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.

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Three Members of the Tennessee General Assembly Voice Support for Amy Coney Barrett

Three members of the Tennessee General Assembly co-signed a letter this week calling for the swift confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

This, they said, because of her support for limited government, free markets, and federalism.

The three Tennessee legislators — State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), and State Sen. Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro) — co-signed the letter alongside several other state legislators nationwide. The Arlington, Virginia-based American Legislative Exchange Council published the letter on their website Monday.

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UTK Law Professor Glenn Reynolds Talks to Legislative Ad Hoc Committee about Tennessee Governors’ Emergency Powers

University of Tennesse at Knoxville (UTK) Law Professor Glenn Reynolds on Thursday spoke to members of the Tennessee General Assembly about various topics, including a governor’s use of executive orders and the reasoning behind him having such power.

His appearance was before the Legislature’s Ad Hoc Committee to Study Emergency Powers.

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Joint Legislative Committee Will Meet to Study Emergency Executive Powers in Tennessee Thursday

The Tennessee General Assembly Joint Ad Hoc Committee studying emergency powers of the executive branch will include presentations from by retired U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch, Jr.

The meeting to be held at the legislature’s home of the Cordell Hull Building is scheduled for Thursday.

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Tennessee General Assembly Wraps up Extraordinary Session, Passing the Anticipated Legislation

The second session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly wrapped up Wednesday evening after passing the legislation called for in Governor Bill Lee’s proclamation.

Over the course of three legislative days, the state Senate and House passed measures related to COVID-related liability protection, expansion of telemedicine and criminal laws related to protests.

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Special Session Bills Move Through Tennessee Senate and House Committees

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.

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The First Day of Special Session Reveals Legislation That Will be Considered Regarding COVID-19 Liability, Telemedicine and Protesting

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.

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This Week’s Special Legislative Session Could Cost Tennessee Taxpayers More Than $100,000

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.

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Tennessee General Assembly Primary Results

While there were 115 Tennessee General Assembly seats open for Thursday’s primary, most went uncontested.  In fact, there was just a fractional 36 primaries yielding some surprising results.

In the Senate, all of the incumbents won their primary bid.

In the House, Representatives Micah Van Huss and Matthew Hill both lost their primaries.  Coupled with Representative Timothy Hill leaving the House to run in the U.S. House District 1 Republican primary, which he also lost, the representation of the northeast corner of the state will undergo dramatic changes.

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Gov. Lee Says Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust Should be Removed from the Capitol

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.  

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COVID-19 Liability Reform Measure Flounders in Tennessee

Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee looked like a sure bet to become the latest state to protect businesses and other organizations from lawsuits by people impacted by the coronavirus in the push to reopen the economy. Republican Gov. Bill Lee had talked up the change and touted his advocacy on tort reform as a businessman, and he had GOP lawmakers in supermajorities lined up to seal the deal.

That was before negotiations among lawmakers broke down so badly in the hectic waning hours of legislative work that the generally mild-mannered Senate Speaker Randy McNally accused two House leaders of working with “a cabal of Democrats and attorneys to defeat the legislation and place our entire economy in danger.”

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State Senator Jack Johnson on Laws Passed in Final Week of Tennessee’s General Assembly

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 Tennessee state Senator Jack Johnson in the studio.

At the end of the second hour, Johnson described the primary goal of the Tennessee General Assembly and what may lie ahead in the summer months noting that the budget was the primary issue that has been completed before adjourning.

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State House Passes Resolution to Address Adjourning with Unfinished Legislation

As Tennessee’s 111th Tennessee General Assembly wound down to adjourn, the House passed a resolution recognizing the need to address legislation passed by one chamber but left unfinished by the other.

When Tennessee’s 111th Tennessee General Assembly came back to their second session after the three-month COVID-19 recess, the Senate only wanted to take up bills that were budget-related, time-sensitive, or COVID-19 related, while the House planned to complete all of their work.

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Senator Kerry Roberts Talks About the Sudden Passing of the Fetal Heartbeat Bill and the Issue with the COVID-19 Liability Bill

Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 state Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).

During the third hour, Roberts weighed in on the recent Fetal Heartbeat Bill surprisingly passed at midnight in the Tennessee General Assembly this week. Roberts discussed the issues with the constitutionality of the COVID-19 Liability bill which would hold businesses harmless should anyone contract the virus after a visit to their establishment.

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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.

