Legislation passed this week by the Tennessee House and Senate would curtail association codes of ethics in the state of Tennessee. The legislation would require state licensing boards to address codes of conduct for each occupation and create unique ethics rules for each profession.

On April 19 ASAE sent a letter urging Governor Haslam to veto this legislation. The letter states, “This bill potentially puts additional unnecessary burdens on all state licensed professionals in Tennessee, and may cause Tennessee professionals to be out of compliance with nationally recognized standards for their vocation. The bill will likely cause a tremendous amount of regulatory work for the state boards, and potentially litigation should the regulations impose duties on professionals which are inconsistent with recognized standards.”

ASAE also expressed concerns the legislation threatens to give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination in Tennessee, as demonstrated by the legislation aimed at the counseling profession last year. In 2016 the Tennessee legislature approved a bill that permits mental health counselors and therapists to deny services based on their own “sincerely held principles.” This legislation allows counselors to disregard a section of the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics. The American Counseling Association said last year that the Tennessee law was an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession.

For more information on this legislation contact ASAE Public Policy at publicpolicy@asaecenter.org.