NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s no secret last session was contentious between Democratic and Republican leadership in Tennessee.
“In order to work with someone, they have to be willing to work with you,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said.
Sexton and former House Democrat Caucus Chairman Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville) sparred numerous times both in person—and on Twitter—last year.
This year though, the caucus voted Rep. John Ray Clemmons as the new chairman.
“Especially as a Democrat in a superminority, you have to have relationships across the aisle,” Clemmons said. “I work with the Speaker of the House because he is the Speaker of the entire House, not just the Republicans.”
Though their relationship, at least at this point, is better than Dixie’s and Sexton’s, they have a different vision for Tennessee—particularly on abortion.
“They’re kind of like the dog that caught the car,” Clemmons said of Republicans. “They drafted a poor piece of legislation and now it’s gone into effect and they have to deal with the ramifications.”
Though, with that being said, they do have some common ground on the subject.
“Affirmative defense, I don’t think it’s reasonable to make a physician prove their innocence,” Sexton said. “So, let’s go back to the normal way the judicial system is – you have to prove they’re guilty.”
Whether the legislature passes anything on the subject remains to be seen, but Sexton said confusion isn’t solving anything. “If one side is saying, ‘It’s in there,’ and the other side is saying, ‘I don’t see it, but it should be in there,’ then let’s clarify and put it in there.”
Sexton added, “Whether we get to [exceptions for] rape and incest…if it gets to the House floor and the right language, I would support it. But we’ll have to see what we can get through the committee process.”
Author’s Note: News 2 spoke with the lawmakers on much more than just abortion — over the next few days, we’ll have much more on a look ahead to session.