It was a raucous finish to the Tennessee General Assembly Thursday, filled controversy, discontent and even angry words.
“What we had was the House of Representatives essentially devolve into lawlessness,” said House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.
At one point, House Democrats felt they were restrained by troopers from leaving the chambers.
They were upset about a Democrat pulled from the conference committee for the key measure called the “TennCare block grant” bill.
Speaker Glen Casada feared losing a quorum as the Democrats tried to leave the chamber.
“You have been elected to be in there. If you shirk your responsibilities several of the actions that can be taken is state troopers can bring you back in there,” said Casada while gathering with Republican Senators and Republican Governor Bill Lee after the session ended about 7 P.M.
Beyond the appearance of a chaotic House, Representatives did get together with Senate members to pass the TennCare block grant bill that allows Governor Lee to try and negotiate federal Medicaid money in one lump sum.
Whatever happens affects 1.3 million people on TennCare.
“We will only do it if it is a good deal for Tennesseans, a good deal for our state and protects things we want protected and that will happen in negotiations or we won’t get a deal,” said Governor Lee.
In the news conference and in a statement, Governor Lee lauded lawmakers.
“In March, I presented our budget and a series of priorities which I believe will be foundational to making Tennessee a leader in the nation,” said Lee. “Working with the General Assembly leadership and members, we passed reforms that will continue to build on the momentum our state has seen in recent years.”