Cameron Sexton

New TNJ edition alert: The Cameron Sexton interview

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), left, and Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) await the begin of the State of the State address on Jan 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— TNJ Interview: House Speaker Cameron Sexton reflects on recovering from ‘trauma’ of scandals in House, building trust with Senate, and his expectations about future relations with Gov. Bill Lee.

— No cakewalk for Joe Carr in Rutherford County?

— Federal judge shoots down Starbuck’s effort to be restored to GOP ballot in 5th District.

— AG’s office confirms 5th District ballots could be changed until next month, raising questions about why redistricting fixes couldn’t have been made in time.

Also: Speculation about attorney general successor kicks into overdrive, Brian Kelsey gets another delay for his federal campaign finance case, and Memphis’ Democratic mayor backs “truth in sentencing” law.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Lee declines signature on ‘truth in sentencing’ bill

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters in Gainsboro on July 8. 2021. (Image credit: State of Tennessee)

Gov. Bill Lee has declined to sign a “truth in sentencing” bill championed by legislative Republicans to require people convicted of violent crimes to serve all of their sentences behind bars, The Tennessee Journal has learned.

Under the final version of the bill sponsored by House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), 100% of sentences would have to be served for nine categories of crimes, including murder, vehicular homicide, and carjacking. Seventeen other violent offenses — such as aggravated assault, reckless homicide, or possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony — would allow prisoners to qualify for release after serving 85% of their sentences.

“Data does not support the basic premise of the legislation,” Lee wrote to the speakers. “Similar legislation has been enacted before and resulted in significant operational and financial strain, with no reduction in crime. Widespread evidence suggests that this policy will result in more victims, higher recidivism, increased crime, and prison overcrowding, all with an increased cost to taxpayers. For these reasons, I have chosen not to sign the bill.”

The bill passed the House on a vote of 86-9 and 20-7 in the Senate. It will become law without Lee’s signature.

Here’s a statement from Sexton in response:

You can protect criminals or you can protect victims.  I stand with victims, as do members of law enforcement, our district attorneys, and criminal judges across Tennessee. In 2020, the U.S. Sentencing Commission published a study stating stronger sentencing has a statistically significant deterrent effect by reducing crime and lowering recidivism. That’s why Tennessee’s law enforcement community stood behind us and supported this legislation.

Sometimes we need to use common-sense approaches; more violent criminals in jail for longer periods means less crime and fewer victims. Softer sentences mean more crime and more victims.

Our job is to keep our communities safe, protect our families, and support law enforcement.  If we need to build more prisons, we can. Either we value life or we don’t; this legislation was about the most violent crimes committed in our state.  It’s hard to stand with victims and law enforcement by going easy on criminals.

McNally dials it back a bit:

Truth in Sentencing is vital legislation that not only offers justice and transparency to victims but also acts as a critical deterrent against violent offenders. The costs associated with the legislation are well worth the peace of mind offered to victims and the overall boost to public safety. While I disagree with Governor Lee’s critique of the bill, I appreciate his willingness to work with Speaker Sexton and I to get the bill in a posture to avoid a veto. I am grateful this bill is now the law of the land in Tennessee.”

CPAC organizer pans Tennessee’s ‘truth-in-sentencing’ bill

Lawmakers attend Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The American Conservative Union is speaking out against legislation pending in the Tennessee General Assembly to make people convicted of violent crimes serve 100% of their sentences without the possibility of parole. The measure has been championed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), but appears to fly in the face of Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s criminal justice reform efforts.

Lawmakers are expected to include the sentencing measure in the annual state spending plan they intend to pass later this week.

Legislative analysts have projected a $28 million annual cost increase for making the change, while the state Department of Correction puts the number at $90 million.

“It would be one thing to spend massive sums on prisons if the proposal was based on evidence that requiring criminals to serve 100% of their sentences would increase public safety,” according to the letter. “However, there is no such data.”

The ACU “strongly opposes” the bill and urges lawmakers to reject it. Voting in favor will adversely affect annual lawmaker rankings, the group said.

