Tuesday, Governor Bill Lee announced that Tennessee will have an additional $580 million invested into various budget initiatives. The amended budget will cover investments in K-12 and higher education, rural communities, safety initiatives, economic development, transportation, and additional tax cuts.
In a press release, the governor’s office shared that this was made possible through “fiscal prudence.” The Tennessee Star inquired with Lee’s office as to what those measures were that allowed these available funds to accrue. Their spokespersons didn’t respond to request for comment by press time.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed former (D) State Rep. John DeBerry to the newsmakers line to talk about how his new role as Sr. Advisor to Governor Lee, his pastorship, and establishing lines of communication with state lawmakers, officials, and the Biden administration.
Governor Bill Lee hosted a roundtable to discuss criminal justice reform on Wednesday, as part of a national conservative campaign called “Right on Crime.” The discussion centered on the general agreement that rehabilitation should be emphasized more for prisoners. No specifics were offered during the roundtable.
On the call were Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Speaker of the House; Pat Nolan, Director Emeritus of the American Conservative Union Foundation Nolan Center for Justice; Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas and former Trump Administration U.S. Secretary of Energy; Brook Rollins, former Trump Administration acting director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council and former president and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation; and Josh Smith, a member of Lee’s Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force.
The Tennessee House passed the bill allowing permitless open or concealed carry, dubbed the “constitutional carry bill.” It will head to Governor Bill Lee’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed.
Under the bill, anyone 21 and older could lawfully carry without a permit, for both open and concealed carry. These provisions would only apply to handguns. A slew of House amendments proposed to the bill were withdrawn.
The Educational Media Foundation (EMF) announced it would be moving its global headquarters from Rocklin, California to Nashville, Tennessee. EMF is the parent company to popular contemporary Christian radio networks K-LOVE and Air1, as well as Christian content producers AccessMore podcasts and WTA Media.
EMF stated that the transition would take about three years’ time. In its announcement, EMF clarified that it had also made small preparations for this move in advance, such as the expansion of broadcast studios and offices for the companies already based in the state.
For about a year now, both the Tennessee National Guard and Tennessee State Guard (TNSG) have been mobilized for COVID-19 efforts – which now includes vaccinations. The Tennessee National Guard began assisting with COVID-19 testing on April 1 following the tornado cleanup efforts, while TNSG joined in nearly a week later. Since December, both of the guards began transitioning to begin assistance with vaccine administration throughout the state.
Established by the General Assembly in 1887, The Tennessee National Guard differs from the TNSG in that the latter is composed of volunteers underneath the state. That means that TNSG answers to Governor Bill Lee. Unlike the Tennessee National Guard, TNSG can’t be federalized or deployed outside of the state. The Tennessee National Guard can because it’s part of the U.S. Army and National Guard. Both are branches of the Tennessee Military Department.
Governor Bill Lee’s newly-proposed legislation wants to prohibit Confucius Institutes in Tennessee – but what if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rebrands and repackages it? A new report surfaced detailing the Confucius Institute’s quiet rebranding of their K-12 Confucius Classrooms under the name “Chinese Language Partner Network.” The change occurred around August or September of last year, according to archived screenshots of the affiliated Asia Society webpage. It coincided with previous President Donald Trump’s policy for Confucius Institute transparency – which President Joe Biden revoked quietly days after inauguration. As of this report, the webpage still lists the existing Confucius classrooms under the rebranded name.
Lee’s proposed legislation, the Transparency in Foreign Investment Act, only deals with Hanban – an abbreviation for the CCP Ministry of Education’s Office of Chinese Language Council International, also known as the Confucius Institute Headquarters. The act doesn’t address Hanban’s close affiliation and, arguably, biggest assistant in expanding their reach: the Asia Society, a New York-based nonprofit that works with both the CCP and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to expand Chinese language courses in American schools. Since establishing its Confucius Classroom Network in 2010, the Asia Society has worked with Hanban to expand Confucius Classrooms.
A maskless Governor Bill Lee visited downtown Nashville to encourage tourism and support the local businesses. Lee didn’t acknowledge the Metro government’s ongoing mask mandate, which has been in effect since last June.
