MURFREESBORO, September 22, 2015– On Constitution Day, the Tennessee General Assembly’s House Republican Caucus voted unanimously to convene a “Bilateral Session of Legislatures” a public meeting of Tennessee’s nine U.S. Congressmen, two Senators and the state’s Republican and Democrat House members.
“There is a real and perceived disconnect between Washington and the people,” said State Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro). “A Bilateral Session will bring our federal and state officials together in a public forum to help bridge the gap for the betterment of Tennesseans.”
House members will use the committee process to determine which issues will be addressed in the Bilateral Session. The intention is to concentrate on current and pressing issues facing Tennesseans during the upcoming federal and state legislative year. An agenda will be provided to the public and all legislators in advance of the meeting.
State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) presented the Bilateral Session concept to his colleagues because the process is a logical extension of the relationship between Tennessee and Washington, and said the timing of a public dialogue among Tennessee’s elected representatives is more critical than ever before.
“This public dialogue can provide both levels of government with a clear understanding of each other’s intentions and expectations, while re-energizing the public’s confidence in our ability to prioritize the relevant issues,” said Matheny. “Imagine the possibilities if our state and federal levels begin overtly working in unison.”
While the Bilateral Session of legislature is a first for Tennessee, in 2013, Sen. Lamar Alexander speaking to a joint session of Tennessee House and Senate members, alluded to the benefits of a two-way dialogue, saying that Washington had something to learn by listening to their state counterparts.
“It is my understanding that Tennessee would be the first state to hold a Bilateral Session,” stated Terry. “We can be leaders in the nation and set an example for other states to follow. This is an important step in helping our constituents regain control and faith in government.”
Rep. Matheny will chair a steering committee that will develop all details and scheduling of the Bilateral Session including the invitation to the federal legislators. The steering committee will be comprised of House members representing the Congressional districts. The Bilateral Session will coordinate with the start of the 2016 legislative session for both bodies of government. Additional information will be made available as the work of the steering committee progresses.