JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — After a seven-day stint in session, State Representative Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough) said Tennessee’s special session on public safety wasn’t as productive as she’d hoped.
“I’m proud of the House for the hard work we did,” Alexander told News Channel 11, just over 24 hours after the session adjourned. “(We) spent a lot of hours in committee, several days in committee and on the floor. I am sad we didn’t get done what we wanted to accomplish.”
She’s not the only one of her House colleagues that feels that way.
“I’m frustrated because I’m a policy person,” said State Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville). “I’m used to working in the background and having discussions about the finances of it and the practical application…so it frustrates me that there was more shouting than there was talking in terms of expectations.”
House lawmakers passed around twenty bills, but the Senate only agreed on four, one of which was a $100 million spending package.
Among the measures were appropriations for $65 million for various mental health resources and a program that allows the state’s department of safety to hand out free gun locks upon request.
Noticeably absent from the passed legislation: any measure to restrict access to firearms for people deemed dangerous, despite efforts by Governor Bill Lee to pass such a measure during the regular session this spring.
Based on his twenty-year track record in the state House, Hawk said that’s no surprise.
“When the Democrat Party (sic) had, 15 years ago, had both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office, they could have presented something that resembled a red flag law then,” said Hawk. “It never did.”
Hawk said he thinks that’s because the people of Tennessee don’t want to restrict access to guns, but he said he’s still open to finding ways to balance individual Second Amendment rights and public safety.
“There may be a space that we can work that no one’s thought of yet,” said Hawk.
Though the special session is over, there is more work on lawmakers’ horizons.
Alexander said the Senate opted to fund some House bills without passing them. She said the House will ask the Senate to reconsider those measures during the regular session in January.