Lt. Governor McNally Reiterates Call for Embattled State Senator Katrina Robinson to Step Down from Position

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) on Thursday called on State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) to step down from her position, following an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

The Memphis lawmaker was found guilty on two counts of wire fraud, stemming from an investigation into the improper use of federal grant money awarded to the health care school she operates. Originally, she was found guilty on four counts of the offense, but a judge dismissed two of the charges.

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Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty Back Legislation That Would Ensure Abortion Data Is Reported Accurately and Completely

Marsha Blackburn, Bill Hagerty and Joni Ernst

On Friday, Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that would require states to report accurate and complete data about abortion—including cases where babies are born alive during abortions.

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Study Finds Nashville Crime Rate as One of the Highest in the Country

In a new study conducted by WalletHub, the city of Nashville ranked fourth overall in having the highest crime rates per 1,000 residents among state capitals in the country. According to the study’s findings, Little Rock, Arkansas ranked the highest for crime while Concord, New Hampshire was the lowest. Following Little Rock is Salt Lake City, Utah, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nashville, and then Charleston, West Virginia.

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Congressman Tim Burchett Introduces Bill to Strengthen Penalties for Fentanyl Traffickers

U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) introduced a new bill to strengthen the penalty for drug traffickers, specifically those who distribute fentanyl.

The legislation, known as the Fentanyl Trafficker Elimination Act, establishes a life sentences for individuals convicted of intentionally trafficking fentanyl or fentanyl analogues

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Commentary: America Might Be Heading for a Systems Collapse

In modern times, as in ancient Rome, several nations have suffered a “systems collapse.” The term describes the sudden inability of once prosperous populations to continue with what had ensured the good life as they knew it. 

Abruptly, the population cannot buy, or even find, once plentiful necessities. They feel their streets are unsafe. Laws go unenforced or are enforced inequitably. Everyday things stop working. The government turns from reliable to capricious if not hostile. 

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Two Nashville Lawmakers File Bill Aimed at Letting Students Sleep More

Democrat Nashville lawmakers Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville-HD55) and Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville-SD19)  filed a bill that would change the start times of high schools and middle schools, ostensibly giving students more time to sleep.

HB1836 and SB1818 were filed on Wednesday and amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-3004, by adding “Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public high school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight-thirty a.m. (8:30 a.m.). Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, each public middle school shall begin classroom instruction no earlier than eight o’clock a.m. (8:00 a.m.).” These changes would go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

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Tennessee Department of Education Received Over 1,300 Public Comments Submitted on Potential School Funding

The Tennessee Department of Education announced over 1,300 public comments have been collected on a potential new school funding formula. The department made the statements available to the public and can be seen here. The statement said comments came from “hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state.”

“Tennesseans recognize what a historic moment in time this is for education in our state, and I want to thank those who submitted public comments as part of our engagement process on a potential new funding formula for Tennessee’s public schools,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.“As has been shared in subcommittee meetings, at town halls, on social media, and at local meetings, a new public education funding formula for Tennessee must be centered around our students so that we can ensure our children can thrive in the classroom and be successful after high school.”  

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Proclaiming Justice to the Nations President Laurie Cardoza-Moore on Its Mission and Critical Race Theory in Williamson County Public Schools

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Proclaiming Justice to the Nation’s Laurie Cardoza-Moore in the studio to enunciate their continuing mission against critical race theory and anti-semitic K5 curriculum.

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Michigan Rep. Tlaib and Minnesota Rep. Omar Participated with Groups Calling for Release of ‘Lady al-Qaeda’

Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota participated in events with Muslim-American advocacy groups that have called for Aafia Siddiqui’s release from a Texas prison.

The gunman who took hostages inside a Texas synagogue on Tuesday demanded the release of Siddiqui, who has often been referred to in the counterterrorism world as “Lady al-Qaeda.” Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 of attempting to murder U.S. nationals, according to the FBI.

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Senate Caps History-Making Day by Rejecting Filibuster Change

The Senate late Thursday rejected a Democratic effort to alter the filibuster in order to pass their long-sought voting bills over unanimous Republican opposition, capping one of the most consequential days in the history of the chamber.

The vote failed 48-52 after Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema voted as they said they would for months, joining a unanimous Republican caucus in opposition and denying their party the necessary support for the change to take effect. The change, had it been adopted, would have established a “talking filibuster” pertaining to the voting bills only, allowing any senator to speak for or against them for as long as they wanted but lowering the 60-vote threshold for passage to a simple majority.

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January 6 Committee Asks Ivanka Trump to Voluntarily Cooperate in Probe

The House Jan. 6 select committee is asking former President Trump’s daughter and senior Trump White House adviser Ivanka Trump to voluntary cooperate with its probe, committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said Thursday.

The committee announced its plans in a statement following remarks from Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, according to CNN.

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Nine Months into Operation Lone Star, Texas DPS Reports Record Interdiction Numbers

Since March 2021, when Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star (OLS), Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) state troopers have been working around the clock to help defend the southern border. Nine months later, its chief reports a record for state interdiction efforts.