Here’s the letter sent to McNally and Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga):

Dear Lt. Governor McNally and Chairman Watson:

The American Conservative Union (“ACU”) is the nation’s oldest grassroots advocacy organization. Founded in 1964 by William F. Buckley, we have a 50-plus-year track record of advancing policies that reduce the size and scope of government, advance liberty, and reduce burdens on families.

Historically, Tennessee has been a beacon of conservative principles and leadership. With an overall rating of 74% all-time from our sister organization, the American Conservative Union Foundation, Tennessee stands head and shoulders above other state legislatures in its conservative voting record. But we find ourselves very concerned about a particular proposal making its way through the legislature: House Bill 2656/Senate Bill 2248.

Commonly referred to as “Truth in Sentencing,” the proposal under consideration would require individuals convicted of certain crimes to serve 100 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for release. While this sounds tough on crime and reasonable on its face, there are many factors that go into the effectiveness and long-term consequences of such policy changes. More than 90% of those in Tennessee’s prisons will pay their debts to society and return to their communities. Our goal is to have them return as better versions of themselves by completing their education, addressing addiction, and participating in mental health counseling and other proven anti-recidivism programs. Offering prisoners time off for good behavior is a key incentive that makes this possible, and in turn makes Tennessee safer.

Of course, no one is arguing that people should be given a pass for wrongdoing. Those who break the law must be held accountable for their actions. The counter is that if we fail to provide incentives, prisons will remain mere warehouses of humanity. Those returning will be no better than when they went in. And this means that Tennessee communities will forgo public safety benefits that would otherwise be available.

Adding to the concerns around the public safety impact of this bill is the tremendous uncertainty around its true fiscal impact. While the fiscal note indicates this bill will create $27.7 million in increased expenditures, TDOC data reflects costs much closer to $90 million. One report reflects that increasing aggravated burglary offenses alone to 100 percent will cost taxpayers $38.7 million per year, including $8.7 million of that absorbed locally.

As eye-opening as these numbers are (especially for a state that prides itself on fiscal conservativism), this legislation could cost taxpayers far more. According to TDOC testimony before the Senate Judiciary, cost projections around this bill do not account for the possibility that new prison facilities might be necessary to accommodate the prison population growth that would result from the passage of this bill. With Tennessee’s prisons are already operating at 92% capacity, there would become a much higher likelihood TDOC will either have to build new prisons or contract for more capacity. Either option is likely to run into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in new government spending.

It would be one thing to spend massive sums on prisons if the proposal was based on evidence that requiring criminals to serve 100% of their sentences would increase public safety. However, there is no such data. But there is analysis from the United States Sentencing Commission that indicates that early releases of drug offenders had no adverse impact on crime. In fact, there was a marginal reduction in recidivism for those who were granted early release.

Finally, we would note that eliminating time off for good behavior in the Truth in Sentencing package under consideration would endanger the safety of Tennessee’s corrections officers. Stated simply, those who have nothing to lose have no reason to follow the rules. And this has proven true in other states.

After Arizona enacted its own version of Truth In Sentencing, rules infractions in facilities increased by 50 percent, education program enrollment dropped by20 percent, and the three-year reincarceration rates rose by over 7 percentage points(a nearly 40 percent increase). Unfortunately, this trio of negative results also cost the Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars, while furthering the damage to already broken communities and families.

Accordingly, we view House Bill 2656 and Senate Bill 2248 as proposals that cost too much, do too little to make Tennessee communities safer, and endanger correctional staff along the way.

Accordingly, ACU strongly opposes this legislation and urges you to reject it. We have also recommended to our colleagues at the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Legislative Accountability (Ratings) that they rate a vote to approve HB 2656/SB2248 negatively in our 2022 ratings.

Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me […].

Respectfully,

Patrick Plein

American Conservative Union

New TNJ alert: Here come the subpoenas, slammed doors, and divining rods

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The new edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here’s what’s in it:

— It’s subpoena time in the federal probe that ensnared ex-Rep. Robin Smith. At least three lawmakers and a legislative staffer are set to appear before the grand jury next week.

— Lee’s budget amendment signals the end is near for this year’s legislative session.

— Legislative roundup: Terri Lynn Weaver slams the door after failing to get a second, Indian gaming proposal stalls, the legislature grabs the authority to name six of nine members of the state Board of Education, and it won’t get any easier for minor parties to get on the ballot.

