Isaac Kimes, member of Stranch, Jennings & Garvey, PLLC, recently appeared as a panelist on the Aug. 27 episode of “Nashville in Focus,” a Fox 17 (Nashville) political show that airs Sundays at 6:30 a.m. This episode primarily focused on the Tennessee Legislature’s special session and the recent Nashville mayoral race.
The special session garnered much attention in the episode, with most panelists saying it did not achieve its intended purpose. The session, which began Aug. 21 and abruptly ended Aug. 29 amid a chaotic altercation between lawmakers, was organized by Gov. Bill Lee in May to develop safety solutions in the wake of the March 27, 2023, Covenant School shooting, while also preserving Second Amendment rights.
More than 100 bills concerning school and public safety were introduced during the session, but lawmakers chose not to act on several proposed by Gov. Lee and Covenant School parents. Only four bills were finalized during the session.
Panelists of both political parties shared their frustrations over the initial week of the session, stating that most of the bills for the special session were tabled due to the complexity of the bills. The four bills that were passed include encouraging but not requiring using safe gun storage devices; requiring an annual human trafficking report; adding the existing order on background checks into state law; and increasing funding for mental health, K-12 and higher education safety laws.
To Kimes, it was a missed opportunity to address crucial governance issues, such as the gun control and mental health bill. Instead, most of the session focused on “seemingly minor issues,” as Kimes mentioned during the discussion.
“They have an opportunity here to address a clear need for a policy for governance, Kimes said. “Instead, they focused on things like making sure people can’t bring in an 8-inch x 11.5-inch piece of paper. It just begs the question, ‘What is the priority here? Are we prioritizing the Second Amendment over the First Amendment here?’”
The episode also touched upon Nashville’s mayoral race, won by Freddie O’Connell. A couple of panelists expressed their concerns about increased crime and decreased tourism if O’Connell was re-elected, asserting that Nashville could gradually become more like left-leaning cities, such as San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and New York.
However, Kimes emphasized that the Tennessee General Assembly would not allow Tennessee to follow a similar path.
“At the end of the day, the Tennessee General Assembly still controls the state,” Kimes said. “Everything that happens in this state is under their watch. You can put out the threats, the dog whistles and all that. At the end of the day, this is a Republican state.”
While the rest of the panel did not appear to favor O’Connell, Kimes noted that the election “demonstrated the importance of the runoff.
“We had a lot of candidates,” he added. “It was a huge field. Freddie, to me, was the only one who actually defined himself. He had a real brand. I think a lot of us thought that he couldn’t win. Some of the people that I was actually backing ran a good race … I support the runoff.”
Joining Kimes on this episode were Steve Gill, conservative radio/TV commentator; Jasper Hendricks, chair of the Davidson County Democratic Black Caucus; and Dr. Carol Swain, retired Vanderbilt University professor.