Shelby County legislators discuss conclusion of 2022 legislative session

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This year’s legislative session has come to an end. Tennessee lawmakers passed several bills on education, hiring police, and more.

Both Shelby County Democrats and Republicans believe this session was successful especially when it comes to police residency and education.

Representative Antonio Parkinson says his and the Legislative’s Black Caucus’ focus this year was on the health, education and providing for constituents.

“We got money in the budget for youth sports,” said Representative Parkinson, “We got money in the budget for projects that are happening here in our county. Money in the budget for microbusiness support. Money in the budget for HBCUs.”

One bill Representative Mark White has been working to pass both chambers for years, finally made it to the Governor’s desk. The “3G’s bill” shifts control of three Memphis-Shelby County Schools to the Germantown Municipal School District.

“The bottom line was protect the students that go there,” said Representative White, “But the schools being they’re community schools for the community of Germantown need to be owned and operated by the community of Germantown.”

Governor Lee’s $1 billion education formula was signed into law Monday, giving $115 million to schools in Shelby County. Parkinson and White both voted for the bill.

Another hot topic in Memphis and around the state: hiring more police.

“It is divisive for us as elected officials both locally and at the state level for city council to make a decision and then the mayor come up to the state to have that decision overturned by the state legislature,” said Representative Parkinson.

Those looking to become police officers in Tennessee no longer have to live in the county in which they want work.

“What we want is safe streets,” said Representative White. “We want law enforcement and we have been short about 400-500 police officers for many many years. The budget is there. It’s not like we were putting any more money into the budget.”

Governor Lee signed SB 29 in to law with the support of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis.

Lawmakers also passed bills that would create curriculum to cover Black history, create penalties for schools who let transgender women join girls’ sports, and one requiring an offender to serve a full sentence for certain crimes.

The governor may choose to sign, veto or allow a bill to become law without his signature. He has 10 days after a bill is sent to him to approve or veto it, if no action is taken it automatically becomes law.

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