NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee General Assembly’s special session on public safety will continue next week, following a move by the state Senate.
According to Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R—Franklin), discussion with many members and the House’s fuller agenda today led him to call for the Senate to adjourn until 4 p.m. Monday.
“It’s an embarrassment. Thus far, the legislature has passed nothing of any real consequence,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D—Nashville) told News 2 Tuesday afternoon. “There are over 100 bills that have been filed, and a significant number of them might actually move the ball forward on improving mental health care, making sure schools are safer, keeping firearms out of the hands of people who are truly dangerous and pose a threat, and this legislature is really not even considering those pieces of legislation.”
The Senate has sped through committee meetings over the last few days, tabling dozens of bills by members of both parties, including nearly all legislation on guns, opting instead to focus on three bills prioritized by Gov. Bill Lee.
“The House came here because we were called by the governor into special session to deal with public safety, to try to do everything we can to both prevent these tragic, horrific, evil occurrences from happening and then, if they happen, to try to help these families, to support victims of violent crime—something I’ve spent my entire adult career doing,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R—Portland). “That’s what several of the bills do in the House.”
Lamberth asked his fellow Republicans in the other chamber to work with the House on measures like his proposal to shield children’s autopsy reports from public scrutiny without parental permission, pointing out the Covenant families in particular who came to the Capitol this week asking lawmakers to do something.
“That’s all we ask on the House side: Just do your job. Join us in serving the people of Tennessee, and let’s get some good work done,” he said. “It’s not a plea, but it is an indication that I expect us all to honor the oath we took when we were sworn into public office to serve our constituents. These bills matter to these families, and they need to be passed.”
Unfortunately for Lamberth, the Senate version of the autopsy bill was tabled, and the Senate will not reconvene until next week.
Johnson said the bills the Senate did pass were to be amended on the House side today, so while they could “hang around” Thursday or Friday to receive those amended bills, but after consultation with many of the Senate members, the “decision was made to just go ahead and go home for the weekend.”
The hope, Johnson said, is the Senate will return Monday to consider potential amendments to the bills in question.
Those bills are SB7085, which requires the Dept. of Safety to give free gun locks to those who ask for them; SB7086, which shortens the mandatory reporting time for courts to notify the TBI of final disposition; and SB7088, which requires the TBI to submit an annual report on child and human trafficking crimes in Tennessee.