Pre-meetings flourish in Tennessee House

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert seeks good answers to the question of why lawmakers see the need to hold pre-meetings before their regularly scheduled (and live-streamed) meetings. Spoiler alert: There are none.

The pre-meetings are held in hard-to-find — and often changing — locations, with schedules buried in obscure sections of the legislative website. Conference rooms are packed with lawmakers and lobbyists and usually include few members of the public.

From Ebert’s fine report:

Technically, no votes are taken in pre-meetings — that’s what the committee meetings are for. But as some bills are considered in committees, it is clear lawmakers have a sense of the measure’s fate even before a vote.

This year, the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee found several instances of lawmakers counting or influencing members’ votes on legislation.

When Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, presented a bill on March 5, he was told a poll of members would be conducted before the legislation would go before the House State Committee.

“Out of respect for you, of course, I’m going to take time between now and over the next 90 minutes here to try to get a poll here,” (Chairman Kelly) Keisling said.

13 Responses to Pre-meetings flourish in Tennessee House

  • James White says:

    WHAT ! How can this be? Aren’t the Republicans the most OPEN and TRANSPARENT body of legislators this side of Heaven?

  • MarLE says:

    I thought Sunshine Laws prevented private meetings of legislators.

    • David White says:

      The fine Legislature has exempted themselves from the Sunshine Law. I only applies to local governments.

  • Susan E Gingrich says:

    This kind of thing appears to be rampant in all levels of TN government. I was told by an elected county official that transparency is subjective. That’s for sure, and taxpayers aren’t subjected to it! #Patriots Reborn

  • Betty J. Ziesel says:

    It’s nothing new, folks. It’s rampant in all levels of government, including DC! Where have the People been! Very few of the ones elected, go on to constitutionally legislate. There is way too much pressure by the promise of power, and more money, if they serve the leaders, lobbyists, and deep pocket donors instead of the people back home to whom they made promises of listening to them and carrying their voices forwarded.

    It’s nothing new!!!

  • Fritz says:

    What is this new thing?. Backroom meetings and closed door discussions? This has never happened before about 10,000 years ago. I, for one, am shocked.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Business lobby: “Job killer!” (Any bill that would disturb the profits of employers who hire foreign nationals subsidized by the American taxpayers.)


    Yesterday morning (Tuesday, 3/12 morning) I noticed a statement on the bottom of the House Local Committee calendar which said “(Bill Review / Stakeholders meetings are held on Tuesdays from 9:30 – 10:30 in HHR V.)” I asked and was told the meeting was open to the public so I went. There were about 30 people in the room. The chairman and most of the committee members were there and they went through the prepared calendar. The bill’s sponsor explained what the bill was, members asked questions and they had a bit of a discussion about the subject. Sometimes it was a short discussion and sometimes it took longer. It reminded me of a dress rehearsal for a play because today in the actual committee meeting it was like I had a marked up script – I knew what bills were going to pass – what bills were going to fail – and what bills were going to be rolled and for how long.

  • Gerald Mahoney says:

    It took me five seconds to find this schedule on TN Leg website… give me a break. This blog is so skewed and completely lacking in objective reporting since Tom left. The difference between this blog now, and two years ago is absolutely incredible. This used to be THE site to go for information (information, not commentary) about the TN Leg. Now, its just a competition in between the blog and Gannett to see how stupid and crooked they can make the TN Leg look to the public because they are so pissed that at the the Republican super majority.

    • Erik Schelzig says:

      If you can coax Old Tom out of retirement, I’m all for it!

      • Donna Locke says:

        Tom is probably hunting and fishing. Gerald makes some good points, though, Erik. And the first paragraph of Ebert’s ” report,” which I read in print, is so sensationalized, it is silly. Ebert indicated he’d been to a dozen or so of these pre-meetings. Is that all? I guess we’ll never know what’s going on.

  • Gerald Mahoney says:

    Not to mention committees have been having bill review meetings for years!

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