House-Senate impasse continues as senators adjourn until Monday – Tennessee Lookout

Neither the House nor the Senate would budge Thursday, forcing a “standoff” to continue until next week as lawmakers try to negotiate an end to this special session.

Senators approved four bills Thursday requested by Gov. Bill Lee, including a $30 million spending measure, then adjourned until Monday at 4 p.m.

House leaders want more, but reaching a compromise will be difficult.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said his committee would not reopen to consider any other bills. 

Finance Chairman Bo Watson took a similar approach, saying his committee passed most of the bills sought by the governor and did not feel inclined to take up anything else, especially with the state suddenly facing a financial pinch. Revenues have come in shorter than expected for three straight months, leaving a $380 million hole in the budget.

A standoff continues: The Tennessee Senate approved four bill of Gov. Bill Lee’s and adjourned until Monday afternoon, as Senate Majority Leader Raumesh Akbari of Memphis called the special legislative a series of “missed opportunities.”

Senators approved a gun storage bill costing about $1.6 million annually for sales tax breaks on gun safes and gun locks, in addition to a gun-lock giveaway program; a measure requiring the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to make a yearly report on human trafficking, the first by Dec. 1; and a bill codifying the governor’s executive order to improve background checks for gun purchases. It requires court clerks to send notice of felony convictions to the TBI within three business days rather than 30 days.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally pointed out the Senate approved the governor’s bills and noted “there’s not a deal with the House.”

“I think it just depends on what they pass,” he said. “We’ve sent them four bills and they might amend those.”

For the most part, the Senate is opposed to a new blended sentencing bill for juveniles, as well as a measure to send 16- and 17-year-olds to adult court for gun-related crimes, mainly firearm thefts. Both of those are supported by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

The Senate also dislikes a bill to make autopsy reports for minors exempt from the state’s public records act. But it is being pushed by Covenant School parents in reaction to the deadly shooting that pushed the governor to call this special session. 

Lee’s call was so tight that it wouldn’t allow most gun-related bills to be considered.

Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari of Memphis hoped for stronger legislation to curtail mass shootings but noted Thursday her prediction was correct that this would be a session of “missed opportunities and misdirection.”

“We had the opportunity to really do some good things around gun safety to keep guns off our streets that shouldn’t be there, and the call of the session was incredibly limited,” Akbari said.