Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Discusses the Last Few Weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Agenda

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson Discusses the Last Few Weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Agenda

 

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 Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to talk about the lingering priorities of the Tennessee General Assembly before the close of session, revisiting Big Tech legislation, and woke corporations.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line, our very good friends, State Senator Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Good morning, Jack. How are you?

Johnson: I’m good, Michael. Good to be with you this morning.

Leahy: You are a hard-working man because it’s 5:33 a.m. and you are at work. You’re talking with me about the closing weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly. How much sleep do you get during the last few weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly Jack?

Johnson: Well, I try to get a good night’s sleep. If not, I start to get cranky, and I might start making bad decisions.

Leahy: I can relate.

Johnson: I’m an early riser so I do like to get up early. But I also try to go to bed early and think I’m going to bed with the fourth graders at nine o’clock.

Leahy: That’s a good way to go. What’s still on the docket for the Tennessee General Assembly? What additional business has to be done?

Johnson: As you know, Michael, we’ve talked about it before. We have one constitutional responsibility every year, and that is to pass a balanced budget. It’s the most important thing we do. And it typically is one of the last things we do. And it’s not because we’re procrastinating it’s because that budget must encompass and address any legislation that was filed that either generates money for the state or cost the state any money.

For example, as we are doing, we are increasing penalties on people who commit crimes with guns and extending those prison sentences. We have to pay for those additional prison beds. So this week and next week, we’ll be putting the finishing touches on the state budget and getting that passed. And we should be drawing to a close here in the next couple of weeks.

Leahy: Is there any business that you hoped the Tennessee General Assembly would have gotten to that you didn’t get to?

Johnson: No. And in fact, I probably tend to err on the side as some of my colleagues as well, to say sometimes the less we do, the better.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Now, that’s a good point.

Johnson: (Laughs) But I will say because people will say, how come you guys file so many bills? And we will typically file 1,500 to 2,000 bills. Maybe three or 400 of those will be acted upon and actually pass. But I always point out to people it takes a bill to take something out of the code. In other words, if it’s an unnecessary regulation or some type of law, you have to file a bill in order to get that out of the code.

And that’s what a lot of our legislation does. And then obviously, there are bills to address things that have come up that need to be addressed. So no, I think we’ve had a very good, productive legislative session. I’m very proud of the fact that we passed constitutional carry and permitless carry in the state of Tennessee, and that was the administration bill.

And I was proud to be the sponsor of that. We’ve continued to look at our business climate and economy to identify ways. And I think that the evidence is quite clear, businesses are wanting to come to Tennessee or expand in Tennessee. So we’ve created a great business climate as we continue to recover from the pandemic. I’m proud of the year we’ve had so far.

Leahy: Compared to other years and other sessions of the Tennessee General Assembly, would you say that in this session, the state Senate and the state House, the leadership because you’re part of the leadership in the state Senate, has it worked more smoothly or about the same as in the past? Because it seems to me that is working whatever the agenda is, there seems to be pretty good coordination between the state Senate and state House.

Johnson: There has been and in fact, really the only as a result of COVID when we first started, we had limited access to the Capitol. Whether it’s constituents that want to come to see you, groups, Chamber groups, and Rotary Club groups, and the Plumbers Club. And whatever the case might be, they all have their day on the Hill and will come and visit you in your office, which is wonderful.

We love to see people coming and petitioning their legislature and coming to the capitol and seeing us there. Obviously, when they first started back in January, that was restricted and it’s loosened up now as the numbers have come down. And so we’re starting to see more people come and visit the Capitol and the Cordell Hull Building, which is where our offices are.

And so I’m glad to see that. But while I was disappointed that a lot of those people did not come to see us, one of the benefits of that, I suppose, is that it did free up our schedules quite a bit. And so I think that has enabled us to work more on some of our legislative initiatives, and it has helped. But given the choice, I’d still much rather see Tennesseans coming to their capital, visiting their legislatures, and seeing the process and understanding of what we do. So I’m anxious to get back to normal.

Leahy: I had a couple of little pet bills, shall we say, our favorite bills, and I haven’t tracked their status. I wonder if you might be familiar with where they are. There was some talk of filing anti-Big Tech legislation along the lines of what a couple of other states have passed. Is that moving towards a possible vote in either Chamber or is it sort of stalled?

