Tennessee lawmakers mull making Juneteenth state holiday

February 23, 2022 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are mulling a proposal advocated by the governor to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

On Tuesday, a Senate panel advanced the legislation backed by GOP Gov. Bill Lee. House lawmakers briefly stalled the bill hours later, but supporters say the bill has not been spiked. The June 19 holiday celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.

Lee called it a very important day in U.S. history, noting it’s a federal holiday.

A legislative fiscal note estimates the holiday would cost roughly $692,000 annually to compensate state employees who may need to work, down from $7.7 million in the governor’s proposed budget. A legislative staffer says Lee’s team included salaries for all state workers on that day, though those are already being paid.

Republican Sen. Joey Hensley voted against the bill. The Hohenwald lawmaker said he asked more than 100 people in his district and two of them knew what Juneteenth is.