Thursday marked the end of a hectic week for Tennessee lawmakers as the deadline for filing bills to be heard in the first session of the 111th General Assembly approached.
The two houses of the General Assembly had their own respective deadline, with the House being on Wednesday and the Senate being Thursday by 3:30 p.m. each day.
State Representatives are limited to a maximum of 15 bills each, with the exception of committee chairs, who are allotted an additional five bills each, provided that they pertain to the subject of the committee they chair.
There are no limits as to the number of bills a member of the State Senate may carry.
By end of business Thursday, the index of legislation on the Tennessee General Assembly website showed that House bills filed numbered through 1499 (HB 1499) and Senate bills filed numbered through 1508 (SB 1508).
With bill submission deadlines strictly adhered to, any bill sponsor from either house who was unable to find a sponsor in the other house of the General Assembly, thereby lacking the required companion bill, will not have their bill heard this year.
In addition to the bills that were filed, House Joint Resolutions numbered through 165 (HJR 0165) and Senate Joint Resolutions number through 184 (SJR 0184). There are no limits as to the number of Resolutions filed and they will continue to be filed throughout the session.
Bill subjects range from abortion, alcoholic beverages, employees/employers, Department of Human Services, agriculture, public health, motor vehicles, election laws, gambling, municipal government, education, controlled substances and TennCare, among numerous others.
With approximately 1,500 bills filed, there is significant depth and breadth as to what will be considered, but some of the major topics expected to be discussed in this year’s session will include medical cannabis, sports betting, school choice, abortion restrictions, and occupational licensing, to name a few.
With new House leadership, 28 new members in the House and five new Senate members, as well as new committee chairs in the Senate and a complete restructuring of the committees in the House, even perennial bills related to the protection of life and the 2nd Amendment may see different outcomes than they had in the past.
With the majority of bills being filed the final few days before the deadline, up to this point there has been relatively little for committees to consider, which will change next week as evidenced by the schedule and calendars.
The comprehensive website of the Tennessee General Assembly allows the search for legislation in a variety of ways, including search functions by keyword, bill number index, subject and by Senate or House member.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter with The Tennessee Star.