“Hey everybody, Governor Bill Lee here down on Broadway in downtown Nashville,” said Lee. “I’m glad that you are here for the SCC tournament or whether you’re a spring breaker just about to be here, or someone looking for a place to come this summer – Tennessee is open for business! I’m about to go down to some of my favorite businesses, get me a pair of boots, might get me something to eat. I hope that you will come down and get you some boots and you something to eat in downtown Nashville soon!”
Tens of thousands more Tennesseans will be getting expanded broadband access soon, thanks to nearly $15 million in grants. Governor Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced this latest funding through the Broadband Accessibility Grant program in a joint press release on Friday.
The press release indicated that the grants would cover over 7,000 homes and businesses, which would impact just under 18,000 citizens. 13 providers were issued the grants in total. Counties impacted by the grants are Grainger, Coffee, Bledsoe, Roane, Obion, Lawrence, Benton, Hancock, Lauderdale, Bedford, Marshall, Meigs, Cumberland, and Weakley. TNECD has allocated nearly $60 million in broadband expansion grants to date.
Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Carol Swain to the newsmakers line to discuss several of President Trump’s refugee resettlement executive order and suggests how Tennessee should respond.
If local officials decide on emergency school closures in the future, Tennessee’s governor may have the power to override them. This, according to a bill recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. Its companion bill in the House was passed on first consideration on Monday, gaining a little progress since its filing last month.
The bill would also grant all local education authorities (LEAs) with the sole power to open or close schools during an emergency as defined by the Tennessee Code. However, if the governor, local health board, or public health official were to issue orders to the contrary, then the LEA’s decision would be nullified. The bill also noted that the governor’s authority would supersede the authority of local health boards and public health officials.
Several state representatives and senators have proposed a bill to review the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. According to the bills, if Congress doesn’t affirm an executive order and isn’t signed into law, then the joint government operations committee of Tennessee’s General Assembly would review whether the order overextends its scope of authority. Upon concluding their review, the committee would decide whether to recommend the Tennessee Attorney General and Governor to reexamine or seek an exemption from the order.
Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations.
Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to the studio to weigh in on Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address and the rapid development of Tennessee.
Despite the past year’s events, Governor Bill Lee had plenty of good news for Tennesseans in his State of the State Address. The General Assembly appeared to agree with the governor’s assessments – at many points throughout the address, their socially-distanced, masked audience rose to applaud Lee.
“Scripture has a lot to say about those crossroads and what to do on the heels of suffering. Where do we find promise in this season?” opened Lee. “The promise is found in perseverance which produces character that leads to hope. Tennesseans will know tonight that tragedy has no hold on who we are or where we are headed. Tragedy won’t define us, it won’t rob us of the opportunity that 2021 holds.”
Amazon will establish its eighth fulfillment center in East Tennessee, creating 800 full-time employees “to engage with advanced robotics.” Governor Bill Lee issued the announcement on Wednesday in a joint press release with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and Amazon spokespersons.
Located in the city of Alcoa, the distribution center will overtake property that was once a local golf course by Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway. According to a press release issued by the county’s development cooperative, Blount Partnership, employees will receive a starting wage of $15 an hour with full benefits and other perks, including 20 weeks of maternal and parental paid leave.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a series of legislation to reopen schools and improve learning losses and literacy. The measures passed will establish phonics as the primary method for reading instruction, mandate third-grade students read on grade level before graduating to fourth grade, establish tutors and summer learning camps for students who fell behind in certain subjects, and remove accountability for standardized testing results. An additional bill concerning the state budget will fund 4 percent teacher raises.
As reported previously by The Tennessee Star, the General Assembly convened the special session to prioritize the state’s flagging education system due to pandemic-related closures. The session was called per the request of Governor Bill Lee last month.
Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed TN (R) Senator Paul Bailey to the show to discuss the upcoming special session and legislative session in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles is calling on the Tennessee General Assembly to dump any state-held equity and debt in the Big Tech companies over their “war on freedom of speech.”
