Seats for sale: Tennessee House guests must pay for gallery seating
Several people who came to the Capitol for the first day of work for the Tennessee House were turned away due to a new policy.
Tickets are required, and some must be purchased to enter the spectator stand, according to new rules put in place by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.
Nashville Rep. Justin Jones, expelled by Sexton last year for a gun protest on the House floor, questioned why all lawmakers were not allowed to vote on the issue.
“Is there any process within our rules to override this arbitrary decision by the speaker? This is still a Democratic body, and I don’t believe we have kings or queens here, so is there a way for the body to override this very unconstitutional rule where you have to pay to sit, be a lobbyist, or have a special ticket,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, House leadership has established ticket access for the West gallery, with lawmakers seemingly able to give out one spectator ticket. There’s no apparent written policy, members of the public were turned away unawares.
West Gallery sits mostly empty as House gavels in https://t.co/3VEnKfG1Bg
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Sexton office said the changes were recommendations from the Fire Marshal and from law enforcement for safety purposes. During the last session, hundreds of people crowded the gallery and passageways, disrupting work. Some of them were even led out by state officers after protests over gun laws.
(IMAGE: Tennessee General Assembly)