Tennessee Supreme Court Agrees to Hear State’s School Voucher Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to the state’s appeal on the constitutionality of its education savings account program (ESA). The pilot school voucher program has been tied up in a legal battle for all of 2020 after its passage by the General Assembly in 2019, thereby preventing any planned advancement of the program.

The program was previously ruled unconstitutional by Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Anne Martin. She assessed it would disproportionately impact two counties: Shelby County Schools (SCS) and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Those districts reportedly contain about 90 percent of the state’s failing schools list. The Court of Appeals upheld Martin’s decision last September.

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Tennessee’s Hall Tax Ends This Week, Promises New Economic Opportunities for the Volunteer State

Tennessee’s Hall Tax, as of this coming Friday, will cease to exist.

Experts say that will bring new opportunities to Tennessee and make the state’s economy more competitive.

The Hall Tax, instituted in 1929, applies a 6 percent tax to Tennesseans’ interest and dividend income. In 2016 members of the Tennessee General Assembly phased out the Hall Income Tax over years of scheduled reductions.

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Nashville’s 34 Percent Property Tax Increase Earns Tennessee Pork of the Year Award

Nashville’s 34 percent property tax increase is the “Pork of the Year,” according to the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s annual Pork Report, which the organization released Tuesday. Staff at the Beacon Center of Tennessee say that their annual Tennessee Pork Report reveals millions of dollars in government waste, fraud, and abuse.

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Mayor John Cooper’s Latest Coronavirus Limit on Gatherings Is Similar to ‘Game of Duck Duck Goose,’ Conservative Watchdog Says

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has placed new limits on gatherings just in time for Thanksgiving, leading one conservative watchdog to liken all the mayor’s decrees to a “game of duck duck goose.”

With the dramatically named “Rule of 8,” Cooper announced a limit of eight for public and private gatherings. The limits start Monday.

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New Report Shows Education Savings Accounts Would Help Taxpayers in Shelby and Davidson Counties

Shelby County Schools would save more than $2,000 for each student who chooses to utilize Education Savings Accounts, and Metro Nashville Schools would save more than $500 for each student who uses them.

This, according to a new research report that staff at the Beacon Center of Tennessee published Thursday.

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Right to Work Constitutional Amendment Filed This Week for Second Required Passage in Tennessee General Assembly

State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) wants to add Tennessee’s Right to Work law to the state constitution.

Kelsey this week filed a Senate Joint Resolution for the 112th General Assembly to consider to add the Right to Work law to the constitution for its second required passage by the legislature. This, before officials send it to voters on the ballot.

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Judge Rules Against Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act

Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle on Tuesday gave members of the Davidson County Election Commission what they wanted and ruled against arguments in favor of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.

The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act referendum, if approved, would roll back Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s 34 to 37 percent tax increase.

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Nashville Think Tank Files Lawsuit Against Metro Nashville Over Sidewalks

Members of the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee this week filed a lawsuit against the city of Nashville on behalf of two homeowners that Metro officials forced to pay for public sidewalks.

Beacon officials said in an emailed press release that they are filing the case to prevent Metro officials from holding building permits hostage until individual property owners agree to pay for public infrastructure like sidewalks.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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No Credible Evidence to Support Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s July Shutdown of Bars and Reduction of Restaurant Capacity, Despite Bullying Tactics by His Administration

When Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced at a July 2 press conference that he was shutting down all the city’s bars for 14 days, reducing restaurant capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent, and temporarily closing event venues and entertainment venues, all due to “record” cases of COVID-19 traceable to restaurants and bars, he apparently knew that his own Metro Health Department said less than two dozen cases of COVID-19 could be traced to those establishments. But he failed to disclose that the “record” of bar and restaurant traceable cases to which he referred to was about one tenth of one percent of Davidson County’s 20,000 cases of COVID-19.

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Nashville Metro Council Members Get Costly Benefits They Shouldn’t, Think Tank Says

The president of a Nashville-based center-right think tank said members of the Nashville Metro Council refuse to make the kinds of sacrifices that they ask their own constituents to make.

Beacon Center President Justin Owen said as much in a column on the organization’s website.

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After Bombshell Revelations, Nashville Mayor John Cooper Accused of Suppressing COVID-19 Data and Destroying Livelihoods

Nashville Mayor John Cooper and members of his administration weren’t straightforward enough with their COVID-19 data and, in effect, hurt local businesses and justified fears that government officials would abuse their power during this long emergency.

This, according to Beacon Center of Tennessee spokesman Mark Cunningham. Cunningham responded to a FOX 17 of Nashville report that suggested Cooper and his staff members kept secret the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases coming out of the bars and restaurants in the city’s lower Broadway area.

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Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act Takes a Big Step Toward Appearing on December Ballot

Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN) this week announced that members of the group and other concerned citizens would turn in roughly 20,000 signatures to the Metro Clerk’s office in support of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act.

This, according to a press release that AFP-TN members published on their website. Members of the group helped gather the requisite number of signatures for the initiative for the December 5 ballot.

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On New Podcast, Gov. Bill Lee Talks Juggling Public Safety Versus Keeping Tennessee’s Economy Going

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said this week that protecting public safety while also protecting the state’s small businesses during COVID-19 is his administration’s primary “balancing act” and it was “heartbreaking” to watch small businesses close.

Lee also said he and other state officials used stimulus money to help the state’s business owners.

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Memphis Barber Wins Lawsuit Against Tennessee Officials who Kept Him from Working

Elias Zarate

A Memphis man has won a lawsuit against the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners for denying him the right to work.

As The Tennessee Star reported in 2018, state officials denied that man, Elias Zarate, a barber’s license because he did not have a high school diploma.

A press release that the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee emailed Monday updated Zarate’s case. Beacon, a right-of-center think tank, represented him.

