NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In a story first reported by the Tennessee Lookout, House and Senate Majority Leaders William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) filed a bill to dissolve the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY).
“The real question is are they fulfilling the mission that they have been set forward now for quite some time?” Lamberth said. “Are they doing that well? Are there better ways to provide those services?”
Lamberth filed the bill on behalf of the governor’s office.
“What I support is investing in our children across the state and finding new and innovative ways to do that.” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said.
The move comes after the commission released its annual State of the Child report, which detailed Tennessee’s position as the worst state for foster care instability in the country.
But Lamberth pushed back on the notion that the possible dissolution is a result of the report.
“It’s not because there’s one report that’s come out that has, somehow or another, highlighted something that wasn’t already obvious to most of us about what was going on with DCS,” Lamberth said.
Though commission staff said not only were they surprised by the move, they weren’t even consulted.
“We weren’t a part of the conversation of the bill or where our programs would be best suited if the commission were to be dissolved,” TCCY Policy Specialist Kylie Graves said. “So, I think across the board on our staff, everyone was completely blindsided by this.”
Not every Republican wholeheartedly agrees with dissolution – at least at this point.
“I think they were doing fine operating as a quasi-type of committee or agency,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “I’m fine with them operating like that.”
Though Sexton did say he was planning on meeting with the governor about the issue soon.
“Maybe there’s something there that we don’t know of that would make them more efficient and better,” he said.
Democrats, on the other hand, blasted the plan, calling it an abuse of power.
“There is no better example of just saying, ‘You called me out, you did your job, so I’m going to end you,’” Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said. “That’s what they’re saying.”
The bill is scheduled for discussion in two committees next week.
The TCCY has been releasing its annual report since 1999.