Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed State Rep. Jeremy Faison to the studio to discuss a typical day on the Tennessee Capitol and take calls from appreciative listeners.
Leahy: In studio with us State Representative Jeremy Faison. The phones are lighting up. We’ll get to them in just a moment. But you are the chairman of the House Republican Caucus. I want to hear sort of a day in the life of the chairman of the House Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. You’re going to go to the Capitol and after you leave this program. Tell us about how you interact with the other elements of the leadership, who they are, and what’s your day like.
Faison: So basically for us a day is obviously we have Speaker Sexton. Then we have the majority leader William Lambeth. Both of them were great guys. They are good conservative men that care about Tennessee deeply.
Leahy: Well, I know that what the speaker does. What does the majority leader do?
Faison: Majority Leader carries all of the legislation from the governor, from the executive branch. And he’s kind of the go-between guy between the legislature and the executive branch.
Leahy: An important job.
Faison: An incredibly important job. As a matter of fact, it’s the number-one job according to our bylaws on the house floor. The second job outside of the speaker and obviously the speaker is there for the entire body and then you have your minority party in your majority party. So the majority leader is number one. And then you have the caucus chair which is number two. But basically, I’m kind of the lowest person on the totem.
Leahy: What do you do as a caucus chair?
Faison: All right. As a caucus chair, it’s my role to make sure what’s going on with the speaker what’s going on with each member, and to dialogue with everybody.
Leahy: Got it.
Faison: Like this morning, I’ve called a caucus meeting. People say what does that mean to caucus meeting? Well, this morning we’re going to talk about an education thing through a guy named Scott Cepicky from Maury County.
Leahy: We know Scott well, good guy.
Faison: So he has some stuff to say. Obviously, you remember Johnny Garrett you talked about Johnny Garrett.
Leahy: Johnny Garrett, who is a big baseball fan and we also have a little project we’re working on which will be kind of fun. But Johnny Garrett is from Sumner County. He was on the program earlier this week. Johnny is a Majority Whip.
Faison: Well, he called me yesterday. He said Jeremy, we need to talk to the caucus about properly working their bills. I have a caucus meeting this morning and Scott Cepicky is going to speak about education and some funding that’s going on. And then Johnny Garrett he’ll come up and he’ll speak and will kind of be teaching some of the people hey, don’t forget. This is how you work your bills. So that’s kind of the day and what I do. Yesterday I woke up at 7:15 a.m. because one of the members was upset at another member about something that made it into a publication.
So right after the session yesterday, I grabbed all of them, sat them down in the same room, and said let’s figure this out. We’re on the same team. I guess I’m kind of the herder if you will. It’s like herding cats at times because we’ve got 73 brilliant men and women who really know their stuff. And we as Republicans are kind of independent-minded.
Leahy: Oh yeah!
Faison: If you remember, Ronald Reagan coined this phrase ‘rugged individualism’. So when you believe in rugged individualism, and you’ve got 73 of us we got to have somebody who kind of is the glue that pulls us together.
Leahy: That makes sense.
Faison: That’s my job.
Leahy: And the Majority Whip then literally does round up votes for certain bills that the majority leaders are carrying.
Faison: And then Johnny’s job also as Majority Whip is to make sure that our people come back. He runs the campaign.
Leahy: That makes a lot of sense to me. Also making sense, we have several callers who want to talk to you.
Faison: Let’s take one.
Leahy: Don in Nashville wants to talk about a son who trades skilled. Don, you’re on The Tennessee Star Report with State Representative Jeremy Faison.
Caller Don: Jeremy, thank you guys for shining a light on this. I’ve got a good testimony. I’ve got a 21-year-old. College is not for everybody. And I sent him to welding school and had him a job starting out at $3,000. a week in Houston, Texas at 18. When he left the welding school he only owed $5,000. Then he went to South Dakota to weld. And I’ve got a 16-year-old who is looking into going to trade school in welding also. So I really appreciate you guys showing that you can make a living without getting way into college debt.
Faison: Don that is so true. And I don’t know when your son came through but we’ve actually made it to where we pay for a vocational school. We don’t really, the taxpayers aren’t on the hook. But we use the funds that we get from the Tennessee Lottery. And if there is a person listening today whether you’re an 18-year old that just graduated from high school or you’re a 36-year-old or you are a 50-year-old and you say you know what I want to do something with my life, like Don’s talking about his son doing well in South Dakota, you can actually sign up through the Tennessee Reconnect Act and go back to vocational school for free.
Leahy: That’s a pretty good deal. Don any more thoughts on this?
Don: No, I just thank you so much. As I said, I’ve got a 16-year-old and he’s thinking about being a welder too. So we’ll look into that. Just thank y’all for shining a light on trade schools and putting some money for that in these school programs. When he went to weld in school we were 430,000 and something short of welders. There was a whole billboard full in of need welders.
Leahy: Well, that’s great news, Don, and good luck to your son and your younger son. And we really appreciate your call. Thanks for joining us today. Up next, Betsy in Savannah wants to talk about curriculum. You’re on the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy and State Representative Jeremy Faison.
Caller Betsy: Jeremy, we appreciate the conservatives hanging around and I appreciate the work you’re doing. And my concerns are with the schools here. I hear they are taking out American history stuff. That’s why 98.3 is doing what they’re doing. And also, talking about sexuality that is questionable and I’m wondering if you could address that and I appreciate all you’re doing.
Faison: So we have over the first 200 years of Tennessee basically, the left kind of was the arbiter of what was going on in education. When the Republicans took over back in 2010 over the House and the Senate and the executive branch is when we first got in and were able to start doing some real meaningful change. Since that time we have what I don’t know if you remember we had a huge kind of a cabal if you will with Common Core going back and forth and if this was the right way for Tennessee.
The legislature finally stepped in and said, no, it’s not the right way. We don’t need Common Core. We passed several bills to do that. And since then we have tried to address it and Michael Leahy just reminded me of the fact that Matthew Hill wanted to do something with the Constitution making sure the Constitution was taught in every school and to every student. We’re not where we need to be but we’re heading in the right direction. And I’m comfortable knowing that we’re going in the right direction.
Leahy: Betsy, thank you so much for your call, and keep listening here on the Tennessee Star Report. And by the way, we’re going to take a little break for the news. But if you want to speak with State Representative Jeremy Faison call in. (Gives call-in number). This is The Tennessee Star Report. He’s State Representative Jeremy Faison and I’m Michael Patrick Leahy.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Background Photo “Tennessee House Floor” by Tennessee Secretary of State.