Tennessee lawmakers convene 109th General Assembly

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee lawmakers have convened the 109th General Assembly amid abortion rights protests inside the state Capitol.

Republican Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville and Sen. Ron Ramsey of Blountville were re-elected as speakers of the House and Senate, while about 60 protesters outside shouted into a bullhorn, banged drums and chanted.

Lawmakers went about their business undisturbed, though the chants could be heard inside the chambers each time the sergeants-at-arms opened the doors.

The protesters oppose new abortion restrictions that have become possible with the approval of a constitutional amendment in November. At least 20 state troopers kept an eye on the protesters but didn’t stop the demonstration.

The Legislature’s organizational session culminates in Gov. Bill Haslam’s inauguration to a second term on Saturday. Then lawmakers go on a two-week break.