Since OLS began, state troopers have arrested more than 10,000 illegal immigrants, including smugglers and drug traffickers, Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event in Austin. They’ve seized over 5 tons of methamphetamine, over $17 million in cash, and enough fentanyl to kill over 260 million people.

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3M Set to Expand Manufacturing Operations in East Tennessee, Invest $470 Million

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), and 3M Company announced this week the investment of approximately $470 million to expand manufacturing operations in East Tennessee. 3M’s expansion is expected to add around 600 new jobs by 2025.

Governor Lee said, “3M’s decision to expand in Tennessee is a testament to our state’s pro-business climate and skilled workforce. The creation of nearly 600 new jobs in Anderson County will positively impact this community for years to come, and we thank 3M for their investment in our state.”

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Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton Talks Upcoming Priorities and Redistricting

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton to the newsmakers line to discuss top priorities and redistricting.

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Music Spotlight: Rob Mayes

I attended RomaDrama Live! last year initially because several of the artists I had featured in my column were part of the entertainment. And of course, it was fun to see and meet the popular actors of favorite romance dramas and Hallmark movies. But what I wasn’t expecting was for one of the actors to be a genuinely talented country music singer/songwriter.

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Commentary: Durham vs. Horowitz and the FBI’s Trump-Russia Reckoning

As he documents the role of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in generating false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, Special Counsel John Durham has also previewed a challenge to the FBI’s claims about how and why its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began. At stake is the completeness of the official reckoning within the U.S. government over the Russiagate scandal – and whether there will be an accounting commensurate with the offense: the abuse of the nation’s highest law enforcement and intelligence powers to damage an opposition presidential candidate turned president, at the behest of his opponent from the governing party he defeated.

The drama is playing out against the clashing approaches of the two Justice Department officials tasked with scrutinizing the Russia probe’s origins and unearthing any misconduct: Durham, the Sphinx-like prosecutor with a reputation for toughness whose work continues; and Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, whose December 2019 report faulted the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe but nonetheless concluded that it was launched in good faith.

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NCAA Updates Trans Athlete Policy After Lia Thomas Swept Up Women’s Swimming Titles

The NCAA changed its policy on transgender athlete participation Wednesday as concern mounted over swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male, identifying as a woman and immediately dominating the sport.

Transgender athletes will need to show testosterone levels within their sport’s approved range four weeks before championship selections, according to the new rules. They will need to document their testosterone levels at the beginning of the season as well as four weeks before championship selections in the coming academic year.

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Arizona State Sen. Carter Introduces Bill to Make it Illegal to Discriminate Based on Vaccine Status

The Arizona Legislature began its 2022 session on Jan. 10, and legislators are dropping lots of bills related to COVID-19, in part due to a Maricopa County Superior Court judge striking down much of that legislation last year. Recently appointed State Rep. Neil Carter (R-Casa Grande) introduced HB 2452, which would make it illegal to discriminate against any person based on their vaccination status in employment, housing, or public accommodations. 

“At this time when our nation is facing a critical hiring and employee shortage, it doesn’t make sense to further restrict the labor market through imposition of mandatory medical procedures as a condition of employment,” he said in a statement. “Moreover, the idea that a mandatory medical procedure should be a requirement of continued employment is offensive to freedom of conscience, economic security, and medical integrity. No person should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and the integrity of his or her body.” 

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Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Reassigns Entire Staff of Rep Gathering Evidence of Election Fraud

Following an election integrity hearing in Wisconsin, Wednesday, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos reportedly sent his Chief of Staff into the office of Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) to tell him that all of his full-time staff had been reassigned.

For many months, Ramthun has been gathering hard evidence of election irregularities and crimes, including the installation of over 500 drop boxes throughout the state, which a Wisconsin judge last week ruled were illegal.

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Gov. Evers Joins Push to Repeal Wisconsin Abortion Ban Law

Governor Tony Evers (D) joined the push to pass Senate Bill 75, to repeal Wisconsin’s 172 year old abortion ban, which will eliminate certain abortion prohibitions and felony charges associated with obtaining an abortion under the old law. The abortion ban law has been unable to be enforced due to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, but if that court decision were to be overturned, the law would have taken effect.

The bill reads, “This bill repeals a statute relating to abortion that has been held unenforceable by a federal court. Under that statute, any person, other than the mother, who intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child is guilty of a Class H felony.”

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Youngkin Urges Virginians to Get Vaccinated for COVID-19, Prioritize Tests for Students, Essential Workers, and Vulnerable Individuals

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a COVID action plan aimed at expanding healthcare facilities’ ability to respond to COVID-19 and coping with test shortages. The plan also includes COVID-19 vaccine outreach. Youngkin announced the plan during a stop in Roanoke.

“As your governor, I will not mandate the vaccine,” Youngkin said according to The Roanoke Times. “But as your neighbor and as your friend, I am strongly encouraging you to please get it.”

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Virginia Public Universities Rescind Vaccine Mandates Following Youngkin’s Order

Some of Virginia’s public universities have rescinded their vaccine mandates after Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) took office this week and signed a flurry of executive orders on his first day. 

One of those orders banned vaccine mandates by employers. 

