State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) has filed legislation (SB-2069) to allow local governments in Tennessee to conduct their own special census to include unborn children in their population. Since local governments receive state dollars based on population size, Pody says this legislation will benefit local governments by putting them in a position to receive more funds from the state.
"Even though a child might not yet be born, that life will certainly add to the population size and impact the community," said Pody. "Not only will it cost money to educate that child, but that life will also increase costs for infrastructure, healthcare and other services. This legislation simply gives local governments the opportunity to prepare for the arrival of that child and ensure they have the proper funds to meet the needs of the community."
Though the federal census is conducted every ten years, some Tennessee cities with fast growing populations have opted to conduct a special census. The purpose of an interim census is to get a more accurate population count, which can dramatically change in only a few years. For instance, the cities of Lebanon and Gallatin grew by over 8.5 percent from 2017 - 2018, according to the Tennessee State Data Center.
"Cities and towns, especially in the Nashville area, are growing rapidly, and experts project these trends will continue," said Pody. "It is important for city planners and local officials working to provide services in these communities to have the most accurate population count possible, and this legislation will support those efforts."
Pody also says the bill is in line with Tennessee values, which recognizes an unborn child as a person.
"If we believe an unborn child is a person, and I certainly do, then the life of that child deserves to be counted in the population," said Pody.
The legislation has been referred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee, where it will be considered in the coming weeks.