Gov. Bill Lee told reporters Saturday night that he plans to call a special session so the Tennessee House can elect a new speaker.
Current Speaker of the House Glen Casada (R-Franklin) announced his resignation from the speakership on June 4, saying he would be stepping down effective August 2. He intends to keep his seat in the House of Representatives, however.
In his resignation letter, Casada requested that Lee “call the General Assembly into a special session for legislative business” on the his resignation date, as The Tennessee Star reported.
“During the special session, the House may take up the procedural matter of electing a new speaker to lead the chamber,” Casada added.
While speaking with reporters at the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner, Lee revealed that he plans to call a special session in mid-to-late August.
“I’ve spoken with many of the folks in the legislature, and we agree that it’s time to move forward, and the best way to do that is to go ahead and call a session and have a date so we can start making plans to get a new leader,” Lee told reporters, according to The Tennessean.
He went on to say that it’s time to “clean the house,” according to WKRN.
“We will do that in August, probably mid-to-late August we are going to talk to folks across the legislature and determine the exact date of that,” he added.
In early May, Casada faced a stream of scandalous allegations, including that he allegedly sent inappropriate text messages to his former chief of staff and manipulated emails sent by activist Justin Jones in order to “frame” him.
The drumbeat of allegations continued until the House Republican Caucus announced May 21 that a secret ballot resulted in a 45-24 vote of no confidence against Casada, The Tennessee Star reported.
“The Governor’s decision to schedule a special session that enables the House to elect a replacement Speaker and begin the process of moving forward with new leadership that will require the support of a majority of the Republican Caucus rather than the power shifting to an unelected successor is the right move. The sooner that can take place the better,” noted Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill.
“When a specific date is announced we will have more clarity and those seeking to replace Speaker Casada can conduct their campaigns with more certainty,” Gill added. “While a contentious Speaker’s election concerns some, it beats the alternative of Rep. Bill Dunn simply ascending into the role without having to demonstrate the support needed to earn it. He will now have that opportunity as will others. Let the best man, or woman, win.”
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