Governor and First Lady Lee Announce Annual Christmas Celebration Events

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee announced that the state’s annual official Christmas events, including Christmas at the Capitol and “The Gift of Giving” tour of the Tennessee Residence, will return this year.

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Governor Bill Lee Wins Re-Election

Governor Bill Lee was projected to win re-election shortly after polls closed Tuesday by multiple 2022 election watchers, including The Associated Press, the German-owned news outlet Politico, ABC News, and more.

With just over 40 percent of the expected ballots counted, Lee earned a commanding margin of 60 percent to 31 percent of the vote, besting Democrat nominee Jason Martin. The remainder of the votes are divided among a spate of independent candidates.

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AP Reporter Takes Sides Against Tennessee Right-to-Work Campaign

The campaign for the constitutional “right-to-work” amendment appearing on this year’s Tennessee election ballot has garnered vocal opposition from labor unions and other left-wing thought leaders. Supporters could have expected that. Less predictably, a Nashville-based Associated Press reporter railed against the effort this week.

In a Twitter post, AP writer Kimberlee Kruesi opined strongly against Governor Bill Lee’s pronouncements on the issue, characterizing them as “false” and “outrageous spin.” 

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Majority of Tennesseans Support the State’s Right-to-Work Amendment

A recent poll asking Tennessee voters whether they would support a proposed constitutional “right-to-work” amendment indicates the measure has strong backing.

According to a Cygnal survey of 500 likely voters conducted from October 7 through 9, 58 percent of respondents said they expect they will vote on November 8 to approve Amendment One which would enshrine the policy in the Tennessee Constitution. Only 22 percent anticipated they will vote against the proposal and 20 percent had not yet decided. Positivity toward the proposed amendment enlarged to 60 percent when only voters who indicate they “always” vote on ballot initiatives were examined.

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Cato Institute Gives Governor Bill Lee ‘D’ Grade on State Fiscal Policy Report Card

The Cato Institute released its 2022 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors on Wednesday, which grades the governors of all 50 U.S. states on their fiscal policies from a limited-government perspective.

According to its website, the Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank that “promotes an American public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peaceful international relations.”

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Tennessee National Guard Deployed to Florida to Help with Hurricane Recovery and Response Efforts

On Thursday, roughly 1,200 Soldiers and Airmen from the Tennessee National Guard departed from various locations across the state to support response and recovery efforts in Florida following the landfall of Hurricane Ian, according to a press release by the Tennessee Department of Military.

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State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Welcomes First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn met First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to the University of Tennessee (UT) on Monday as the pair kicked off the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.

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Gov. Bill Lee Announces More than 600 Applications for Tennessee’s Education Savings Account Program: ‘We’re Just Getting Started’

More than 600 applications for Tennessee’s new Education Savings Account (ESA) Program have been filed by Tennessee families, Governor Bill Lee (R) announced Thursday in a video message.

“We’ve been working overtime to get the ESA program up and running for this school year,” Lee said.

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Governor Bill Lee Announces First Lady Maria Lee Has Lymphoma

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Friday that his wife, First Lady Maria Lee, has lymphoma.

Bill Lee said, “Maria and I have learned that she has lymphoma and will begin treatment immediately. While this news is unexpected, her prognosis is good and it is treatable. Maria and I deeply appreciate prayers for healing. We are hopeful and will share more in the days ahead.”

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Governor Lee Reissues Executive Order Granting Special Leave to Executive Branch State Employees Who Serve in the Military

On Monday, Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order granting special leave with partial pay for Executive Branch state employees who are called to active duty as members the National Guard or the Reserve.

Executive Order 98, signed on August 22, 2022, updates Executive Order 86, which was issued on August 25, 2021.

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Governor Bill Lee: Tennessee Has Not Approved Any School Education Savings Accounts for Families

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) said Friday the state has not yet approved any school Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for families seeking to choose education options outside of public schools.

“There are about 250 families that have actually applied (but) those approvals have not been made yet,” Lee said according to an updated report Saturday from the Associated Press (AP). “The process is underway.”

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Tennessee Suspends Grocery Tax Through the End of August

Tennesseans may notice their grocery bills are a little less this month, as Gov Bill Lee announced Monday that the long-awaited suspension of tax on groceries went into effect state-wide. The governor first proposed the idea in March.

“As Americans see their cost-of-living skyrocket amid historic inflation, suspending the grocery tax is the most effective way to provide direct relief to every Tennessean,” Lee said at the time.

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Alfresco Pasta Holds Grand Opening Ceremony for New Operations in Crockett County

Alfresco Pasta Brand, LLC held a grand opening ceremony Tuesday in Bells, Tennessee to celebrate the company’s expansion in Crockett County. The ceremony comes after the company announced in March its intention to invest $3.8 million to expand and relocate its operations from Nashville to Bells.

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Tennessee Hills Distillery Announces $21.3 Million Investment in Sullivan County

Tennessee Hills Distillery officials announced Monday that the company will invest $21.3 million to expand in Northeast Tennessee by adding a Bristol location to serve as the company’s new headquarters. The company’s newest investment joins its existing operations in Jonesborough and Johnson City.

