State Rep. Bruce Griffey Reinstated to Committees by Speaker Cameron Sexton

Less than two weeks after being removed from the House Civil Justice, Criminal Justice, and Education Instruction Committees, Rep. Bruce Griffey’s (R-Paris) membership was reinstated by Speaker Cameron Sexton.

Griffey’s removal came unceremoniously at the end of the March 25 House floor session, three days following a testy exchange on the House floor primarily with House Parliamentarian Daniel Hicks, and to a lesser degree Sexton himself, related to Griffey’s use of Rule 53 of the House Permanent Rules of Order for the 112th General Assembly for his proposed E-Verify legislation.

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Monday’s Tennessee State Election Commission Meeting Takes on Heightened Importance

The Tennessee State Election Commission’s biennial, normally unnoticed routine of appointing county election commission members takes on heightened importance in light of recent events and unusual situations in at least three Tennessee counties.
In accordance with Tennessee state law, T.C.A. 2-12-101 and 2-12-106, the State Election Commission (SEC) appoints five election commissioners for each of the state’s 95 counties for terms of two years.

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Speaker Sexton Spares House Members from Rule 53 Vote on E-Verify Legislation

During the House floor session Monday evening, Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) spared his members from a Rule 53 vote regarding the proposed E-Verify legislation.

Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) invoked the Rule 53 provision from the House Permanent Rules of Order for the 112th General Assembly, which is the process of recalling a bill from committee.  If a Rule 53 effort is successful, the subject bill would be scheduled directly to the House floor for a vote, bypassing the committee process that killed the bill.

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Member of Senate Committee Considering Legislation for Randy Boyd’s Taxpayer-Funded Baseball Stadium is Employee of Law Firm That Could Benefit From Bill’s Passage

Yarbro

A member of the Senate State and Local Government Committee is an attorney with a law firm that could benefit from the passage of the legislation enabling Randy Boyd’s taxpayer-funded baseball stadium in Knoxville.

Democrat Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville sits on the Senate State and Local Government Committee, the first stop for SB 0783.

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Rep. Bruce Griffey Seeks to Revive E-Verify Legislation by Invoking a Special House Rule

In an effort to revive the legislation requiring the use of E-Verify for Tennessee employers with six or more employees, Rep. Bruce Griffey filed the necessary paperwork Thursday to recall the bill in accordance with a House rule.
Rule 53 of the House of Representatives Permanent Rules of Order for the 112th General Assembly allows for a process to recall a bill from committee. If the effort is successful, the bill will be scheduled directly to the House floor for a vote, bypassing the committee process that killed the bill.

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Legislation Killed in House Subcommittee Lowering E-Verify Threshold Would Have Reverted to State Law Between 2011 and 2016

A bill that was killed last week in the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee would have reverted to the threshold required for E-Verify in legislation signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam in 2011 and remained in effect until 2016.

Currently, employers are required under state law to use the E-Verify program to confirm work authorization status of their employees, but only if they have 50 or more employees.

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The Small Businesses with the Largest Increase in the Number of Employees Are Exempt from E-Verify

Tennessee small businesses that experienced the largest increases in the number of employees over the past five years are exempt from the requirement to ensure that their employees are not illegal aliens through the use of the federal government’s e-verification system.

At the federal level, E-Verify is a voluntary program.

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House Republicans Kill Bill Requiring More Fair Use of E-Verify by Tennessee Employers

A bill that would create equity amongst Tennessee employers as to the required use of the E-verify system was killed by five Republicans in the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, even as thousands of illegal immigrants surge the southern border.

HB 0801, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), would require employers in the state with six or more employees to utilize the federal government’s E-verify system in hiring future employees.  Griffey’s bill lowered the threshold from the current law, which required e-verification for employers with 50 or more employees.

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State Revenues in February Exceeded the Budget by $191 Million, Puts Fiscal Year Surplus at $1.3 Billion

Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Butch Eley announced Friday that tax revenues to the state for the month of February exceeded the budgeted estimates by $190.9 million, which puts the fiscal year surplus at $1.3 billion.

February revenues of $1.13 billion represent an 11.06 percent growth rate or $112.7 million more than February of last year.

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House Subcommittee’s Orchestrated Actions ‘Emboldened and Protected’ an Activist Judiciary That Changed Absentee Voting Law

A resolution that would determine if a judge committed an offense worthy of removal for changing the law regarding absentee voting was killed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee Tuesday through several orchestrated actions, which “only emboldened and protected the judiciary,” according to the resolution sponsor.
The resolution failed on a voice vote carried out by Chairman Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) with assistance by Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) who strategically timed his call for the question.

