Tennessee Legislature to exclude citizens from Legislative offices, hearings and activities!

News reports are coming out Friday afternoon that Governor Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally and Speaker Sexton have issued orders to close the capitol and the legislature’s offices and committee rooms effective immediately to the public, advocacy groups, and paid lobbyists!

Can these elected officials constitutionally exclude the public from the capitol and the legislature while they continue to conduct public hearings, business and votes? Perhaps not!

The Tennessee Constitution, Article II, Section 22 provides “The doors of each House and of committees of the whole shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret.

The Tennessean is reporting that the Legislators, staff, “the media” and perhaps government lobbyists will be allowed in the Legislature and capitol – but not the public. Not the citizens!

If there is need for health reasons to “suspend” the legislature’s hearings, then suspend them. But it should be viewed as tyranny and a constitutional violation for the Governor and the Legislature to decide that they are going to conduct business, including committee hearings and floor sessions, to the EXCLUSION of the public and public access.

If this is troubling to you, it is critical that you get in touch with your elected officials – phone calls, face to face and demand that your constitutional rights to be present in the Legislature whenever it is doing business, conducting hearings and making laws be honored.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/13/tennessee-capitol-closes-public-over-coronavirus-legislature-not-adjourn/5047459002/

 

John Harris

Executive Director

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