JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — State Rep. Tim Hicks (R-Gray) joined other local lawmakers in voting to expel three Democratic representatives from the state House.
On Thursday, the House ousted Reps. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D-Memphis), but failed to expel Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville).
Hicks said he felt like he had no other choice after their actions at the podium on March 30.
“They have overshadowed anything that we’ve tried to do this year,” said Hicks. “It’s been a lot of the topic of conversation and I just pray that now we can get back to the business of Tennessee.”
He said the so-called “Tennessee Three” have caused problems throughout the session this year, especially expelled Jones and Pearson in their committees.
“There’s all kinds of committees that they disrupted, even Wednesday morning in Education Committee,” said Hicks.
Professor, associate dean, and political science historian Daryl Carter acknowledged that according to the state constitution, the House of Representatives had the right to expel members.
However, he said there are other disciplinary actions the House could have taken before the ultimate choice of expulsion.
“The fact of the matter is, they didn’t have to do this,” said Carter. “They made a choice to do this. They may have had a right to do it, but it probably was not a good one.”
Republicans he has spoken to feel the same way.
“[They} have said, ‘Wait a second, this is really autocratic. This is an extreme move,'” said Carter. “And it signals as well our growing intolerance of difference, particularly political and ideological differences.”
Hicks said he plans to continue to work alongside Rep. Johnson and hopes she can work to put out legislation concerning gun control. If the two expelled representatives come back to the House, Hicks said they will have to earn his and other lawmakers’ respect.
“And I hope and pray that when they come back, that they can work hard, have a good direction and show honesty and integrity and they will definitely get respect from me,” said Hicks.
Several across the nation are thinking this expulsion vote does not reflect well on the state of Tennessee.
“Will it be detrimental? I think yes in terms of the views of the state,” said Carter. “Out around the country, this has been all over all the networks and much of that coverage has been very very critical.”
Carter said he has heard rumors that the expelled representatives, will be re-instated by officials as early as next week.
This means they could possibly return to the House again fairly soon.