Senate backbenchers: Two can play at that game

State Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) waits for the State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Not to be outdone by House backbenchers filing the bulk of the bills in the ongoing special session on dialing back COVID-19 mandates, a handful of Senators who otherwise have little legislative clout have followed suit in a big way.

Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) is sponsoring 27 bills, Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) has 12, Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) as signed on to 11, and Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) is backing 10. Together, the four senators account for 60 of 84 bills filed before the deadline, or 71% of the total.

Here’s full breakdown.

  • Mark Pody (R-Lebanon): 27
  • Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma): 12
  • Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald): 11
  • Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains): 10
  • Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge): 9
  • Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville): 4
  • Mike Bell (R-Riceville): 2
  • Paul Rose (R-Covington): 2
  • Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis): 2
  • Ed Jackson (R-Jackson): 2
  • Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield): 1
  • Steve Southerland (R-Morristown): 1
  • Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville): 1

Revenge of the backbenchers? Here is who is behind this week’s special session bills

House Republicans attend a caucus meeting in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As pointed out earlier, House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s package of eight bills (plus one more to pay for lawmaker expenses) are expected to get the most serious attention during this week’s special session aimed at dialing back COVID-19 mandates.

The remaining 65 Republican bills filed before the deadline are sponsored by 16 members who — with a few exceptions — are not particularly known for their legislative prowess. They include 14 filed by Rep. John Ragan of Oak Ridge, nine by Chris Todd of Jackson, six by Debra Moody of Covington, and five by Scott Cepicky of Culleoka.

Notably, only one of the members of Sexton’s special committee on redistricting, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), sponsored a special session bill. Redrawing district lines is considered one of the most serious matters facing lawmakers this fall. The bulk of this week’s special session bills, by contrast, aren’t expected to get more than cursory consideration.

Here’s the full breakdown of how many special session bills have been filed by each sponsor:

  • John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge): 14
  • Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville): 9
  • Chris Todd (R-Jackson): 9
  • Debra Moody (R-Covington): 6
  • London Lamar (D-Memphis): 5
  • Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport): 5
  • Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka): 5
  • Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin): 4
  • Bruce Griffey (R-Paris): 4
  • Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville): 3
  • Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville): 3
  • Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro): 3
  • Glen Casada (R-Franklin): 2
  • G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis): 2
  • Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski): 2
  • Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill): 2
  • Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster): 1
  • Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington): 1
  • Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville): 1


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