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 State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) to the newsmaker line to discuss Governor Bill Lee’s gun-grabbing special session and school choice legislation.
Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line right now our very good friend, state representative from Maury County, Scott Cepicky. Good morning, Representative Cepicky.
Cepicky: Good morning, Michael.
Leahy: Yesterday afternoon at about three o’clock, Governor Bill Lee put this tweet out after speaking with members of the General Assembly, calling for a special session on August 21st to continue our important discussion about solutions to keep the Tennessee community safe and preserve the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Did he speak with you as a member of the General Assembly about this special session idea?
Cepicky: Yes. We had a brief meeting the other day when he was signing the Duck River Bill about this special called session, and I gave them my thoughts and opinions on it.
Leahy: Can you share with us what those thoughts and opinions were?
Cepicky: Yes. I let the governor know that I would not support any type of red flag law. I would not support any type of gun confiscation or gun regulation. I would be willing to take a look at the current process we have for involuntary surrender of your firearms due to mental health issues that would go through the court process and due process, just to make sure that process is functioning efficiently.
And that’s the extent that I’m willing to look at this. I do not believe guns are the problem. I do believe that this is a mental health issue. I think it’s a mental health issue that we’ve self-created this crisis. The places where people would go for mental health help have all been evaporated and gone. And now we’re trying to medicate people back to mental health, and we may have some issues with that.
Leahy: When people tell Governor Lee, hey, if you hold a special session here in Nashville on August 21st, you’re just going to make the Tennessee General Assembly a target for all of the crazy left-wing Bolshevist trans activists around the country, and they’re going to descend upon Nashville and try to intimidate the Tennessee General Assembly and further besmirch the good name of the state of Tennessee. When people tell Governor Bill Lee that, how does he respond?
Cepicky: I have had some conversations with the governor and other people about the dangerous position that it could put the General Assembly in, and like you said, you’re talking about bringing a lot of the left-wing people here, General Assembly coming in on the special session is going to last maybe three to four days.
So you will make Nashville, Tennessee, the epicenter for all of the left ideology. Along with that, Michael, you know that there are going to be people out there that are concerned about their constitutional rights, and they will also be in Nashville at the same time. Both those volatile groups in the same area at the same time could lead to a possible disaster in Nashville.
Leahy: Does the governor not care about that?
Cepicky: No, I believe he does. I believe that he thinks that we need to take a look at this process that we have for involuntary surrender through due process. I think we might be a be in my opinion, we might have been better off holding hearings over the summer, allowing people to come forth with addressing shortcomings in the law.
And prevent solutions to a blue ribbon panel, so to speak, picked by the speakers and the governor, and then take a look at it through expert eyes that have been testifying to us, and then make a logical decision coming up in January. But that’s not what the governor decided. So we will address what the governor wants us to, and we will decide what’s best for Tennessee.
Leahy: That makes the most sense to me, what you just suggested. That’s common sense. And we’ll leave this, and we’ll come back to address what I think is this error made by Governor Bill Lee at another time.
Leahy: But let’s go to some of the accomplishments of this session, which I think we’re quite good actually.
Leahy: Significant and have been overshadowed by all of the expulsion brew haha, and this big charge by the left for gun control. But let’s talk about education savings account and vouchers. You made an accomplishment in the session this session, expanding it somewhat. Tell us a little bit about what was accomplished.
Cepicky: Yes, you’re right. So a couple of years ago, I think my first year in 2018, we made the push for educational savings accounts and we passed a bill very narrowly that limited it to Nashville and Shelby County, Memphis. And the problem is that program got enjoined in the courts right away and delayed that progress for about two and a half to three years, to where this is just the first year of the implementation of the program.
And we’re trying to get data on this, Michael, and we want to see if is this a possible solution for better outcomes for students that are trapped in failing schools. And so this year, we had Chattanooga, who asked to be included in that educational savings account, and also Knoxville. We weren’t able to secure Knoxville.
Some senators had some issues with it, so they took out Knoxville, but we were able to expand it to Chattanooga. Hopefully, now we can get a bigger database of kids that are taking advantage of this because their parents are wanting a better outcome, and get some real data to see how successful this can be for those students.
Because Michael, it’s all about making sure that these students have the best educational opportunity that they can and so that they can become the best educated and the best opportunistic citizens when they graduate high school so they can pick a career technical community college, four-year institution, or even serving the military.
Leahy: So my understanding is that the education savings account provides I think like $7,500 which the parents of students that are participating can direct towards the schools that they choose to attend, private schools, or others. And that so far, I guess like about 500 kids participated this year in Shelby County and in Davidson County.
It’s going to be expanded now to Hamilton County. Let me ask you this. In the next session of the General Assembly, not the special session, because that’s gonna be just focused on one topic. But in January, what are the prospects of expanding the education savings account voucher program beyond the three counties where it currently has been set up?
Cepicky: I think that’s the question that we probably need to be asking the new commissioner of education; if you look at her background from Excel Ed, it’s all about school choice vouchers and expansion of that.
When you read the Key Leads of Education right now, you can see that looks like she’s probably brought, been brought in to help usher in that type of program statewide, to give parents the options that when they’re in these failing schools that have been failing not only for one year, two years, but three, four, five, six, seven years, Michael, that these kids get an opportunity to get out of those failing schools and get a better opportunity.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this analysis:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Scott Cepicky” by State Representative Scott Cepicky. Background Photo “A Sad Person” by Pixabay.