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Leahy and Senator Roberts Discuss a Potential Tennessee State Comptroller Takeover of Metro Nashville’s Budget

Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 State Senator Kerry Roberts in the studio.

At the end of the third hour, Leahy and Roberts discussed how the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office may need to step in as Metro Nashville’s un-balanced budget yields a 32 percent property tax increase and an increase in spending. The men agreed that this would not be an ideal situation for the city or comptroller.

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Bills Requiring Legislative Input for Refugee Resettlement Advance in Tennessee State House

Two separate bills that stipulate that the input of either the state or local legislative body is required with regard to the resettlement of refugees have moved through the House State Committee.

In other words, both proposed pieces of legislation prohibit Tennessee’s governor from acting alone in making decisions regarding refugee resettlement.

The proposals came about as the result of a series of events that occurred in late 2019.

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State House of Representatives Returns to Work, But Not to Normal

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – While the Tennessee House of Representatives returned to committee and subcommittee meetings this week, the situation was anything but normal.

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on March 19, after passing a limited number of bills and a reduced fiscal 2021 budget, in the interest of slowing the spread of COVID-19. At the time, the General Assembly was to stand in adjournment until June 1.

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Michael Patrick Leahy and State Senator Kerry Roberts Discuss What Tennessee General Assembly’s Agenda Will Be When It Reopens

Live from Music Row Tuesday 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. – Leahy was joined in the studio by Tennessee state Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).

During the second hour, Roberts disclosed that he was still unsure of what the Tennessee General Assembly’s agenda might be once it reopens next week. He added that the predicted models of the coronavirus have not materialized and that the pandemic has truly become a political tool and was in favor of staying and working but not unless the public was allowed.

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Tennessee Businesses Need Legislators Back in Nashville to Assist Them with COVID-19 Aftermath, Local GOP Leaders Say

Nearly 30 GOP officials from throughout Tennessee this week urged Gov. Bill Lee to end all COVID-19-related restrictions, and they also urged that the state’s General Assembly members return from their current recess.

They submitted an open letter this week requesting just that.

In their letter, they told Lee that while he is Tennessee’s chief executive “he is not the representative of the people.”

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Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts: ‘Every Worker is an Essential Worker’

Live from Music Row Tuesday 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. – Leahy was joined on the line during the program’s second hour by Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts.

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Republican State Senator Kerry Roberts Discusses the Possibility of the Tennessee General Assembly Reconvening in June

On Tuesday’s 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. – Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed his weekly regular guest and all-star panelist Tennessee state Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) to the newsmakers line.

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Vast Majority of Tennessee General Assembly Candidates Will Face No Opposition in 2020 Elections

In a list released last week from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office of the candidates for the Tennessee General Assembly, the vast majority will have no opponent in their party primary, the general election or both in 2020.

The list includes candidates who filed their nominating petitions as of the qualifying deadline of last Thursday, April 2 at 12 noon.

Candidates have one week, or until Thursday, April 9 at 12 noon, to withdraw.

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Governor Bill Lee Signs Several Election Bills Into Law

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed several election-related bills into law last week, which were passed by the General Assembly before it took a two-month recess caused by the coronavirus.

The most controversial bill signed by Lee scales back restrictions on community voter registration efforts that were put in place in 2019 by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The new bill removes “misdemeanor penalties for not completing certain administrative requirements” and eliminates fines for submitting an abundance of incomplete voter registration forms.

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‘Copeland Cap’ Hits Decade-Long High in Fiscal Year 2019-2020

A bill passed by the Tennessee General Assembly last week reveals that in fiscal year 2019-2020 the Copeland Cap, at $629 million or 3.6 percent, hit its highest level in more than a decade.

The legislation, which passed as HB2819 in both chambers on March 19 with only one “no” vote by Democrat Representative G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), was one of the four bills addressed in an expedited fashion to enact a bare bones budget before lawmakers recessed until June 1 amid the COVID-19 health crisis, The Tennessee Star reported.

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Tennessee General Assembly Continues Push to Wrap-Up Bills and Bare Bones Budget by Week’s End

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee General Assembly continued its push Wednesday to wrap-up bills deemed necessary and a bare-bones budget by the end of the week, and possibly as early as end of day Thursday.

In keeping with that, a total of 20 subcommittee and committee meetings were scheduled for Wednesday, 15 for the House and five for the Senate, in addition to a floor session for each chamber.

