NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee lawmakers returned to the state capitol on Tuesday to begin a new session.
Lawmakers are reconvening at a critical time.
The FBI is warning about potentially armed protesters at state capitols across the country leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Tennessee lawmakers didn’t address the issue during the session on Tuesday. Instead, they alluded to the deep political divisions across the country.
But safety is something lawmakers are talking about outside the chambers.
“I am watchful and cautious,” said State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis.
Parkinson says the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week shows how radical some of President Donald Trump’s supporters have become.
“They should be charged with treason and insurrection,” said Parkison. “I also think they should be identified as domestic terrorists because their actions were based on a political outcome and that’s the definition of terrorism inside our country.”
As for potential threats against state capitols and elected leaders, Parkinson says he’ll keep a watchful eye, but he won’t live in fear.
“It does not deter me from how I represent the people who elected me to represent them,” said Parkinson.
Outside the capitol on Tuesday, a reporter from NBC affiliate WSMV spotted a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters and a bus emblazoned with “TRUMP WON” in giant letters also circled around the capitol area, honking.
But the day remained peaceful.
Parkinson says there’s a lot of work to do this session.
“I want to pass legislation that will be beneficial to the people,” said Parkinson.
COVID-19 has impacted every issue, from health care to income inequality.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has called a special session next week to address learning loss, funding, accountability, literacy,and teacher pay.
Lawmakers from both chambers will come together on Wednesday to elect the state’s constitutional officers, including the secretary of state and state treasurer.