NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Although it didn’t officially begin until January, the inkling of session really got started back in November, when Republican leadership filed bills to ban children’s transgender care.
“That is a bill to protect kids,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said then. “It’s not anti-anybody. It is pro-child.”
The social clash continued not long after, as the same leadership introduced and eventually passed a law to ban some forms of drag.
“We sought compromise, as we always necessarily do on that bill,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said. “Unfortunately, we could not get the House GOP to walk away from the extremist pushing this legislation from the special interest groups.”
After those passed, a relatively peaceful week or two went by before Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was caught commenting on a young gay man’s racy Instagram posts.
“I’ve got friends that are in that community and I’m not against those individuals,” McNally said. “I just try to encourage and support individuals that I know.”
Then the horrific shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville happened, and everything changed.
Thousands protested at the Capitol, and the House expelled two lawmakers after they participated in a protest against gun violence on the House floor before their county commissions voted them back in the interim.
“I had to shut the House down in order to gain control of it,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) argued.
Democrats punched back.
“The immediate response of my colleagues is not to pass an assault weapons ban or red flag laws,” Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) said. “It’s to expel their colleague who is demanding that we act.”
Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) urged the General Assembly to pass some sort of gun reform legislation. But Republican leadership barreled to the end and closed up shop before that could happen.
So, Lee said he will call a special session to “provide broad protections to the public from those who intend harm and to protect rights.”
“The General Assembly wants to do that as well,” he said. “We all agree that that’s the strategy.”
Currently, no date has been set for the special session.
For now, the Capitol rests, even if for just a short time.