NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The days of protests in the wake of the deadly Covenant School shooting didn’t work.
The actions against Democrats who protested on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives appeared to be swifter than those taken against a Republican lawmaker found to have violated the workplace discrimination and harassment policy.
In addition, on Thursday, the General Assembly voted to disband community oversight boards tasked with holding law enforcement accountable despite Nashville voters overwhelmingly supporting them in 2018.
“They don’t need to listen to voices that might push back against these policy preferences,” said Vanderbilt Political Science Professor Carrie Russell. “They don’t need these voices for purposes of moving legislation through the process.”
Russell said looking at these recent examples and the 113th General Assembly, in general, shows how much power Tennessee’s Republican supermajority has in the state.
“It has all created a silo effect to where the voices of individuals, even elected in the House, can literally be silenced when there is no need for their support,” she said.
Tennessee’s Republican supermajority is expected to end the legislative session without taking a vote to keep guns from dangerous people. This inaction on gun reform this session comes despite protests from Tennesseans and polling showing it is what the majority of Tennessee Republicans want.
“How do we not feel shame for failing to do anything?” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D–Nashville) on the Senate floor Thursday while presenting his version of a “red flag bill.”
Tennessee House Republicans have said that “any red flag law is a non-starter.” Rep. Jason Zachary (R–Knoxville) tweeted that Gov. Bill Lee’s gun reform proposal, “will not pass the TN House.”
However, Russell said the balance of power in the Tennessee Statehouse hasn’t always been skewed to one side.
“That profound shift in representation over the course of just 12 years is remarkable and noteworthy,” she said.
She said around 2008-2010, Republicans gained a lot of power as a result of push back against President Barack Obama and redistricting.
Speaker Cameron Sexton (R—Crossville) and Campbell didn’t respond to request for comments on the timeline of events leading to Campbell’s resignation.