NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee is set to address the Tennessee General Assembly when he delivers his third State of the State address Monday at the War Memorial Auditorium.
Democrats on Capitol Hill are already responding to the speech that hasn’t happened yet. It’s not a typical way to respond to a governor’s State of the State address.
“Before we hear from the governor, I want you to hear from me,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-29).
The leading Democrat from Memphis delivered the “prebuttal message” via YouTube. She advocated for “pro-family’ reforms and a better COVID-19 pandemic response from the state.
“Per person, Tennessee’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in the world. More than a million people in Tennessee have lost their jobs and more than 10,000 Tennesseans have died,” Akbari said.
She puts much of the blame squarely on Governor Lee’s shoulders, saying, “Often times the governor’s interventions started too late, ended too early, and did too little. Our calls for aggressive, science-based mitigation strategies have been met with excuses, ideology, and denial.”
On the issue of getting students back in classrooms, she says there must be a balance.
“We cannot have thriving businesses or consistent classroom experiences as long as a deadly virus is raging through our communities,” she said.
Governor Lee is expected to center his speech around the state’s coronavirus response, the economy, and education among other issues facing the state.
“We support the governor, we’re looking forward to what he has to say Monday night,” said Jim Garrett, the Davidson County GOP chairman.
State Democrats are also pushing criminal justice reform.
“Whether it’s restoring voting rights or modernizing our out-of-date expungement rules, it’s only right that Tennesseans who have served their time have a fair shot at getting back on their feet,” said Akbari.
Democrats are also calling for the regulation and legalization of marijuana and for there to be automatic voter registration.