Tennessee Ethics Complaint over Pro-Bobby Harshbarger PAC Texts Targeting State Sen. Jon Lundberg Referred to A.G. Jonathan Skrmetti

Harshbarger Lundberg

It was determined on Tuesday that Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti will receive a complaint against Tennessee State Senate candidate Bobby Harshbarger, the Republican primary challenger to Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol).

The complaint, originally filed by Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus Chair Ken Yager (R-Kingston) on April 25, alleges inappropriate collusion between political campaigns and the East Tennessee Conservatives PAC to send mass texts messages which allege Lundberg failed to adequately represent his conservative constituents on key votes.

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Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery Opposes Ballot Measure to Attorney General Confirmation from State Lawmakers

When speaking to the Nashville Rotary Club on Monday, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced his opposition to a measure that would require the attorney general’s confirmation to be approved by state lawmakers.

Arguing the potential requirement would turn the office into a “political office,” Slatery continued to support the appointment process by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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Tennessee General Assembly Passes Criminal Justice Reform Bills Allowing Community-Based Incarceration Alternatives, Increasing Parole Eligibility

Two of Governor Bill Lee’s criminal justice reform initiatives were passed unanimously by the Tennessee Senate on Wednesday. Once approved by the governor, the bills will expand community-based incarceration alternatives and parole eligibility, respectively.

The sponsors on the legislation were State Senators John Stevens (R-Huntington) for the former bill and Ken Yager (R-Kingston) for the latter. State Representative Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) was the House sponsor for both.

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Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment to Change Attorney General Selection Process

The Tennessee Senate passed a resolution to allow the General Assembly a say in the selection process for the Attorney General and Reporter for the state. If adopted, the amendment would transfer final decision-making on these two positions from the Supreme Court to the General Assembly. Under the amendment, the Supreme Court would nominate an Attorney General and Reporter. The legislature would have 60 days to vote on the nominees. If the vote doesn’t occur within 60 days, then the nominees are confirmed by default. The amendment would require a majority vote to confirm the nominees.

Additionally, the amendment would reduce the term length for both positions from eight years to six years. It also outlines that both individuals must be at least 30 years old, a citizen of the United States, an attorney licensed in the State, and a resident for at least five years preceding nomination.

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State Senate Advances Measure That Changes the Way Tennessee’s Attorney General Is Selected

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a resolution Tuesday that would change the way the state’s Attorney General and Reporter for Tennessee is selected.

Senate Joint Resolution 1 would make the current process for nominating the attorney general more transparent and give the Tennessee General Assembly a say in the selection through a change to the Tennessee Constitution.

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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 the successes of the past while charting a new course for the future. His words tonight lived up to the promise of his campaign. Governor Lee laid out a clear, coherent and conservative message which will resonate across all three grand divisions. I appreciated his emphasis on fiscal responsibility noting the importance of keeping debt low, our savings account balance high and our budget balanced. He is committed not just to growing our prosperity but sharing it with those portions of our state most in need. I am committed to working with him to expand educational opportunity, redouble our efforts on mental health and reform our approach to criminal justice. Together with Speaker Casada and the State House, we will help Tennessee lead the nation.” Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jack Johnson (R-TN-23) said: “I am glad to see Governor Lee’s budget reflects conservative budgeting and adds a record deposit to the rainy day…

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Two Proposed Amendments to the Tennessee Constitution Passed the First Hurdle in the Senate

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Two proposed amendments to the Constitution of The State of Tennessee easily passed the first hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted to advance two resolutions, which is the initial step in the Constitutional Amendment process, SJR0001 by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and SJR0003 by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains). Senator Yager’s resolution will amend Article VI, Section 5 of the Tennessee Constitution such that the selection of the State’s Attorney General and Reporter would be nominated by the Supreme Court and confirmed by the General Assembly. As currently provided for in the State Constitution, the Attorney General and Reporter is appointed by the judges of the Supreme Court. As Senator Yager explained to the Committee, his Amendment would provide more transparency by having the Attorney General and Reporter nominated by the Supreme Court in an open court with a recorded vote. Following the Supreme Court’s nomination, the Tennessee General Assembly would have 60 days to confirm. The confirmation must be in both the Senate and the House, separately and with a majority vote. In the event, the General Assembly is not in session when a nomination is made, the…

