House expected to elect new speaker during special session

TN special session to turn the page

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After months of scandal surrounding former speaker Glen Casada, the Tennessee House of Representatives is ready to turn the page.

On Friday, the House will elect a new speaker during a one-day special session called by Governor Bill Lee.

"We're all looking forward as a caucus to putting that behind us," said state representative Mark White, R-Memphis.

House Republicans nominated state representative and majority caucus chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville. Given their super-majority in the chamber, Sexton is all but guaranteed to be the Speaker.

"He's a very solid, low-temperament kind of person who he doesn't get excited about things. He'll sit and think about it before he acts on things," said White.

White says Sexton's style of leadership will be evident in how his fellow Republicans vote.

"He wants you to represent your district. That's one of the things that's changing because last session we were under a little bit of pressure to kind of vote the way the leadership did, but he's not going to be like that," said White.

Republicans aren't the only ones praising Sexton.

Democrats like Memphis representative London Lamar call him fair-minded.

"He is liked on both sides of the aisle by many individuals," said Lamar. "I think with everything going on we're going to give him the opportunity to serve and show us that he can restore faith in the general assembly, in the leadership."

WMC Political Analyst Mike Nelson said only time will tell if Sexton becomes an effective speaker.

"Sexton by all accounts is more moderate, more cooperative; wants to reach out to everybody," said Nelson. "Now overtime that may change; but he's certainly starting out with the idea of being a more broadly representative speaker of the House, while still being a Republican."

According to the Office of Legislative Administration, the special session will cost taxpayers around $41,000, which includes mileage and per diem for lawmakers.

By law, the Senate must also be in session, is not expected to take up any serious business.

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