State Representative Justin Lafferty on Women’s Sports Bill Opposing Biological Male Participation and Civil Asset Forfeiture

man playing basketball, dunking the ball


Live from Music Row Monday 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 (R-TN-89) State Representative Justin Lafferty to the newsmakers line to weigh in on biological male athletes participating in women’s sports bill and his top priority of fighting civil asset forfeiture bureaucracy in Tennessee.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by State Representative Justin Lafferty from Knox County. He’s the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education. Welcome, representative Lafferty, thanks for joining us this morning.

Lafferty: Hey, good morning. Good morning, Nashville.

Leahy: We’re glad to have you down here in Nashville from Knox County. There’s an interesting bill and it’s our lead story at The Tennessee Star on the Web at Headline: Tennessee Legislators Filed Legislation Banning Biological Males from Women’s Collegiate Sports.

This was introduced by State Senator Joey Hensley in the state Senate and Representative John Ragan from up in your neck of the woods in Oak Ridge. This bill was filed on Thursday. And will this go through your subcommittee?

Lafferty: I imagine it would.

I’ve not seen the wording on the bill yet. I was looking through the things coming up on the calendar last night and hadn’t seen it, but it sounds like something that would be down our alley.

Leahy: The bill would amend Tennessee Code Annotated Title 49, Chapter Seven, by adding, ‘Intercollegiate or intramural athletic teams or sports that are designated for females, women or girls and that are sponsored, sanctioned or operated by a public institution of higher education or by a private institution of higher education whose students or teams compete against public institutions of higher education shall not be open to students of the male sex.’ Sounds pretty straightforward to me. What do you think will happen if that comes into your committee?

Lafferty: I don’t see why that would have any problem passing out, the common sense of it all. To me, there’s simply differences in male and females.

Leahy: State Representative Lafferty, I was just talking with our all star panelist here in studio with me, Crom Carmichael and I said, Crom, can you believe that you have to pass a law to stop biological males from competing with women?

When we went to school, people would have just laughed you out of the building if you had even suggested that idea. Crom wants to add something here.

Carmichael: Representative Lafferty, I’m curious, in Tennessee, I know that there are a lot of organizations that stand up for women’s rights, and I’m wondering whether or not those organizations would come out and support a bill that protects women’s rights in athletics?

Lafferty: Oh, I can’t speak for them, but my experience most Tennesseans are pretty reasonable people. It’s the extremes that we all seem to hear from all the time. I imagine some of the extremes will come out give us a hard time. But I think most people kind of see the logic in this.

Leahy: What is your agenda, Representative Lafferty? What’s your big agenda for this session?

Lafferty: I never ran for office going around telling everybody I was going to fix or somehow change their lives. I ran for office as a complete unknown telling folks that things weren’t making sense. I guess overall, as part of that agenda, I want to continue battling the bureaucracies.

It’s no surprise to me, but it might be to a lot of other people how big and how powerful many of our state agencies are and how little regard they have for our state legislators and thereby the people which I find very bothersome.

And then one other thing I’d really like to try and get started is a conversation about beginning to wean ourselves from our dependence on federal dollars.

Leahy: Now let me follow up on that. This is one of the things that matters to me personally, and I ask every member of the Tennessee General Assembly we interview this particular question.

As you know, about 10 percent of the funding for Tennessee public schools is provided by the federal government, but with that funding comes strings and all these rules and regulations.

My question to you. Do you intend this session of the Tennessee General Assembly to pass a bill that would tell the federal government we do not want their money for education?

Lafferty: I won’t be running any kind of bill like that. That is a conversation that needs to begin. It needs to be something that kind of catches, let’s call it a grass fire. I’d like to try and start a little grass fire and get a little smoke going around it, but I won’t be introducing any legislation.

Leahy: Do you have any friends who might introduce it?

Lafferty: Well… (Laughter) Maybe. I’m three years into this, right. I’m just starting to see how it all moves around, how it all shakes out, and there’s a process involved.

You can either go into things guns ablaze and tick everybody off and find yourself standing alone, or you can take your time. As my old friend Bill Dunn likes to say you get there faster when you go slow sometimes.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you.

