UNITED STATES NEWS

Tennessee Legislature nears end; gun reform reconvene likely

Apr 21, 2023, 4:04 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Republican-led Legislature appeared poised to finish their annual session on Friday without taking action on a deadly school shooting.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton said he expects the governor will reconvene lawmakers for a gun policy-related special session. It’s unclear when or what kind of changes would be considered.

“I think we owe it to Tennesseans to actually have conversations with all sides of the public conversation before we ever get to proposed legislation,” Sexton said at a committee meeting Friday.

Republican lawmakers instead squared their focus on putting final touches on bills that range from restrictions on Nashville’s local powers, to an expansion of school vouchers, to more laws targeting the transgender community. They did not bring up a vote on Gov. Bill Lee’s “temporary mental health order of protection” proposal, which aims to keep guns away from people who could harm themselves or others.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons has said he appreciates the governor’s proposal but called the reform plan “watered down.”

The shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville killed three 9-year-olds and three adults on March 27. Two young Black Democratic representatives were later been reinstated.

Although not required to finish the legislative session by Friday, GOP lawmakers moved quickly to conclude amid sustained public pressure for more restrictions on firearms, as well as heightened scrutiny after expelling the lawmakers, which gave the pair a national spotlight amid the country’s heated debate over gun rights.

The expulsions drew renewed criticism this week when it was revealed that an ethics panel found in late March that a Republican lawmaker, Scotty Campbell, violated the Legislature’s workplace discrimination and harassment policy. Heremained in office and voted to expel the two lawmakers.

Campbell resigned Thursday, hours after WTVF-TV asked him about the ethics finding. He told the Nashville TV station it was about “consensual, adult conversations with two adults off property” and that he would record any possible future conversations with interns.

The Tomahawk newspaper on Thursday quoted Campbell apologizing “to my family, my friends, and those who misunderstood my intentions.”

Amid the ongoing tumult, Republicans finalized their agenda items that included legislation targeting Nashville after its metro council rejected a push for the city to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

One bill would gut Nashville’s voter-approved Community Oversight Board of the local police department. The measure replaces such boards with review committees that have no power to investigate misconduct allegations.

Another bill would shift the locally selected board of Nashville’s airport to state political appointees. A third would let state officials pick six of the 13 members on a board that oversees Nashville’s professional sports facilities. A law this year to cut the city council from 40 to 20 seats has already been temporarily blocked. Opponents of the other legislation suggested it likely faces costly litigation as well.

“This war on Nashville is going to be hurtful to all of us,” said Sen. Heidi Campbell, a Nashville Democrat.

Republicans also finished a bill that would protect teachers who don’t want to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns. A different bill would define male and female in state law and base people’s legal gender identities on their gender assigned at birth, preventing transgender people from changing their driver’s licenses or birth certificates.

A legislative fiscal review found Tennessee risks losing about $2 billion in funding from Washington under those bills due to conflicts with federal rules.

A court already blocked a new law that restricts where certain drag shows can take place. A ban that passed this year on gender-affirming care for minors is facing a lawsuit.

Legislators also worked out how to expand Tennessee’s low-income school voucher program, choosing to add Hamilton County, which includes Chattanooga. The program is currently available in Nashville and Memphis.

United States News

A man uses a cellphone in New Orleans on Aug. 11, 2019....

Associated Press

Americans reporting nationwide cellular outages from AT&T, Cricket Wireless and other providers

A number of Americans were dealing with cellular outages on AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile and other service providers.

34 minutes ago

Associated Press

Guilty plea from the man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from an upstate New York park

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (AP) — A man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from a state park in upstate New York pleaded guilty to two felony counts and faces 47 years to life in prison. Craig N. Ross Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday under a plea deal to first-degree kidnapping and predatory sexual assault of a […]

38 minutes ago

FILE - Leslie Moonves attends the CBS Network 2015 Programming Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Cente...

Associated Press

LA ethics panel rejects proposed fine for ex-CBS exec Les Moonves over police probe interference

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission unanimously rejected a proposed settlement between the city and Les Moonves on Wednesday, saying a tougher penalty is warranted for the former CBS chief executive accused of interfering with a police investigation into sexual assault allegations against him. Moonves had agreed to pay an $11,250 […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer to begin in fatal film rehearsal shooting by Alec Baldwin

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys prepared to make opening statements Thursday at the first trial related to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western film “Rust.” Before Baldwin’s case progresses, the movie’s weapons supervisor is being tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with […]

9 hours ago

FILE - Darryl George, a 17-year-old junior, before walking across the street to go into Barbers Hil...

Associated Press

Trial to determine if Texas school’s punishment of a Black student over his hair violates new law

ANAHUAC, Texas (AP) — A trial is set to be held Thursday to determine if a Black high school student in Texas can continue being punished by his district for refusing to change his hairstyle, which he and his family say is protected by a new state law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination. At issue […]

9 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Tennessee Legislature nears end; gun reform reconvene likely