How long will the Tennessee legislative special session take?

During the special session, the rules remain the same in terms of bills becoming laws, just in an expedited manner.
WSMV4's Sharon Danquah reports.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 12:47 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Gov. Bill Lee-announced legislative special session on public safety is gearing up in Nashville before the official 4 p.m. start on Monday.

In an earlier proclamation, Gov. Lee announced that the Tennessee General Assembly will consider and act upon a slew of legislation regarding mental health resources, school safety plans and policies and much more.

A special session is a special meeting of legislators that is called by the governor and limited to specific matters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In this special session’s case, it is centered around public safety.

During the special session, the rules remain the same in terms of bills becoming laws, just in an expedited manner. To help expedite the process, some rules are waived to get bills up for consideration quicker. Also, since the special session surrounds public safety, nothing outside of that spectrum will be allowed to be introduced.

Here’s a quick look at how a bill becomes a law in the Tennessee General Assembly:

  • Introduction
  • Numbered by Chief Clerk
  • Passed on first consideration
  • Passed on second consideration
  • Referred and placed on calendar
  • Passed on third consideration
  • Bill is engrossed
  • Companion bills
  • Bill is enrolled
  • Signed by speakers
  • Signed by governor
  • Sent to Secretary of State and assigned a public chapter number
  • Incorporated into the code

For a deeper dive into the process and a look at resolutions and more, click here.

In a statement released around the time Gov. Lee announced the date of the special session, House Speaker Cameron Sexton said no committee decisions were made, however, assignments will be announced this week.

Sexton and other lawmakers said in a separate statement they’re looking forward to the “opportunity to strengthen public safety and mental health resources without infringing on the rights of law-abiding Tennesseans.”

On Monday, the House Select Committee voted to adopt new rules for the special session.

  • Rule 2: Prohibits members and staff from using electronic devices that impair decorum and prohibits audio or visual recording, live streaming or broadcasting in any meeting of the House, its committees and subcommittees and joint conventions.
  • Rule 4: Prohibits voice or noise amplification devices, flags, signs and banners.
  • Rule 18: When a member is recognized and goes off-topic, they will forfeit their remaining time. If the member is called to order by the Speaker a second time on the same day, and it is sustained by the House, the member will not be recognized for the remainder of that day. The member will not be recognized for three legislative days on a third offense. The member will not be recognized for the remainder of the session for a fourth offense. Offending members will still be allowed to vote.
  • Rule 21: Gives a bill sponsor two minutes to respond to a member whose time has expired.
  • Rule 35: Adds voice or noise amplification devices to no props rule.
  • Rule 60: Sets the amendment filing deadline for the floor to at least four hours prior to the start of session in order to be considered.
  • Rule 65: Names the standing committees for the extraordinary session and removes designees from the Government Operations Committee.
  • Rule 83 adds a new section: Establishes an ad hoc committee composed of the Speaker Pro Tempore, the two leaders and the two caucus chairs to make disciplinary recommendations to the Speaker or the House when a member is ruled out of order in committee for impugning the reputation of another member, the committee or the House.
  • New Rule 86: If a member impugns the reputation of another member or the House, the member may be called to order by any other member. The House will decide the case without debate. First offense, the member will not be able to proceed with remarks. Second offense, no recognition for three legislative days. Third offense: no recognition for six legislative days. Fourth offense: no recognition for the remainder of the annual session. Offending members will still be allowed to vote.

The rules are expected to be considered by the House of Representatives in the House chamber on Monday.

The session will begin at 4 p.m. CT Monday, and how long it lasts will be up to the General Assembly and how they work through their condensed timeline.

Click here for a look at the General Assembly’s calendar this week and to watch the special session unfold live.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.