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Press Releases

Gov’t: Prevention Best Defense Against Medi-Resistant Germs

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Health; August 6, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thanks to modern antibiotics, many infections are treated with relative ease with an injection or other form of these medications. But some germs have become resistant to these remedies and are harder to fight. MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is one of these.

MRSA may cause skin infections that can appear as raised bumps or boils which are often red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage. These infections are often mistaken for spider bites. More advanced MRSA cases can include wounds that don’t heal, pneumonia and blood infections.

“MRSA infections, as with other types of staph, are usually spread by having contact with someone else’s skin infection or personal items like towels, bandages or razors that have touched infected skin,” said State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. “These infections are likely to be spread in places where people are in close contact with others, such as schools and locker rooms where athletes might share razors or towels.”

MRSA does not go away with first-line antibiotics normally used to cure staph infections; it requires stronger antibiotics and some patients have severe conditions requiring hospitalization. While many believe healthcare institutions are the most common places for MRSA to spread, the infection can be found any place where there are people.

“While the development of antibiotic-resistant germs is always of concern, there are still effective ways to treat and prevent MRSA,” Jones said. “As school resumes and students get back to sports and other group activities, this is a good time to educate children about good hygiene and common-sense prevention measures. An additional benefit is that many of these measures will also help prevent colds and other common infections easily spread in a school setting.”

The best defense against MRSA is prevention. There are easy ways to decrease your risk of getting MRSA:

  1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  3. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
  5. Shower immediately after activities that involve direct skin contact with others, and use a clean towel.

“When MRSA skin infections occur, surfaces that are likely to contact uncovered or poorly covered infections should be disinfected,” Jones said. “Cleaning surfaces with readily available detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the environment. If you work out in a gym, we suggest carrying a towel with you to remove all sweat from equipment before you use it.”

When a doctor suspects an MRSA infection, he or she may order a sample of pus, blood, urine or sputum for testing. This is necessary to diagnose the type of infection and the appropriate course of antibiotics and other treatment required. In some cases, a patient may need to take an extended course of antibiotics to ensure the infection has been stopped.

Those who have had an MRSA infection at any time should tell any healthcare providers who treat them for any condition. There are ways to protect people that carry staph/MRSA from getting an infection or spreading it to others when they are in the hospital or have surgery.

“Healthy people can have staph in their noses or on their skin and it does not always cause disease,” Jones continued. “Even if surfaces have MRSA on them, this does not mean you’ll get an infection by touching those surfaces. MRSA is most likely to cause problems when you have a cut or scrape that is not covered. That’s why it’s important to use bandages.”

TDH has an online toolkit available to assist school officials and the general public in learning about and preventing MRSA. The toolkit is available at http://health.state.tn.us/MRSA/index.htm.

For more information about MRSA, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/mrsa/.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.

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Press Releases

State Cops Cracking Down on Motorists ‘to Prevent Crashes from Happening’

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; July 26, 2012:

Nashville, TN – In an effort to save lives, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) is again working across the state to crack down on traffic safety violators including impaired drivers, seat belt violators, distracted drivers, and speeders, during its “More Cops. More Stops.” campaign this July 26-29.

“With school starting just around the corner, many people are out enjoying the last of their summer vacations,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol, Colonel Tracy Trott. “Too often, people get caught up in the fun and break traffic safety laws, putting themselves and others at risk. We believe this special enforcement push will make our roadways safer for everyone, and we hope the message stays with people year-round.”

Tennessee is one of two states teaming with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on this important national demonstration project to test the effectiveness of a new combined high visibility enforcement campaign.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said the statistics are alarming, and that risky behaviors claim too many lives in Tennessee.

“We know that wearing seatbelts is the single most effective way to protect people in vehicle crashes, so we will be watching closely to make sure everyone is buckling up,” said Commissioner Schroer. “But we also know that drinking and driving, texting while driving, and speeding are contributing to an increase in fatalities. Our goal is to prevent crashes from happening in the first place.”

More than 1,000 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in Tennessee motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010, 58 percent of whom were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. Twenty-seven percent of Tennessee’s fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved an alcohol impaired driver. Additionally, 22 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on Tennessee highways involved drivers or motorcycle operators with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 (the legal limit) or above at the time of the deadly crash. Twenty-two percent died from speeding-related crashes.

