House

How they voted: House COVID bill limps across finish line

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

After much chest-beating and saber-rattling, the House backed off on several provisions of its bill aimed at blocking COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements. When the final vote was taken at 1:15 a.m. Saturday, the measure received the support of just 57 Republicans — a significant drop from the unanimous 73 who signed on to the petition to hold the the special session.

The House started out with an effort to create a near-universal ban on businesses imposing mask or vaccine mandates on either customers or employees — a rule that would have even extended to people hired to provide home care in private residences. The final version of the bill retained the ability of sports and entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or a negative test, restored the power of private citizens to set requirements for their homes, and allowed all private businesses to require masks.

Also exempt from the vaccine mandate ban are health care facilities and companies or institutions that can show their federal funding would be imperiled by noncompliance.

The bill does impose a ban on mask mandates at all public (but not private) schools. But the issue has been the subject of litigation ever since Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of mask mandates. (A separate bill to fine local officials up to $10,000 for ignoring executive orders (as was done in Shelby County and Nashville) failed in the Senate.)

Business groups will be parsing through the final language of the omnibus measure to see whether their concerns about increased litigation and conflicting state and federal rules have been addressed.

Read the Tennessean and Associated Press accounts for the full rundown.

In the end, 57 Republicans and one Democrat, John Mark Windle of Livingston, voted in favor of the bill. Thirteen Democrats and nine Republicans voted against. Nineteen members were either absent or abstained.

Here’s the breakdown:

RepresentativePartyVote
Alexander, RebeccaRAbsent or abstained
Baum, CharlieRNo
Beck, BillDNo
Boyd, ClarkRYes
Bricken, RushRAbsent or abstained
Byrd, DavidRYes
Calfee, KentRYes
Campbell, ScottyRYes
Camper, Karen D.DNo
Carr, DaleRYes
Carringer, MicheleRYes
Casada, GlenRYes
Cepicky, ScottRAbsent or abstained
Chism, JesseDAbsent or abstained
Clemmons, John RayDNo
Cochran, MarkRYes
Cooper, BarbaraDAbsent or abstained
Crawford, JohnRAbsent or abstained
Curcio, Michael G.RNo
Darby, TandyRYes
Dixie, VincentDAbsent or abstained
Doggett, ClayRYes
Eldridge, RickRYes
Faison, JeremyRYes
Farmer, AndrewRYes
Freeman, BobDNo
Gant, Ron M.RYes
Garrett, JohnnyRNo
Gillespie, JohnRYes
Griffey, BruceRYes
Grills, RustyRYes
Hakeem, YusufDAbsent or abstained
Halford, CurtisRYes
Hall, MarkRYes
Hardaway, G. A.DNo
Harris, Torrey C.DNo
Haston, KirkRYes
Hawk, DavidRYes
Hazlewood, PatsyRNo
Helton, EstherRYes
Hicks, GaryRYes
Hicks, TimRYes
Hodges, JasonDNo
Holsclaw, Jr., John B.RYes
Howell, DanRYes
Hulsey, BudRYes
Hurt, ChrisRYes
Jernigan, DarrenDAbsent or abstained
Johnson, CurtisRYes
Johnson, GloriaDNo
Keisling, KellyRYes
Kumar, Sabi ‘Doc’RNo
Lafferty, JustinRYes
Lamar, LondonDNo
Lamberth, WilliamRYes
Leatherwood, TomRYes
Littleton, MaryRYes
Love, Harold M., Jr.DAbsent or abstained
Lynn, SusanRYes
Mannis, EddieRNo
Marsh, PatRYes
McKenzie, SamDAbsent or abstained
Miller, Larry J.DAbsent or abstained
Mitchell, BoDNo
Moody, DebraRYes
Moon, JeromeRAbsent or abstained
Ogles, BrandonRYes
Parkinson, AntonioDAbsent or abstained
Potts, JasonDAbsent or abstained
Powell, JasonDNo
Powers, DennisRYes
Ragan, JohnRYes
Ramsey, BobRAbsent or abstained
Reedy, Jay D.RYes
Rudd, TimRYes
Rudder, IrisRYes
Russell, LowellRYes
Sexton, CameronRYes
Sexton, JerryRAbsent or abstained
Shaw, JohnnyDNo
Sherrell, PaulRYes
Smith, RobinRYes
Sparks, MikeRYes
Stewart, MikeDNo
Terry, BryanRYes
Thompson, DwayneDAbsent or abstained
Todd, ChrisRYes
Towns, Joe, Jr.DAbsent or abstained
Travis, RonRNo
Vaughan, KevinRYes
Vital, GregRYes
Warner, ToddRYes
Weaver, Terri LynnRNo
White, MarkRYes
Whitson, SamRNo
Williams, RyanRYes
Windle, John MarkDYes
Wright, DaveRYes
Zachary, JasonRYes

Here are your House committees for Special Session III

Speaker Cameron Sexton presides over a House floor session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the committees House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has assigned for the third special session of the year. The Senate is sticking with its regular committees.