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Five Sponsors of Bill Enabling Randy Boyd’s Taxpayer-Funded Baseball Stadium Received More Than $90,000 in Campaign Funds from Individuals with Ties to the Project

Five of the eight sponsors of the bill that will enable a taxpayer-funded stadium for Randy Boyd’s minor league baseball stadium in Knoxville received a total of more than $90,000 in campaign contributions from several individuals who are involved with the proposed project.

All but one of the legislators are from the Knoxville area and all but one are Republicans while three are freshmen.

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Lt. Governor McNally Issues Revised Protocols for Accessing Tennessee’s Senate

Lt. Governor Randy McNally has decided that effective Monday new protocols will go into effect that will allow greater access to the Senate areas within the Cordell Hull Building.

The revised protocols are due to the increased availability of the vaccine and the overall decline in the spread of COVID-19, according to a late-day email Friday from McNally’s chief of staff addressed to Senate members and staff.

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State Senate Advances Measure That Changes the Way Tennessee’s Attorney General Is Selected

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a resolution Tuesday that would change the way the state’s Attorney General and Reporter for Tennessee is selected.

Senate Joint Resolution 1 would make the current process for nominating the attorney general more transparent and give the Tennessee General Assembly a say in the selection through a change to the Tennessee Constitution.

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Proposed Tennessee Valley Authority Transmission Line to Service New Facebook Data Center and Economic Development in Gallatin Will Impact Hundreds of Residential Property Owners’ Values and Raises Safety Concerns

A Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) proposed transmission line that will service the new Facebook data center and support future economic development in Gallatin will impact as many as 165 property owners representing about 225 parcels, lowering their property values and raising their concerns for safety.

TVA notified property owners affected by the proposed transmission via letters dated in mid-January, which invited them to access a virtual open house between January 21 and February 22 for further information and the opportunity comment on the project.

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Lt. Gov. McNally Announces Committee Appointments for the 112th Tennessee General Assembly

Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the Senate Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) announced Wednesday the state Senate committee assignments for the 112th General Assembly.

McNally praised his fellow Senate members in announcing the assignments.

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Democrat-Turned-Republican Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones to Speak to Nashville Young Republicans Tuesday

Less than a week after making the announcement that he would be leaving the Democrat Party to join the Republican Party, Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones will be a keynote speaker at the Nashville Young Republicans monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

It was a history-making moment at the Save America March in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday, when Jones announced he would be officially joining the Republican Party.

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Tennessee’s December Revenues Yield a $156.4 Million Surplus

The state’s revenue collections for the month of December were higher than budgeted yielding a $156.4 million surplus, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley announced Monday.

On an accrual basis, December marks the fifth month of the 2021-2022 fiscal year. 

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Proposed Legislation Gives School Boards Decision-Making Authority Over School Closures During Public Emergencies

A bill filed Monday will give Tennessee school boards the ultimate decision-making authority about whether their schools should be open or closed during a public emergency. 

The filing of the legislation was accompanied by an announcement from the bill’s sponsors, Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Representative Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville).

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Rep. London Lamar Files Bill To Investigate Tennesseans Participating in January 6 Events in DC and Remove Elected Officials from Office

Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis) filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session beginning Tuesday that calls for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to investigate Tennesseans suspected of participating in seditious or treasonous acts at the federal Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, and clarifies that such acts committed by state elected officials constitutes their removal from office.

The proposed legislation was filed Friday, after Lamar took to her state representative Facebook page the day prior in a post titled “The Line Has Been Drawn” which accused President Trump and his supporters of engaging in acts of sedition and treason to promote white supremacy.

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Tennessee Firearms Association Supports ‘Constitutional Carry’ Bill Sponsored by State Rep. Bruce Griffey

The Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) announced its support for what it called a “real” constitutional carry bill filed by State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) for the upcoming legislative session.

Late last week, John Harris, Executive Director of TFA, “Tennessee’s only no-compromise gun organization,” sent an email to its members and released a podcast discussing Griffey’s HB0018.

