Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Reviews the Emergency Powers Granted to Governor Lee by Statute but Limited by The Tennessee Constitution

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to the studio to explain and clarify the governor’s emergency powers according to the Tennessee Constitution.

Read More

Biden’s Controversial Executive Order Increasing Refugee Resettlement Could Signal New Battle Between Gov. Bill Lee and County Governments/State Legislators

President Joe Biden’s plan to resettle 125,000 foreign refugees this year, a 960 percent increase from former president Donald J. Trump’s 12,000 per year, could intensify an ongoing battle between first-term Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, and elected Republican officials in the legislature and across the state.

“On Thursday, Biden signed an order that will set the maximum number of refugees resettled in the U.S. at 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2021,” Breitbart reported. “The refugee cap is simply a numerical limit and not a goal for federal officials to reach.”

Read More

Project to Fund Electric Car-Charging Stations in Tennessee Will Cost $20 Million

Officials with The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced Wednesday they will develop more electric car-charging stations in the state, at an anticipated cost of $20 million. TDEC and TVA officials said in a press release that to get the money they “will leverage various funding sources.”

Read More

Governor Lee Appointed Co-Chair of National Task Force on Pandemic and Disaster Response

Governor Bill Lee was appointed the co-chair of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Pandemic and Disaster Response Task Force on Wednesday. The other chair selected was Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

Lee and Lamont will oversee the Federal Emergency Management administration (FEMA), the National Guard, cybersecurity, healthcare, and all issues related to addressing and recovering from COVID-19, such as testing and personal protective equipment (PPE). Other members in the task force have yet to be announced; as of Wednesday, the two staffers on the task force were legislative directors Mary Catherine Ott and Maribel Ramos.

Read More

Tennessee General Assembly Convenes Special Session on Education Reforms Necessitated by Pandemic

The Tennessee General Assembly convened for a special session to discuss learning loss and literacy reforms introduced by the governor’s office. State officials are proposing a series of reforms they dubbed “targeted intervention.” The first bill would establish a full-time tutoring core, after-school camps, learning loss bridge camps, and summer learning camps. Additionally, the second bill proposed a third grade “reading gate” to ensure students are prepared before entering fourth grade and that K-3 educators teach phonics as the primary form of reading, which would be complemented by a screening tool for parents’ use.

The impact of standardized testing also faces reforms. The third bill would keep the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) in place for the 2021 school year, but wouldn’t impose any negative consequences on student assessment. This would ensure that educators and families have a benchmark to assess student progress, but no teacher or district would face penalties based on those TCAP results. Under the fourth bill, the state would adjust the state budget to give pay raises to all teachers immediately.

Read More

Federal Government Approves Tennessee’s Medicaid Proposal, Swapping a Block Grant for an Aggregate Cap

The federal government approved Tennessee’s proposed Medicaid aggregate cap, granting a lump sum for a self-imposed, fixed budget. The ten-year agreement, referred to as “TennCare III,” is the first of its kind nationwide. It also allows for the state to reserve any unused funds and apply them to other government programs, with up to 55 percent of those savings potentially matched by additional federal funds for state health programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) described the measure as an “innovative financing approach.” Unlike what various reports claimed, federal officials explicitly stated that this agreement wasn’t a block grant. This agreement allows the state government to be flexible with its spending cap under certain circumstances – like last year’s pandemic and related unemployment crisis. 

Read More

Tennessee Nonprofit Warns Gov. Bill Lee to Focus on Best Interests of Students, Not Budgets, During Special Session

Members of Tennessee Stands said this week that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and members of the state legislature should prioritize students — and not school district budgets — during the upcoming special session on education. Tennessee Stands is a nonprofit based out of Williamson County.

Read More

MTS Nutrition CEO Marc Lobliner Floats 2022 Run Against Governor Bill Lee, Discovers He’s Not Eligible

Marc Lobliner announced that he would run in 2022 against Governor Bill Lee – if not for the state’s residency requirement. According to the law, an individual must reside in the state for at least seven years prior to the gubernatorial election. Lobliner moved to Tennessee at the end of last summer.

The massive fitness influencer issued the statement in response Governor Bill Lee’s latest executive order. Since Sunday, in-person gatherings have been limited to 10 or less people. The order didn’t indicate what the punishments were if not followed. The order also “strongly urged” employers to implement remote working, and for individuals to maintain social distancing and practice health department guidelines for weddings, funerals, and worship services. The order ends in about a month, on January 19th. 