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Youngkin Shifts Northam Diversity Office Focus from Equity to Opportunity

Governor Glenn Youngkin is changing the focus of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, created by former Governor Ralph Northam in the wake of his 2019 blackface scandal. Youngkin issued his tenth executive order Wednesday and announced his desire for the General Assembly to change the office name to Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion Office. He also named former Heritage Foundation official Angela Sailor to head the office, moves that Democrats saw as direct efforts to gut the office of its core purpose.

“The people of Virginia elected the most diverse leadership in the Commonwealth’s history. Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people. Angela Sailor’s experience in government, nonprofits and the private sector will guide us as we ensure that the government is working for all Virginians across our diverse Commonwealth, especially when it comes to economic opportunity for all Virginians,” Youngkin said in a press release.

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Constitutional Carry Gaining Traction in Florida Legislature

Earlier this week, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-FL-10) indicated he would support a constitutional carry bill if the Senate were to take up that kind of legislation. Historically, Florida Republicans have been hesitant to take up expanding gun rights during the legislative session.

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Ohio Senate Candidate Tim Ryan Moves Further Leftward, Attacks Manchin and Sinema over Filibuster

Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), who is running for U.S. Senate, moved further leftward, opting to attack moderate Senators Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for their support of the filibuster.

The two Democrats chose to stand up to their party, who attempted to gut the 60-vote threshold required for certain pieces of legislation.

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Biden’s Border Policies Allow Human Trafficking, Says Senator Marsha Blackburn

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), in a written column, argued that the border and immigration policies of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have allowed human trafficking.

Because of their decision to end the construction of the border wall and other Trump-era policies, the Tennessee senator wrote that the duo has made it easier for criminals.

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Bill Introduced to Correct Pennsylvania’s Voter Records

Pennsylvania State Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lititz) announced yesterday he has introduced a bill to correct errors in the state’s voter record-keeping system.

In Dec. 2019, a report by Democratic then-Auditor General Eugene DePasquale detailed a host of problems with that system, known as the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). Within that registry, which is maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of State, DePasquale and his staff discovered 24,408 cases of the same driver’s license (DL) number being indicated on multiple voter records. They also found 2,991 voter records containing information matching that on state Department of Health deceased files.

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Appellate Court Rules Against Georgia Sheriff Who Posted Sex Offender Warning Signs on Halloween

A United States appellate court has overturned a lower court’s ruling in the case of. a Georgia sheriff. 

Butts County Sheriff Gary Long in 2018 hung signs in the yards of the county’s 57 registered sex offenders before Halloween, warning parents not to allow their children to trick-or-treat at those homes. 

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Ohio Sen. Stephen Huffman Wants to Reduce State’s Gas Tax

An Ohio state senator wants to lower the state’s gasoline tax to pre-2019 levels for the next five years, but a panel of state economists believe the plan is a bad idea.

Sen. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City, believes Ohioans could use the break, especially when the federal government has committed to giving the state 10 times more revenue over the same time span than the gas tax traditionally generates.

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Gubernatorial Candidate David Perdue Proposes Election Law Enforcement Division for Georgia

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue on Thursday proposed creating what he called an Election Law Enforcement Division that would investigate alleged violations of the state’s election laws. Perdue, in a statement, said Election Law Enforcement Division officers would have the authority to make arrests.

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Wisconsin Representative Steil: Biden Is Questioning Integrity of Future Elections

Representative Bryan Steil (R-WI-01) responded to President Joe Biden’s press conference, calling out President Joe Biden for questioning the integrity of future elections. Steil said in a press release to The Wisconsin Daily Star, “For over a year, Democrats have been saying anyone who questions election integrity is paramount to treason.”

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Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Loses Temper, Directs Rage at Happy Faces Protestors

Fulton County Commissioners discussed Wednesday whether to extend a contract to the controversial Happy Faces staffing firm, but the discussion irked Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. to such an extent he erupted in a fit of anger. And the longer Arrington spoke the louder and the more antagonized he got — especially when he talked about former President Donald Trump.

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New Bill Aims to Ease Financial Burden for Michigan First Responders

Michigan Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) on Wednesday introduced a bill with the goal of easing the financial burden placed on first responders throughout the state.

Senate Bill 821 amends a current law to allow local governments to purchase real or personal property, like fire trucks or ambulances, under an installment purchase agreement.

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Federal Government Dropping Appeal Around Florida’s Cruise Industry

Attorneys for the federal government announced they are withdrawing an appeal in the State of Florida’s fight against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s conditional sailing order. The back-and-forth fight between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) administration and the CDC ends.

Florida and the federal government have been in a legal battle since last summer when the CDC imposed their conditional sailing order on cruise lines. According to the order, cruise ships were required to complete four phases of certification before returning to operation, including vaccination status.

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Tennessee Senate Passes Congressional Redistricting Plan, State House May Pass on Monday

The Tennessee Senate passed their congressional redistricting plan, which splits up Nashville amongst three congressional districts as well as the senate legislative redistricting plan. Both plans passed the Tennessee Senate by a vote of 26-5.

Amendments were added to both plans, SB0781 and SB0780, providing more detail on the district lines.

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