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DeKalb County Fails to Produce Drop Box Absentee Ballot Transfer Forms Required by State Election Board Emergency Rule

With the January 5 run-off election for two U.S. Senate seats underway and election practices in Georgia for the November 3 presidential election remaining under intense scrutiny, DeKalb County has failed to produce the drop box absentee ballot transfer forms that are required under a State Election Board emergency rule.

Absentee ballot transfer forms are a critical piece in the chain of custody for votes deposited into the approximately 300 drop boxes deployed throughout the state of Georgia for the November election.  DeKalb County, with its 34 drop box locations, accounted for more than 10 percent of Georgia’s absentee ballot drop boxes.

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Georgia Secretary of State and State Election Board Changed Absentee Ballot Signature Verification and Added Drop Boxes Without State Legislature’s Approval

As early in-person voting began Monday, December 14, for the general election run-off of two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, significant changes for absentee ballot signature verification and drop boxes put into place by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the State Election Board without the state legislature’s approval are still in place.

Meanwhile, registered voters “mailing” an absentee ballot for the general election run-off for the federal offices started more than three weeks ago on November 18, according to Georgia’s election calendar. 

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Knox County and City of Knoxville to Consider Establishment of a Sports Authority, First Step to a Taxpayer-Funded Stadium for Multi-Millionaire Randy Boyd’s Tennessee Smokies Baseball Team

The establishment of a sports authority that is the first step to a taxpayer-funded stadium for the Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball team owned by multi-millionaire Randy Boyd will be considered by the Knox County Commission at the regularly scheduled work session scheduled for Monday, December 14.
The application for the establishment of The Sports Authority of the County of Knox and the City of Knoxville was signed by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, County Commission Chair Larsen Jay, City Councilmember Gwen McKenzie, well-known local teacher and coach Tommy Schumpert and Dan Brown.

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Ballot Transfer Forms Show 78 Percent of 89,000 Absentee Ballots from Drop Boxes in Cobb County, Georgia Were Not Transported to Registrar ‘Immediately’ As Election Code Rule Requires

An analysis of ballot transfer forms from Cobb County reveals that 78 percent of the more than 89,000 absentee ballots from drop box locations, required to be “immediately transported” to the county registrar according to Emergency Rule of the State Election Board for Absentee Voting, took more than one hour to be transferred to election officials.

State Election Board Emergency Rule 183-1-14 relative to securing absentee ballot drop boxes was adopted by the State Election Board at the July 1, 2020, meeting.

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Ballot Transfer Forms Show Cobb County Violated Georgia Election Rule Requiring Absentee Ballots from Drop Boxes ‘Be Immediately Transported to the County Registrar’

A review of drop box ballot transfer forms reveals that Cobb County violated the Rules of the State Election Board for Absentee Voting that requires absentee ballots from drop box locations be “immediately transported” to the county registrar.

Specifically, the Rules of the State Election Board of the Georgia Election Code Chapter 183-1 for Absentee Voting states, “The ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored.”

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Three Percent of Audited Arizona Ballots Found Altered, Could Be Enough to Change Election Results

With three percent of a small sampling of 100 ballots audited in Maricopa County, Arizona found to be altered, similar results across the more than two million votes cast there would be enough to change the outcome of the presidential election in the state.
With 11 electoral college votes at stake, Arizona certified the results of the presidential election in favor of Biden on Monday with a margin of about 10,000 votes over President Trump.

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Nashville Bar Association Petitions Tennessee Supreme Court to Require Annual Critical Race Theory Training of Tennessee Attorneys and Judges

The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) has petitioned the Tennessee Supreme Court to modify its rules to require two hours of training on an annual basis to cover the topic of critical race theory.
Critical race theory is “the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of color,” according to Britannica.

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Legislature’s Ad Hoc Committee on Emergency Powers Made Reform Recommendations That May Not Go Into Effect for Six Years

A joint Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers in a meeting held Tuesday agreed to pass along their recommendations for reforming Tennessee law regarding the declaration of a state of emergency and powers granted to the executive branch during such emergency.
Of note is that the agreed-upon reforms are not recommended to go into effect until the current administration leaves. Additionally, the recommendations do not address the constitutionality of current state law.

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Blount County Mayor Shares Comparison of Mask and No-Mask Counties in Tennessee

Mayor of Blount County Ed Mitchell took to Facebook last week sharing a comparison of how Tennessee counties have fared under mask and no-mask mandates.

Blount County, which is not under a mask mandate by Mitchell, has Maryville as its county seat and largest city.  It lies in Tennessee’s eastern grand division adjacent to Knox and Sevier counties, both of which have mask mandates in place.

