legislative session

Statehouse emerging from holiday slumber

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

The Tennessee Capitol complex is emerging from its holiday slumber after observing the New Year’s holiday on Monday. Lawmakers return into session next week, with much attention focused on Wednesday’s scheduled unveiling of redrawn congressional maps.

Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Americans for Prosperity is looking to get back on track after failing to put a dent in the state’s massive incentive package to cement Ford Motor Co.’s $5.6 billion investment into the Memphis Regional Megasite.

Here’s the release from the AFP:

NASHVILLE, TN — Americans for Prosperity-TN (AFP-TN) previewed its 2022 Legislative Agenda, which includes priorities to unlock economic freedom, expand educational opportunity, and enact criminal justice reforms. 

The 2022 Legislative Agenda is available here

AFP-TN State Director Tori Venable released the following statement: 

“As lawmakers return to Nashville, AFP-TN is focused on advancing policies that will help every Tennessean reach their full potential. This includes lowering taxes and advancing economic freedom, giving parents more say in their children’s education, and critical criminal justice reforms. We are looking forward to engaging with legislators about advancing priorities to break down the government barriers that hold people back.”  

Legislation AFP-TN will be advocating for includes: 

— Repeal of the Professional Privilege Tax.

— Reform the school funding formula to be student-centered and flexible.

— Expand open enrollment across state.

— Fund the police through transparent budgets.

— End civil asset forfeiture .

AFP-TN will be rolling out the agenda at events across the state in the coming weeks. 

Senate to block public access to committee floor

The Senate meets in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The state Senate will continue to bar public access to committee meetings during the upcoming legislative session. According to guidelines shared with members, the restrictions will mirror the COVID-19 mitigation steps taken by the upper chamber last summer.

The House is expected to continue to allow access by lobbyists and other members of the public.

Here’s is the memo sent by Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey:

To:     Members of the Senate, 112th General Assembly

From:   Russell A. Humphrey, Chief Clerk

In consideration of the infection rates and State of Tennessee COVID-19 guidelines, Mr. Speaker McNally and Senate Leadership have set the following protocols:

  *   The Senate side of the first floor of the Cordell Hull Building and the Senate Hearing Room are only to be utilized by Senators and authorized staff.

  *   On the 7th Floor of the Cordell Hull Building only Senate Members, Senate Staff, and appointments pre-scheduled by the pubic are authorized on the floor.  Please notify Ms. Connie Ridley of Senators appointments with members of the public the afternoon in advance.  Once appointments are concluded, guest must leave the floor.

  *   The Senate Chamber and the Senate Hearing Room are arranged to provide seating at a minimum physical distance of six feet. Only Senate Members, limited Clerk’s staff, and a press pool reporter are allowed in the Senate Chamber.

  *   Members are requested to wear face covering that covers both the mouth and nose while in public areas, including the Senate Chamber and Senate Hearing Room.

  *   Staff are required to wear face covering that covers both the mouth and nose while in public areas, including the Senate Chamber and Senate Hearing Room.

  *   Testimony in Committee meetings by non-members will be conducted remotely only. Please let the Chairman’s office know if you have someone to testify on a matter.

  *   Due to space limitations, seating is limited to staff and press in the Senate Hearing Room and the Senate Gallery.

  *   No accommodations are available for Days on the Hill or local, regional or state Leadership Groups.

These protocols shall remain in effect until further notice.  Mr. Speaker McNally ask you to be flexible, as these will change as conditions improved. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.