Johnson: It is still alive unless it has been moved to next year. And I’m glad you brought this up Michael because this is an incredibly important conversation to have because we are all very concerned, very annoyed with Big Tech and their censorship. The fact that they have some federal protections which, of course, we can’t do anything about it at the state level but yet they’re acting as editors and choosing what people see and censoring certain and things on their platforms.

And there also continues to be. And this is really unrelated to the election or COVID or anything else but there continue to be grave concerns about privacy issues related to those companies and how they use your data and your personal information when you utilize their platforms. Senator Mike Bell had filed legislation on that and truthfully, Michael, I’m not sure specifically where it is in the House in the Senate.

As you know, Governor DeSantis in Florida has done some things by executive order as well. And I don’t know if Governor Lee is contemplating that or not. You get into some very prickly issues relative to interstate commerce when you’re talking about some of these companies. But I think that what Florida has looked at and in other states have as well, is very innovative in terms of holding these companies accountable at the state level.

Leahy: Yes, we are trying to get Senator Bell on. I think we will at some point in the next week or so because it is a very interesting issue and one that I personally think ought to be something that states across the country and state legislatures really exercise their sovereign authority and push back against these usurpations of Big Tech. Speaking about usurpations, this is not directly on point with the current agenda, but what do you make of this trend of woke Fortune 500 companies and Major League Baseball trying to virtue signal based on ignorance about various laws passed by state legislatures?

Of course, I’m talking about the number one that comes to mind is a common-sense election reform bill in Georgia. Now, every time you turn around, there’s a Fortune 500 company deciding to pull business from a particular state as they’ve done in Georgia. It seems to me, Senator Johnson, that is a very, very dangerous trend.

Johnson: It’s a dangerous trend and you used a very important word in there, Michael, when you said ignorance because it was quite apparent to me and many others that when some of these companies came out and criticized the state of Georgia, they had no idea what they were talking about. They really had no idea even about what the legislation does.

And I will tell you that what Georgia passed, for the most part, Tennessee has been doing for many, many years. So Georgia did not pass anything radical or certainly anything that would infringe upon anyone’s right to vote. They passed good common-sense election reform. And dadgummit, they needed it right? They had all kinds of issues in Georgia.

So I’m very proud of the Georgia Republican-controlled legislature for taking action about that. Here’s how I approach that and I’m getting lots of calls and emails about it. I am elected, Michael, by the voters in my district. I’m not elected by anyone’s board of directors or anyone’s shareholders. And these businesses need to understand that.

Whether it’s Georgia, Tennessee, California, it doesn’t matter. The people who represent the people of a state or city or a county, or at the federal level, are elected by voters, not businesses. Now, businesses choose to weigh in, or maybe have thoughts, and certainly, there are business organizations who lobby us on business legislation and things.

And more times than not, their advice is good. And they can give us great feedback about the practical implications of legislation that we pass. But when a company like Coca-Cola or Delta Airlines starts sticking their nose into election reform then, in my view, the company has overstepped its bounds and, quite frankly, I’m proud of the backlash that they’re getting. And they are getting significant backlash.

Leahy: Absolutely.

Listen to the full first hour:

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The Epoch Times Senior Political Analyst Roger Simon Explains His Recent Article on Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Big Tech

The Epoch Times Senior Political Analyst Roger Simon Explains His Recent Article on Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Big Tech

 

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 the founder of Pajamas Media and all-star panelist Roger Simon to the studio to talk about his recent article at The Epoch Times.

Leahy: In the studio with us the famous Rogers Simon and now political columnist for The Epoch Times. Roger people have questions for you. Mark from Nashville has a question for you. Mark, you’re on with Roger Simon and Michael Patrick Leahy. (Takes a call from a listener) Roger Simon, are you related as do you have any connection with the playwright Neil Simon?

Simon: I knew him. I played tennis with him, but I have a funnier story about it. And hat is when my first film came out that  actually got made because anyone who writes in the movie business writes about 53 movies before one gets made.

Leahy: Which film was this?

Simon: It was the Big Fix with Richard Dreyfuss.

Leahy: Great movie. And based upon your novel.

