The Bucket List

The Bucket List

by | May 2, 2024 | From the Campaign Trail

Mercifully, the regular session of the 2024 Tennessee General Assembly came to an end last week. 

If you follow me on social media, you know that I posted a brief legislative update at the end of each of the TGA’s fifteen weeks in session. I tried to encapsulate what happened in the State House in five bullet points. That was no easy task.

Every week was a firehose of bad. Not just bad laws that the Republican supermajority forced through, but good laws that they refused to consider.

I’d put the yield of this legislative session into the following buckets:

Laws most Tennesseans didn’t want but got anyway

Exhibit A: Public-school teachers can now carry a gun in the classroom. Parents won’t be told if their child’s teacher is carrying. Republicans killed a safe-storage amendment. Most parents and teachers opposed this law, and a former SRO told me it will make that job more dangerous. Fortunately school systems can opt out, and many have.

Laws most Tennesseans wanted but didn’t get

Tennesseans pay the second-highest average sales tax in the country. Republican lawmakers killed a bill that would have taxed billion-dollar corporations like FedEx and Amazon in order to cut Tennessee’s sales tax on groceries. They refused to consider any sensible gun regulations or any exceptions to the abortion ban. They voted down a narrow exception to the ban for children under age 13.

Laws based on conspiracy theories

Tennessee’s new “chemtrails” ban prohibits geoengineering, altering the atmosphere to mitigate global warming. Geoengineering technology doesn’t exist, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from turning conspiracy theories about it into legislation. Same with a proposed bill regulating vaccinated vegetables—a bill Tennesseans found so funny that it died on the vine (sorry). Not so funny: a conspiracy-fueled anti-vax law that endangers children in foster care.    

Laws that harm vulnerable people

Several laws belong in this bucket. A particularly egregious one criminalizes nonparental adults who help a minor access an abortion. It’s easy to see how this could trap incest victims in a cycle of dependence and abuse.

Corporate giveaways

The final insult was an unnecessary $1.9 billion corporate tax break/refund, most of which will leave the state. Lobbyists on Capitol Hill were reportedly crowded around watching the onscreen vote count like football fans watching the NFL draft.


Despite the Republican supermajority, and despite PACs and lobbyists pushing the billionaire-funded “school choice” agenda, ordinary Tennesseans defeated the voucher scam that’s been defunding school systems in other red states. Statewide vouchers were supposed to be Gov. Lee’s signature legislative victory this session. Instead he declared the effort dead for the year. That announcement came on the heels of another people-powered victory, the historic vote to unionize Chattanooga’s VW plant.

Tennessee’s legislative session may have ended, but Tennesseans are just getting started. Election Day is six months away. On November 5, let’s present this anti-people supermajority with another big bucket of nope.