— Andy Ogles jumps into 5th Congressional District race, but his campaign infrastructure has yet to catch up.

Also: Jason Hodges welcomes the FBI to the Capitol, indicted Sen. Brian Kelsey honored as a “public-spirited citizen of the highest order,” Tennessee could grow by 1 million residents in next 20 years, and the state GOP asks for cash for a new computer.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

House members subpoenaed in federal probe of shadowy vendor

Cade Cothren, speaking on phone, attends a meeting with lawmakers and fellow staffers on the balcony ouside the House chamber on April 29, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tenenssee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) is among lawmakers subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury about a shadowy campaign vendor linked to former Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and his onetime chief of staff, Cade Cothren.

“We have been fully cooperating with the federal authorities since I became speaker in 2019,” Sexton said in a statement. “It is not unexpected that I and other members would be called to appear before a grand jury to provide factual statements as part of this ongoing investigation.”

The subpoenas, which were first reported by WTVF-TV’s Phil Williams, follow a guilty plea by former Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) earlier this month in which she admitted participating in a scheme to hide who was behind the vendor called Phoenix Solutions. The charging document makes thinly veiled references to Casada and Cothren being the other participants.

Smith has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation as part of her plea agreement.

Lawmakers scramble to raise money before high-noon deadline

Lawmakers are scrambling to collect last-minute campaign donations as a fundraising ban looms. The blackout begins once the gavel falls on the start of the regular session at noon on Tuesday. It will last until the General Assembly adjourns for the year — or May 15 if they can’t complete their business before then.

As Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) had an event to raise money for his PAC on Monday at the Nashville City Club, while his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), held an event at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse .

Sexton spokesman Doug Kufner told the paper “the practice of hosting fundraisers on the day before the start of a legislative session is not uncommon and has occurred regularly among members of both parties in recent years.

Raising money will be all the more crucial for lawmakers facing potential primary challenges under this year’s newly drawn political maps.

Sexton to AP: The Nashville split is on

Rep. Cameron Sexton presides over his first session as House speaker on Aug. 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton is confirming plans to carve up the heavily-Democratic 5th Congressional District in Nashville to give Republicans a chance to pick up an eighth of the state’s nine congressional seats.

According to Associated Press reporters Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, Sexton wouldn’t say exactly how many districts would split the state’s second-largest county.

“I won’t give an exact number. but it’s either two or three,” Sexton told the AP.

“I’ve never bought into the approach that having multiple people represent a big city is bad thing,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper has held the seat since 2003.

UPDATE: Andy Sher at the Chattanooga Times Free Press spoke to Sexton about whether plowing Democrats into currently safe GOP seats could make future races competitive.

“Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, which is fine. . . . Whether or not it does what people say it does, only time will tell that,” Sexton told the paper.

“It’s not unprecedented in our state where those large urban areas and congressional areas have been split . . . . We think we can do it, and we think it will be constitutional if we go that way,” Sexton said.

Lee declines to sign nullification resolution passed during special session

A statue of President Andrew Jackson is seen in front of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has declined to sign a resolution passed during a recent special session touting the state’s purported right to pass laws to nullify federal COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements.

The Republican governor does not appear to have transmitted a statement to lawmakers about why he is allowing the resolution to go into effect without his signature.

The Senate version passed 24-6, while the House vote was 64-17.

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) carried the measure on behalf of House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

“The nullification theory was first broached in 1832 when Tennessee’s own Andrew Jackson was president,” Ragan said in floor comments. “The state of South Carolina began it, and President Jackson threatened to invade with federal troops to settle the issue. However, the federal government ultimately backed down.”

Ragan’s statement drew a retort from Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson).

“I wanted to make sure the record was clear: the federal government didn’t back down, South Carolina quit,” said Curcio, who voted against the resolution. “But they continued in their behavior until eventually Fort Sumter was fired on, creating a tragedy for this country. I want to remind everybody that emulating such behavior is very, very serious.”

The full language of the resolution follows.

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Sexton’s nullification resolution declares right to snub federal COVID-19 rules

A statue of President Andrew Jackson is seen in front of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has a filed a resolution declaring the Tennessee General Assembly may “nullify” actions it deems to constitute federal overreach.

