Tenn. Senate Advances Age Verification Bill With Felony Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Lawmakers in a Tennessee senate committee unanimously voted to favor an age verification bill that would make it a felony charge for adult website operators who fail to comply with the law, reports wire service The Center Square.

Senate Bill (SB) 1792 was introduced by state Sen. Becky Massey and supported by Republican lawmakers. It is a companion bill to House Bill (HB) 1614, which AVN reported on in December 2023 when the sponsor of that bill, Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, introduced it.

Both bills use virtually the same language. They attempt to present age verification requirements as "reasonable."

However, the bills contain language that charges violators with a felony. Other penalties adult site operators would be liable for include damages, attorney's costs and court fees. 

Since the bills are companions, they will be resolved in conference committees between both the House and Senate and agreed upon by both chambers before being sent to the governor's office for ratification or veto.

Gov. Bill Lee, a hard-right Republican, would likely sign an age verification bill. Lee signed into law an unconstitutional ban on drag performances by characterizing the First Amendment-protected activity as "obscene."

A federal district judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled the ban on drag performances unconstitutional.

Rep. Hazlewood and Sen. Massey both openly supported the drag bans adopted by the state legislature, which is held by a Republican supermajority.