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Tennessee’s Year-to-Date Budget Surplus is Up to $447 Million

Three months into the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Tennessee’s actual revenues have exceeded the budget to create a $447 million surplus.

The surplus represents revenues that are 13 percent over and above the budgeted revenues through October and the fourth month in a row of budget surpluses.

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Analysis Reveals Milwaukee Presidential Election Voting Irregularities

An analysis of the City of Milwaukee’s 2020 U.S. Presidential election votes reveals several irregularities related primarily to voter participation.

Wisconsin is a key battleground state with 10 electoral college votes. In 2016, then first-time presidential candidate Donald Trump won the state over Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, taking a little over 47 percent of the state’s nearly 2.9 million votes.

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Obama-Biden Administration Denied Only Four Percent of Chinese Acquisitions of U.S. Entities: Report

A report that examined Chinese acquisitions in the U.S. revealed that the Obama-Biden administration only denied four percent of those that were subject to review by federal regulators.

In stark contrast, the Trump administration denied nearly half of the Chinese proposed acquisitions.

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Michigan: Ground Zero for Biden-Led Chinese Acquisition of Automotive Manufacturer with National Security Implications

A key presidential election battleground state of Michigan is also ground zero for a Chinese company’s acquisition of an automotive manufacturer with direct involvement by one of Hunter Biden’s businesses.

The transaction gave Chinese companies direct control of technology with possible military applications and, therefore, has national security implications.

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#WalkAway Rescue America Event in Nashville Doubles as a Trump Rally

A #WalkAway Campaign event held in Nashville Saturday at Legislative Plaza was every bit as much a Trump Rally, considering the attire of the attendees and their overwhelmingly enthusiastic reactions to mentions of the President.

Despite the downpours caused by tropical storm Delta, about 100 people turned out Saturday afternoon for the #WalkAway Rescue America Rally.

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Governor Lee Denies Nashville Mayor Cooper’s Request for $82.6 Million Additional Coronavirus Relief Funding

Governor Bill Lee responded in writing Thursday denying Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s request for an additional $82.6 million in coronavirus relief funding.

In addition to the letter, Lee addressed the issue during a press conference Thursday, saying “I have to believe the strategy that I’m investing in is one that is consistent and aligned with the state’s strategy and Nashville’s are not.”

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In Wake of Nashville COVID-19 Data Suppression Allegations, Mayor Cooper’s Press Secretary Attacks Character of Award-Winning Reporter

Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s Press Secretary Chris Song attacked the character of the reporter who broke the story about keeping information about COVID-19 cases secret during a press conference Thursday.

WZTV’s Fox 17 reporter Dennis Ferrier was the first to report on the “disturbing revelation” Wednesday based on emails he received from the Nashville mayor’s office.

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Sumner County Mayor Holt Calls Conservative Group ‘Radical,’ Bans Meetings in County Building

Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt referred to a conservative-minded group as “radical,” and forbid any future meetings of the group from being held in a county building.

The “radical” group that Holt called out is the Sumner County Republican Assembly (SCRA), a chapter of the Tennessee Republican Assembly.

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Federal Judge Orders State to Pay $690K in Attorney’s Fees for Successful First Amendment Challenge of Tennessee’s Billboard Act

The state has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $690,084 in attorneys’ fees and costs resulting from a successful First Amendment challenge to Tennessee’s unconstitutional Billboard Act.

Just over a year ago, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion in Thomas v. Bright (previously Thomas v. Schroer for the two most recent Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT commissioners) a case that goes back more than a dozen years.  The Sixth Circuit court affirmed that Tennessee’s Billboard Regulation and Control Act of 1972 was unconstitutional based on its content-based regulation of free speech, The Tennessee Star reported.

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Freight Railway Companies Petition for Modernization of Standards for the Industry’s Financial Health

A joint petition has been submitted to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on behalf of the Canadian National Railway Company (CN), Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS) and Union Pacific Rail Road Company (UP) freight-hauling railroad companies for the purpose of modernizing annual revenue adequacy determinations of the industry’s overall financial health.

CN, NS and UP are three of the seven railroads remaining in the U.S. from the 41 that operated in 1979 designated as Class I by the STB, based primarily on the annual operating revenue of the railroad company.

