Date set for Tennessee legislative special session on public safety

Gov. Bill Lee announced the special session in the wake of the Covenant School shooting.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the date for a highly-anticipated special session on public safety.
Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 9:42 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2023 at 5:49 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the date for a highly-anticipated special session on public safety.

The special session will begin on Aug. 21 at 4 p.m., according to a proclamation by Gov. Lee.

His proclamation states the General Assembly will consider and act upon a slew of legislation regarding mental health resources, school safety plans and policies along with much more.

“As our nation faces evolving public safety threats, Tennessee remains vigilant and is taking continued action to protect communities while preserving the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “In the months leading up to the public safety special session, we have listened to Tennesseans and worked with members of the General Assembly to identify thoughtful, practical measures to strengthen public safety across our state, including steps to support law enforcement, address mental health, prevent violent crime and stop human trafficking. I thank the General Assembly for its continued partnership and look forward to achieving meaningful results for Tennesseans.”

Lee says he will be presenting legislative and budget priorities during the special session.

“In addition to bringing the following solutions in the administration package, the Governor will continue to work with members of the General Assembly on other legislation specified in the call,” Lee’s office said in a press release.

  • Codification of EO 100 and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Report Implementation: Requires reporting of accurate, complete and timely records from court clerks to the TBI within 72-hours and requires electronic submissions of dispositions and expungements to the TBI
  • TennCare Mental Health Coverage Waiver: Directs TennCare to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow federal matching funds for Medicaid to cover services for mental illness and substance use disorders at institutions of mental diseases
  • Addressing Mental Health Workforce Challenges: Budget initiatives that prioritize opportunities to grow and retain mental health professionals in the state
  • Reforms for Mental Health: Expands access to mental health treatment by eliminating certain collaborative practice requirements for Advanced Registered Practice Nurses with psychiatric training
  • Strengthening the Identification of Individuals Arrested for Felonies: Provides for the collection of DNA at the time of an arrest for all felonies
  • Human Trafficking Report: Resolution directing TBI to report on the state of human trafficking in Tennessee
  • Promoting Safe Storage: Eliminates taxes on firearm safes and safety devices, provides free gun locks, expands safe storage training in state-approved safety courses, and creates a public service announcement to promote safe storage
The special session will begin on August 21 at 4 p.m.

You can read the proclamation in full below:

Gov. Lee announced in April he would convene a special session to strengthen public safety in the wake of the Covenant School shooting. Three children and three adults were killed in the mass shooting that left many Tennesseans heartbroken and looking for answers.

Lee said in April the special session at the end of August would strengthen public safety while preserving constitutional rights, ever careful of infringing on the rights of gun owners. The General Assembly adjourned for the year without considering any gun control bills introduced after the mass shooting.

”After much input from members of the General Assembly and discussions with legislative leadership, we have decided to call a special session to continue our work to protect Tennessee communities and preserve constitutional rights,” Lee said in a statement in April. “There is broad agreement that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons. We also share a strong commitment to preserving Second Amendment rights, ensuring due process, and addressing the heart of the problem with strengthened mental health resources.”

Democratic lawmakers have said during the special session, they will stand up for kids and not guns, while some Republicans have said they are against a special session on public safety altogether.

“I look forward to continued partnership with the General Assembly as we pursue thoughtful, practical solutions to keep Tennesseans safe,” Lee said.

WSMV4 will update this story when an official date has been announced.