NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The State Capitol is busy as lawmakers are inside for a special session called by Gov. Bill Lee.
The governor wants lawmakers to consider COVID-19 liability protection, telehealth services and laws governing Capitol grounds.
“This is a complete waste of taxpayers money,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.
Stewart is not holding back on his feelings about Lee calling for a special session.
“It’s a completely bad bill. It was rejected once. The governor didn’t like that so he’s bringing us in at an enormous cost to try and have a do-over,” said Stewart.
Lee, who called the special session that began Monday, said with COVID-19 continuing to present unique challenges, he believes it’s in the best interest of the state to convene in order to address the liability protections and telehealth.
During the session, lawmakers will also look into laws governing Capitol grounds, an area where men and women have protested for over 50 days.
According to legislative administrators, a 3-day session could cost around $119,000, or about $30,000 a day for lawmakers travel costs and allowances.
Republican lawmakers are hoping to finish the session by Wednesday, but if it continues, administrators estimate additional days could cost around $34,000.
“My understanding is the $100,000 plus is just for the daily per diem for the lawmakers, their travel expenses, that sort of thing,” said Stewart. “It doesn’t go to the heating and air, or all of the additional expenses that come with having this special session.”
News4 asked Lee about his thoughts on the costs of the session and why he think it’s worth it.
“Liability protection for businesses and for healthcare workers and for schools and for churches is very important,” said Lee. “Those are organizations that partly, in part, make our economy move forward. It’s very important that we clarify protection for individuals and businesses.”
Lee added that as we have protests and people exercising their First Amendment right, clarifying laws around that, while also protecting law enforcement, is very important to him.