Judson Phillips Commentary: Bill Lee Strikes Out Again

In October, something that has been very underreported happened.  It is something that Tennesseans should know about and be very worried about.

One of Governor Bill Lee’s pet objectives is criminal justice reform.  In October, while speaking to the GOP Senate Republican Caucus, Lee said, “We can empty our jails in the same way that some other states have done. I know we can do that.”

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Gov. Bill Lee Silent on Report His Decision Allows Federal Government to Send Middle East Refugees to Tennessee That Australia Has Refused

Gov. Bill Lee’s decision on December 18 to say yes to more refugees in Tennessee allows the federal government to resettle refugees from any country it wants into the state, including an estimated 300 to 720  refugees from Middle East countries that the government of Australia has refused to accept.

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Gov. Lee Has Not Made Decision on Whether to Refuse Refugees

Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday he hasn’t decided if he’ll accept President Donald Trump’s offer to let states refuse to accept refugees, U.S. News reported. The governor added he has not spoken to his team about how he will respond to this executive order.

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Gov. Lee Names Nine Members of Public Charter School Commission

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s education agenda continues to take shape with the recent appointments of nine members of a Public Charter School Commission.

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Gov. Lee to Provide Grants to Schools That Teach American History, Civic Values

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the launch of the Governor’s Civics Seal and mini-grant program to provide support and recognize schools and districts that prioritize teaching the nation’s history and civic values.

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Lawyer Activist Group Files Federal Court Injunction to Block Tennessee’s New Law Seeking to Stop Illegal, Incompetent Voter Registration Drives

A lawyer activist organization in Washington, D.C., is trying to block Tennessee’s efforts to secure its elections from fraud and incompetence by filing an injunction in federal court, but one political observer isn’t buying it, saying the law combats illegal registration efforts.

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State Reps. Ryan Williams, Cameron Sexton Join Race to Succeed Glen Casada as House Speaker

  The pieces are falling into place for the Tennessee GOP House Caucus to select the new speaker, with a couple of new faces entering the race this week. The caucus will meet July 24 to pick a nominee to replace disgraced outgoing Speaker and Rep. Glen Casada (R-TN-63) of…

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Franklin Lands Mitsubishi Motors Headquarters With 200 Jobs Moving Here Beginning in August

  Mitsubishi is saying “buh bye” to California’s high taxes and moving its headquarters to Franklin, multiple media outlets report. Mitsubishi was one of two final Japanese car manufacturers to have its headquarters in California, CNET said. Honda will be the lone Japanese holdout. Moving to Franklin will allow the…

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State Rep. Matthew Hill Seeks House Speaker Position

  State Rep. Matthew Hill (R-TN-07) said he will seek the Republican nomination for Speaker of the Tennessee House. The Jonesborough Republican, who is the Deputy House Speaker, made the announcement Wednesday at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, WJHL said. State Rep. Mike Carter…

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Gov. Lee Promises to Call Special Session if House Speaker Casada Does Not Resign

  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee promised to call a special session to remove House Speaker Glen Casada if he does not resign, following a no-confidence vote by House Republicans. Lee on Monday night tweeted, “Today House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if…

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House Speaker Casada’s Former Chief of Staff Accused of Bugging Legislative Committee Rooms, The Tennessean Says

  A newspaper claims that House Speaker Glen Casada’s former chief of staff once bragged to a reporter that he had bugged legislative committee meeting rooms and now a Democratic leader is calling for an investigation. Joel Ebert of The Tennessean reported last week that the ex-chief of staff, Cade…

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Tennessee House Speaker Casada Pledges Cooperation with District Attorney General’s Conference Investigation

  Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada is moving to handle the continued fallout over revelations that include allegedly inappropriate text messages involving him and former chief of staff Cade Cothren. Casada said he directed the Speaker’s office to cooperate with a District Attorney General’s Conference investigation of an email from…

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Gov. Lee Plans to Allow Online Sports Gambling Bill to Become Law Without Signing It

  Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to let an online sports gambling bill become law without signing it, multiple news outlets are reporting. The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill reported: “The governor has said he does not believe that the expansion is best, but he recognizes that many in the…