Read More

Tennessee Stands Says Gov. Bill Lee Displays ‘Complete Lack of Leadership’ on COVID-19

Tennessee Stands, based out of Williamson County, on Monday, said Tennessee residents “didn’t elect Bill Lee to have him cancel Christmas and stomp the Constitution.” Tennessee Stands spokesman Gary Humble said this in an emailed newsletter, addressing Gov. Bill Lee’s Sunday announcement that the state will ban indoor public gatherings of more than 10 people in response to COVID-19.

Read More

Governor Bill Lee Admonishes Citizens for Their Thanksgiving Gatherings as ‘Selfish, Indifferent, Foolish’ Decisions

Governor Bill Lee called out Tennessee for its recent Thanksgiving gatherings as selfish, indifferent, and foolish decisions. The governor issued these remarks during a press conference as some of the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered at Vanderbilt University.

“We do stand here and celebrate a tremendous breakthrough in this pandemic,” stated Lee. “But there is a darkness before the dawn that’s happening right here in Tennessee – we have to recognize that. Tennessee’s cases are surging. The holidays have caught up with us. Decisions that some made during Thanksgiving have a severe reality in this hospital and all across Tennessee today.”

Read More

Top Silicon Valley Company Leaves California for Nashville

Revance Therapeutics (Revance), a premiere biotechnology company, announced its plans to relocate its headquarters from Newark, California to Nashville. It is the fourth prominent company to depart from Silicon Valley this month.

Governor Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe shared the news in a joint press release with Revance. According to them, the company will invest over $10 million and create approximately 150 jobs.

Read More

Gov. Bill Lee’s Staff Declines to Offer Their Side of the Story on Controversial Nomi Health Contract

The Nashville-based NewsChannel 5 reported this week that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer money on COVID-19 testing that, ultimately, did not benefit the state. State officials awarded the contract to Nomi Health. NewsChannel 5 reported this as a $26.5 million, no-bid contract. In their report, the station quoted several people who questioned Nomi’s credentials.

Read More

Tennessee Spent 25 Percent More Per Job to Recruit Businesses in 2020

Attracting new jobs to Tennessee in 2020 has cost taxpayers 25% more in FastTrack economic incentive grants than last year, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

The TNECD has spent an average of $5,448 this year for each new job commitment incentivized by a FastTrack grant. Rural job recruitment proved particularly costly. On average, the state provided $9,765 in FastTrack grants per rural job – more than three times last year’s average.

Read More

Lee Authorizes Tennessee National Guard to Serve in Hospitals as COVID-19 Surges

National Guard personnel with appropriate training soon will be deployed to Tennessee hospitals to relieve capacity strain brought on by a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order Friday permitting National and State Guardsmen with appropriate training and skills to serve as nurses and ambulance drivers, and to conduct COVID-19 testing in hospitals, emergency rooms, and alternative care facilities.

Read More

Governor Lee Taps Ousted Democratic Representative John DeBerry to Become Cabinet Senior Advisor

Governor Bill Lee tapped former Representative John DeBerry (D-TN-Memphis) to join his Cabinet as a senior advisor. Lee’s announcement came shortly after DeBerry lost his re-election.

The governor appears to hold high regard for the former representative, though their party alignments differ.

Read More

Court: Tennessee Can Enforce Down Syndrome Abortion Ban

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as prohibit the procedure if it’s based on the race or gender of the fetus.

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure. The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks — making it one of the strictest in the country — but it included several other anti-abortion components.

Read More

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen Lectures Tennessee Republicans to Stop Destroying America and Stop Defending Donald Trump

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) this weekend used his Twitter to hurl another personal attack at U.S. President Donald Trump while he also accused Trump of using the recent election to divide people.

As The Tennessee Star has reported many times, Cohen has made countless divisive remarks about Trump and Republicans.

On Saturday, Cohen linked to a TikTok video and ridiculed Trump, whose hair in the video appeared white.

Read More

Tennessee’s Top Republicans Request Two Things: Vote Tuesday and Recruit Your Friends To Do The Same

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN-07), and U.S Senate Republican candidate Bill Hagerty urged their supporters to vote Tuesday and to also re-elect U.S. President Donald Trump.

They did so Sunday at Franklin’s Liberty Hall inside The Factory, where State Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) hosted his annual Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans event.