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Lt. Gov. McNally Announces Committee Appointments for the 111th General Assembly

Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the Senate Randy McNally (R-TN-05) on Thursday announced state Senate committee assignments for the 111th General Assembly. McNally praised his fellow members in announcing the assignments in a press release. “This Senate is made up of some of the smartest and strongest leaders with whom I have had the privilege to serve,” he said. “Each of our Senators could serve on any number of our committees and do well. I am grateful to have such a strong membership. I am confident we have assembled the best team to do the people’s business.” McNally was re-elected to his second term as Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate on Tuesday. Former Commerce and Labor Chairman Sen. Jack Johnson (R-TN-23) and former State and Local Chairman Sen. Ken Yager (R-TN-12) were elected Senate Majority Leader and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman respectively, leaving two committee chair vacancies. The resulting changes will elevate two Senators to chairman and give five committees new chairmen. McNally also re-appointed Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-TN-18) as the Speaker Pro Tempore and Sen. Janice Bowling (R-TN-16) as Deputy Speaker. The committee chairs are listed below, along with statements by McNally on each. A PDF in…

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State Sen. Ken Yager Pledges Opposition to School Vouchers

State Senator Ken Yager (R-TN-12) said he will not support school vouchers if they come up for a vote in the Tennessee Legislature in 2019, the Independent Herald of Oneida said. “I am opposed to vouchers,” Yager said. “I will not support any proposal that will cause a hemorrhage of needed funds to our schools.” “One of the arguments on behalf of vouchers is freedom of choice,” Yager said. “I happen to believe we already have that choice. It’s called parental choice. You can send your kids to charter school if you want to, or to a private school, or you can home-school them or send them to a public school. The choice is already there. Gov.-elect Bill Lee campaigned on school choice. Yager’s statement would appear to go against what Lee has said is a priority, but will Lee follow through on his campaign promise? On the Dec. 11 Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. – the men analyzed Lee’s cabinet picks and the absence of any conservatives. They also discussed whether Lee would honor his “school choice” campaign pledge.…

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Jack Johnson Elected State Senate Majority Leader by GOP Caucus

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – At the State Senate Republican Caucus meeting held Monday afternoon in an eighth floor conference room of the Cordell Hull Building, there was no obvious drama in the selection of its six leaders for the upcoming 111th General Assembly. The elections held off until Governor-Elect Bill Lee, after making his rounds greeting each of the Senators individually, made scheduled opening remarks that lasted about five minutes. He was introduced by Lt. Governor Randy McNally, who said Lee, elected by an overwhelming majority in both the primary and general is a man of faith and a conservative, concluding “I think we’re going to get along just fine.” Lee said it was an honor and humbling to be there with a remarkable group of public servants, many of whom he has built relationships with. Lee was complimentary of the leadership by those in the room, as well as the state House and the Governor, which has made Tennessee a remarkably good place to be by creating and laying a foundation that can be built upon so that all Tennesseans can enjoy a good job, good school for their kids and a safe neighborhood. From there, Senate Speaker Pro Tempore…

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Republicans in State Senate Did Not Support Bill To Secure Tennessee Voting Machines With Paper Ballot Audit Trail


When Democrat Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) sponsored a bill earlier this year that would provide greater vote security by requiring that before January 1, 2020, electronic voting machines have the capability to create a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for each ballot cast and that the VVPATs be preserved as paper ballots, the bill failed to advance because no Republican on the committee seconded the sponsor’s motion on the proposed legislation. Background The issue of election integrity continues to receive attention since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2017 notified 21 states that were targeted by hackers during the 2016 election, and the 2018 mid-term elections are viewed as targets for Russian interference. In February, it was reported that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” A “Report on Cyber Vulnerabilities in U.S. Election Equipment, Databases and Infrastructure” was an outcome of the 25th annual DEF CON hacker conference held in July 2017 in Las Vegas and, for the first time, featured a…

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