Lobbyists included in Capitol ban but told remainder of session to focus on budget

Lawmakers await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Lobbyists are to be included in the General Assembly’s decision to close access to the legislative office complex in the face of the coronavirus crisis, but legislative leaders have told the Tennessee Lobbyists Association that lawmakers will be “encouraged to only continue with legislation pertaining to the budget and funding.”

Presumably that would mean lawmakers would put hot-button issues on ice while charging ahead on getting the annual spending plan passed. But state funding is a major focus of many lobbying activities, so it remains to be seen how the plan would work in practice.

And as several observers have noted, encouraging members to act in a certain way isn’t the same as putting a hard stop to hearings on controversial bills. One way to underscore the plan to wary advocates would be to begin shutting down major committees early in the week to allow the finance panels to become the center of attention.

“It was confirmed to me that beginning on Monday, only members, staff, and media will have access to the CHB until further notice,” Steve Buttry, the chairman of the Tennessee Lobbyists Association and a former state lawmaker, said in an email to members. “This means lobbyists will not have access to the building during the closure to the public.

“I was also told that the goal is an expedited session. Members are being encouraged to only continue with legislation pertaining to the budget and funding,” he said. “Obviously the situation is very fluid.”

19 Responses to Lobbyists included in Capitol ban but told remainder of session to focus on budget

  • Avatar
    Just think out loud says:

    TENNESSEE Constitution Article 2 Section 22 reads

    The doors of each House and of committees of the whole shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.

    JUST SAYING!

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    Old Faithful says:

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

    The Petition Clause protects the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. This includes the right to communicate with government officials, lobbying government officials and petitioning the courts by filing lawsuits with a legal basis.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      The federal constitution applies to the federal government except where it does mention the states.

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        You may want to retract the former says:

        Umm not sure about that one but feel free to believe what you think is correct. Should you want to learn some more about how the US constitution applies to every level of government there is a bountiful supply of articles, Supreme Court decision, peer reviewed papers, etc…
        Not to belabor the fact but the constitution kind of governs how we the people are to be governed. What you are referring to the 10th amendment states in simple terms “if not here than there” not “this only applies to this”. Good luck my friend hope you the best of life!

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          James White says:

          The Federal constitution says, congress is to DO this and Congress is to DO that, and then it says if we forgot something then you can NOT do that, then it is left to the states and/or the people.
          :
          ARTICLE I

          SECTION. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
          ….
          SECTION. 8. The Congress shall have Power To …..
          ….
          AMENDMENT I

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,……
          ……
          AMENDMENT X

          The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
          ……

          IT IS very Plain to understand.

  • Avatar
    Phil Lassiter says:

    This is the way they. Have always wanted it anyway. The lobbyists can still have their parties and dinners so the legislature will have their cake and eat it to. The government will want an annual Coronavirus after this

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    Jonathan Swift says:

    So, will the best legislature money can buy have to limit their “consultations with interested parties” to sites outside the state buildings, or will they just do Facetime or Skype?

  • Avatar
    Misty Pardner says:

    The media is sill allowed in and all meetings are televised and available online. Get a grip, people.

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      Misty has a point “great plug” for openness says:

      Misty your comments are extremely valid. I would say though watching is not the same as participating. Yes we can call, email, text, fax, overnight express, snail mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so many more avenues to communicate but the face to face meetings are so much more effective when discussing matters that effect constituencies. These legislators are all brilliant individuals but not many of them are subject matter experts and unfortunately the complexity of law now almost requires this level of competency. It would be better for all if they come in Monday and recess until the 2nd of April. The fiscal year does not begin until July 1 so budget can wait and waiting until all can be represented and all can have their grievances heard is better public policy.

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      James White says:

      Misty, we sure can trust the fake news media.

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    David says:

    The only thing the legislature must do is pass a budget by June 30th. They could recess for a full month, consider not bills, come back in May and pass a budget and could then conduct any other business they want to. The problem is they don’t want to. Why, because they want to be running for re-election in May and sure don’t want to be there until June 30th, about a month away from the primary election. Getting the budget done by end of April is for their political sakes.

  • Avatar
    Phil Lassiter says:

    Where is Stuart?! I hope he has no viruses

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