Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, Rep. Eddie Smith and Rep. Jason Zachary updated Chamber members on what’s happening at Tennessee’s state Capitol on March 9 at a Capitol Connections breakfast sponsored by AT&T and WGU Tennessee.
With committees starting to wind down, the legislators said work is still underway to deal with two big issues the state is grappling with – the opioid epidemic and school safety.
The mass murder at a Parkland, Fla., high school has resulted in several pieces of legislation being filed that would allow more armed individuals inside schools.
Rep. Jason Zachary noted that since 2013 Tennessee law has allowed teachers and staff to carry guns if they have approval of the school officials, a carry permit and undergo significant training.
All three lawmakers noted that while Knox County Schools have its own security officers, many rural counties cannot afford additional security officers.
They praised Gov. Bill Haslam for creating a task force on school safety, and Rep. Eddie Smith said the governor has not ruled out a special session should the task force make recommendations that need legislative approval.
Likewise, debate continues about legislation designed to combat the opioid epidemic. The Tennessee Medical Association has push backed against the limits the governor proposed in his legislation, but Sen. Massey predicted that a compromise would end up being negotiated.
The medical marijuana bill – which would allow cannabis oil to be used in treatment of specific medical conditions – may have a harder time getting legislators’ approval.
While Sen. Massey and Rep. Zachary support the idea in very limited circumstances, Rep. Smith said he believes more research needs to be done on the issue.
Sen. Massey does not believe the measure will be able to pass the Senate, noting that Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, a retired pharmacist, is against the bill.
The next Capitol Connections event will be at 8 a.m., Friday, April 13. Rep. Harry Brooks and Rep. Roger Kane are confirmed as guests.