As New Session Begins, Lawmakers Learn Do's And Don'ts On Ethics And Harassment | Nashville Public Radio

As New Session Begins, Lawmakers Learn Do's And Don'ts On Ethics And Harassment

Jan 10, 2019

One of the first things lawmakers do once they are sworn in into the Tennessee House of Representatives is learn about what is unethical and what is criminal. For lawmakers who have been in the statehouse for more than one session, the required training could sound like more of the same.

But the freshman class — all 27 of them — seemed to understand why it’s important.

"Also common sense," said Vincent Dixie, a Democratic freshman representative from Nashville. "Hopefully common sense will prevail in this 111th session.”

The required training breaks down rules that are unique to lawmakers: For example, no member may solicit or accept a gift from a lobbyist. It details what things don’t count as gifts, such as informational materials or honorary degrees.

For some new lawmakers, this will be their first time managing a staff and dealing with lobbyists.

The training also explains what constitutes harassment and discrimination.

Two lawmakers have been forced out of the legislature since 2016 for sexual harassment. Freshman Republican Robin Smith, of Hixson, said lawmakers need to be conscious of the issue.

"For heaven’s sakes — we are the body that creates the law," Smith told WPLN. "We can’t exempt ourselves from those laws.”

The House now goes on recess until Jan. 23.