The Tennessee House of Representatives is considering a new bill aimed at providing a response to Gov. Bill Lee’s recent decision to say yes to the resettlement of more refugees in Tennessee in FY 2020 by the federal government.
Earlier this week State Rep. Ron Gant (R-TN-94), assistant majority leader, introduced HB 1929 to address that issue.
In an exclusive interview with The Tennessee Star on Thursday, State Rep. Gant said, “This bill is to obviously hit the pause button and, if you will, have the governor engage in a conversation or dialogue related to this issue. There used to be federal dollars flowing to the state. The appropriations must come through the Tennessee General Assembly.”
The Republican governor in December sent shock waves through Tennessee when he announced that he had sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo that he agreed to continued resettlement of refugees in the state in FY 2020, even though he had the option of saying no to more refugees, The Tennessee Star reported.
Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and Republican Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said they disagree.
County commissions across the state have stated opposition.
“I think when you’re going to do something like this you need to consult with your constituents, and I think you need, just as importantly, to consult with the legislative body in Nashville. He could have gotten a pretty good idea of what his constituents were thinking on this whole issue and could have saved a lot of disruption within our (Republican)party if he would have done that,” Bedford County Commissioner Brent Smith told The Star.
Gant’s bill is not alone in addressing the refugee concerns.
Another bill, HB 1578/SB 1567 says it “requires this state to refuse to consent to receive any refugees for purposes of resettlement; requires each local government within this state to refuse to consent to receive any refugees for purposes of resettlement unless resettlement within its jurisdiction is approved by a certain process.”
The sponsors are State Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-TN-75) and Sen. Joey Hensley (R-TN-28).
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Editors note: An earlier version of this story referenced a summary of HB 1929 at the Tennessee General Assembly website that contained a dated description of the bill’s purpose that is being updated.