This Week’s Special Legislative Session Could Cost Tennessee Taxpayers More Than $100,000


The special session of Tennessee lawmakers scheduled for the week of August 10 will likely cost Tennessee taxpayers more than $100,000.

Legislators were called to the special session by Governor Bill Lee through an August 3 proclamation to address three issues, the first two which could have been addressed during the previous legislative session.

The first issue is limiting the COVID-19 liability risk for healthcare providers, businesses and schools operating in a responsible and safe manner.

The legislature took up the matter under SB 2381 / HB 2623 when they returned in June from a two-month COVID-19 recess.

Each chamber, however, passed a different version of the legislation and a bi-partisan joint Conference Committee Report passed the Senate with a 24 to 5 vote.  With 46 Ayes, 36 Nays and 6 Present and Not Voting, the measure failed in the House by not receiving a constitutional majority of 50 votes in favor.

Another piece of legislation regarding the expansion of telemedicine under SB 1892 / HB 1699 was taken up by a different bi-partisan joint Conference Committee.  The House went on to adopt the Conference Committee Report by a unanimous 89 votes.  However, like many other bills the House passed during the second session in June, the Senate never voted on it.

A third issue that has arisen from some of the protests held on and around the Capitol grounds over the past many weeks is the vandalism and defacement of public property, camping, and other risks to public safety.  The General Assembly will also consider whether additional legislation is appropriate to protect the safety of state employees and the public and prevent the damage and destruction to public property.

Legislators will also need to make any appropriations in order to fund the first year of any act passed during the special session.

Tennessee’s constitution requires that bills be considered and passed by a majority of each house on three different days.  Even though typically the first two considerations are perfunctory in nature, it will take a minimum of three days for the session.

Members of the General Assembly, with the exceptions of the two Speakers who have a state vehicle and driver, receive a mileage allowance of $0.47 per mile.

Additionally, members receive a per diem based on whether or not their residence is considered within driving distance of Nashville, at a rate of $61 or $284 per day, respectively.

As such, a typical three-day week of session comes at a cost of about $100,000 while a four-day week costs nearly $138,000, according to House and Senate documents for the first quarter of 2020.

The one-day special session called by Lee for August 23, 2019, to elect a new Speaker of the House of Representatives cost nearly $40,000, according to travel and per diem expense reports for 2019.

– – –

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.




Related posts

4 Thoughts to “This Week’s Special Legislative Session Could Cost Tennessee Taxpayers More Than $100,000”

  1. John

    Government budgets derived from projected income. Mythical expenses paid before they are incurred. This is how big government works. It is irrational and makes no sense. Imagine if the rest of us common folks tried to budget on projected income instead of what we had in the bank. Or imagine asking an employer to pay us in advance for work that hadn’t been done or expenses that had not been incurred.

  2. Beatrice Shaw

    Where is OUR stimulus? Why do big time government employees get it all. Teaching is tough right now and we ARE NOT paid enough for the risk.

    1. John

      Beatrice, you aren’t a teacher. You’re nothing but an internet troll. If you knew anything about being a public school teacher, you’d know that they didn’t miss one paycheck due to covid.

      Now go check the mailbox for your monthly county check.

  3. Randy

    That is still considerably less than the the 7 million it cost us in The over billing of TennCare by Cherokee Health. Perhaps the legislature could make up the expense of this session by getting our money back in full now rather than waiting for them to over bill us more to make up the difference.