Chants Of “You’ve Done Nothing!!!!” Could Be Heard From The Senate Gallery.
Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Tennessee Senate met yesterday for the 3rd day of Governor Lee’s Extraordinary session and passed three bills proposed by Lee and one dealing with appropriations for school safety, mental health and paying for the Special Session itself.
Dozens of bills were submitted for Governor Lee’s Special Session, but on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee adjourned with only three bills being heard and the remainder being tabled.
The three bills that were passed yesterday were all proposed by Governor Lee and carried by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin-District 27) and House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44).
The bills that were passed, along with additional information, are listed below:
Summary – Firearms and Ammunition – Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13 and Title 67, Chapter 6, Part 3. As introduced, directs the department of safety to provide free firearm locks to Tennessee residents upon request; requires department-approved handgun safety courses to contain instruction on the safe storage of firearms; exempts the retail sale of firearm safes and firearm safety devices from sales and use taxes beginning November 1, 2023; defines firearm safes and firearm safety devices.
The bill was presented by Senator Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun-District 1) who explained that there is no requirement in the legislation to make people use firearm locks, whether free or not.
Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10) also explained that an amendment added would not require enhanced carry permit owners to acquire additional training on usage of firearm locks.
The bill passed with 28 Ayes and 1 No vote.
Summary – Clerks, Court – Amends TCA Title 16, Chapter 18 and Title 18, Chapter 4. As introduced, changes from 30 days to 72 hours the time frame within which a clerk of the circuit or general sessions court must notify the TBI of the final disposition of criminal proceedings against a person after final disposition of such proceedings; requires the clerk to notify the TBI of the final disposition of such proceedings by electronic submission; requires the clerk of the municipal court, when exercising concurrent general sessions court jurisdiction, to notify the TBI by electronic submission of the final disposition of such proceedings against a person no later than 72 hours after final disposition of such proceedings.
The bill passed with 28 Ayes and 0 No votes.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation – Amends TCA Title 38, Chapter 6. As introduced, requires the bureau to submit a report on child and human trafficking crimes and trends in this state, based upon data available to the bureau, as well as current programs and activities of the bureau’s human trafficking unit, to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the speaker of the senate by December 1, 2023, and by each December 1 thereafter.
The bill will create a new child and human trafficking crimes report from TBI’s human trafficking unit. The report will be due in December each year before the Legislature begins its session.
“It’s been 10 years since we had a report like this,” said Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston. “And the last comprehensive report that we had, a decade ago, resulted in many significant bills – with that information – to combat human trafficking exploitation of women and children.”
The bill passed with 26 Ayes and 0 No votes.
Appropriations – As introduced, makes appropriations sufficient for the payment of any lawful expenses, including, but not limited to, staffing, per diem, travel, and other expenses, of the first extraordinary session of the 113th General Assembly; makes other appropriations related to such extraordinary session.
The amendment that makes the bill outlines the appropriations in several sections.
Section 1 of an amendment to the bill recognized Senate Bill 0085 and House Bill 0012, relative to firearm safety, will result in a revenue loss of $1,600,000 recurring, if such bill becomes law.
Section 2 of the amendment appropriated $10 million additional funds to the Tennessee Department of Education to be distributed as school safety grants as outlined in legislation from the previous General Session and made law – Section 60, Item 25 of Chapter 418, Public Acts of 2023, and described on page B-90 of the 2023-2024 Budget Document.
Section 3 of the amendment appropriated $16,131,000 (nonrecurring) to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for the sole purpose of providing sign-on and retention bonuses to prospective or current behavioral health professionals who work for a Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services contracted treatment agency.
Section 4 of the amendment appropriated $3,000,000 (nonrecurring) to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for the sole purpose of providing a public behavioral health scholarship program.
Section 5 dealt with paying for the Special Session itself and the language appears in the summary above.
To summarize, the spending bill provides $16.3 million for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for staff bonuses, $3 million for a scholarship program to encourage people to enter the behavioral health field, $10 million for the Department of Education to distribute for school safety officers in all schools, mainly charter schools, $1 million for the gun storage program, and $232,000 for fund the special session if it last four days.
Senator Bo Watson explained that the $58,000+ per day expense of the Special Session only covers per diem and travel expenses of the legislators.
He went on to state that the final cost of the Special Session will not be known until both chambers have adjourned and the cost of the 100 extra State troopers brought in for security is known.
The bill passed with 26 Ayes and 0 No votes.
Also on the schedule was Senator Johnson’s resolution to adjourn the Special Session.
General Assembly, Adjournment – Adjourns sine die First Extraordinary Session of 113th General Assembly on August 24, 2023.
However, since the resolution specifically states August 24th as the adjournment date. Johnson moved the resolution to that date for reading.
Johnson told members to be prepared for 9AM and 2PM sessions on August 24th for “procedural reasons.”
The Tennessee Lookout reports the convening date of August 24th is expected to be “fluid.”
While the Senate hopes to adjourn August 24th, the House wants the Senate to make concessions to allow them to pass more bills than just the three from yesterday.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally told senators during the chamber’s bill review meeting, ““It takes both houses to agree on adjournment resolutions … or you keep going and going.”
Several Tennessee Democrats voiced displeasure that more was not passed during the special session.
“Thousands of people have gone to a lot of trouble to be here voicing their support for laws that will save lives,” Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, posted on social media. “The controlling party is gaveling in and out of every committee refusing to hear any of the bills that we’ve worked on.
At the end of the session, as Senate Speaker Randy McNally was closing out, chants of “You’ve done nothing!!!!” could be heard from the gallery shortly before the microphones were turned off.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com