In February, the 50th Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee (R-Franklin), delivered his third State of the State address in the War Memorial Auditorium, with the members of the 112th General Assembly, Lee’s cabinet, state officials, and other dignitaries in attendance. Typically, the annual speech is given in the House Chambers, but due to the pandemic, the venue changed to allow for proper social distancing. Those in attendance sat in chairs on the floor, six-feet apart making for a unique setting in an otherwise unprecedented year. The Governor’s remarks focused on Lee’s $41.8 billion dollar budget and the administration’s legislative priorities, while also bolstering Tennessee’s unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for economic recovery.
In the following weeks of February, lawmakers returned to Nashville after taking a full week off due to the snow and ice that blanketed West and Middle Tennessee. Given the brief pause in legislative work, the General Assembly picked up steam the last week of February with committee activity and budget hearings continuing. As expected, lawmakers waited until the last minute to file a flurry of bills before the House bill filing deadline last Wednesday, with the Senate deadline occurring the week before.
This year, House and Senate lawmakers introduced approximately 1,622 bills, a twenty percent increase from last year’s totals, where numbers were significantly down due to the 2020 election cycle. The House recently announced guest admittance protocols that include access to House office areas, House hearing rooms on the first floor and the House gallery in the Capitol. If a person of the public has an appointment on one of the House floors, then guests will be given a badge and elevator access. The Senate will continue to only allow persons with an appointment to access their floors and committees.
With the bill filing deadlines in the rear-view mirror, legislators will now turn their attention to putting their bills “on notice” in committee, which means that longer days and longer committee calendars are on the horizon in March. Both chambers will continue to hear budget presentations from the various departments and agencies of the state to ensure their requests align with Governor Lee’s proposed budget for the year. Expect subcommittee activity in the House to increase dramatically the first two weeks of March, as general bills begin to move through the legislative process. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. It is pleasure to represent you at the Tennessee General Assembly.