Simon: Based upon my novel. In those days, the movie was taken on the road by the studio to do the last refinements. They’d show it in Denver or some other place and the audience would write down what we call cards about what they thought of the film. And then the writer and the director and the star in this case because Richard also produced we’d sit there and read the cards that night in fear that we’re going to be killed or people would love it. And that movie most of the people liked it a lot but some didn’t.

Simon: I Will do it every time. (Leahy laughs) I was riveted about that one for years.

Leahy: You were not related to Neil Simon.

Simon: Not related.

Leahy: But you played tennis with him.

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: How did that come about?

Simon: He was a good player.

Leahy: How did you playing tennis with Neil Simon come about?

Simon: I don’t remember exactly but I got called up by this producer Larry Turman who produced The Graduate and he knew I liked to play tennis. I’ve been playing tennis since I was six.

Leahy: So you’re pretty good.

Simon: I’m pretty good but I’m not great. And it turned out that the fourth player was Neil Simon. Then we got to know each other a little bit but not very much. But he did come to The Big Fix opening party and so forth.

Leahy: That was nice of him.

Simon: Yes. Well, he was very close to Dreyfuss because he wrote The Goodbye Girl.

Leahy: Of course, I forgot all about that. Which Richard Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for. Yeah, a great movie.

Simon: A fun movie.

Leahy: Not quite as great as The Big Fix. Perhaps the best movie ever made. But a good movie.

Simon: A good movie. People still watch it.

Leahy: Yes, they do. Roger, you wrote a great piece at The Epoch Times. All Red States Must Join Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida Restrain Big Tech. tell us about that article.

Simon: Well, you know, I saw DeSantis speak at CPAC. He was very popular at CPAC. And everybody loved being in Florida because they have to wear a mask very much. But that’s the sort of minor part of it. The big part of it is to say it has has done some smart things. He is initiating legislation to give trouble to Big Tech. now Big Tech is I think the enemy of the people in this country.

Leahy: I agree.

Simon: And the federal government because it’s run by the Democrats that are loved by Big Tech and essentially support Big Tech and vice versa are not going to do anything about it. So the states have to do something about it in defense of the people. And DeSantis started it and now Abbott in Texas has done something. And every one of the states should really look to that legislation and start enacting legislation that restricts Big Tech and stop them from canceling people like me. (Chuckles) They haven’t canceled me yet.  but they’ve canceled everybody else. and I’m sure I’m on the list. They certainly canceled Dr. Seuss. And that’s I mean that’s beyond the Beyond.

Leahy: The Cat in the Hat is now bad. It’s crazy.

Simon: (Inaudible talk) In the Soviet Union. So I think we have to stop this in its tracks before it ruins the Country and really essentially ruins freedom of speech.

Leahy: Now there is a bill like that and currently under consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly. Next time you’re on we’ll have an update on where that is. Senator Mike Bell is one of the sponsors in the Senate. Well, we’re going to have him on he will talk about that. I want to talk to you a little bit about this Ron DeSantis fellow. What kind of speaker is he?

Simon: He’s good. I think at CPAC the surprise best speaker went to Kristi Noem.

Leahy: That’s what I’ve heard.

Simon: But DeSantis was good.  But I think the other thing is they had the straw poll at CPAC and it was surprising in a way because Trump is a better speaker than any of them. Trump is an electric speaker. Let’s admit it.

Leahy: Let’s also admit he tends to meander a bit.

Simon: He meanders the whole time. But personally, I like to follow along. He’s fascinating.

Leahy: He’s entertaining.

Simon: If he had a late-night talk show, good by Jimmy Kimmel. (Laughter) But in the straw poll, DeSantis came in a small second.

Leahy: Even including Trump.

Simon: I mean, I think we even including Trump. I think it was 51 to Trump and 26 to DeSantis. I got it was a few weeks ago. But anyway, it’s just a straw poll at all that but I think the rank-and-file of the Republican Party really likes DeSantis and I think that he’s going to be, if Trump doesn’t run he’s going to be stepping in as a front runner very quickly.

Leahy: I think you’re right about that and Kristi Noem of course has ambitions in that regard as well.

Simon: She wouldn’t be bad.

Leahy: It was interesting to some extent, I mean here we are and it’s March of 2021 we haven’t even been through the first two months I’m sorry to say of the Joe Biden maladministration.

Simon: It feels like six years.