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Sources Say Bill Lee’s COO Brandon Gibson Now Unlikely to Pursue Attorney General Position Due to Negative Reaction

Sources familiar with the political intrigue around the Tennessee Capitol tell The Tennessee Star that Governor Bill Lee’s preferred for choice for Attorney General, Tennessee COO Brandon Gibson, is letting it be known that she’s “now unlikely to even to apply for job.”

“It appears as though – based on how she is presenting this around, that the reception she received when news of her taking over the job was broken and became a topic of public discussion – it has taken the shine off of Gibson wanting to be Tennessee Attorney General and to deal with the legislature and she is no longer sure she wants the job,” said one source on the condition of background.

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Additional Tennessee National Guardsmen Express Frustration with Governor Lee and Kurt Winstead’s ‘Coordinated Message’ on Firings

More Tennessee National Guardsmen reached out to The Tennessee Star on Friday in order to rebut the coordinated messaging between TN-5 candidate and former National Guard General Kurt Winstead and Governor Bill Lee on the issue of soldier firings due to a COVID-19 mandate and the role that the governor can play.

The deadline for soldiers to comply with the mandate has now passed.

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Latest Information on Tennessee National Guard Soldiers Who Refused COVID Vaccines

Misinformation continued to spread as the deadline for Tennessee National Guard soldiers, as well as soldiers across the United States, to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate by June 30, drew near and now has passed.

In an effort to better inform the public, The Tennessee Star has compiled the facts of what is now happening to soldiers in Tennessee and around the country.

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Gov. Bill Lee Inaction as COVID-19 Deadline Passes Angers Tennessee National Guard Members

As the final days and hours passed leading to the mandate deadline that requires 100 percent COVID-19 vaccine compliance by all federal personnel, including Tennessee Army National Guard members, Governor Bill Lee appeared to deflect when he spoke about his actual role in deciding the fate of those guardsmen, who are about to be fired due to their refusal of the injections.

The Tennessee Star confirmed the authenticity of a message it previously obtained from Lee’s office, which read:

We take seriously the religious and personal exemptions requested by members who are not part of the 93% who are vaccinated in accordance with DoD policy. We have no plans to terminate these members based on their status and have asked DoD to approve their individual exemption requests.

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Governor Lee Says ‘We’ll See’ as Hundreds of Tennessee National Guardsmen Are Set to Be Fired over Vax Mandate

Several outraged Tennessee National Guard members reached out to The Tennessee Star Wednesday morning immediately after Governor Bill Lee’s (R-TN) interview earlier in the day on Supertalk 99.7 on Nashville’s Morning News with Dan Mandis.

A message delivered by one guardsmen on behalf of several was simple: “We are even more outraged at Governor Lee’s lack of support and action than we were before he opened his mouth full of hot air on the radio. He doesn’t seem to care about us.”

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Tennessee COO and Potential Attorney General Brandon Gibson Refuses to Offer Support for National Guardsmen

Brandon Gibson, the rumored frontrunner to succeed Attorney General Slatery, Governor Bill Lee’s Chief Operating Officer for the state of Tennessee, refused to comment when The Tennessee Star asked her to comment on the pending firings of many National Guardsmen due to their refusal to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The Star reached out to Gibson on Monday morning.

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Tennessee Attorney General Asks Court to Allow State’s Heartbeat Law to Be Enforced Sooner While Awaiting Near-Total Abortion Ban to Become Effective

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced his office has asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the district court’s injunction and allow the state’s heartbeat law to go into effect as soon as possible.

The attorney general’s request to allow the state’s law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected – generally at six weeks’ gestation – is a temporary measure until, in 30 days, the state’s 2019 Human Life Protection Act, a law that bans most abortions at any time, except those to save the life of the mother, can be enforced.

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Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate JB Smiley Jr. Receives Endorsement from AFSCME Local 1733

 AFSCME Local 1733 endorsed Democratic candidate JB Smiley, Jr. on Monday to be the next Tennessee governor. 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the largest trade union of public employees in the United States. The group “believes that every person working to sustain their community deserves respect.”

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Butch Eley Exits Department of Finance and Administration, Lands New Role as Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner

Butch Eley, who has been Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) since 2020, has now been appointed Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

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Advanced Call Center Technologies Expected to Create 650 New Jobs with Expansion in Sullivan County

Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT) announced Monday it will establish new operations in Bristol and Kingsport, creating 650 new jobs in Sullivan County. ACT’s expansion in the region will create 350 new jobs at its Kingsport facility and 300 jobs in Bristol, according to a press release by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

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Commissioner Bob Rolfe Announces Departure from Department of Economic and Community Development

Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced his departure Tuesday from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) in order to enter the private sector, according to a press release by the department.

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Lee Signs Budget Appropriations Bill That Includes $500 Million for New Tennessee Titans Stadium

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an appropriations bill that includes $500 million toward a new Tennessee Titans stadium on Wednesday.

The bill is part of a $52.8 billion budget for the state. The $500 million in bonds for the domed stadium will require $55 million in annual payments.

