State Senator Jack Johnson Describes the Job of Majority Leader in Tennessee Senate and Upcoming Agenda

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed State Senator Jack Johnson in studio to describe the senate majority duties, relationships and upcoming agenda in the Tennessee state senate.

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Tennessee House Committee Unveils State House Legislative Map

The Tennessee House Select Committee on Redistricting made public Friday its plan for new state House legislative districts.

The committee heard several publicly submitted plans and responses, along with the House Democrats’ plan, during Friday’s meeting before committee Vice Chair Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, introduced the committee’s plan.

The House must approve the plan during the General Assembly’s upcoming legislative session, which begins in January, before sending the plan onto the Tennessee Senate and Gov. Bill Lee for his signature.

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Tennessee Senate Killed ‘Anti-Riot’ Bill Protecting Drivers Who Unintentionally Hit Protestors Blocking Roads

After passage in the House, the Tennessee Senate killed a bill protecting drivers who hit protestors unintentionally and heightening charges for protestors blocking roads. The Senate deferred the bill to summer study last Tuesday. Prior to that, the legislation struggled to move forward in the Senate after action was deferred or delayed several times in committee.

The Tennessee Star reported in early March that State Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), the bill sponsor, called the legislation an “anti-riot” bill.

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Tennessee House Majority Leader Senator Jack Johnson Confident Anti-Critical Race Theory Bill Will Pass

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee House Majority Leader Senator Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to explain the expected passing of a caption bill that would put the guardrails on the teaching of critical race theory in K12 public schools.

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Tennessee Senate Rescinds Bill Amendment Allowing Colleges, Universities to Mandate Vaccines; Passes Bill

COVID Vaccine

The Tennessee Senate reamended a bill to strike an amendment allowing higher education to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Under the latest amended version of the bill, institutions of higher education may only mandate the vaccine for health care students. These public colleges or universities may enforce those mandates so long as they don’t own or control the health care facility. 

Essentially, the higher education mandate would only be necessary for certain students involved in a private health care facility that requires the COVID-19 vaccine. The amendment would apply to students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or any other health care profession.

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Tennessee Senate Says Colleges, Universities Can Still Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine in Bill Amendment

The Tennessee Senate amended a bill prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccines so that colleges and universities can still mandate it. The amendment came out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. 

The Senate was scheduled to take their final vote on the bill Wednesday, but they opted to conform to the House version of the bill and issue the amendment instead. The decision to temporarily postpone the final vote came from State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) after lengthy, heated debate occurred over the bill on the Senate floor.

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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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Tennessee Senate Reschedules Bill Requiring Police Oversight Boards to Undergo Citizen Police Academy, Will Vote Monday

The Tennessee Senate is scheduled on Monday to vote on whether local community oversight boards must undergo citizen police academy.

If passed, current community oversight board members will have until June 30 of next year to complete a citizen police academy or any similar program. After that, any members appointed after July 1 of this year will have one year. Any members who fail to complete the academy or similar program will have their voting powers revoked. Voting rights would be restored upon completion of the academy. 

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Tennessee Senate Passes Election Integrity Act Requiring Watermarks on Ballots

The Senate passed the “Tennessee Election Integrity Act,” which requires each county election commission to put watermarks on their ballots. Electronic absentee ballots would be exempt. The act received unanimous, bipartisan support.

Under the Tennessee Election Integrity Act, each county election commission must have their watermark approved by the state coordinator of elections. None of the publicly-available sample ballots will have the watermark. Additionally, signature verification of the voter on absentee ballots will no longer be considered the final verification necessary before counting the ballots – the approved watermark will be. If an absentee ballot is rejected, the official must write “rejected” across its face and include the reason for rejection.

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Tennessee Senate Passes Sentence Reduction Bill for First-Degree Murder

Reduced sentencing for first-degree murder passed the Tennessee Senate on Thursday. The bill as adopted by the Senate would allow life imprisonment sentences for first-degree murder to obtain release eligibility after serving 60 percent of 60 years less sentence credits earned, or 36 years which can be reduced to 25 years with sentencing credits. Although parole would be an option at that point, it wouldn’t be guaranteed.

A few types of criminals wouldn’t benefit from the proposed bill. Those serving life imprisonment without parole for aggravated rape of a child. Originally the bill excluded those who committed first-degree murder of a child, but an amendment to the bill dropped that provision. State Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixon) said that these changes weren’t “substantive” during the floor vote.

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Senate Passes Bill Exempting Individuals from Vaccinations as Requirement for Adoption or Foster Care

The Senate determined Thursday that those wishing to become adoptive or foster parents should be granted increased vaccine exemptions. This bill would still require that individuals and that individual’s household undergo vaccinations in order to either adopt or foster children 18 months of age or younger, or children with “significant documented medical needs.”

