Parliamentary Rules Keep Tennessee Government Operations Committee from Discussing Diversity and Equity as Well as Vaccination Controversies


Tennessee Department of Human Resources (DOHR) Commissioner Juan Williams has not appeared before the Tennessee General Assembly’s Government Operations Committee to testify about the diversity and equity council program he wants state agencies to enforce.

Tennessee State Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), who chairs that committee, told The Tennessee Star Thursday that he cannot say for certain whether Williams will ever come to testify on the topic.

Ragan has already requested that Williams justify his actions — in a timely manner — and explain how much it will cost taxpayers. Ragan said last week that Williams and members of his staff formally acknowledged receiving his letter — but they have yet to formally respond. Ragan said there’s a difference between acknowledging receipt of the letter versus actually responding to it.

Williams may or may not formally respond. If Williams replies then Ragan told The Star Thursday that he is the one who will determine whether Williams’ “letter reply is sufficient.”

“If it is sufficient then he may not be called for testimony,” Ragan said.

“If it is not sufficient then he may be put on the agenda, but that requires a 10-day advance notice [per parliamentary procedure].”

Ragan also said Williams has requested an individual meeting, which he and Williams have yet to schedule.

“Our schedules will have to mesh,” Ragan said.

Ragan also said that a discussion about vaccinating 14-year-olds was halted at Wednesday’s scheduled Government Operations Committee hearing.

“It was mentioned briefly. We wanted to discuss it in greater detail, but we got snagged by that parliamentary requirement. The issue, quite frankly, revolves around a letter that was sent by the medical director who works under the commissioner, who sent out a letter to all of the health departments concerning something called the Mature Minor Doctrine for someone less than 18. That doctrine is from a 1987 Tennessee Supreme Court case, that, besides being old and dusty, has been on the books for that long and hasn’t been used that often as a precedent,” Ragan said.

“That letter was leaked to a lot of people across the state, and, of course, they let the email fire up almost everybody in the General Assembly. I got dozens of those things — people complaining about how someone can do something to their child without parental consent. Today I dispatched a letter to the Tennessee Commissioner of Health, inquiring as to why that letter was sent out, when it was sent out, what the standards of care are, and several other things that are on the arcane side as far as requirements they have to meet. That issue is not dead either. We will come to a conclusion on that one way or another.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]










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2 Thoughts to “Parliamentary Rules Keep Tennessee Government Operations Committee from Discussing Diversity and Equity as Well as Vaccination Controversies”

  1. Robert E Roark

    I appreciate Kevin’s frustration with the silly reasons for failing to act by some legislators. They sound like whiny children rather than mature adults, which wouldn’t be so bad if the issue was not as critical as it is. I don’t think this is a one-party majority issue, and I don’t recommend throwing our the baby with the bathwater. If we vote these jerks out of office, what kind of jerks will we get in their place?

  2. Kevin

    This is pure BS! “Our schedules will have to mesh”? Where the h-ll are the checks and balances that our system of government is supposed to have? The Legislative branch is absolutely supposed to be able to rein in an out of control Executive branch. Ragan and the entire Legislature should demand that this fleabag comes and answers for his decisions! The future of our State hangs in the balance!

    But this is the problem with a one Party, super majority situation like we have in Tennessee! I blame Republican “leadership” for this issue! Instead of doing the right thing(s), they do what’s politically advantageous for themselves. It is time for Tennesseans to stand up and take back control, by voting these jerks out of office!