State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Just Signed Two Bills That Will Protect Children in the State

Mar 3, 2023

Live from Music Row, Friday 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. – guest host Gulbransen welcomed Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Williamson County) to the newsmaker line to talk about the laws Governor Bill Lee signed Thursday that protect children in Tennessee.

Gulbransen: On our newsmaker line, the State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. A good friend of the show. A good friend of mine. How are you this morning?

Johnson: Good morning, Aaron! Good to be with you. Great to hear you on the radio guest hosting for Michael.

Gulbransen: It’s always fun when he announces I always joke and say, well, now you know when to tune out. But we’re having a good time this morning. The state of Tennessee, and I think our children of Tennessee, you were the common denominator between SB 1 and SB 3 and House versions HB 1 and HB 9 since you were the sponsor of the Senate versions, I’ll let you explain what they are in a second.

And people have heard it before, but they can always hear it again. You, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson I want to give you the credit because I’ve seen in certain little corners of the internet where people have praised the legislation and they declined to credit the people doing the good work on these two bills.

So you deserve all the credit in the world for getting it done. And, of course, Leader Lamberth and Representative Chris Todd as well. Great job! What happened yesterday that people should be aware of on those two bills?

Johnson: Well, thanks, Aaron. I appreciate that. It’s been a very big, big week in Tennessee. I would go so far as to say a monumental week because two very important pieces of legislation did become law as of yesterday afternoon. And you referenced Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 3, House Bill 1, and House Bill 9.

Two very important bills to protect children in the state of Tennessee. And let me also say thank you for the acknowledgment of my being the sponsor of those bills. Very proud to do so. That’s not why we do it. I don’t really care who gets the credit.

It’s far more important that we get good public policy passed in the state of Tennessee. So thank you for that. I will also say it’s a team effort. No one individual can get anything done up there. Yes, I was the prime Senate sponsor of these bills, but you know, you’ve gotta work with a great House sponsor.

And I had great House sponsors on both of these bills and leadership and everything else. In a nutshell, you’re right. We’ve talked about it on this show a good amount. Senate Bill 1 was the bill to protect children from irreversible surgical and medicinal procedures relative to gender dysphoria.

Basically, if a little boy or a little girl like 13, 14, or 15 years old, and if they’re struggling with gender identity issues they should be treated. They should be loved, they should get mental health treatment and psychotherapy. But we should not start cutting off body parts if they have issues with their gender identity.

There’s a very good chance they will outgrow that once they reach adulthood. So by no means should we do things that cannot be undone. So we banned that process in Tennessee. You can’t do these things that are irreversible to children. That bill was signed by the governor yesterday afternoon.

Senate Bill 3, you just simply can’t do things that are sexually explicit in front of kids. And it’s sad that we even have to contemplate legislation for something like this, but sadly we do. That bill was passed this week. The governor signed it as well yesterday afternoon.

So now in Tennessee, it is simply illegal to do something that you might see in a strip joint, or you might see in an adult bookstore or any type of adult-oriented entertainment. No longer will we see that type of entertainment taking place in a public park or any venue where kids might be present.

Gulbransen: I have seen, and I, and I know you’ve seen it too, a lot of people have seen how the left has tried to basically slander both pieces of legislation. Why do you think that is?

Johnson: I think it’s very curious, especially with regard to Senate Bill 3, which again, the bill does not mention drag or drag shows. I never once uttered those. While presenting the bill in the senate, committee, or on the floor. Others did. Others tried to make it about drag.

So I do find it curious though, Aaron, that you sponsor legislation that says, you know what, you shouldn’t be able to simulate sex acts in front of children in a public place. You shouldn’t be able to do it anywhere.

But let’s just say since we’ve all seen videos that have surfaced online of these types of performances regardless of how or where you’re doing things that are graphically sexually explicit in front of children.

So we bring a bill that says it’s not targeting any particular group or community or anything else that says you can’t do this in front of kids. If you do it, it is a crime. And who comes out the most outraged people? The drag community. They either don’t understand the bill cause the bill does not ban drag. It doesn’t say you can’t have drag.

It doesn’t say you can’t have drag shows in front of kids. It says you can’t do any type of sexually explicit entertainment in front of kids. And yet, where did the strongest opposition come from? It came from that community, either because they don’t understand the bill, or perhaps they do have motives or intentions to do these types of things in front of kids. I don’t know, regardless of their motives, it’s now illegal in the state of Tennessee and I’m proud of that.

Gulbransen: My personal opinion is I think the truth is always a victim in these culture wars. I’ll give you two quick examples of hilarity on this because I ran into two individuals yesterday who know what I do for a living. And the first one confronted me about SB 3 as if I had written it and I was the evil person who was doing all these bills.

Of course, we supported it and we were happy to, but it was kind of funny. And then somebody in church in front of a group of people also then pulled me aside and said thank you. Because they actually understood what the legislation did.

It was just kind of funny. Particularly SB 3 though, the governor basically rushed to sign it, right? That might not be the greatest, most accurate way to put it. This got signed quicker in the nuts and bolts of it, didn’t it?

Johnson: It did. In fact, the final legislative action on Senate Bill 3 took place yesterday. Not to get too far into the weeds but the version first, the House passed. But they did make a change a technical change. It was important. It was a good change. And so, cause they had modified the senate version and had to come back for us to concur with the House action.

And that actually took place yesterday morning on the Senate floor, it’s what we refer to as our message calendar of bills that have been amended by the House and back to us for consideration of their amendment. So I moved to concur and accept the House change. And that’s the final legislative action.

And it’s usually a matter of days or maybe as long as a week when bills that have passed the House or Senate get transmitted. That’s the word we use, transmitted by the speaker from each of those chambers to the governor for a signature, veto, or whatever the chooses to do with the legislation.

But the speakers had both signed and transmitted Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 9 to the governor yesterday afternoon and he signed it. So it did happen very quickly. And Senate Bill 1 as well was signed by the governor yesterday afternoon.

I’m very proud of that. I love it when Tennessee is a leader among the 50 states in taking a stand on important issues like this. And we have done so this week. And that makes me proud for all Tennesseans.

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 Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Gov. Bill Lee.