Banking

  • Chair: Powers
  • Vice Chair: Boyd
  • Alexander
  • Bricken
  • Halford
  • Hardaway
  • Harris
  • Hicks, T.
  • Jernigan
  • Mannis

Covid-19

  • Chair: Farmer
  • Vice Chair: Grills
  • Carr
  • Carringer
  • Cooper
  • Darby
  • Eldridge
  • Faison
  • Hall
  • Hodges
  • Howell
  • Hulsey
  • Johnson, C
  • Lamberth
  • Potts
  • Rudder
  • Sherrell
  • Thompson
  • Todd
  • Warner
  • Zachary

Elections

  • Chair: Moon
  • Vice Chair: Wright
  • Campbell
  • Casada
  • Cepicky
  • Dixie
  • Doggett
  • Lafferty
  • Mitchell
  • Ramsey

Emergency Orders

  • Chair: Littleton
  • Vice Chair: Leatherwood
  • Calfee
  • Chism
  • Clemmons
  • Kumar
  • Lynn
  • Moody
  • Ogles
  • Parkinson
  • Rudd
  • Stewart

Finance, Ways, & Means

  • Chair: Hazlewood
  • Vice Chair: Hicks, G
  • Baum
  • Campbell
  • Camper
  • Chism
  • Cochran
  • Crawford
  • Gant
  • Faison
  • Helton
  • Howell
  • Lamar
  • Lamberth
  • Miller
  • Moody
  • Russell
  • Shaw
  • Vital
  • Williams
  • Windle
  • Zachary

Public Health

  • Chair: Terry
  • Vice Chair: Hawk
  • Byrd
  • Gant
  • Gillespie
  • Haston
  • Holsclaw
  • Kiesling
  • Love
  • Marsh
  • McKenzie
  • Powell
  • Smith
  • Sparks
  • Towns
  • Vaughan
  • White
  • Whitson
  • Williams

Judiciary

  • Chair: Curcio
  • Vice Chair: Russell
  • Beck
  • Garrett
  • Griffey
  • Hakeem
  • Hurt
  • Johnson, G
  • Lamar
  • Ragan
  • Reedy
  • Travis
  • Weaver

Calendar & Rules

  • Chair: Zachary
  • Vice Chair: Darby
  • Camper
  • Curcio
  • Faison
  • Farmer
  • Freeman
  • Gant
  • Grills
  • Hazlewood
  • Howell
  • Lamberth
  • Littleton
  • Love
  • Moon
  • Powers
  • Shaw
  • Terry
  • Todd
  • White
  • Windle

Here are the House committees for the special session

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to colleagues on the House floor in Nashville on Oct. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate is keeping its regular committees in place for the special session, but House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) is appointing special panels to hear the Ford incentive bills and other legislation.

Here are the special House committees:

Commerce

  • Chair: Vaughan
  • Vice Chair: Todd
  • Bricken
  • Chism
  • Freeman
  • Gillespie
  • Griffey
  • Halford
  • Harris
  • Hurt
  • Leatherwood
  • Miller
  • Moody
  • Parkinson
  • Powers
  • Ramsey
  • Travis
  • Vital
  • White

Health and Safety

  • Chair: Terry
  • Vice Chair: Grills
  • Calfee
  • Campbell
  • Carringer
  • Cepicky
  • Cooper
  • Doggett
  • Hakeem
  • Hardaway
  • Howell
  • Johnson of Knox
  • Lafferty
  • Ogles
  • Ragan
  • Rudder
  • Smith
  • Thompson

Finance, Ways & Means

  • Chair: Hazlewood
  • Vice Chair: Hicks of Hawkins
  • Baum
  • Boyd
  • Camper
  • Carr
  • Faison
  • Farmer
  • Gant
  • Garrett
  • Haston
  • Hawk
  • Helton
  • Hodges
  • Lamar
  • Lamberth
  • Littleton
  • Lynn
  • Shaw
  • Whitson
  • Williams
  • Windle