“It is the right of the Tennessee General Assembly to enact such legislation as it deems necessary to nullify actions taken by the federal government regarding COVID-19 when those actions violate the United States Constitution,” according to Sexton’s resolution.

The resolution employs terminology echoing the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, in which South Carolina lawmakers called a state convention to declare a federal tariff null and void. Supporters thought President Andrew Jackson, a Tennessee plantation owner, would back them. He instead issued a proclamation stating his opposition to the move and threatened to respond with force if supporters took up arms over the issue.

South Carolina ultimately backed down, and Jackson, who is memorialized with a statue outside the state Capitol, was credited with staving off the Civil War by 30 years.

Here’s the full text of Sexton’s resolution:

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 9005

By Sexton C

A RESOLUTION to address the federal government’s penalizing, or taxation of, citizens of this State through enforcement of restrictions relative to COVID-19 by supporting the challenging, condemning, and nullifying of such action.

WHEREAS, on September 9, 2021, the President of the United States announced an executive order that mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for employees of federal contractors and subcontractors; and

WHEREAS, President Biden also announced a forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or routine testing for employers with more than 100 employees; and

WHEREAS, part of the President’s COVID-19 Action Plan includes having the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies; and

WHEREAS, the new CMS requirements will be in addition to the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities previously announced by CMS, and will apply to nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care; and

WHEREAS, federalism is described and analyzed in Bond v. United States, 564 U.S. 211 (2011), in which the United States Supreme Court declared that the federal system rests on the insight that “freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one”; and

WHEREAS, the Court further stated that this freedom is enhanced “first by protecting the integrity of the [two] governments themselves, and second by protecting the people, from whom all governmental powers are derived”; and

WHEREAS, federalism serves “to grant and delimit the prerogatives and responsibilities of the States and the National Government vis-a-vis one another . . . [and] preserves the integrity, dignity, and residual sovereignty of the States”; and

WHEREAS, this federal balance “ensure[s] that States function as political entities in their own right”; and

WHEREAS, “[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake”; and

WHEREAS, the limitations prescribed under federalism are not “a matter of rights belonging only to the States. States are not the sole intended beneficiaries of federalism. An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balance between the National Government and the States”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012), further analyzed federalism and the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as the taxing power of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the Court acknowledged that a government’s “police power” is the general power of governing, possessed by the states but not by the federal government as the federal government only possesses enumerated powers listed in the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution’s express conferral of some powers for the federal government makes clear that it does not grant others, and the federal government can exercise only the powers granted to it; and

WHEREAS, the independent power of the states serves as a check on the power of the federal government; by denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power; and

WHEREAS, the federal government may create incentives for states to act in accordance with federal policies, but when pressure turns into compulsion, it runs contrary to federalism, and the Constitution does not give federal government the authority to require the states to regulate, regardless of whether the federal government directly commands a state to regulate or indirectly coerces a state to adopt a federal regulatory system as its own; and

WHEREAS, assertions of federal authority must be grounded in some constitutional grant of power, with the most common basis for federal intervention in private affairs being the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which empowers Congress “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states”; and

WHEREAS, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court held that the Commerce Clause cannot be used to compel individuals to engage in activity, even when such activity has an impact on interstate commerce; and

WHEREAS, while the compelled activity in NFIB was purchasing health insurance, the logic applies with equal force to a federal mandate to get an injection or submit to a weekly test, as foreshadowed by Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, when he rejected an interpretation of the Commerce Clause that would allow, for example, Congress to pass a law requiring individuals to buy vegetables to promote healthier eating habits; and

WHEREAS, it is Congress, not the executive branch, that is granted the enumerated power under Article I, § 8, to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”; and

WHEREAS, the essential feature of any “tax” is that it produces at least some revenue for the government, and in distinguishing penalties from taxes, the general concept of a “penalty” means punishment for an unlawful act or omission; and

WHEREAS, the federal government cannot change whether an exaction is a tax or a penalty for constitutional purposes simply by describing it as one or the other; and

WHEREAS, the Court in NFIB determined that the exaction that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imposed on those without health insurance, through the act’s shared responsibility payment, was a “tax,” for purposes of Congress’s taxing power, though the act described the exaction as a penalty rather than as a tax, and the exaction was intended to affect individual conduct; and