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, one mother named Kim Carter testified that she was denied foster care opportunities because her children weren’t fully vaccinated at the time. She added that her story wasn’t unique.

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Tennessee Stands Gary Humble Describes His Visits to the Tennessee Capitol Hill as a Grassroots Activist

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee Stands Gary Humble to the studio to outline what it’s like being a grassroots activist visiting Tennessee’s State Capitol and talking with legislators.

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Tennessee Senate Passes Bill Protecting Girls in Sports

The Senate passed a bill requiring proof of biological sex at birth for participation in interscholastic youth sports. This would, effectively, prohibit transgender individuals from joining sports teams of the opposite sex. This companion bill by State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) passed 27-6.

The bill was introduced initially by State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) several days after the general election. If passed, it will pose a direct challenge to President Joe Biden. Biden had declared that gender identity was a protected class under discrimination laws in one of his initial executive orders.
The bill, introduced by State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) several days after the general election, poses a challenge to one of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders. Biden had declared that gender identity was a protected class under discrimination laws.

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Full Tennessee Senate to Consider Bill to Allow First Responders to Choose Where They Live

Members of the Tennessee Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday voted to advance Senate Bill 29 to allow first responders to live where they choose, allowing the bill to be placed on the calendar Thursday for the Senate.

Sponsored by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), the legislation would ban residency requirements statewide for police officers and firefighters, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement. Kelsey said the bill is a matter of public safety and will allow police and fire departments to recruit top-tier first responder candidates, regardless of where they live. The lawmaker said, in particular, it will help Tennessee address a deficit of police officers occurring throughout the country.

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Tennessee Senate Approves Bill to Allow School Districts, Governor to Reopen Classes

The Tennessee Legislature is looking into giving local education districts more leeway to open or shut schools during public emergencies — or the governor the power to send students back to campus.

On Monday, Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) presented Senate Bill 103 to the full Senate. The bill passed the Senate as amended, 27-5.

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Tennessee Elections Ahead of November 3

With three days until Election Day, voting turnouts far surpassed 2016 records for early voting. Turnout jumped from about 273,000 the first day to nearly 2.3 million in under two weeks.
These numbers represent over half of Tennessee’s registered voters. More ballots are still forthcoming.

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Tennessee State Senate Hurriedly Approves Major Abortion Bill Just Before Legislature Adjourns, Gov. Lee Says He Will Sign into Law

Major pro-life legislation was approved by the Tennessee Legislature in Friday’s early morning hours just before legislators wrapped up their year.

Passage — and the end of the session — came as a surprise because Senate leaders had said they would not take the abortion measure up in this condensed year, according to a story by The Tennessee Journal: On the Hill. The publication also reported the Senate did this to persuade the House to back off of making changes to the budget proposal the Senate had approved.

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Letter to the Editor: Bill Hagerty’s Record Edges Dr. Manny Sethi’s Pledges

Before we cast a vote in an election, we should remember that we are not casting ballots in a popularity contest. We should not vote for someone because he is a nice person or because he seems to have good intentions. We will be voting for someone who will have the authority to make law. We should be voting for someone who most closely aligns with our values, who has a record that reflects the same, and knows how to get things done.

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Payroll Deduction Bill May Provide More Access to All Groups Representing Teachers

  Thursday morning the Tennessee Senate will consider a payroll deduction bill that will provide teachers with an option to get politics out of their paychecks. For many, it will also provide equal access to payroll deduction for dues payment for groups other than the increasingly liberal activism of the…

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McNally Re-elected Tennessee Lt. Governor and Speaker of the State Senate

State Sen. Randy McNally (R-TN-05) was re-elected to a second term as Speaker of the Senate, and thus Lieutenant Governor, Tuesday. State senators met at noon Tuesday, the first organizational day of the 111th General Assembly to elect their speaker, according to a press release from McNally’s office. By state…

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State Sen. Mark Green Announces Jan. 3 Resignation Date to Assume Congressional Seat

State Sen. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN-22) announced his resignation as Senator effective Jan. 3, 2019 to assume the U.S. Seventh Congressional District seat he won in the Nov. 6 election. That seat was previously held by Marsha Blackburn, who won the U.S. Senate race. Once Green resigns his State Senate…

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Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus to Choose Speaker/Lieutenant Governor, Senate Majority Leader, on Dec. 3

The Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus will meet on Monday, Dec. 3 to elect leaders for the 111th General Assembly. The meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. CST on the 8th Floor of the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville, the caucus said in a press release. The following offices will…

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Combatting Sexual Misconduct in the Classroom

The safety and well-being of students is the highest priority of any school. Any educator sexual misconduct or sexual abuse that involves children destroys trust and harms the entire school community.

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