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Ariens Company Investing $38 Million to Establish Manufacturing Operations in Lincoln County

Ariens Company officials announced Thursday that the company will invest $38 million to locate its new manufacturing and warehouse facility in Tennessee, according to a press release by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TDEC).

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Governor Bill Lee, Other Republican Governors Call for Federal Action on Baby Formula Shortage

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee led 18 other GOP Governors in a letter to President Joe Biden to call for federal action on the ongoing baby formula shortage.

The group produced examples of specific actions Biden could take in order to ease the burden on families across the country.

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Official Guest Host Aaron Gulbransen on Sources Claiming Brandon Gibson a Done Deal as Tennessee Attorney General

Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed new official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to have a discussion questioning the governor’s power to rubber-stamp an attorney general for the state of Tennessee.

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Lee Signs New Tennessee Public School Funding Formula into Law

A new funding formula for public education in Tennessee was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee on Monday.

Lee said “it’s long overdue that we make this change” before being joined by legislative leaders and Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn on the stage of Franklin High School, where Lee attended.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Approve Sales Tax Deal for New Chattanooga Lookouts Stadium

State sales tax funding for a new baseball stadium in Chattanooga was passed in the last week of Tennessee’s legislative session.

House Bill 2609 was approved 79-11 by the House and 28-0 in the Senate. It would allow the Chattanooga Lookouts to move to a new stadium in the city and retain a sales tax deal where the Lookouts keep the first 5.5% of the state’s 7% sales tax for sales at the stadium and would extend the deal to apply to non-baseball events at the stadium.

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Proposed Pennsylvania Law Would Make Drunk Drivers Pay Support to Children of Those They Killed

A newly proposed Pennsylvania law would require drunk drivers who cause deadly accidents to pay support to the children of those they killed.

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Pittsburgh) is currently seeking cosponsors in the House of Representatives for the legislation.

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Billy Worsham Appointed Chair of Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ Statewide Planning and Policy Council

Governor Bill Lee has appointed Billy Worsham to chair the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ (DIDD) Statewide Planning and Policy Council (SPPC) for the next two years, according to a press release by the department.

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Governor Lee Announces Passage of His Full Agenda and $52.8 Billion Budget

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee marked the close of the 2022 legislative session Friday, which included the passage of his $52.8 billion budget and full agenda as outlined during his State of the State address in February.

“Tennessee is America at Its Best, and we’ve made strategic investments to cut taxes, strengthen infrastructure and invest in education at every level to prepare our state for future growth,” Governor Lee said in a statement. “I thank Leader Johnson and Leader Lamberth for carrying key legislation, and commend the General Assembly for passing measures that will benefit Tennesseans and continue our state’s reputation for conservative fiscal management.”

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Tennessee Senate Passes Amended Campaign Finance Reporting Bill

Tennessee’s Senate passed a bill on Thursday that could require more reporting requirements for political action committees (PAC), candidates and some nonprofits.

An amended Senate Bill 1005 could require any PAC registering after July 1 to include a name and address from an ID for its officers if it becomes law.

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JC Bowman Commentary: ASD Is Still Not the Solution

The adage is that no one loves a warrior until the enemy is at the gates. We are the land of the free for one reason only: We are also the home of the brave. We need more people willing to stand up and bravely speak out on issues. However, it is not always about being right, it is about doing what is right. On that front, we need more warriors not afraid to do what is right and what is necessary.

Ronald Reagan, a man known for his wit, preferred humor to attack politics. Journalist H.W. Brands wrote: “Even those who disliked his policies had difficulty disliking him.” Brands also called Reagan the Republican Party’s “last hero, their last real vote-getter.”

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Governor Lee Joins Lawmakers in Sending Letter to Yale University After Student Mob Disrupts Free Speech Event

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee joined lawmakers at the state and federal level, as well as other prominent figures, in signing a letter asking Yale Law School to discipline a “vitriolic mob” that derailed a bipartisan panel on free speech at the campus in March.

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Tennessee Highway Patrol Welcomes New Out-of-State Troopers

On Thursday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced efforts to recruit out of state law enforcement to the Tennessee Highway Patrol have “netted early results as the administration focuses on proven crime prevention methods and addressing law enforcement staff shortages.”

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Tennessee Legislature Passes New Public School Funding Formula

A bill that will change the funding mechanism for Tennessee’s public schools passed the Legislature on the final day of session on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2396, known as the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement, could set up a new formula for Tennessee’s schools to be funded beginning in the 2023-24 fiscal year.

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Ultimate Linings, LLC Establishing Manufacturing Operations in Wilson County

Ultimate Linings, LLC officials announced Tuesday the company will relocate its chemical manufacturing facility from Bedford, Texas, to Lebanon, Tennessee, according to a press release by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

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Permobil, Inc. Expands Manufacturing Operations in Wilson County

Permobil, Inc. officials announced the company expects to invest $15.5 million to expand its manufacturing operations at the company’s North American headquarters in Middle Tennessee, according to a press release by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

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Governor Lee Proposes 30-Day Suspension of State and Local Grocery Sales Tax

On Thursday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced in a press release his proposal for a 30-day suspension of state and local grocery sales tax to provide “direct financial relief to Tennesseans amid surging inflation nationwide.”

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