“Our statistics show that young adult males, ages 18 to 34, are most likely to practice high-risk behaviors while driving, such as drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts,” said Kendell Poole, Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

Of those in that age group who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Tennessee, 35 percent were involved in an alcohol-impaired driving crash; 62 percent of 18-to 34-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed were NOT wearing their seat belts; and 33 percent were involved in a speeding-related crash.

Distracted driving is another issue that state and local law enforcement will be on the lookout for since according to NHTSA, it claimed nearly 3,100 lives and led to an estimated 419,000 people injured nationally in 2010.

“When you look at the data, it’s clear that we have to do something to change people’s behavior on the roads,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “It’s simple—don’t engage in risky behaviors that put your life and the lives of others at risk—especially drinking and driving, not wearing a seat belt, texting while driving or speeding. Remember, More Cops. More Stops. this summer. We will be watching.”

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Press Releases

State: Don’t Avoid Outdoors Because of Pests

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Health; June 11, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While ticks and mosquitoes are setting records for early arrival and rates of infectious diseases carried, the Department of Health reminds everyone that most people should not avoid healthy outdoor activity.

“Outdoor physical activity provides too many important health benefits to be cancelled because of ticks and mosquitoes,” said Abelardo Moncayo, Ph.D., with TDH Communicable and Environmental Diseases and Emergency Preparedness. ”It’s true diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever carried by ticks and West Nile virus carried by mosquitoes can be quite serious. Effective tick and mosquito-borne disease prevention strategies should be part of healthy outdoor exercise and recreation.”

Follow these suggestions for avoiding insect bites:

  • Use insect repellants such as DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on your skin, following all label recommendations for usage. Pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children, and never apply any of these products around the mouth or eyes at any age. Consult your health care provider if you have questions.
  • Certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin is highly effective as a repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated laundering. Some commercial products are available pretreated with permethrin. Permethrin is not to be used directly on skin.
  • Do not use perfumes, colognes or scented deodorants or soap if you’re going outside, as fragrances may attract insects.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent bites through the fabric. Long-sleeve shirts and long pants are best. For improved effectiveness, tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to form bug barriers.
  • Wear light-colored clothing when possible so ticks and crawling insects can more easily be seen and removed.
  • Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk; be mindful of their feeding patterns and take extra precautions at these times.

If you find a tick embedded in your skin, don’t use fingernail polish, matches or oil as a home remedy to remove it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you’re unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. If you experience nausea, fever, chills, aches or rashes after a tick bite, contact your health care provider; these could be signs of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

While most mosquito and tick bites are minor irritations, individuals should contact their health care provider if they experience a sudden onset of fever, headache and body aches during the spring and summer months. People with Rocky Mountain spotted fever may also experience nausea and vomiting.

“A combination of preventive measures should allow most Tennesseans to be active outdoors,” said Moncayo. “We always advise those with known health conditions to consult with their health care provider before engaging in strenuous outdoor activities.”

Some areas in Tennessee are already reporting positive tests for West Nile virus in mosquitoes. Mild winter weather may have contributed to early growth of local mosquito populations. WNV can also impact birds; individuals who see a dead crow or blue jay on their property are urged to contact their local health department, which can coordinate testing of the bird. This can serve as an early warning if WNV is present in a community. For contact information for your local health department, visit http://health.state.tn.us/localdepartments.htm.

To learn more about West Nile Virus, visit the TDH website at http://health.state.tn.us/ceds/WNV/wnvhome.asp.

For more information on protecting yourself from ticks, visit www.cdc.gov/Features/StopTicks/.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of those who live in, work in or visit Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.

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Press Releases

TBI: Crimes at Schools Down 5.5% In Last Year

Press Release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; May 9, 2012:

Study Shows Crime Decreased from Previous Year

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released its annual study dedicated to crime in Tennessee’s schools. Produced by TBI’s Crime Statistics Unit, the study spans a three-year period between 2009 and 2011 and is based on numbers submitted by Tennessee law enforcement agencies to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS). The state’s first ever school crimes study was released in May of 2009.

The reported number of crimes that occurred at schools decreased by 5.5% from 2010 to 2011 and there was an overall decrease of 6.7% between 2009 and 2011. There were 12,435 crimes reported at schools in 2011 compared to 13,155 in 2010. This report is based on incidents submitted by law enforcement agencies and excludes offenses reported by colleges and universities. Those statistics are compiled in TBI’s “Crime on Campus” report that was released earlier this year.

