The Tennessee General Assembly is coming back at the end of May after a two-month recess.
But the leaders of the two chambers are at odds about what will be debated and who can come.
Senate Speaker Randy McNally and leadership want the legislature to focus only on measures related to COVID-19 or the state’s revenue.
Adam Kleinheider, a spokesman for McNally, says the lieutenant governor would like session to “mirror the week prior to recess in most, if not all, respects.”
“The economic disruption created by the virus will result in significant revenue shortfalls,” Kleinheider says. “The Senate expects to remain focused on the budget and a very limited number of bills which are either time sensitive, related to the budget or deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
But House Speaker Cameron Sexton told WPLN News he expects all subcommittees to resume work on the week of May 26. This means he is open to debate non-pandemic issues, such as abortion or “permitless” carry of handguns.
“We will remain focused on passing good public policy and making necessary cuts and adjustments to balance the budget,” Sexton said in a statement.
Another disagreement among the top leaders is whether to let the public come into the legislative building and the capitol. Letting the public in the building is a no-go for McNally.
“While limiting access is not anything anyone wants to do, Lt. Gov. McNally believes the current policy should remain in place in order to prevent the spread of the virus,” says Kleinheider.
He mentions that the public can still watch the proceedings through the General Assembly’s livestream. Sexton, on the other hand, says he hopes to reopen the buildings for everyone.
In the past some controversial issues have resulted in crowded hearing rooms, where it will be impossible to maintain social distance.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Lee has sided with the Senate leadership. He has said he wants to focus on bills related to the budget.