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Bill Strengthening Protections Against Female Genital Mutilation Awaits Gov. Lee’s Signature

  A bill that strengthens Tennessee’s protections against female genital mutilation (FGM) is headed to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature after the Legislature approved the measure. The national EndFGMToday campaign issued a press release congratulating Tennessee lawmakers. The advocacy organization said the bill will provide additional protections for women…

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Online Gambling Bill Has Bipartisan Support in Tennessee General Assembly, Little Opposition

Bipartisan legislation that would legalize online gambling in Tennessee is headed to crucial votes in State House and Senate Committees on Tuesday.  The House sponsor, Rep. Rick Staples (D- Knoxville), has said his proposal to legalize sports gambling for those 21 and older will allow only mobile and interactive wagers,…

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Creative Math By Knox County Schools and Gannett Reporter Imply State Cut District Spending By $6M When In Fact Contribution Increased By That Amount

A Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter last week shared the local school superintendent’s creative math to accuse Gov. Bill Lee of cutting education spending by nearly $6 million, when in fact the state’s BEP contribution had increased by that amount. On April 1, reporter Tyler Whetstone tweeted, “New today – @GovBillLee‘s BEP…

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DeVos Visits Nashville for Roundtable Discussion, Visit with Charter School Ranked as One of State’s Leaders in Academic Growth

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is hosting U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in Nashville Monday. The visit by DeVos will begin with a roundtable discussion with families, educators, stakeholders and local elected leaders, according to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Education. That roundtable discussion will be closed…

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Final Details of Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Released

Tennessee students in urban cities could start escaping failing schools in fall 2021 as Gov. Bill Lee has pulled the curtain back on his education savings account (ESA) plan, with legislative action planned for Tuesday. Some say the math does not add up. Lee would spend up to $75 million…

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Governor Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Will Offer School Choice to Less Than One Percent of Tennessee Students in 2020

Gov. Bill Lee is moving forward on his campaign pledge of school choice in the form of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) available in 2020, although only about one-half of one percent of the state’s students would qualify to participate in the program’s first year. The governor delivered his first State…

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Republican Senate Leaders Praise Gov. Lee’s ‘Conservative’ Budget in State of the State Address

Reactions poured in from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s first State of the State and budget address, which was delivered Monday night. The responses included statements by three Republican Senate leaders. Lt. Gov. and Sen. Randy McNally (R-TN-05) said: “In his first State of the State address, Bill Lee rightly pointed out…

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Gov. Bill Lee Announces Criminal Justice Reform Proposal, May Include Free College Education for Felons in Prison

“Free” college education is all the rage, and now it appears that felons are joining in as Gov. Bill Lee proposes to use taxpayers’ money to pay their way to a degree. Lee’s plan could join other “free” education programs. In December Metro Nashville announced a program to spend millions…

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Liberal Media Outlet Casts Wide Net to Unearth College Yearbook Photo From 1980 Showing Gov. Bill Lee Dressed in Confederate Uniform at Party

Liberal media chain Gannett has dug up a 39-year-old university fraternity yearbook photo showing a young Bill Lee dressed in a Confederate uniform, multiple media outlets have reported. WREG reported that Gov. Bill Lee’s office told the station he has regrets and never intended to hurt anyone. The photo from…

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Rep. Steve Cohen Does Not Like Gov. Lee’s Plan to Expand Vocational Opportunities Using Lottery Funds

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) doesn’t like Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to expand high school vocational offerings using lottery proceeds. Lee unveiled his first legislative plan Tuesday. Information on the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) is available online here. “We have the opportunity to help students discover quality career…

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Gov. Bill Lee Hikes Salaries for ‘Lowest’ Paid Cabinet Members to Minimum of $161,905

Working as a Cabinet member for new Gov. Bill Lee has its perks – 15 of the department heads are getting raises, the Associated Press reports. AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi on Monday tweeted, “Lee gives some pay raises to cabinet members #tnpol”. Lee gives some pay raises to cabinet members…

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Gov. Lee Says He Would Support Efforts to Ban Abortions Following Detection of Fetal Heartbeat