Calendar & Rules

  • Chair: Zachary
  • Vice Chair: Russell
  • Beck
  • Camper
  • Curcio
  • Darby
  • Faison
  • Halford
  • Hazlewood
  • Howell
  • Jernigan
  • Keisling
  • Kumar
  • McKenzie
  • Mitchell
  • Lamberth
  • Marsh
  • Reedy
  • Terry
  • Warner
  • Weaver

Here is the petition for the special session on COVID-19 mandates

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is the petition lawmakers are circulating to hold a special session on efforts to dial back COVID-19 mandates. It will take 66 signatures in the House and 22 in the Senate to take effect:

PETITION: Requesting the Speaker of the House of Representatives to call the House into session pursuant to Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution of Tennessee.

We, the undersigned members of the 112th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, and members of the House of Representatives of such body, petition the above presiding officer to call this body back into session in Nashville upon similar action taken by the Senate, on October 27, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. (CDT) for the limited purposes of:

(1) Considering and acting upon legislation to establish uniform standards regarding facial coverings, vaccinations, and other restrictions relative to COVID-19; to address the enforcement and use of state funds by public and private entities for restrictions relative to COVID-19; to address adverse actions against an employee based on an employee’s vaccination status; to address the federal government’s commandeering of public and private resources relative to COVID-19; and to address the federal government’s penalizing, or taxation of, citizens of this state through enforcement of restrictions relative to COVID-19;

(2) Considering and acting upon legislation to address the creation, organization, and authority of local entities and officers charged with the promotion, protection, and maintenance, through local health services or directives, of the health of citizens of this state; to address the provision of monoclonal antibody treatment; and to address authorization to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to a minor without parental consent;

(3) Considering and acting upon legislation addressing liability of an employer, and compensation of an employee, for harm or injury suffered by an employee as the result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was required or incentivized through the employee’s employment; and to address an employee’s receipt of unemployment benefits relative to COVID-19;

(4) Considering and acting upon legislation to address the length of time and enforcement of an executive order or proclamation issued by the governor under the governor’s emergency management powers; to address a district attorney general peremptorily refusing to prosecute all instances of a criminal offense without regard to facts or circumstances; to include cash as eligible collateral and adjust the amount of eligible collateral pledged for the deposit of public funds; and to address partisan elections of school board members; and

(5) Considering and acting upon legislation to make appropriations sufficient to provide the first year’s funding for any act which receives final passage during the extraordinary session; and to pay the expenses of the extraordinary session of the General Assembly, including the expenses of carrying out any actions taken pursuant to this call.

House redistricting panel to hold first meeting Wednesday

The House Select Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting on Wednesday.

Anyone wishing to participate in the public comment section of the meeting must register by Tuesday afternoon.

Traditionally each chamber comes up with its own redistricting plan, while the House and Senate combine to draw new congressional maps.

Here’s the agenda:

Select Committee on Redistricting

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – HHR I – 1:00 PM

Johnson C, Chair; Marsh, Vice-Chair; Camper, Crawford, Faison, Freeman, Hazlewood, Hicks G, Holsclaw, Lamberth, Parkinson, Russell, Vaughan, Whitson, Williams, Windle

I. Call to Order & Introductions

II. Presentation – Doug Himes, Counsel to the Select Committee on
Redistricting

III. House Redistricting Guidelines

IV. Submission of Redistricting Plans

V. Public Comments*

VI. Adjourn

Sexton names House redistricting committee

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) presides over a House floor session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has named the membership of the House Select Committee on Redistricting.

The panel will be led by Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville). Speaker Pro Tem Pat Marsh is the vice chair. Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) will serve as East Tennessee coordinator, while Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) and Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) will oversee the East and Middle grand divisions, respectively.

Four of the committee’s 16 members are Democrats.

Here’s the full release from Sexton’s office:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) today announced the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting. The announcement comes after a prolonged delay by the U.S. Census Bureau in releasing state-level redistricting data.

The bipartisan committee consists of 16 House members, including four Democratic members. Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) will chair the committee, and Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) is the committee’s vice-chair.

Additional committee members include:

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) 

Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)

Rep. Karen Camper (D- Memphis)

Rep. John Crawford (R-Bristol/Kingsport)

Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)

Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville)

Rep. John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton)

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland)

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)

Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore)

Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin)

Rep. Ryan Williams (R- Cookeville)

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)

“As we continue reviewing the long-awaited statewide data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, I am excited to announce the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting,” said Speaker Sexton. “The makeup of this panel is representative of the distinctive voices of Tennesseans from across all three grand divisions of our state. I appreciate both my Republican and Democratic colleagues for their work as part of this panel, which will play a critical role in a transparent, public process that will produce both fair and constitutional redistricting plans representative of all Tennesseans.”