Read More

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Gets High Marks in New Report on Economic Freedom During COVID-19

Bill Lee

  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ranks seventh in The American Legislative Exchange Council’s new scorecard that assesses America’s 50 governors on policy performance and leadership before and after the start of the COVID-19 health crisis. Members of the Arlington, Virginia-based ALEC released their 2020 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom Tuesday.…

Read More

Tennessee to Receive Two Million COVID-19 Rapid Tests from White House

Governor Bill Lee announced during the weekly Tuesday briefing that Tennessee will receive around 2 million rapid viral tests for COVID-19. The tests from BinaxNOW will come in staggered shipments throughout the end of the year.
BinaxNOW tests are significantly more cost-effective and quicker at giving results. They are also more comfortable than the standard deep nasal swab. Instead of going up the nose and into the back of the throat, swabs will go just inside the nose.

Read More

Davidson County Election Commission Suing Citizens for Putting Tax Cut on Ballot, Calling it ‘Unconstitutional’

The Davidson County Election Commission has recruited a legal team to sue the citizens’ group Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN) for its December ballot tax cut petition.
Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch will serve as lead council, and Junaid Odubeko the co-council.

Read More

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Tells Bill Lee and John Cooper That it’s Time to Open up Tennessee

 

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper can heal an economy wounded after COVID-19, and Ogles said now is the time to do so.

Simply put, Ogles said Middle Tennessee is Tennessee’s economic engine and what happens there reverberates throughout the rest of the state. He also said it’s time for the state to go back to what life was like February, before COVID-19 impacted the United States. Ogles also said it’s safe to do so.

Read More

Tennessee Projects 65 Percent Learning Loss in Math, 50 Percent Loss in Third Grade Reading After COVID-19 Closures

Reading proficiency among Tennessee third-graders is projected to drop by 50%, and math proficiency is projected to drop by 65% because of COVID-19-related school closures, according to preliminary projections released by the Department of Education.

Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced the projected learning loss during a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

Read More

Nissan Moves Production Back to U.S.A. With Smyrna, Tennessee Plant

Nissan began efforts to move production to the United States on Tuesday by manufacturing the 2021 Rogue in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Nissan predicts the Rogue’s longstanding popularity will lead to its “turnaround as the company’s top-selling U.S. model,” according to their press release.

Read More

Former TDOE Employees Warn That Penny Schwinn Jeopardizes Tennessee’s Public Schools As Well As Bill Lee’s Reelection Chances

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s leadership problems could trickle down to the state’s public schools, and parents are right to worry.

Additionally, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who appointed Schwinn, should worry that she could cost him reelection in 2022.

Read More

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Has Created ‘a Fairly Abysmal’ Work Environment, Former Employees Allege

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn and her leadership skills have created a toxic work environment and driven too many talented state workers away and into the private sector, said three former TDOE employees.

These are the same three sources who criticized Schwinn in an article that The Tennessee Star published Wednesday. Those sources spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the problems within the department started when Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee appointed Schwinn. And the sources also said the difficulties began not despite Schwinn — but because of her.

Read More

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Formally Asks Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to Fire Penny Schwinn

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner (TDEC) Penny Schwinn must leave, said Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles on Wednesday.

Ogles posted on his Facebook page that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee must remove Schwinn. Ogles said he formally called on Lee to do this only hours after he read Wednesday’s Tennessee Star article that quoted three former TDEC higher-ups. Those former employees, speaking anonymously, denounced Schwinn and her alleged on-the-job behavior. They said she falsified government records, ridiculed Lee at TDEC staff meetings, and lied to avoid appearing in public alongside U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Read More

Former Tennessee Department of Education Higher-Ups Criticize Commissioner Penny Schwinn

Three former high-level Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) officials who left the department voluntarily criticized their former boss, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in exclusive interviews with The Tennessee Star.

The former officials spoke with The Star on the condition of anonymity.

Their criticisms of Schwinn are withering, and include the following allegations.

Read More

Lee Says Tennessee Legislature Should Not Limit Executive Emergency Powers

Gov. Bill Lee believes the Tennessee Legislature should not limit the existing executive emergency powers of the governor, Lee’s staff told a committee reviewing executive emergency powers.

The ad hoc study committee, co-chaired by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, met for a second time Thursday to hear testimony from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, members of the governor’s executive staff and others.

Read More

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.

Read More

Child Well-Being Check Initiative Withdrawn After Uproar in Tennessee

 The Tennessee Department of Education has withdrawn a $1 million initiative to conduct well-being checks for all children in Tennessee from birth to age 18 after the program sparked uproar this week, with critics calling it a big-brother government overreach.

Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn released the Child Wellbeing Check Toolkit during a news conference Tuesday. As originally published, the initiative recommended well-being checks for all children in the state to verify well-being as school closures have left gaps for nutrition, health, and abuse reporting services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More

Tennessee Defends COVID-19 Response to Oversight Chair

Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday defended Tennessee’s response to the coronavirus pandemic after receiving criticism from a top Democratic congressional leader, arguing that his decisions have been “data driven” despite not adhering entirely to White House recommendations.

“Our response has focused on reducing bureaucratic barriers, strengthening private sector partnerships, and finding every opportunity to protect the lives and livelihoods of Tennessee,” Lee, a Republican, said in a three-page letter to South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn.

Read More

Gov. Lee Says State Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Defend Heartbeat Bill in Court

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday the state will do “whatever it takes” to defend the pro-life Heartbeat Bill in court.

U.S. District Judge William “Chip” Campbell in Nashville blocked the pro-life measure just hours after Gov. Lee signed it into law Monday.

Read More

Liberals Praise Trump-Appointed Judge for Blocking Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill

Pro-abortion advocates praised a Trump-appointed judge for blocking Tennessee’s Heartbeat Bill from becoming law.

U.S. District Judge William “Chip” Campbell in Nashville blocked the pro-life measure just hours after Gov. Bill Lee signed it into law Monday. Campbell’s mother, Beth Campbell, serves as a Republican National Committee member for Tennessee, the Tennessee Republican Party confirmed.

“An activist judge barely waited until the ink was dry to promote his own pro-choice view. We cannot allow the lives of unborn children to be jeopardized by radical judges. As your Senator, I will only vote to confirm justices who stick to the Constitution,” said Manny Sethi, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

Read More

Trump Approves Disaster Declaration for 20 Tennessee Counties Impacted by May Storms

The federal government granted Gov. Bill Lee’s request this week for a major disaster declaration for 20 Tennessee counties impacted by severe weather in early May.

President Donald Trump announced in a Thursday press release that he approved the declaration, which will make federal funding available for state and local recovery efforts in the affected areas.

Read More

Tennessee Highway Patrol Arrests Left-Wing Activist Justin Jones and Other Protestors

Authorities have released left-wing activist Justin Jones from the Davidson County Jail after Tennessee Highway Patrol officers arrested him and several other activists at Legislative Plaza.

As reported, Jones and several of those activists have taken turns occupying that space for weeks as they demand a meeting with Gov. Bill Lee.

Read More

Cohen Urges Lee to Remove Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust, Rename State Park

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) urged Gov. Bill Lee to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol and rename a state park that bears his name.

In a letter sent to Lee Monday, Cohen asked the Republican governor to “demonstrate leadership on an issue that causes so much pain in the Black community in Tennessee.”

Read More

Gov. Lee Announces Law Enforcement Reform Partnership to Improve Police Training, Policies

Gov. Bill Lee announced a new partnership last week with law enforcement agencies across the state in an effort to reform policing in Tennessee.

“The intent of this partnership is the desire to ensure law enforcement are consistently reflecting the values of the communities they serve,” Lee explained in a press release.

Read More

Gov. Bill Lee Grants County Mayors Authority to Issue Mask Mandates

Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Friday granting the mayors of 89 counties the authority to issue local face mask mandates.

Six Tennessee counties – Sullivan, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Madison, and Shelby – have local health departments, and therefore already have the authority to issue mask requirements as needed, Lee’s office explained.

Read More

Tennessee Planned Parenthood Members Burn American Flag in Defense of Abortion

Members of the Tennessee chapter of Planned Parenthood gathered at an unspecified location this week and posted a Twitter video of themselves incinerating an American flag.

Those same Planned Parenthood members then placed the burning flag into a garbage container before someone extinguished the flames with a fire extinguisher.

Read More

Dave Ramsey Expands Headquarters in Williamson County, Adds New Jobs

Ramsey Solutions CEO Dave Ramsey announced this week that the Williamson County-based Ramsey Solutions will invest $52 million to expand its corporate headquarters in Franklin and create 600 jobs.

Ramsey announced this in a press release on the Tennessee Department of Community and Economic Development’s website. Ramsey announced this with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe.

Read More

Abortion Groups Sue Tennessee Over Newly-Passed Heartbeat Bill, Down Syndrome Abortion Restrictions

Bill Lee

Tennessee was immediately sued by a cohort of liberal organizations Friday after the General Assembly passed its pro-life heartbeat bill.

The bill passed the Tennessee House in a vote of 69-17 and was then approved by the Tennessee Senate 23-5.

Read More