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Higher Taxes and Cancel Culture Take Toll on Nashville Restaurant

Cancel culture and higher taxes during COVID-19 have burdened at least one Nashville business owner, so much so he worries about his personal and professional well-being.

Carey Bringle, who owns Nashville’s Pork Leg Porker restaurant, said this on a new episode of the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s Over-Caffeinated podcast.

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Tennessee School Boards Association Must Provide Records to the Public, Ruling Says

Members of the taxpayer-funded Tennessee School Boards Association may not like it, but public records laws apply to their organization and they must provide their information to the public.

This, according to a ruling that 20th Judicial District Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal filed this month.

As reported last year, the legal arm of the Beacon Center of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the TSBA demanding access to the group’s records.

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Nashville-Based Beacon Center Ranks La Vergne the Freest City in Tennessee

The City of La Vergne is the “Freest City” in all of Tennessee.

This, according to a study that Beacon Center of Tennessee staff call the City Freedom Index. Beacon staff published the study Wednesday.  Beacon, based in Nashville, is a right-of-center think tank.

“The Beacon Center says the reason La Vergne ranked in the number one spot is credit to its strong showing Free Enterprise (ranked 1 out of 30) and Cost of Government (ranked 3 out of 30),” La Vergne officials said in a press release.

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Nashville City Council ‘Should be Ashamed,’ Beacon Center of Tennessee Says After Massive Tax Increase Passes

Officials with a Nashville-based right-of-center think tank on Wednesday harshly criticized members of the Metro Nashville Council for jacking up property taxes by 34 percent.

Members of that think tank, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, said this in a press release.

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High Court Won’t Take Over Tennessee Voucher Lawsuit

Tennessee’s highest court declined Thursday to take up an appeal of a lawsuit challenging the legality of a school voucher program that would let parents use public tax dollars for private school tuition.

Voucher supporters had hoped the Tennessee Supreme Court would reach down and take up the case after an appellate court set an Aug. 5 hearing to review the case.

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Beacon Center of Tennessee Sends Legislature A Guide to Remove Burdensome Regulations

The Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee released a new solutions guide for Gov. Bill Lee and the state legislature on Friday that focused on making some of the deregulation done by executive order during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent.

This, according to an emailed press release Beacon put out Friday.

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Free Market Expert Explains House Bill 2638 That Would Cap Local Property Tax Hikes

On Wednesday’s 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. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Beacon Center of Tennessee’s Ron Shultis to the newsmakers line.

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Tennessee Officials Update State on Licensing Process for Professionals

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance announced this week that its Division of Regulatory Boards licensed more than 129,000 professionals in fiscal year 2019 while decreasing the average processing time required for the approval of new applications for those seeking professional licensure.

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Nashville Court Dismisses Home-Based Business Lawsuit

  Nashville’s Chancery Court of Davidson County this week dismissed a lawsuit that a Grammy-winning producer and a hairstylist filed against the city’s regulations restricting home-based businesses. The Nashville-based free market think tank the Beacon Center of Tennessee assisted these two individuals, Lij Shaw and Pat Raynor. Beacon Vice President…

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New Tennessee Law Ruled Unconstitutional, Says Beacon Center Official

  A federal judge has halted enforcement of a new state law that state legislators passed earlier this year that forces online auctioneers to get a state license. This, according to Braden Boucek, vice president of legal affairs for the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee. Beacon is a free-market think…

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Other States Likely Monitoring Lawsuit Against Tennessee’s New ‘Online Auctioneer’ Law, Expert Says

  Legislators in other states likely want to duplicate a new Tennessee law that’s currently under a temporary restraining order, per a U.S. federal judge, said someone involved in the legal proceedings. As The Tennessee Star reported this week, U.S. District Court Judge Eli Richardson of the Middle District of…

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Beacon Center Tells 30 Largest Tennessee Cities It Will Call Them Out on July 4, 2020 on How Free Their Citizens Are

  Conservative think tank Beacon Center of Tennessee has placed the 30 largest Volunteer State cities on notice: On Independence Day 2020, it will call them out on how free their citizens are – or are not. The Beacon Center of Tennessee announced Tuesday it will release a City Freedom…

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Beacon Center of Tennessee Files Suit Over New Online Auctioneer Law

  The Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee has filed suit against a new law that state legislators passed earlier this year that forces online auctioneers to get a state license. This, according to a press release Beacon officials released Thursday. The same press release said the state exempts big online…

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Bluff City Law to Film on Location in Memphis, Likely to Get Corporate Welfare

  The NBC drama Bluff City Law will reportedly film on location in Memphis, and it’s also presumed Tennessee officials will hand out corporate welfare in exchange. This, according to Monday’s Memphis Commercial Appeal. The show stars Jimmy Smits. But Tennessee taxpayers may lose out, said Ron Shultis, policy coordinator…

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Licensing Online Auctioneers Could Hurt Tennessee Economy, Expert Warns

Online auctioneers will suffer, as will Tennessee’s economy, if state officials require them to get a license, which certain members of the Tennessee General Assembly hope will happen this legislative session. This, according to an official with the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a Nashville-based free market think tank. As The…

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Tennessee General Assembly Bill Would Require Licensing for Online Auctions

A bill going through the Tennessee General Assembly would, for the first time, require a license for certain types of online auctions, according to a legal expert with the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee. Beacon’s Vice President of Legal Affairs told The Tennessee Star Thursday that people who do these…

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Governor Bill Lee’s Proposal for Education Savings Accounts Passes Its First Hurdle in Tennessee House Subcommittee

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The bill that lays out the details of Governor Bill Lee’s proposal for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) passed its first hurdle in the House Curriculum, Testing & Innovation Subcommittee. The 16-page amendment that “makes the bill” was presented by Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), who is…

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