NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The gallery screamed. They were declared out of order. But that didn’t stop the Tennessee House from striking Rep. Justin Jones out of order a second time this session, rendering him silent for the rest of the legislative day.
House Democrats left the chamber in a united fashion.
“This should be very troubling to us all,” Jones said after leaving the chamber. “He said because I brought up the need for mental health professionals in schools in schools versus SROs, I was off the bill. Why is that was ruled out of order and why was I silenced for speaking on an issue germane to my district? Silence one member. Silence us all.”
Members tried to ask the House clerk what exactly Rep. Jones, D-Nashville, said that got him off the bill, which was about specific legislation about SROs in schools. Previously, House Speaker Cameron Sexton ruled him out of order. House members voted on party lines to silence Jones.
“What is it that was out of order in what he said?” House Minority Leader Karen Camper asked during a parliamentary inquiry.
Speaker Sexton never responded to Camper.
Speaker Sexton kept pounding the gavel and requesting the Tennessee Highway Patrol to clear the public gallery. They screamed repeatedly that Sexton was a fascist and should be voted out.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, was called out of order by Speaker Sexton after an interaction with Jones on a bill that would allow pre-kindergarten through grade 12 private schools to create their own policies around guns.
However, the House clerk when asked said he interpreted the first out of order as a “warning” to Bulson. Sexton didn’t say either way.
The House finished the calendar without House Democrats.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Jones passed about his plan for a vote of no-confidence Speaker Sexton. Last week, his colleagues laughed at him on the floor when he said he wanted to bring it up. During a parliamentary inquiry, the clerk said Jones could bring it up during unfinished business. Because he was silenced Monday before the unfinished business part of the calendar, Jones was unable to bring about that vote for House members.
“This is really about the vote of no confidence I was going to call for,” Jones said. “He was so afraid of this vote of no confidence passed a law to stop me from being heard today.”
Camper said in an interview nearly 45 minutes later that Democrats tried to come to a resolution.
“This was silencing the voice of members on a crucial topic. The people expect us to be here to do this. He cleared the galleries yet again. We feel there’s an unfair application of the rules when it comes to Bulso. We thought it was unfair. We found it necessary to stand in unity on it.”
The House will reconvene on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The appropriations bill — the funding piece of the legislative session — is not in unison in both chambers. So the two will have to reconcile their differences before the special session can end.