NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The special session of the Tennessee General Assembly ended in chaos, including pushing and shoving between lawmakers and shouting from the public.
Republican lawmakers rammed through an adjournment of the House sine die before Rep. Justin Jones could officially call for a vote of no confidence of Speaker Cameron Sexton.
Shortly after the House was gaveled out, a situation between Rep. Justin Pearson and Sexton broke out before lawmakers swarmed both men to separate them.
After adjourning the session, Sexton left the podium, at which time Pearson approached him while holding a protest sign. Pearson appeared to be bumped by Sexton’s shoulder as the Speaker attempted to pass him, and Pearson was blocked from getting too close to the Speaker by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R—Culleoka), a former football and baseball player.
But things got more physical when Sexton turned toward Pearson and shouted at him, pointing his finger in the freshman lawmaker’s face. Both men were quickly separated, though, and House Majority Leader William Lamberth brought Pearson to a desk and appeared to try to talk him down.
The session has been repeatedly contentious between the parties, with Jones silenced by a procedural vote Monday afternoon and a walk-out of Democratic lawmakers following. Democrats have been frustrated the last week that no legislation on limiting guns in Tennessee has passed, while House and Senate Republicans have been engaged in a cold war of sorts on the kind of legislation each chamber passed during the special session.
After the scrum was dissolved, Jones took to the Speaker’s podium, banging the gavel while shouting “This House is out of order!” to the still-gathered galleries. Pearson, meanwhile, returned to the public areas to chant with protestors in the Capitol rotunda.
News 2 has reached out to Tennessee Highway Patrol, Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk and Gov. Bill Lee’s office for comment and word on if any formal charges will be filed.