WHEREAS, by requiring employees or employers in this State to pay for a COVID-19 test to comply with federal mandates, including the forthcoming ETS to be issued by OSHA, such employees or employers will effectively be taxed by the executive branch and not by an act of Congress, as constitutionally required; and

WHEREAS, reliance by the federal government on OSHA to implement a federal mandate represents an egregious overstepping of the authority that is granted to OSHA under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, as nothing in that law even hints at the sweeping powers the President has claimed; and

WHEREAS, the Occupation Safety and Health Act’s reference to “substances or agents” strongly suggests that OSHA’s ETS power is meant to target workplace hazards like dangerous chemicals and not naturally occurring hazards like viruses; and

WHEREAS, decisions regarding any vaccine mandate properly belong to the states, not the federal government, and United States Supreme Court precedents on the validity of vaccine mandates under Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) and Zucht v. King, 260 U.S.

174 (1922), involve state, not federal, laws, and are part of the broad “police powers” enjoyed by the states; and

WHEREAS, the announced executive orders and COVID-19 Action Plan are attempts by the federal government to coerce the State of Tennessee and its citizens in violation of both the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution; and

WHEREAS, each member of the General Assembly has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of Tennessee and the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, if the federal government intends to overreach its authority to the point that it assumes the traditional constitutional role of a state legislative body, it is only fitting and proper that the very existence, as well as the depth and breadth, of this federal power be condemned and challenged not just in a court of law, but also through actions of the General Assembly to nullify such federal overreach; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE

CONCURRING, that the State of Tennessee condemns any attempt by the federal government to penalize or tax citizens of this State in an effort to enforce an unconstitutional mandate regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or other COVID-related restrictions and requirements.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the right of the Tennessee General Assembly to enact such legislation as it deems necessary to nullify actions taken by the federal government regarding COVID-19 when those actions violate the United States Constitution.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Tennessee General Assembly urges the Attorney General and Reporter of the State of Tennessee to initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the State of Tennessee or, in the alternative, seek appropriate relief in a federal court of competent jurisdiction regarding COVID-19 mandates issued by the federal government, and any actions taken by the federal government, including the President of the United States, the head of any department or agency, or any other employee of the executive branch of the federal government, in violation of federal law or as prohibited by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, or any other statutory or constitutional provisions of the United States or the State of Tennessee, with respect to the implementation or enforcement in this State of any provision of the federal government’s mandate that requires citizens of this State to either receive a COVID-19 vaccination or submit to routine testing.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Attorney General and Reporter of Tennessee.

79 special session bills have been filed in the House, but here are the 8 that matter most

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House members have submitted 79 bills this week’s session aimed at dialing back COVID-19 mandates (among other things). But the last eight dropped in the hopper before the filing deadline are the ones most worth paying attention to.

They all have one key thing in common: their sponsor is House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

With the upper chamber’s filing deadline coming later, it will be most interesting to see whether Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) serves as cosponsor to Sexton’s package of bills. (UPDATE: McNally signed on to all of them).

Having spearheaded the effort to hold this special session, Sexton will be under enormous pressure to pass most or all of his agenda. It remains to be seen how far the Senate will be willing to go along — and how forcefully the business community will push back against efforts to interfere in their operations.

Here are the bills in question, in a rough order of controversy:

HB9078: Banning businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from customers or employees.

HB9077: Allowing employees fired for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to collect unemployment benefits.

HB9072: Requiring partisan school board elections for school boards.

HB9076: Granting the governor exclusive authority over orders and directives regarding county health departments during a pandemic and giving county mayors the power to decide over local health matters.

HB9074: Requiring the state Attorney General to seek fines of $10,000 for failing to enforce or execute emergency orders.

HB9071: Allowing the state attorney general to request a replacement for a local prosecutor who “peremptorily and categorically refuses” to bring criminal charges on certain laws.

HB9075: Limiting the duration of states of emergency issued by the governor from 60 to 45 days.

HB9073: Allowing banks to use cash as a form of eligible collateral for purposes of securing public deposits amid the massive influx of federal recovery funds.