Violence, vandalism and protesters among topics next week for Tennessee lawmakers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Violence, vandalism and protesters in public places will be among the major topics for Tennessee’s special session next week.

Its one of three areas along with COVID-19 liability and telemedicine insurance issues that will be debated next week as lawmakers plan to finish what they could not get done during the pandemic shortened legislative session. 

In an interview with WKRN-TV, Tennessee Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton addressed the issue of protesters that have been on part of the Capitol’s Legislative Plaza since shortly after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

“What we have had is camping and we’ll continue to look at that and we are going to clear up that part to make it clear what our intent was many years ago,” said Speaker Sexton.

During the Occupy Movement in 2011-2012, protesters against various world economic and social policies stayed round the clock on Legislative Plaza.

It was much like the current capitol hill protests involving issues of race, but Speaker Sexton the legislation being drafted “is not directly related to the protesters.”

The speaker said Republican leadership is working on a bill addressing violence and vandalism on any public property in Tennessee, not just capitol hill.

“There is also a part where we are trying to protect first responders and law enforcement from assaults,” added the speaker. “And then we are also going to look at protecting public property whether its a public square or state property.”

No matter what will be considered during the special session, Tennessee House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart wants no part of it.

“Its a complete waste of money,” Rep. Stewart told WKRN-TV.  “The governor proposes the special session to eliminate liability for seniors and go after people who are standing up for civil rights.”  

Expect similar words to be heard from other Tennessee Capitol Hill Democrats as the Republican majority hopes to finish some what they could not get done earlier this year. 

The legislative special session is expected to last at least three days, but could easily run through next week.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.

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