Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is suggesting the General Assembly should think about getting back to a bygone practice of scheduling a day for lawmakers to come back after the regular session closes for the year in case the governor vetoes any late-in-the-game legislation.
The way it would work, he said, is on the last day of the Legislature’s regular business — which is is currently planned for sometime next month — instead of shutting down for the year the House and Senate would plan a day to return sometime after the 10-day period the constitution grants the governor to weigh whether he’ll sign or veto legislation that lands on his desk.
Overriding a gubernatorial veto in Tennessee isn’t particularly difficult for the Legislature, which can do so with simple majorities in both houses.
However, the Legislature can only override vetoes if lawmakers are around to take such action. In the flurry of legislative activity that occurs the last couple weeks before lawmakers head home, many bills haven’t been endorsed or rejected by the governor by the time the House and Senate go dark for the year.
Ramsey, a Republican from Blountville, said that in the interest of “good government,” the veto-override session should be scheduled ahead of time so that lawmakers are given the opportunity to take such action without there having to be a decision made afterward as to whether or not to call senators and representatives back to Nashville for a special session. Ramsey, who is speaker of the state Senate, said he wishes the Tennessee Constitution already required a veto-override session so that legislative leaders aren’t put in the politically sticky situation of having to make a determination of whether to call for a special session, which he suggested potentially “looks personal” — like there’s distrust between lawmakers and the governor.
“I’ve talked to (House Speaker Beth Harwell) about this, and we used to do this,” Ramsey said in a press conference Thursday. “The down side is you have to come back no matter what — even if (the governor) didn’t veto anything.”
There are two big issues under discussion in Legislature on which Gov. Bill Haslam and a majority of lawmakers may be in disagreement. One is stalling implementation of the Common Core education standards. The other is granting gun-carry permit holders the right to ignore bans on firearms in county and municipal parks imposed by local governments. Haslam has said he’s opposed to any move to roll back, slow down or toss out Common Core. He’s against the guns-in-parks legislation — which already passed the Senate but is in limbo in the House — because he says it violates “local control.”