JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Local lawmakers said they were wondering if the governor would go through with calling the special session, but Tuesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee officially announced the date.
Senator Rusty Crowe (R – Johnson City) says the executive committee of the Republican Party has asked that the governor not call the special session.
Governor Lee also released a proclamation detailing 18 points that he wants to cover in the session.
The session aims to focus on public safety and includes issues like school safety plans, mental health and human trafficking reporting. The session has been anticipated since the Covenant School shooting in Nashville in March.
“My preference is that we would deal with this in the regular session, not a called session, but I don’t have much say in that,” said Representative Bud Hulsey (R – Kingsport).
There have been some concerns in the past that what many call “red flag laws” will be introduced, restricting firearm rights for people deemed a threat to themselves or others in a court hearing.
“The point, number twelve, that I saw and looked at; if you were going to hide a ‘red flag law’ that would be where it’s at,” said Hulsey. “These mental orders of protection. So, I’ve got to read that really close.”
Senator Rusty Crowe and Representative John Holsclaw (R – Elizabethton) agree with Hulsey.
“I don’t think there are enough votes to pass ‘red flag laws’ of any kind in the Senate or the House,” said Crowe. “Orders of protection are pretty much the same as ‘red flag laws’. You’re just not going to see that.”
Hulsey says he does agree with some points, like 13 through 16 presented in the proclamation, concerning violent crimes committed by juveniles. He says this is an issue in Memphis.
“So, I think there are practical things we can look at that would solve some of that problems and there’s a piece in there that’s pretty interesting,” said Hulsey. “It can make it a crime, if you coerce or encourage a minor to commit a crime, you could be charged as well. We probably should’ve done that a long time ago.”
Lawmakers say they don’t know what to expect going into the special session, with some worried they’re missing the true point behind it.
“Which, this all started over a transgender walking into Covenant School and killing six people,” said Bud Hulsey. “And with that in mind, I wish we would focus more on that than such a broad net.”
“But if there’s something that’s there, that needs to be done to protect our students, to protect teachers from mass shootings, we’ll be there to do that,” said Crowe.
The special session is set for August 21.
Read the full special session proclamation here.