House Ethics Counsel Doug Himes will serve as counsel for the committee. The date of the first meeting of the bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting has not yet been determined.

For additional information on the redistricting process in the Tennessee House of Representatives, please click here

Cameron Sexton is the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A former Republican Caucus Chairman, Majority Whip, and House Health Committee Chairman, Sexton resides in Crossville. He is in his sixth term serving House District 25, including Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties.

See by how much Tennessee districts miss their ideal populations following census count

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

The U.S. Census Bureau late last week released population count data to be used for the once-a-decade redistricting process. The information arrived in a legacy format that requires some massaging to make usable for legislative consultants. But the City University of New York has already processed the numbers in the form of a national map.

We’ve teased out the Tennessee numbers to show how much variance current legislative districts have with the ideal population. State case law has established General Assembly seats can fall within plus or minus 5% of the average. The bigger the variance, the more districts will have to be shifted before next year’s election.

Here are the breakdowns for the Senate and House:

SENATE:

DistrictSenatorPartyCountiesover/under
29Akbari, RaumeshDShelby (part)-12%
15Bailey, PaulRBledsoe, Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Putnam, White3.8%
9Bell, MikeRBradley (part), McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk-5.6%
16Bowling, JaniceRCoffee, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren-1.6%
7Briggs, RichardRKnox (part)-1.8%
20Campbell, HeidiDDavidson (part)6.7%
3Crowe, RustyRCarter (part), Washington, Unicoi-6.5%
10Gardenhire, ToddRBradley (part), Hamilton (part)-4.4%
19Gilmore, BrendaDDavidson (part)8.6%
18Haile, FerrellRDavidson (part), Sumner, Trousdale13.8%
28Hensley, JoeyRGiles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry, Wayne1.6%
27Jackson, EdRMadison, Crockett, Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale-13.2%
23Johnson, JackRWilliamson18.3%
31Kelsey, BrianRShelby (part)-0.1%
30Kyle, SaraDShelby (part)-10.3%
4Lundberg, JonRCarter (part), Johson, Sullivan-10.4%
6Massey, Becky DuncanRKnox (part)-3%
5McNally, Lt. Gov. RandyRAnderson, Knox (part), Loudon-3.5%
8Niceley, FrankRClaiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Union-7.6%
17Pody, MarkRCannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, Wilson12.2%
22Powers, BillRStewart, Houston, Montgomery15.6%
14Reeves, ShaneRBedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, Rutherford (part)4.2%
25Roberts, KerryRCheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, Robertson1.3%
33Robinson, KatrinaDShelby (part)-5.1%
32Rose, PaulRTipton, Shelby (part)0.6%
1Southerland, SteveRCocke, Greene, Hamblen, Sevier (part)-7%
24Stevens, JohnRBenton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry, Obion, and Weakle-9%
2Swann, ArtRBlount, Sevier (part)0%
26Walley, PageRChester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, McNairy-7.1%
11Watson, BoRHamilton (part)-1.4%
13White, DawnRRutherford (part)19.1%
12Yager, KenRCampbell, Fentress, Morgan, Rhea, Roane, Pickett, Scott Counties-8.4%
21Yarbro, JeffDDavidson (part)12%

