The Tennessee General Assembly is now back in session, and redistricting and education among the most pressing issues the state’s “part time” lawmakers are set to address as they returned to the capital Tuesday.
According to the General Assembly website, “Session beings the second Tuesday in January at 12:00 Noon. There is no defined adjournment date. But, the General Assembly usually adjourns in mid April.”
The State Senate is comprised of 33 total members, with Republicans holding a 27-6 majority. Davidson County’s State Senate delegation has four members, senators Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville-SD19), Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville-SD20), and Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville-SD21). State Senator Yarbro also serves as the State Senate Minority Leader.
Davidson County’s three Democratic state senators make up half of the Democratic Party’s State Senate Caucus.
State Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), who sits on the Health and Welfare, Ethics, Education, Finance, Ways and Means, and Rules committees, has several pending bills that deal with adoption, assault on first responders, healthcare, and veterinarians. Haile sponsored over 20 bills that passed in 2021.
State Senator Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville-SD19), a member of the Finance, Ways and Means, Transportation and Safety, Joint Fiscal Review Committee, has several bills pending from 2021 that deal with elections, courts, criminal procedure, education, and welfare. In 2021, Gilmore introduced a bill that would rename Legislative Plaza to the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Plaza.
State Senator Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville-SD20) is a member of the Government Operations, Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Joint Commerce, Labor, Transportation, and Agriculture, Joint Judiciary and Government, and Joint Fiscal Review committees. She has bills pending from 2021 that address education, boards and commissions, alcohol, juvenile offenders, and more. In 2021, Campbell sponsored SB0419, a bill that prohibits county election commissioners from voting on issues that affect family members who are candidates for public office. That bill became law.
State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville-SD21), who also serves as the State Senate Minority Leader, is a member of the Calendar, Finance, Ways and Means, Health and Welfare, Rules, and State and Local Government committees. In 2021, Yarbro sponsored bills dealing with education, economic and community development, taxes, unemployment, tobacco, children, transportation, and housing.
Most recently, State Senator Yarbro took issue with House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s statements on splitting up the 5th Congressional District, saying, “There’s no pretense this decision is being made in the public interest or an effort to fairly represent Tennesseans. It’s just a brazen attempt to manipulate the rules in order to manipulate the outcomes.”
“Voters don’t like being used as the means to one political party’s ends, and any narrow benefits to the Republican Party in the very short run will be eclipsed by the damage done.”
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.