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 Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) in studio to discuss recent legislation that has passed quickly in the Tennessee Legislature.
Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones, our very good friend, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Jack.
Johnson: Good morning, Michael. Good to be back with you.
Leahy: And we are good friends. We’ve been friends for a long time.
Johnson: We have.
Leahy: We don’t always agree on politics. I remember you were a Marco Rubio fan and I was more of a Trump guy back then, but that’s a minor little political difference.
Johnson: Oh yes.
Leahy: But we’ve been friends for a long time, and I live in Williamson County, but you don’t represent me anymore. I’m in that little bit of Williamson County, represented by State Senator Joey Hensley now.
Johnson: Yes. And you got a great state senator, by the way. Joey is a great friend and does an amazing job with all the growth in Williamson County. It was too big to be a senate district, so we had to, I had to give some constituents down to him. But there he is, a great senator for you.
Leahy: It’s been boring up there at the State Capitol.
Johnson: Oh gosh. It’s been a sort of slow news quarter since January.
Leahy: Lots of controversies. How much longer will the Tennessee General Assembly this session of it, and when will it adjourn?
Johnson: We have mapped out a schedule, Michael, to hopefully adjourn on Friday. This Friday. In a couple of key milestones. I will be presenting the state budget today in our Senate Finance Ways and Means committee. And that’s obviously the most important thing we do.
Our only constitutional requirement is to pass a budget, and we’ve got a good budget this year. I’ll be presenting that in committee, and hopefully, we’ll pass it out this afternoon and then have it on the floor tomorrow.
Leahy: I think I read somewhere that there are no floor sessions today for the House. I don’t know about the Senate but it’s committees today. And then are the floor sessions for the Senate and House tomorrow?
Johnson: No, actually, we do have a floor session today in the Senate; the House does not. They’re a little bit behind us because their process is a little bit slower. They’ve got quite a few more bills in the hopper that they need to address, both in the committee and on the floor.
Leahy: Jack, we’ve talked about having a camera in studio. When you said they’re a little bit behind us, I saw a little slight smile there. (Laughs)
Johnson: They’ve had some distractions in the House.
Leahy: Expulsion, bruh, haha.
Johnson: They’re doing a great job over there, though. They’ve got a lot on their hands.
Leahy: It’s been actually substantively, it’s been a pretty substantive session in terms of legislative accomplishments.
Johnson: It has. And in all seriousness, it saddens me because there has been a lot of noise. There have been a lot of distractions, I think, that have taken the attention away. We have had a really good productive session when you look at what we’ve accomplished relative to school safety.
I always mentioned that was a big topic of conversation before the tragic events at Covenant. But when you look at SB 1, SB 3, which we’ve talked about when you look at the bill we passed on…
Leahy: Tell people what these are.
Johnson: I’m sorry. Senate Bill 1, the bill that I sponsored to prevent transgender surgeries on minors. We don’t need to be doing that, to kids.
Leahy: That was a major bill. And it passed. It’s signed as a law now.
Johnson: It’s the law right now. That’s correct.
Leahy: And it really set the tone for the country.
Johnson: Yes, it did. I think, and I like it when Tennessee can be a leader. We had Senate Bill 3, which banned adult-themed, explicit entertainment in front of kids. And again, another model act. In fact, I love it when my staff tells me that other states are copying our bill versus now.
Leahy: There’s litigation involved in that.
Johnson: There is, yeah, there is. And it’s not unexpected that there would be litigation there. But our attorney general is gonna defend our bill, and hopefully, we’ll be successful.
Leahy: Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.
Johnson: What a rock star!
Leahy: The best state attorney general in the country.
Johnson: He is. Unbiased view. He is, he’s doing an amazing job and really a great working relationship, which we had with our former attorney General as well. Jonathan, I think, has really taken that office to a new level.
Leahy: You also passed the transportation bill, right?
Johnson: Yes. And again, a lot of conversations about choice lanes or whatever. There’s so much more to that bill. It’s truly a substantive bill. $3.3 billion that we appropriated to help address our congestion issues. And Michael, not a single tax raise and not a single dollar was borrowed in order to do that. We’re in a fiscal condition where we can do that without taking on any debt.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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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 “Jack Johnson” by Jack Johnson. Background Photo “Tennessee Senate Chambers” by Kenneth C. Zirkel. CC BY-SA 4.0.