HOUSE

DistrictIncumbentPartyCountiesover/under
7Alexander, RebeccaRWashington (part)-5.2%
37Baum, CharlieRRutherford (part)15.1%
51Beck, BillDDavidson (part)7.9%
46Boyd, ClarkRCannon, DeKalb (part), Wilson (part)14.7%
47Bricken, RushRCoffee, Warren (part)2.2%
71Byrd, DavidRHardin, Lawrence (part), Lewis, Wayne,-10.3%
32Calfee, KentRLoudon (part), Roane (part)-10.4%
3Campbell, ScottyRCarter (part), Johnson, Sullivan (part)-9.1%
87Camper, KarenDShelby (part)-2.5%
12Carr, DaleRSevier (part)-4.7%
16Carringer, MicheleRKnox (part)-4.9%
29Carter, JoanRHamiton (part)15.1%
63Casada, GlenRWilliamson (part)42.9%
64Cepicky, ScottRMaury (part)14.4%
85Chism, JesseDShelby (part)-3.3%
55Clemmons, John RayDDavidson (part)0.2%
23Cochran, MarkRMcMinn, Monroe (part)-2.1%
86Cooper, BarbaraDShelby (part)-8.8%
1Crawford, JohnRSullivan (part)-13.5%
69Curcio, MichaelRDickson (part), Hickman, Maury (part) 1.8%
76Darby, TandyRCarroll (part), Obion (part), Weakley-15.9%
54Dixie, VincentDDavidson (part)-5.1%
70Doggett, ClayRGiles, Lawrence (part)-3.2%
10Eldridge, RickRHamblen-7.6%
11Faison, JeremyRCocke, Greene (part), Jefferson (part) -10.6%
17Farmer, AndrewRJefferson (part), Sevier (part)-3.1%
56Freeman, BobDDavidson (part)1.5%
94Gant, RonRHardeman (part), Fayette, McNairy1%
45Garrett, JohnnyRSumner (part)10.4%
97Gillespie, JohnRShelby (part)0.5%
75Griffey, BruceRBenton, Henry, Stewart-11.6%
77Grills, RustyRDyer, Lake, Obion (part)-10.4%
28Hakeem, YusufDHamiton (part)-2.1%
79Halford, CurtisRCarroll (part), Gibson-6.8%
24Hall, MarkRBradley (part)0.4%
93Hardaway, G. A.DShelby (part)-8.8%
90Harris, Torrey C.DShelby (part)-15.3%
72Haston, KirkRChester, Decatur, Henderson, Perry-6.9%
5Hawk, DavidRGreene (part)-10.3%
27Hazlewood, PatsyRHamilton (part)1.6%
30Helton, EstherRHamilton (part)6.9%
9Hicks, GaryRWashington (part)-9.2%
6Hicks, TimRwashington-4.3%
67Hodges, JasonDMontgomery (part)15.2%
4Holsclaw, JohnRCarter (part), Unicoi-8.7%
22Howell, DanRBradley (part), Meigs, Polk-1.4%
2Hulsey, BudRSullivan (part)-10%
82Hurt, ChrisRCrockett, Haywood, Lauderdale-18.5%
60Jernigan, DarrenDDavidson (part)-0.5%
68Johnson, CurtisRMontgomery (part)30.5%
13Johnson, GloriaDKnox (part)-5.1%
38Keisling, KellyRClay, Fentress (part), Macon, Pickett, Scott-2.3%
66Kumar, SabiRRobertson4.3%
89Lafferty, JustinRKnox (part)8.1%
91Lamar, LondonDShelby (part)-16.7%
44Lamberth, WilliamRSumner (part)22.6%
99Leatherwood, TomRShelby (part)1.5%
78Littleton, MaryRCheatham, Dickson (part)0.8%
58Love, HaroldDDavidson (part)5.8%
57Lynn, SusanRWilson (part)27%
18Mannis, EddieRKnox (part)-2.5%
62Marsh, PatRBedford, Lincoln (part)-2.1%
15McKenzie, SamDKnox (part)-7.4%
88Miller, LarryDShelby (part)-9.2%
50Mitchell, BoDDavidson (part)0.7%
81Moody, DebraRTipton-12.7%
8Moon, JeromeRBlount (part)-5.4%
61Ogles, BrandonRWilliamson (part)2.6%
98Parkinson, AntonioDShelby (part)-8.6%
59Potts, JasonDDavidson (part)8%
53Powell, JasonDDavidson (part)5.9%
36Powers, DennisRAnderson (part), Campbell, Union (part)-11.8%
33Ragan, JohnRAnderson (part)-2.6%
20Ramsey, BobRBlount (part)-0.8%
74Reedy, JayRHouston, Humphreys, Montgomery (part)8.7%
34Rudd, TimRRutherford (part)42.8%
39Rudder, IrisRFranklin (part), Marion (part), Moore-9.4%
21Russell, LowellRLoudon (part), Monroe (part)1.6%
25Sexton, CameronRCumberland, Putnam (part), Van Buren 4.7%
35Sexton, JerryRClaiborne, Grainger, Union (part)-10.9%
80Shaw, JohnnyDHardeman (part), Madison (part)-18.6%
43Sherrell, PaulRGrundy, White, Warren (part)-2.1%
26Smith, RobinRHamilton (part)3.1%
49Sparks, MikeRRutherford (part)15.5%
52Stewart, MikeDDavidson (part)4.2%
48Terry, BryanRRutherford (part)15.8%
96Thompson, DwayneDShelby (part)3%
73Todd, ChrisRMadison (part)-7.2%
84Towns, JoeDShelby (part)-2.9%
31Travis, RonRBledsoe, Rhea, Roane (part), Sequatchie-0.2%
95Vaughan, KevinRShelby (part)4.2%
92Warner, ToddRFranklin (part), Lincoln (part), Marion (part), Marshall-5%
40Weaver, Terri LynnRDeKalb (part), Smith, Sumner (part), Trousdale12.8%
83White, MarkRShelby (part)-1.4%
65Whitson, SamRWilliamson (part)9.3%
42Williams, RyanRPutnam (part)6.1%
41Windle, John MarkDFentress (part), Jackson, Morgan, Overton-6.7%
19Wright, DaveRKnox (part)-4.6%
14Zachary, JasonRKnox (part)2.5%

