Member of ‘Tennessee Three’ silenced on House floor as special session stalemate between House and Senate continues
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - A public gallery cleared, a lawmaker silenced, and a walkout all in the same day at the Tennessee General Assembly.
There are no compromises in sight between House and Senate leadership on Day 5 of the special session on public safety.
The special session on “UN-safety” is what one Memphis lawmaker called this session.
He says it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Protests erupted in the capitol rotunda after Democrat lawmakers walked out Monday.
It all happened after Nashville Representative Justin Jones was ruled “out of order,” his second offense, silencing him for the rest of the day, per House rules.
“A Republican member was ruled out of order twice and nothing was said about it,” said Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis). “Members of the public were kicked out of the chamber, by that time we were fed up and all the Democrats walked out of the chamber at the same time.”
Democrats questioned why House Speaker Cameron Sexton ruled Jones out of order, and not Republican Gino Bulso, who was told by Sexton twice to remain on topic while discussing a bill that would allow private preschools to have handguns on campus.
According to the Associated Press, earlier, Jones criticized bills Bulso had put forward, calling them “insulting” and “asinine”. Bulso replied saying Jones makes “outrageous statements” and “misrepresents facts to the public”.
When discussing a bill that would allow police to serve as SROs on school campuses, Jones criticized the bill and said instead of adding more police in schools, he wanted to see more mental health resources.
No clear answer was given from the House Assistant Chief Clerk on why Jones was ruled out of order.
Lawmakers ultimately voted along party lines on Sexton’s call that Jones was out of order. After the vote, shouting ensued from the balcony, which was then cleared.
“They don’t want to deal with the reality of what’s going on in the State of Tennessee,” said House Minority Leader and Memphis Mayoral Candidate Karen Camper (D-Memphis). “We were brought here on a special extraordinary session to accomplish the will of the people and yet again, we’re not doing it.”
Camper says a “no confidence” vote against Sexton was going to be presented by Jones later on the House floor.
The first bill going to Governor Lee’s desk requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to make a report on human trafficking in the state.
According to a report in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, this is something the TBI already does.
According to House rules, Jones will be able to speak tomorrow when the House meets again Tuesday morning at 11.
The Senate is set to meet Tuesday morning at 10.
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