State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) filed legislation on Thursday "to ensure the legislature asserts its constitutional authority on refugee resettlement." Senate Bill 2730 would clarify the General Assembly’s role in determining Tennessee’s policy on refugee resettlement.
“As the state’s ultimate appropriator, the legislature must be involved in any decision that involves state funds.
Because refugees have a significant financial impact on the state, the power to appropriate funds for their resettlement in Tennessee lies with the legislative branch under our state constitution,” said Senator Bell. “While the executive branch does have an important role in governing the state, it is critical that Tennessee’s co-equal legislature does not have its authority usurped on this or any other issue. It is our responsibility as a citizen legislature to make sure our appropriation authority is retained in all matters — now and in the future.”
Executive Order 13888 issued by President Donald Trump allowed states and counties to opt out of resettling refugees within their borders. In December, Governor Lee elected to continue to allow refugees to resettle in Tennessee.
“This legislation is not about accepting or rejecting refugees in our state, but instead is about keeping each branch of government in their constitutional lanes,” added Senator Bell.