In the words of Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, it looks like it’s time for the Senate and the House to tango.
The House will reconvene at 2 p.m. on Monday and the Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m. The Senate’s 11 a.m. floor session on Thursday was a quick one. After some procedural moves, Majority Leader Jack Johnson sent his bill to adjourn the special session back to the calendar committee. He then moved to adjourn until 4 p.m. on Monday.
While the Senate Republicans seem content with the four bills they have passed, the House passed nine bills on Thursday, mostly with bipartisan support, and has 18 bills to get through on Monday, including the three bills the Senate passed. The special session cannot come to a close until both chambers have agreed to send the same bills to the Governor’s desk, which has resulted in something of a deadlock between chambers.
“Well, I think there’s probably a number of sticking points. That’s probably one of them,” said McNally to reporters about a juvenile blended sentencing bill that has the support of House Speaker Cameron Sexton. He was then asked to elaborate on what those other sticking points could be.
“We might be here for too long,” he responded.
But while McNally acknowledged the tension between chambers, he remained firm that the Senate was unlikely to pick up any more legislation for the special session.
“Well, we completed what the governor has asked us to,” said McNally
Meanwhile, the House did not reach a quorum for its session at noon due to a Finance, Ways and Means Committee meeting that ran long. After gaveling in the session, Sexton announced that it would be moved to 3 p.m., gaveled it out, and then addressed the media.
“They’ve got a chairman issue over there,” said Sexton. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), killed 52 bills on Tuesday, only allowing three to pass for House consideration. A fourth appropriations bill was able to make it out of the Senate Finance Committee and pass on the Senate floor. Gardenhire, consistent with messaging from Senate leadership, told reporters that those were the only bills that would be passed during the special session.
“We’ll see,” said Sexton. “We’re gonna pass what we think we need to pass, if they don’t think juvenile crime is important enough to decrease then maybe they won’t pass it.”
Three hours later, the House Finance, Ways and Means committee was still going. The House did not end up convening until 4:30 p.m. With 26 bills and a resolution on the calendar, they had to move some of their business to Monday. And after getting through 12 bills over just under three hours, two of which were bills that the Senate has passed but the house chose to roll to the end of the agenda, they adjourned until Monday.
The House’s floor session moved slowly in part due to Democrats expressing their displeasure over the legislation being passed. While all of the bills received bipartisan support, the Democrats were unhappy about none of the bills addressing gun violence, and they took every opportunity to make that clear, while Republicans argued that the work they’re doing is all a part of a bigger picture.
It is unclear whether or not Monday will be the last day of the special session. While it is still possible, it will require negotiations between the Republicans in the two chambers to settle on what bills to pass.