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State Revenues $115.1 Million More than Budgeted for First Month of Fiscal Year 2021-2022

Tennessee revenues exceeded budgeted estimates for the first month of the state’s 2021-2022 fiscal year by $115.1 million, Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley reported Monday.

Total state revenues for August, the first month of the fiscal year on an accrual basis, were $1.16 billion, which is $22 million more than August 2019 and 11 percent more than the budgeted estimate for the month.

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Constitutional Experts to Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Emergency Powers: The Legislature is the Check on Executive Powers

In Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers, two experts on constitutional law said, that with the deference the courts afford the executive branch, it is up to the Tennessee General Assembly to put checks on the broad powers of the governor during an emergency.

In the second of three meetings, committee members heard testimony from seven individuals:  Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law, University of Tennessee; Larry L. Crain, Crain Law Group; Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General of the State of Tennessee; Patrick Sheehan, Director TEMA; Dr. Lisa Piercey, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health; Clark Milner, Deputy Counsel to Governor Bill Lee; Brent Easley, Legislative Director to Governor Bill Lee.

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Tennessee GOP Votes to Affirm Eddie Mannis as House District 18 Primary Winner Potentially in Violation of State Law

The Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee (SEC) in a meeting held via conference call Wednesday evening voted to affirm the August 6 results of the House District 18 primary that was won by Eddie Mannis, potentially in violation of state law.

The vote was 43 to 18 by the SEC, which functions as the State Primary Board (SPB) in a primary contest.

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State GOP to Take Up House District 18 Primary Challenge Wednesday, Votes to Charge Candidates a Fee to Run as a Republican

At Saturday’s meeting of the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) State Executive Committee, the majority voted to charge candidates for certain offices a fee to run as a Republican and won’t take up the issue of the House District 18 primary challenge until Wednesday.

TRP Chairman Scott Golden told The Tennessee Star he wasn’t sure why some people thought that the challenge to the House District 18 primary results would be taken up at Saturday’s meeting and said it wasn’t “because it’s against the law.”

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Metro Councilman-at-Large Steve Glover About RNC Watch Party and Protest: We Want to Build Up America, Not Tear Down America

At the conclusion of the Republican National Convention watch party and protest Thursday evening, Metro Councilman-At-Large Steve Glover said of Republicans, “We want to build up America, not tear down America.”

Glover was referring to the hundreds of attendees at the event that was his brainchild on the grounds of Barbara Mandrell’s former estate, Fontanel, in Nashville.

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Trump RNC Acceptance Speech Watch Party in Nashville Thursday Will Include FOX Nation’s Tomi Lahren

Tomi Lahren of FOX Nation will join the Trump Republican National Convention acceptance speech watch party in Nashville on Thursday evening.

Lahren, who moved to Nashville several months ago from Los Angeles, recently referred to Mayor John Cooper as a “little tyrant” in a near five-minute rant during her Final Thoughts segment that called out the orders, arbitrary mandates, closures and curfews handed down by the Democrat.

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‘Tennessee Stands’ Files Lawsuit Claiming Statute Deeming Governor’s Executive Orders Having Full Force and Effect of Law Unconstitutional

Citizens for Limited Government and Constitutional Integrity, Inc. doing business as Tennessee Stands filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court Monday against Governor Bill Lee on the grounds that the state statute deeming the governor’s executive orders have the full force and effect of law is unconstitutional.

Tennessee Stands founder and president Gary Humble along with Rodney Lunn, the plaintiffs in the case, reference Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) 58-2-107 which dates back to 2000.

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Democrat Crossover Voting Prompts Contest to Tennessee Republican Party Over House District 18 Primary Results

One of the candidates from the House District 18 Republican primary has notified Chairman Scott Golden and State Executive Committee (SEC) of the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) that they are contesting the results, because of crossover voting from Democrats.

A member of the SEC, who wished to remain unnamed until it was discussed with the chairman, provided The Tennessee Star with a copy of the emailed letter from House District 18 Republican primary candidate Gina Oster dated August 18.

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Expert Testimony on Study of Emergency Powers: Governor Lee’s Executive Orders Consistent with Powers Granted in State Law

In testimony to the Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers Thursday, retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and president and dean of Nashville School of Law William C. Koch, Jr. said Governor Bill Lee’s executive orders are entirely consistent with the inherent power in his office and granted to him in state statute.

The 17-member ad hoc committee, consisting of five senators and 12 representatives, was established by the respective speakers of each house at the request of members in light of the emergency status caused by COVID-19.

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