Legislative Updates

In the midst of dealing with a pandemic, an economic crisis, and the continued fight for racial justice, we didn't think that it was possible for Tennessee lawmakers to pass any bills that could do more damage than the ones that have already become law this year.
If it seems like virtually no time has passed since we sent out our legislative wrap-up for the year, that's because it hasn't. Less than two months after lawmakers adjourned (seemingly for the year) on June 19th,  Governor Bill Lee announced last week that he is calling the Tennessee General Assembly back into a special session beginning TODAY (Monday, August 10th.) The main reason for doing so?
Shortly after 3:00 a.m., the members of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly finally adjourned sine die.
While we'll elaborate much more on this in the second part of our Legislative Wrap-Up (which will be sent by the end of the month), we want to share a couple thoughts about SJR 648 (aka The "Kelsey Amendment") and the current, overall legislative environment. Is it frustrating that Republicans chose to move SJR 648, especially after COVID-19 has already turned so many of our lives upside-down, let alone that they filed it to begin with? Absolutely. Is it even worse that they're playing games at the 11th hour just to get this passed? Of course.
Before we dive into the happenings of the recently-resumed legislative session, we wanted to take a moment to briefly expand on the statement sent out by President Dycus and Secretary-Treasurer Starling earlier this week. The murder of George Floyd nearly two weeks ago, Breonna Taylor, and countless other black people (who too often go unnamed) at the hands of police is sickening.
Late last night, the second half of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly recessed until at least June 1st, 2020 (if not later). To say that the proceedings around passing the budget were anything but business as usual would be an understatement. Governor Bill Lee's proposed budget was made public, put before lawmakers, discussed, and passed all within less than 24 hours.
First of all, we'd like to apologize for the brief lapse in our weekly updates during one of the busiest times of the legislative session. Between the devastating and destructive tornadoes that hit Middle Tennessee last week and killed over two dozen people, to the cancellations of countless meetings, conferences, sporting events, concerts, etc. in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it goes without saying that life is anything but normal right now. These are scary and uncertain times for all of us, but we will navigate a path towards the future together.
Our journey to defeat SJR 648 (aka The "Kelsey Amendment") continues this week as the legislation heads to the full House Consumer & Human Resources Committee. While the resolution passed out of the House Employee Affairs subcommittee this past Tuesday on a 4-2 vote (Representative Bob Freeman and Representative Harold Love voted against it), we cannot thank all of our brothers and sisters throughout the state enough for your efforts.