Ogles made the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday, available here. It is addressed to Governor Bill Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and the other members of the Legislature.
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.
Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the American Federation for Children’s Tennessee State Director Shaka Mitchell to the newsmakers line to discuss the pending lawsuit for Governor Lee’s new education savings account pilot program.
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.
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.
Governor Bill Lee has officially extended the state of emergency for the remainder of 2020. The executive order followed Lee’s own quarantine due to exposure from the coronavirus. The extension of the order means that Tennessee will receive further federal funding, mayors can continue to implement their own guidelines, and government officials can continue to meet virtually.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased this month, more Tennessee counties are re-issuing mask mandates. Tennessee has nearly 250,000 confirmed cases, 88 percent of which have recovered. Montgomery County issued the most recent mask mandate on Tuesday. Other counties with mandates include Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford, and Sumner. These mask mandates adhere to guidelines issued under Governor Bill Lee.
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.
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.
Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to discuss Mayor Cooper’s dishonest corruption of the people of Nashville.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Several bills addressing the issues outlined in Governor Bill Lee’s proclamation for an extraordinary session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly were taken up in Senate and House committee meetings Tuesday.
The call for the special session limited the legislation that could be taken up to COVID-related liability protection for persons and entities, electronic delivery of health-related services, protection of private and public property and personnel as well as the appropriations related to the legislation passed during the special session.
The first day of the Tennessee General Assembly’s special session Monday called by Governor Bill Lee, revealed the legislation related to COVID-19 liability, telemedicine expansion and protesting that will be considered.
Only legislation related to the topics specifically contained in the governor’s proclamation can be considered during the special session, which began at 4 p.m. on Monday with both the House and Senate going into a floor session.
The special session of Tennessee lawmakers scheduled for the week of August 10 will likely cost Tennessee taxpayers more than $100,000.
Legislators were called to the special session by Governor Bill Lee through an August 3 proclamation to address three issues, the first two which could have been addressed during the previous legislative session.
Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed former public affairs strategist Clint Brewer to weigh in on the Tennessee Valley Association and Governor Lee’s call for a special session.
Tennessee lawmakers will return to Nashville on August 10 for a special session to consider legislation to provide COVID-19-related liability protections for health care providers, businesses and schools.
Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation Monday afternoon calling for the legislative special session.
State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee on Friday questioning why Tennessee was not sharing data with the U.S. Census Bureau that would help estimate the number of illegal aliens living in Tennessee.
The issue arises out of President Trump’s memorandum this week to the Secretary of Commerce that excludes illegal aliens from the apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives that follows the decennial census.
272,000 legal immigrants arrived in the United States during 2016 with an entitlement to the full menu of welfare programs, just like any U.S. citizen, attendees were told at the Conservative Caucus in Murfreesboro on Saturday.
The information was presented by one of the afternoon’s speakers, Don Barnett, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies who has followed refugee resettlement for over 20 years.
Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the former state Senator and President of FACT, David Fowler to discuss the legal implications of Governor Lee’s mask executive order.
Live from Music Row Friday morning on The 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. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Baigert weighed in on the recent meeting where Governor Lee decided to remove the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol. She found it particularly interesting that it was known and attended by protesters and other local media however seemed to forget notifying The Tennessee Star.
Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The 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. – host Leahy welcomed Dr. Carol Swain to the studio.
At the end of the second hour, Swain questioned the science behind Governor Lee and Mayor Cooper’s mask mandates suggesting that it appears that conservatives are the target of citations.
After Governor Bill Lee weighed in on the State Capitol Commission (SCC) vote regarding the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the second floor of the State Capitol, by a 9 to 2 vote the body complied with his request.
The original motion of removing just the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest was amended to include the monuments to two of Tennessee’s other military heroes, Admirals David Farragut and Albert Gleaves.
Governor Bill Lee, on the eve of a vote by the State Capitol Commission (SCC) on the fate of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust, said it should be moved from the second floor of the State Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum.
The consideration of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust is the only item up for discussion by the SCC WebEx meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 9, according to the agenda.