NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There’s a prediction from a top state lawmaker that this year’s session will be done by mid-April, but you would never know it by the current pace.
Tennessee lawmakers have been in session for exactly a month and many of them both publicly and privately say they have little to show for it.
Governor Bill Haslam has proposed a state budget, a plan to fight opioid abuse, and reforms for a broken juvenile justice but those major pieces of legislation are among the estimate 1500 bills filed.
Getting to the big items takes a while as all those other bills wind their way through a committee system.
“We are picking it up,” said House Republican Leader Glen Casada. “We have about 60 bills on notice.”
Despite some signs of movement this week, the slower than usual pace on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill over the last month has caught the eye of everyone there from lawmakers to lobbyists and those who cover them.
Minority democrats are quick to seize on inaction.
“What we are doing in Tennessee right now is we are sitting around up in the legislature and basically doing nothing about the really important problems facing our state,” said House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.
The republicans who control things are not so worried about the pace for now.
They would point out their sessions are much shorter than ones controlled for decades by Democrats.
There is even a prediction from the House Republican Leader.
“We are going to be out of here–dare I say a date–mid-April,” added Casada with big smile.
That’s just a little over two months from now.
Everyone believes the pace will eventually pick up with the usual frenetic activity in the final days.
This is an election year for three quarters of the state lawmakers, and they want to get out of here as quick as they can.