Ogles returns to House after extended absence

Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin), second from right, attends a floor session April 26, 2021. (Image credit: Screengrab from legislative feed)

State Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) returned to the House this week after missing several weeks with what he called an “extended battle” with COVID-19 and pneumonia.

“I am thankful for those who have called, sent texts, and helped out during my absence,” Ogles said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “I am looking forward to being back in the office, serving District 61 and finishing out this legislative session strong.”

Legislative attendance records show Ogles was excused from House floor sessions on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25, and then missed another session March 15. He was then away for every floor session between March 25 and his reappearance on Monday.

Several other lawmakers have missed time this year due to COVID-19.

Permitless carry: How they voted

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

The House voted 64-29 to pass a bill eliminating training and background check requirements in order to carry a loaded handgun in public. The Senate previously approved its version on a 23-9 vote. The bill now heads for Gov. Bill Lee’s signature.

The measure is opposed by law enforcement groups, though sponsors noted they had heard from several officers and sheriff’s deputies that they supported the measure.

The House bill gained the support of 63 Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston. Twenty-four Democrats voted against the measure, plus five Republicans voted against the bill: John Gillespie of Memphis, Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain, Eddie Mannis of Knoxville, Mark White of Memphis, and Sam Whitson of Franklin. Five other GOP members were absent or abstained.

In the Senate, all six Democrats plus three Republicans voted against the bill: Sens. Richard Briggs of Knoxville, Brian Kelsey of Memphis, and Becky Massey of Knoxville.

(See the House rollcall after the jump.)

Continue reading

Freshman Republican bucks leadership on permitless carry

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

State Rep. John Gillespie, a freshman Republican from Memphis, speaking out against a bill to eliminate background check and training requirements in order to carry handguns in public.

“Law enforcement opposes this bill, and I take their recommendation seriously,” Gillespie said in a release.

The bill passed the Senate on a 23-9 vote last week (opponents included three Republicans: Richard Briggs of Knoxville, Brian Kelsey of Memphis, and Becky Massey of Knoxville). The House version is up for a Finance Committee vote on Tuesday.

The measure was introduced on behalf of Gov. Bill Lee and has wide support among Republicans in both chambers. But for some gun rights groups, the bill doesn’t go far enough. The National Association for Gun Rights has publicized the phone numbers of Senate Speaker Randy
McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Senate Judiciary Chair Mike Bell (R-Riceville) for opposing efforts to allow people with recent drunken driving or stalking convictions to be covered by the bill.

The state issued 145,237 handgun carry permits last year, but 3,639 applications were rejected and 2,065 were suspended or revoked.

Here’s the release from Gillespie:

State Representative John Gillespie today voiced his opposition to a gun bill regarding what is commonly referred to as “open constitutional carry”. The proposed legislation would allow any Tennessean to carry a handgun openly or concealed without a permit and without any training in firearms use.

“I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment right to possess firearms, but I reservations about this proposed law,” Gillespie stated. “I’ve spoken with numerous constituents and law enforcement professionals about this bill and have decided to vote ‘no’ for two reasons. First, law enforcement opposes this bill, and I take their recommendation seriously. Second, there is no training component to the
legislation. I support Tennessee’s concealed carry law because it requires a course in basic handgun safety. This legislation does not require training, although the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association has offered to provide the training at no charge,” remarked Gillespie.

A graduate of High Point University, Gillespie is a native Memphian. He supports the mission of a local senior living facility by serving as Grant Coordinator. Gillespie began his career in banking and finance starting as a customer service representative at a local bank before working his way up to the mortgage division at another Memphis financial institution. He is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Representative Gillespie was elected to the District 97 seat in the House of Representatives in November. The district includes parts of Bartlett, Cordova, and East Memphis. More information about Gillespie may be found by visiting VoteJohnGillespie.com.