July developed into the busiest month for legislators since adjourning in May. The month began by dozens of new laws taking effect on July 1st, many of which pertain to criminal justice and education. While laws were taking effect, Speaker of the House and 2021-2022 Southern Legislative Conference Chair, Cameron Sexton and his team were placing final touches on the 75th anniversary of the annual conference, which kicked off on July 10th in Downtown Nashville. The Speaker assembled a 4-day event packed with policy committee sessions and drawing over 1,500 legislators, their families, and staff from across the southeastern region. Although the majority of attendees’ time was spent discussing various policy topics amongst one another, they still managed to find time to gather for the annual Campaign Against Hunger. Participants shattered the previous record of meals packed, this year, by packing approximately 63,000 meals. The meals were donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
After an action-packed week at SLC, select lawmakers serving on the Government Operations Joint Subcommittee on Commerce, Labor, Transportation, and Agriculture (CLTA) returned to Nashville the following week for two hearings. While the first hearing proved rather routine, the second hearing of the CLTA Subcommittee was largely dominated by updates from the Department of Economic and Community Development regarding the development of the Memphis Regional Megasite which reportedly has cleared its final hurdle, prompting the Governor to urge the department to begin aggressive marketing of the site. Upon conclusion of the subcommittee’s meeting, the full Joint Government Operations Committee convened for a Rule Review hearing where they considered nearly two dozen items.
As the close of summer is approaching, legislators have begun preparing to gavel back into session by attending various conferences, including SLC and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The opportunity for policy dialogue has prompted a handful of bills to be filed by legislators, including one bill (HB1634) that would poll Tennesseans on their sentiments toward cannabis on the November 2022 ballot. As fall approaches, members of the General Assembly will increasingly become more active around Nashville as they prepare to reconvene in 2022.