KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Seventy grassroots activists came out to hear a debriefing Tuesday evening on the recently concluded legislative session by Knoxville Republican gas tax opponents Representatives Roger Kane and Jason Zachary at an Americans For Prosperity (AFP) West Knoxville Town Hall. Kane and Zachary were recognized by AFP’s Deputy State Director, James Amundsen, as the only two Knoxville representatives who voted against the gas tax increase.
Representatives Zachary and Kane gave opening comments to the standing room only crowd at O’Charley’s on Parkside Drive in the Turkey Creek section of Knoxville followed by a question and answer session for an event that ran more than an hour.
Zachary started his comments by passing out and reviewing two handouts printed on his official letterhead, “Under Conservative Leadership, Tennessee is a Better Place To Live, Work, And Raise A Family” and “Bills Passed On Behalf Of District 14, 2017 Session.” As he went through the six bills, HB 0055, 0056, 0057, 0362, 0368 and 0469, Zachary explained how they came about through requests by individuals, making the point that “especially at the state level, one person can make a tremendous difference.”
Kane made a similar point when he said, “We actually need some of y’all over there as a support team,” after he painted the visual of “how we get greeted every Monday before we go into session” by “somewhere between 40 and 200 yelling and screaming outside the chamber doors,” referring to the sign-holding “losers of the election that aren’t going away.”
Referring to the upcoming elections and encouraging the activists with what they do best, Kane said “You’re going to have to be out there networking, one on one, because in East Tennessee that still sells.”
Then Kane confirmed his future plans stating, “I’m not running again. I promised people six years, and six years has come up. So, we need someone who’s fiscally conservative to replace me,” and continued, “I do need your support for County Clerk, I’m running for that.”
While the gas tax increase vote took place in the House nearly a month prior and these two representatives voted against it, it was obviously still a hot button issue for many of the attendees as the issue and how it was passed came up repeatedly through comments and questions.
Throughout the evening, there were several mentions of The Tennessee Star, and the event’s most enthusiastic round of applause came when Zachary responded to frustrations on how citizens can stay informed saying, “The Tennessee Star is another great resource if you want to know what’s going on. It is the real deal. These are the facts and it’s not sugar coated with any sort of liberal bias. They just topped over a million views.”