The Latest: Lawmakers adjourn from their annual session
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on the winding down of Tennessee’s legislative session (all times local):
Tennessee lawmakers have adjourned their annual legislative session.
The Republican-supermajority General Assembly finished its work Thursday after passing legislation to create a concealed carry-only handgun permit that doesn’t require training that includes actually firing a weapon. They also overcame House and Senate differences to pass legislation that would require the state’s top leaders to call on the federal government to send a fixed amount of money each year in the form of block grants.
The last night wasn’t without drama. Many Democrats in the House briefly walked out of the chamber in protest. And a protester shouted at Speaker Glen Casada and was taken out of the House chamber gallery by state troopers.
The session began in January, and included some downtime early on for new Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s administration to get acclimated.
Tennessee’s Republican-supermajority Legislature is in a standoff over a proposal that would significantly change how the state provides health care to its lower-income and disabled residents.
As the monthslong session neared the finish line Thursday, a panel of the House and Senate negotiators couldn’t come to terms on the bill that would require the state’s top leaders to call on the federal government to send a fixed amount of money each year in the form of block grants. Both chambers previously passed different versions.
House members voted 5-0 to reject a negotiated version of the bill, putting the legislation in limbo. It’s unclear what further negotiations might occur. Republican Rep. Matthew Hill said the compromised version did not offer enough flexibility for the state.
Supporters argue block grants would allow Tennessee to better manage its Medicaid program. Critics counter they open up opportunities to cut services.
Currently, the federal government pays an agreed-upon percentage of each state’s Medicaid costs, no matter how much they rise in any given year. Tennessee receives approximately $7.5 billion in federal money for its $12.1 billion Medicaid program.
It’s up to Republican Gov. Bill Lee to decide whether Tennessee will create a concealed carry-only handgun permit that doesn’t require training that includes actually firing a weapon.
The Senate voted 18-11 Thursday for Republican Sen. John Stevens’ bill, which would allow online training of at least 90 minutes with a test to suffice for the new, less expensive permits.
Earlier this week, the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America delivered lawmakers a letter signed by 35 Tennessee gun safety instructors in opposition to the bill.
The National Rifle Association’s legislative arm is backing the bill, saying it would make it more accessible for Tennesseans to exercise their right to self-defense.
The Tennessee Firearm Association is opposing it, worrying that it could mean that other states won’t acknowledge Tennessee’s existing handgun carry permits or only the new ones. The group also said adding the permit could get in the way of its goal of permit-less carry.
Tennessee lawmakers are winding down the work of their annual legislative session.
The Republican-supermajority General Assembly could adjourn Thursday if they tie up loose ends from their monthslong lawmaking session.
Among the bills that are still up in the air, one would create a permit only for concealed carry of handguns that would be less expensive and wouldn’t require training that includes actually firing a weapon. It would be in addition to Tennessee’s current handgun carry permits.
The session began in January, and included some down time early on for new Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s administration to get acclimated.