“School Crimes Report” Quick Facts

  • 2.2% of all crimes reported in the state occurred at a school.
  • Simple assault was the most frequently reported crime at 4,593 offenses.
  • Crimes against persons decreased by 4.3% and crimes against property decreased by 8.2%.
  • More crimes occurred on Friday than any other day of the week and most resulted in no injury to the victim.
  • 47% of the time, the relationship between the offender and victim was acquaintance.
  • The most reported arrestee gender was male at 73%.

It is important to understand the characteristics surrounding school crime and its offenders and victims. This understanding will help schools, policy makers, law enforcement and the public learn how to better combat crime that occurs at these institutions. To view the “School Crimes Report” for 2011 in its entirety, go to the TBI website at www.tbi.tn.gov. Click on “Crime Statistics” from the homepage, then click on the “Statistical Analysis Center” fly-out. The study is listed under “Specialized Reports” on the Statistical Analysis Center webpage.

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Press Releases

Summer Construction Coming on TN Roads

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation; April 23, 2012:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation is joining states across the nation to remind motorists not to barrel through work zones. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will spread that message statewide during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 23-27) in an effort to improve safety in Tennessee’s interstate and highway construction and maintenance work zones.

“We are heading into the busiest construction time of the year, and there will be hundreds of active work zones across Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Reducing speeds, staying alert, and exercising caution is the best way to ensure workers and motorists stay safe on our roadways.”

The spring and summer months provide perfect weather for highway work, and motorists will encounter work zones across Tennessee in downtowns, along interstates and in rural areas. Highway work zones can change frequently, making it even more important to pay attention to the road. Last year in Tennessee, fifteen people died in work zone crashes, twelve were either drivers or vehicle passengers, and three were construction workers.

“I was deeply saddened by the loss of two TDOT employees’ last year,” added Commissioner Schroer. These tragedies are sobering reminders of the hazards our highway workers face each and every day. I urge all motorists to remember highway crews are working to improve our roads to make your future commute better.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation to date has lost 108 employees in the line of duty, most recently, two employees in 2011. TDOT HELP Operator Robert Nowicki was killed while assisting a motorist on Interstate 55 in West Memphis on June 20, 2011 and Highway Maintenance Worker Michael Dalton was killed setting up a work zone on Interstate 40 in Shelby County on September 8, 2011.

Each of TDOT’s regions will draw attention to Work Zone Awareness Week in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville by lighting several buildings across the state in orange. TDOT will also honor the workers who lost their lives by placing a remembrance plaque in their Regional Offices during Work Zone Awareness Week. Work zone safety messages will also be displayed on TDOT’s overhead Dynamic Message Signs on interstates in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville. TDOT has put together a video about the importance of work zone safety; the video can be seen here on TDOT’s YouTube page: http://youtu.be/j8cC9l3RFpM

Updated travel and construction information can be found on the TDOT SmartWay website at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or you may call 5?1?1. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages. Smartphone users can use the TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go!by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

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Press Releases

Traffic Fatalities Over New Year’s Weekend Down from Last Year

Press Release from Department of Safety and Homeland Security; Jan. 10, 2012:

Lowest Number of Traffic Deaths on Record During New Year’s Period

NASHVILLE — Preliminary reports indicate two people were killed during the New Year’s holiday weekend, compared with six fatalities during last year’s holiday period. Statistics for the 2011-2012 New Year’s holiday reflect the time period from 6 p.m., Friday, December 30, 2011, to midnight Monday, January 2, 2012.

There were two fatal crashes during the 2011-2012 New Year’s holiday period. Both were single vehicle crashes, and both victims were not wearing safety restraints. Alcohol was a factor in one of the crashes.

If preliminary figures hold true, the latest New Year’s holiday period statistics resulted in the lowest number of traffic deaths since last year’s record when six people were killed on Tennessee roadways. Last year, the official holiday period was also a 78-hour period.

The highest number of fatalities recorded during the New Year’s holiday period occurred during the 78-hour period in 1970-71, when 19 people were killed in Tennessee traffic crashes.

State Troopers were on routine traffic patrol and conducted more than 60 sobriety and driver license checkpoints across the state during the New Year’s holiday period. During that time, 80 people were arrested for driving under the influence. Troopers also issued 3,526 citations, including 1,228 for speeding and 242 for seat belt and child seat violations.

