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Representatives Justin Jones & Justin Pearson Unjustly Expelled from the TN House

Alyssa Hansen
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Unlike almost all of our other weekly legislative updates, the focus of today's recap is not on a particular bill or call to action.

In a disgusting abuse of power that has grabbed headlines across the country, Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were unjustly expelled from the Tennessee House yesterday.

Representative Gloria Johnson narrowly avoided her attempted expulsion by just one vote.

The "justification" for the expulsion proceedings was these legislators' acknowledgement of the massive crowds who came to the Capitol to demand that lawmakers pass common sense gun safety laws and their participation in the peaceful protests from the House floor.

Attempting to silence the voices of thousands of Tennesseans by expelling lawmakers who are simply listening to their constituents, and actually doing their job is wrong and will inevitably backfire on the supermajority.

As we said in our statement that we issued at the end of the House floor session, this is a sad, disgraceful chapter in Tennessee politics and one that clearly exposes the dictatorial tendencies of Speaker Cameron Sexton and the bulk of current state leadership.

We are incredibly proud of all three representatives (and especially Representatives Jones and Pearson) for refusing to back down in the face of relentless disrespectful and demeaning treatment from many of their colleagues and speaking out for their constituents.

Turning briefly to a piece of legislation that we've discussed for the majority of session, senators passed SB 650 on Monday evening by a vote of 27-5.

We issued a statement immediately after the vote condemning legislators' attempt to micromanage private businesses and noting the negative impact that the bill will likely have on future economic deals in Tennessee.

While this was obviously not the outcome that we wanted, we'd like to thank all of you who reached out to lawmakers every week asking them to vote against this bad bill and spreading the word throughout your networks. No one person or organization can undertake such a task alone, and we're grateful for all of the help from our affiliates and allies.

As session moves into what we hope will be its final month and budget discussions get underway, please continue to keep an eye on these updates for any late calls to action that may be needed.

Whether you plan to celebrate Easter on Sunday or continue observing Passover, we hope that you have a restful holiday weekend.

A Brief Look at Some of the Additional Legislation That We're Watching Next Week

Note: Nearly all committees in both chambers are now closed or hearing their final calendars. We're continuing to watch numerous caption bills closely for any late-filed amendments that impact working families. Budget discussions are also in their early stages in the Senate.

-HB 329/SB 281: Another example of a bad (caption) bill that's filed almost every year, this would eliminate automatic payroll dues deduction for professional educators' organizations (like the Tennessee Education Association) and create an unnecessary financial burden. This year, however, a pay raise is deliberately included in the same bill.
Note: This bill has already passed in the Senate. However, the section eliminating automatic payroll dues deduction was REMOVED in the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee this week. If the bill were to pass the House in its current form, lawmakers in both chambers would have to agree on the same version or the legislation would head to a conference committee. We'll continue to keep you updated as this bill moves toward final passage.

-HB 1176/SB 1326: An attempt by the legislature to exert more control over Nashville, this would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Airport Authority; the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate would be allowed to appoint all members, while the mayor would serve as a voting ex officio commissioner.
Note: This bill has already passed in the Senate.

-HB 1197/SB 1335: Similar to the previous bill, this piece of legislation would overhaul appointments to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority; the mayor would be allowed to appoint three directors, while all other appointments would come from the governor, the speaker of the House, and the speaker of the Senate.

-HB 433/SB 12: Continuing to have a negative impact on public education across the state, this piece of legislation would expand Tennessee's school voucher program to include Hamilton County schools.
Note: This bill has already passed in the Senate.

-HB 1107/SB 1427: Another unnecessary power grab by the supermajority, this bill would vacate, reduce the number of members, and restructure Tennessee State University's Board of Trustees.

-HB 1060/SB 1285: Yet another sneaky caption bill and only a couple of years after the legislature chose to cut the amount of time that someone could receive unemployment benefits, this would add to the work search requirements needed to keep those benefits.

-HB 1336/SB 1053: A good bill, this would enact the "Workers Need Child Care Act."

-HB 317/SB 269: Rather than classifying it as a day of special observance, this bill would make Juneteenth a legal holiday in Tennessee.
Note: This bill has already passed in the Senate.

-HJR 13: Another piece of legislation that made headlines earlier this session, this would authorize moving county elections from August to November, potentially confusing voters and giving the supermajority an additional opportunity to add to its power.