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Tennessee General Assembly Addresses Procedures and Bills Deemed Necessary to Pass a Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, Including Two That Raise Taxes

The Tennessee General Assembly adjusted schedules at the start of the week for Tuesday to address only those procedures and bills deemed necessary to fulfill the constitutional requirement of passing a balanced budget for fiscal year 2021, which runs July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

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An Unprecedented Day at the Tennessee General Assembly

In the wake of the developing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent declarations of emergencies by President Trump and Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee General Assembly experienced its most unprecedented day in its history.

Monday started with access to the Cordell Hull Building limited to elected members, staff and members of the media. Anyone arriving at the home of the legislature would have been greeted to taped signs on the locked doors reading, “This Property is closed to the Public. If you need Assistance Call 741-7860.”

Not surprisingly under the conditions, the hallways, lobby areas, and cafeteria were all but deserted.

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Leahy and Roberts Discuss Governor Bill Lee’s Pattern of Non-Consultation with Legislative Branch

  On Tuesday’s 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 State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) in the studio to discuss this week’s Tennessee General Assembly agenda. Towards the end of the…

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Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey Talks About His Constitutional ‘Right to Work’ Amendment

In an exclusive interview Tuesday 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 Michael Patrick Leahy spoke with Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) about his proposed constitutional amendment regarding “right to work.”

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State Rep. Gant Introduces Bill to Address Refugee Resettlement Issue

The Tennessee House of Representatives is considering a new bill aimed at stopping Gov. Bill Lee from allowing an influx of refugees without legislative approval.

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Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton Joins Leahy to Describe General Assembly Sentiments and Future Communications With Governor

On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report, Leahy and all-star panelist Carol Swain were joined on the newsmakers line by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

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State Senator Kerry Roberts Explains the Tennessee General Assembly’s Protocol and Personality

Live from Music Row Tuesday 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. – Leahy was joined in the studio during the program’s second hour by Tennessee state Senator Kerry Roberts.

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Possible Push Back from Tennessee General Assembly Against Gov. Lee’s Refugee Decision

During a specific discussion, Wednesday 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 all-star panelists Crom Carmichael and Carol Swain to the show.

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TDOT Reports Timing for Completion of 962 Road Projects Included in the Fuel-Tax-Increasing IMPROVE Act Going from 10 to 20-Plus Years

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials reported last week that the timing for the completion of the 962 projects totaling $10.5 billion included in the fuel tax increasing IMPROVE Act will now take 20 plus years instead of the 10 years originally estimated.

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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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Tennessee General Assembly Resolution Supporting Article 5 Convention to Consider Balanced Budget Amendment Finally Delivered to U.S. Senate

Although adopted by Tennessee state lawmakers on April 9, 2014, it was not until September 10, 2019 — just this past week — that House Joint Resolution No. 548 by State Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) was formally received by the United States Senate in Washington, D.C.

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Briley’s Sanctuary City Policy May Cost City $300K Federal Anti-Crime Grant

State officials are challenging Metro Nashville Mayor David Briley’s sanctuary city policy, saying the decision could cause the city to lose a $300,000 federal grant to process ballistic evidence, NewsChannel 5 said.

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Tennessee’s Legal Counsel Asks Entire Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to Reconsider Dismissal of Challenge to Refugee Resettlement Program

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) and Bursch Law PLLC filed a petition for rehearing by the entire Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals bench of a two-judge panel opinion dismissing Tennessee’s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program for lack of standing.

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Tennessee Railroad Crossings Pose Greater Danger to Drivers, Audit Critical of TDOT Says

Tennessee Department of Transportation officials did not properly handle complaints about faulty railroad crossings, and that could pose a threat to drivers’ lives, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

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Tennessee General Assembly’s Legal Counsel Considers Next Step Now that Judge Dismisses Appeal to End Refugee Resettlement Program

  The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the State of Tennessee’s appeal in which the General Assembly sought to ban the federal government from forcing Tennessee to accept and fund a refugee resettlement program. A copy of the court’s ruling is available here. A federal judge…

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‘Hands-Free’ Driving, Gas Tax Increase and Other Tennessee Laws That Go Into Effect Today

  The state legislature passed 513 Public Acts in the first half of the 111th General Assembly, many of which go into effect on July 1, 2019, and impact the general public like the “hands-free” driving law. The new “hands-free” law, as previously reported by The Tennessee Star, defines what…

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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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