizen about his son being checked by a police officer and the son almost going to jail because he is non-communicative and could not give his name.
He said he was advised there was software available that would help with the situation. However, he said it was found that it was almost unworkable. He said the city of Chattanooga then went to work to draw up a new software system.
He said information is put into the system about individuals who cannot give their name, including some with autism and some with dementia. Photos of the individuals are included as well as their characteristics, such as age, hair and eye color.
When there is a situation where the person cannot give their name, the officer is able to put data into the software system and retrieve photos that might match the individual he or she is dealing with.
He said there will be an unveiling of the system soon with instructions on how to submit information about individuals.
Those submitting are asked to send new photos annually of the person they are signing up.
Rep. Carter said the Legislature corrected a situation where attorneys were able to get a civil case transferred to Juvenile Court. He said they were in effect judge shopping.
Another bill allows the expungement of crimes committed by an individual who is the victim of human slavery.
Asked about his race for Speaker of the House, he said he has offered "to restore integrity and trust" to the office being eventually vacated by Glen Casada. A previous Pachyderm speaker, Rep. Robin Smith, is also interested in the position.
He said the decision will be made by Republicans in their caucus.