The Tennessee General Assembly is scheduled to conduct regular business Monday and Tuesday, but the rest of the week’s calendar is thus far open.
Last week, both chamber’s agreed to a state budget, which from a constitutional standpoint means lawmakers are free to leave at any time now.
Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, said Friday, though, that he expects the House will still be at it at least until Wednesday.
Casada, the majority-party caucus chairman in the lower chamber, said the “sheer volume of bills” the House has yet to take up points to a mid-week adjournment.
“The Senate moves much quicker than we do — the Senate’s about done,” said Casada. “But we still have some 125 bills left. You can do maybe 60 a day if you work a long day, maybe a few more. We’ve got half a day Monday, all day Tuesday and I am predicting we’ll be back on Wednesday to finish up.”
Among a number of complicated and contentious matters still unresolved this year are expanded gun-rights legislation, school choice and other education issues, caps on the purchasing of cold medicines and a push to quicken the pace of phasing out the so-called Hall income tax.
And when speakers Beth Harwell and Ron Ramsey do get set to gavel their respective chambers to a close, the General Assembly as a whole will have to agree whether they’re calling it quits for the year or will come back for one more day in a few weeks to discuss any potential vetoes that might issue forth from Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s office after the regular session ends.
House leadership has indicated they’re still contemplating both options.
Like Lt. Gov. Ramsey, R-Blountville, who last month publicly raised the possibility of lawmakers coming back for a veto-override session, Casada said he’d prefer if the General Assembly automatically scheduled a 1-day veto session at the end of every 2-year regular session as a matter of course and regular legislative operating procedure, so that whether or not to do so isn’t even a potential matter of debate.
“I think that no matter who the governor is we should come back — recess for a couple weeks and then come back, because it is just a legislative purview,” said Casada. “It is the governor’s purview to decide whether or not to veto bills. And it is the Legislature’s job to decide whether or not to override a veto.”
In Tennessee, a gubernatorial veto can be overridden by simple majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.