This year’s 78-hour Christmas holiday period resulted in eight vehicular fatalities, compared to six traffic fatalities during the 2010 Christmas holiday. Six (75%) of the fatalities were alcohol-related and four (57%) vehicle occupants were not wearing safety restraints.

Preliminary holiday statistical reports, including the locations of where the fatal crashes occurred over the 2011 Christmas and 2011-2012 New Year’s holiday periods, are attached with this release. Please note the official traffic fatality count may rise due to delays in reporting and classification of traffic fatalities.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s mission is (www.TN.Gov/safety) to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.

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Liberty and Justice News

Violent Crimes, Prescription Drug Abuses Targeted

The Haslam administration wants to take a stab at cracking down on violent crimes and shrinking the recidivism rate by beefing up prison sentences, a task officials expect will cost taxpayers $6 million annually.

Gov. Bill Haslam is also asking lawmakers to adopt a comprehensive approach to tackling the state’s prescription drug problem by making it easier for law enforcement to track addicts and keep a better eye on ex-convicts by requiring the Department of Correction to take over supervision of parolees.

“While we see an improvement, Tennessee continues to have a violent crime rate that’s above the national average that none of us find acceptable,” the governor said on Capitol Hill Thursday.

The total price tag for the entire package of reforms could be higher, according to Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who couldn’t provide specific cost tallies, but said expenses for the prescription drug and parolee reforms would be minimal. Attempts to reach agency officials for details were unsuccessful as of this posting.

The program would provide a “road map” which would take several years to fully implement. Going into 2012, officials want the Legislature to begin by beefing up punishment for repeat domestic violence offenders, gun-wielding ex-convicts and people involved in gang-related crimes.

“All three deal with areas that (district attorneys), police chiefs and sheriffs have been pushing for years,” said Gibbons. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel here. We listened to law enforcement and tried to act upon their recommendations.”

The administrative initiative would also relax punishment for non-violent drug offenders and send them to drug courts, which Gibbons said would eventually save the state $4 million annually.

The plan would also give law enforcement more tools for identifying and disciplining people who abuse prescription drugs, officials said.

The safety reforms are the product of the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group, a band of commissioners and administrators from 11 state agencies. The plan includes 11 objectives and 40 action steps.

Some of the ideas can be implemented by the administration while others will take legislative approval.

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Liberty and Justice News

Few Fined for Texting Behind the Wheel

Tennessee lawmakers outlawed texting while driving more than two years ago. At the time, predictions were that 3,650 people a year would end up getting pinched thumbing their noses at the law while they thumbed away at their hand-held communication devices.

This year, Tennessee Highway Patrol has issued only 174 citations.

Although state officials say they don’t know how many local police citations have been written up, lawmakers who drove the bill through the Legislature say that despite the lack of tickets issued, they still believe the new law has been a success, and not a solution in search of a problem.

“I think law enforcement is beginning to figure out how to enforce it now, and it is difficult, but I think you’re going to see more enforcement as we move on,” said Chairman Jim Tracy who carried the bill in the Senate and runs the chamber’s Transportation Committee.

In 2009, lawmakers approved the texting and driving ban under the assumption it would also collected some $41,600 in fines through the up to $50 per ticket fee.

But in 2010, the state only collected $2,010 in state and county-issued citations, drastically below the state’s original estimates. THP issued 171 citations that year.

Officials who hand off such projections to the Legislature admitted earlier this year they overestimated the number of citations that would be issued for texting and driving in Tennessee.

The new law has yet to cover the price of implementation, which cost taxpayers $10,500 in programming changes to departmental systems required to enforce and track violations of the ban.

“Despite the challenges, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is and continues to strictly enforce this law,” wrote Department of Safety Spokeswoman Dalya Qualls in an email. “It is our hope that the prohibition of texting while driving in Tennessee, along with enforcement and education, will help alter the behavior of drivers around the state.”

The law bans sending a written message on a cell phone or other electronic communications device while the vehicle is in motion, punishable with a Class C misdemeanor which is limited to an up to $50 fine, although the state projected the average fine would be $15. Although the vehicle is in motion, the violation is ranked as non-moving and is not marked on a driver’s record.

The number of vehicle crashes involving cell phone use is on the rise. In 2007, the state counted 577 phone-related crashes, which has climbed to 918 last year, however the department statistics are unclear as to how many of those crashes included texting verses talking.