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he will support efforts to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy. Lee’s comments join those of senior lawmakers in the Legislature, NewsChannel 9 said. Generally speaking, the new governor told reporters Wednesday he will…

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Former Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, with Past Federal Allegations of Prisoner Mistreatment, Takes Assistant Director Job at Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security

Terry Ashe, the former 30-year-long Wilson County sheriff, reportedly has accepted a job with Gov. Bill Lee’s office. Ashe took a job as deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security in mid-January, according to a story by The Lebanon Democrat. Ashe also works as a Wilson…

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Bill Lee Delivers First of Many Planned Video Addresses From Family’s Franklin Ranch to Summarize His Work as Governor

Last week, Gov. Bill Lee gave what he called a “Friday Afternoon on the Farm” video address on Twitter to celebrate his first week in office and provide a brief update on his work. The video, just over a minute in length, is available here on his official governor’s Twitter…

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Gov. Lee’s First Executive Order Directs Departments to Lay Out Plans to Better Serve Rural Counties

Bill Lee on Wednesday announced his first executive order as Tennessee’s 50th governor, aimed at improving the state government’s “impact” on rural areas. He tweeted, “I’ve said that rural TN is one of my top priorities. Today I’m pleased to announce Executive Order No. 1, which begins to address improving…

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Rep. Green, Senators Blackburn, Alexander Back Trump Immigration Compromise Offer Which Pelosi Has Dismissed

At least three members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation came out in support of President Donald Trump’s offer Saturday to end the government shutdown with a compromise on immigration. U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green issued statements of support for Trump’s proposed compromise.…

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Inclement Weather Forces Gov.-elect Lee to Move Inauguration Service Inside to War Memorial Auditorium

Today’s forecast of inclement weather with rain, strong winds and possible lightning caused Gov.-elect Bill Lee to move his inauguration inside War Memorial Auditorium from the traditional site of Legislative Plaza. Lee said on Facebook,”Due to inclement weather, the Inaugural Ceremony has been moved to War Memorial Auditorium. View the…

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Poll Shows School Choice Has 67 Percent Support Among Likely 2020 General Election Voters

Latinos and Millennials are among the demographics who most strongly support school choice, the fifth annual National School Choice Poll says. The American Federation for Children, which advocates for educational choice, and Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm, announced the poll results Thursday. More information on the poll is available…

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Governor-Elect Bill Lee Appoints Commissioners of Health, Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, General Services

Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee on Thursday announced appointments to his Cabinet for the Department of Health, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of General Services. “We have been committed to building a team that represents each Grand Division and I am pleased to add appointees who…

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Governor-Elect Bill Lee Appoints Commissioners of Transportation, Environment, Human Resources

Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee on Tuesday announced three appointments to his Cabinet: for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Human Resources. The new commissioners are: • Clay Bright – Department of Transportation • David Salyers – Department of Environment and Conservation • Juan Williams–…

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All-Star Christian Music Lineup to Lead Worship Service for Bill Lee’s Gubernatorial Inauguration Saturday

Bill Lee’s gubernatorial inauguration Saturday will include some leading Contemporary Christian musicians, including his old friend Michael W. Smith. The 2019 Inaugural Worship Service will feature Michael W. Smith, CeCe Winans, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nicole C. Mullen, Matthew West and others, the governor-elect’s team said on his transition website. The…

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Governor-Elect Lee Appoints Judge Brandon Gibson as Senior Advisor

Tennessee Governor-Elect Bill Lee announced his appointment Wednesday of Court of Appeals Judge Brandon Gibson to serve as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Governor, a cabinet-level position. “Brandon is a principled conservative with deep rural roots in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “She is widely…

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Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill Critiques Governor-Elect Bill Lee’s Personnel Picks on Fox 17 News Program

Steve Gill, Political Editor of The Tennessee Star, appeared as a panelist Sunday on Fox 17 News’ In Focus and pointed out a problem with Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s cabinet picks. Watch the full segment here. The show was hosted by Scott Couch and Harriet Wallace. Other guests were Holly McCall, chairwoman…

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