Special session ends in chaos, physical scuffle to bring wild week to a close

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Special session is over. But it didn’t close without fireworks.

“He started to yell and scream as though we had done something,” Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis) said. “Representative Jones was pushed by Representative Cepicky as well because we were holding signs and demanding that we protect kids, not guns.”

Immediately after the House adjourned, Pearson got into Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton’s (R-Crossville) face. Sexton then made contact with Pearson, with Pearson claiming it was intentional while Sexton claimed it was an accident.

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“My security put their hand on the back which knocked me forward. I can’t remember, I think there was a photographer when you look at it that was to my left,” Sexton said. “So we moved right, and at that point, we keep walking. Then you have Representative Pearson who comes in and pops me from my right side.”

Two other representatives, Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) and Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) then bumped Pearson out of the way. Sexton then said something to Pearson.

“I told him, ‘Don’t bump me,’” he said when asked by WKRN.

It was a fitting end, as it put a bow on six days of arguing, tension, cold war, an ostrich egg and only four bills actually getting passed.

The Senate and House Republicans were at odds with each other all week, with the Senate successfully trying to not pass any more bills.

RELATED | Tennessee lawmakers react to chaotic end of special session

“No, nobody…we both won,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said. “We both won.”

Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) stayed out of the public eye much of the week but helped broker a deal between the House and the Senate to close an ugly special session.

“I believe it’s hopeful. It was difficult, as I said, it was important,” Lee said when News 2 asked if the governor thought the special session was a success. “But important and difficult and hopeful, those are things that we should celebrate, and I am. Do we have a lot of work to do going forward? We should never stop.”

Read the latest from the TN State Capitol Newsroom

For now, it’s sine die – which essentially means ‘we are adjourned’ in Latin – and everyone will take a collective breath.

But not many – both in the legislature and out – feel Tennessee isn’t any safer than when we started the special session on Aug. 21.

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