Rep. Jon Lundberg, who sponsored the ban in the House, said he’s torn between whether the low numbers are a result of a lack of enforcement or greater public awareness that texting while driving is prohibited.

“In most of our nature, we want to do things that are legal,” the Bristol Republican told TNReport. “I think most folks know that texting while driving is illegal in Tennessee.”

Thirty-five states currently ban texting while driving. Another nine have banned talking on handheld phones behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this month recommended Congress and state legislatures consider a ban on using cell phones, including hands-free devices, while driving.

But apparently there’s little immediate desire to jump on the next bandwagon and try to legislate cell phones out of Tennessee drivers’ hands.

“Talking on the phone and texting are different,” said Tracy, R-Shelbyville. “You’re doing a running conversation while you’re texting and you’re not concentrating on driving, where you can talk on the phone and keep your eyes up and look at the road. So I don’t see a movement to ban telephones yet.”

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Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Haslam Defends Occupy Nashville Arrests

Gov. Bill Haslam is standing by his administration’s decision to arrest Occupy Nashville protesters who violated the state’s newly written Legislative Plaza curfew policies, saying it was necessary to ensure public safety.

He said complaints were rolling in from lawmakers of both parties, staff and personnel from the Department of General Services who reported having to clean up human waste at the Plaza.

“We’re not out trying to prove a legal point. This isn’t fun for us or our Highway Patrol officers,” Haslam told reporters. “But we feel we have a responsibility for safety, and if something happens there, I can promise you this whole group will just be here saying, ‘Governor, how did you let that happen?'”

When asked whether he would have pursued the arrests if he could make the decision over again, the governor said he felt his original decision was “reasonable.”

“We thought it was important to set up a curfew. It’s common sense. There’s people living, people camping down there, and there are no public restroom facilities, and the crime had become an increasing issue. And so we set a curfew, which we again, felt like is reasonable. That being said, the only way to enforce a curfew is to do what we did,” said Haslam.

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday that bars the state from making further arrests for protesters occupying the plaza following 55 arrests late last week. The state and lawyers representing Occupy Nashville protesters have until Nov. 21 to agree on a set of new policies.

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Environment and Natural Resources Featured Liberty and Justice

Bikers Butt Heads With Bean Counters

Even with Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny in the saddle of an effort to allow motorcycle riders to opt out of wearing helmets, he says he’s still only got a “50/50” shot of getting the bill to the floor next year.

And even then, that doesn’t mean it’ll get much more traction.

“I think it’s going to happen eventually. It’s manifest destiny,” said Matheny, a Tullahoma Republican who is trying to rev up support among lawmakers on the House Transportation Committee to allow bikers with at least $15,000 of medical insurance coverage to ditch their helmets if they’re at least 21 years old.

The issue has been cruising around Capitol Hill for almost a decade under different sponsors as advocates for a helmet-free lifestyle argue they should have the freedom to choose whether to wear a lid. They add that loosening up the laws will boost tourism revenues by attracting more bikers to the state.

Meanwhile, opponents say changing the law will lead to more fatalities and boost health care costs.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, passing the legislation would have an indirect increase in costs to public health systems for state and local governments, including an estimate that TennCare costs could increase by $2 million.

“I understand the proponents talk about freedom, nobody’s against freedom,” said Gary Zelizer, director of government affairs for the Tennessee Medical Association. Zelizer argues that the bill would lead to deaths of teenagers riding without a helmet, even though they would not be covered by the exemption. “I hear the tourism issue. But should those be at the expense of our kids?… Is that what you really want to do?”

Some 158,000 motorcycles were registered in Tennessee last year, according to state agencies. About 4,700 bikers are involved in crashes each year, with roughly one in five resulting in head injuries, according to the fiscal note.

When Florida implemented a law similar to Matheny’s proposal, the state saw a more than 80 percent increase in head injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Earlier this year, the bill languished in committee until the Transportation Subcommittee agreed to study the issue over the summer. Members plan to sit down with the Fiscal Review team to examine exactly how it developed its price tag, which Matheny says will help the measure get past a major road block.

Matheny, who rides horses instead of a hog, said he would be equally upset if the state required him to wear a helmet on horseback, and suggested bikers should have the choice to sign some sort of liability waiver stating they understand the risks of biking sans helmet.

“Giving personal responsibility back to people, and letting them be responsible for their own actions if they know the inherent risk, is not something that is alien to this General Assembly,” Matheny said.