Carmichael: Representative, I’m interested in  what you said about that you’re really dismayed by the nature of our bureaucracy in Tennessee. What can be done legislatively to try to address that?

Because I could not agree with that statement more. It would be impossible for me to agree with it more. And I think that in Tennessee, I’ll bet you our state bureaucrats are 10 times better than they are in most any other state, but yet you still say you have issues.

And I’ve dealt with some state bureaucrats, and my experience is that they were very deliberate, but the goal was to reach a fair conclusion. But I can see how in other areas that might not be the case. I’m curious if you could elaborate on that.

Lafferty: Most of the men and women that help us to run this state behind the scenes get up every morning and do exactly what they’re supposed to do, and we’re grateful for that. It’s great that we’ve got such wonderful people helping us make this thing work.

But what we run into is this, I don’t know what the right term for it is. The malaise, isn’t it. It’s a fiefdom. There’s a word, fiefdom We get these entities.

We get people in these certain people in these entities that have got this power that’s been granted to them and they use it to push their agendas, even when those agendas run counter to the people’s agenda, which should be liberty, freedom to do what you want, freedom to live your life, freedom to be an American.

And we’ve got instances that I’ve seen firsthand, particularly around something called civil asset forfeiture where we are taking assets from our citizens that do not have any due process.

And yet we’ve got a department that acts as judge, jury and executioner in the whole thing. I have a problem with that. As an American, I have a problem with that. That’s one that really sticks in my crawl right now.

Leahy: Is there any legislation being proposed to end this policy of civil asset forfeiture which, by the way, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. As I’m sure you’ve mentioned and talked about before. Is there legislation under consideration to stop that seizing?

Lafferty: I have heard from a couple of different corners that there will be something seeking to end it in its entirety. I am just trying to push a simple reporting bill so that I can try and isolate.

You look at numbers and you think that you see something, but you could use a little bit more information to clarify. I can’t get the information to clarify what I think I see going on in the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: When you say a reporting bill, could you elaborate on what that reporting bill will entail?

Lafferty: Oh, sure. Yes. We’ve got a bit of information when traffic stops are made. Say out here on Interstate 40. We’ve got driver’s license information, things like that. When it goes from a criminal stop to a civil forfeiture, there’s a departure between the two legal tracks and they don’t talk to one another.

So what we’re trying to do is just pair those up because what it ends up looking like at the end of the day is folks that can’t afford to defend themselves or aren’t savvy enough to defend themselves in a civil situation end up giving up and forfeiting their property without any kind of judicial ruling.

Leahy: Or due process. Have you specifically introduced or co-sponsored a bill on that reporting?

Lafferty: Every year since I got elected. This will be my fourth year in a row.

Leahy: Where does that bill stand now, and what are its chances of passing in this session of the Tennessee General Assembly?

Lafferty: After this radio conversation my chances may have dropped. (Chuckles) 

Leahy: Why would you say your chances have dropped after this radio conversation?

Lafferty: Oh, I’m probably firing up if any of the folks that have been fighting me on it thus far that are hearing this. I’m probably just getting them more fired up people tend to dig in their heels rather than try to talk about it.

Leahy: Who opposes this common sense proposal and why listening to your rational arguments here, why does that fire them up?

Lafferty: Department of Safety is the biggest opposition right now. And if you remember what I said earlier, they act as judge, jury and executioner.

They are the ones that have the judges set up. They are the ones that receive the proceeds. They are the ones that are in my way of just passing a simple reporting bill.

Leahy: But the Department of Safety is part of the executive branch. They don’t make the laws, you make the laws and your colleagues at the Tennessee general assembly. Why are they being so aggressively uncooperative with you?

Lafferty: There’s a lot of money involved. In my experience, you know this and your audience knows this. Anytime you’ve got a lot of money involved, you got a lot of people who’ve got their heels dug in and they’ve got them dug in pretty hard.

Leahy: We wish you the best of luck with that bill. Would you come back and give us the details and see if you’ve been able to overcome the opposition?

Lafferty: We can do that sometime. The future. Sure.

Leahy: All right. Thanks very much.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio






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