Leahy: It does! It feels like six years of misery. And moving towards totalitarianism at lightning speed. But back to your point. Look it’s got to be the state’s pushing back for the next two years next 15 months.

Simon: I’m telling you, it’s all in the hands of the states. and look Trump won more States than Biden did. If we were right and the election wasn’t kosher.

Leahy: It was not kosher in five states because of the unlawful elections.

Simon: But even more states. And we’re going to find out interesting things from in Georgia.

Leahy: They’re looking at the Fulton County ballots. And I think they’re going to what they’re going to find it’s not going to be good for the Democrats.

Simon: Let’s hope.

Leahy: It’s not gonna make any difference in terms of who the current president because of the failure of many institutions to stop unlawful, like election procedures in those five states.

Simon: Exactly. Which circles around the same thing. The states are the ones who have got to do the work right now. We’ve got a Republican government here in the state. As citizens, we have to keep our foot on these on all our politicians from our own party if we are Republicans to make sure they stick to it because boy they haven’t got much time really.

Leahy: I agree completely. I think this is an exec substantial challenge to the ongoing survivability of our constitutional republic. My senses are Tennessee General Assembly is doing a good job. Our governor in my view is more than a little bit weak and push back.

Simon: Well if he should be listening to us this morning.

Leahy: He’s not. (Laughter)

Simon: What? He sleeps in like me usually when I’m not in.

Leahy: Look, Governor Lee is not a bad guy. But he’s not a courageous guy in terms of pushing back. And he’s wrong on a number of issues for instance as an example in my view he said welcome. We want more refugees in Tennessee. We don’t want more refugees in Tennessee, and he could have done something and he didn’t.

Simon: He did one thing that was good the other day.

Leahy: Tell me.

Simon: He walked around downtown and Broadway without a mask on and god filmed. Step one. That’s good. Now keep it up. Get further along. Take some risks.

Leahy: But he created his own problem and I’ll tell you why.  I think he unlawfully gave counties the authority to determine whether or not they should have masks. He didn’t have the authority to give counties that authority. Now Davidson County Mayor John Cooper has a stupid mask mandate still. And so he’s he kind of created his own problem in that regard. That’s a mistake in my view.

Simon: I agree with you. It’s a mistake. The whole COVID thing is so filled with mistakes we could sit here for 14 hours and we wouldn’t get through it.

Leahy: I know.

Listen to the full third hour here:


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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Dilemma for America: Crom Carmichael on the Democratic Party of Grifters and Looming Inflation

The Great Dilemma for America: Crom Carmichael on the Democratic Party of Grifters and Looming Inflation

 

Live from Music Row 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 panelist Crom Carmichael in the studio to breakdown the potential of inflammatory effects on America’s economy from COVID and Democratic grifters.

(Chuck Schumer clip plays)

Leahy: That is perhaps one of the most dishonest grifters in American political history. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York trying to explain why they should pass a $1.9 trillion giveaway to big blue cities and big blue states and he’s using a false claim.

Carmichael: Yes. As Mitch McConnell pointed out one percent of the bill, which is, by the way, one percent of 1.9 trillion.

Leahy: It’s one percent?

Carmichael: One percent goes directly to COVID. Goes directly to COVID.

Leahy: And then eight percent indirectly?

Carmichael: Indirectly. But 91 percent doesn’t go to COVID or anything related to COVID.

Leahy: Either directly or indirectly.

Carmichael: But one percent of one point nine trillion is still $20 billion. So that is still $20 billion.

Leahy: One point nine trillion, one percent of one point nine trillion.

Carmichael: Did I get my math wrong?

Leahy: You are correct.

Carmichael: I am correct.

Leahy: You are correct sir because 10 percent of one point nine trillion would be 190 billion. One percent is 19 billion. You are correct in your math.

Carmichael: So it’s a very very large amount for COVID. And so what Schumer’s doing is what all grifters do. He’s just making stuff up. And if it were not for the willful complicity of the media you couldn’t get away with this. This is the great dilemma for our country. You have now Big Tech and big media that is in bed with the Democrat Party and in bed with all their policies.

And so you have about probably 20 to 25 percent of the population that benefits from all this grifting. And the balance of the population gets hurt. Now deficits do matter. And one of my great pet peeves is when politicians say these deficits are going to hurt our children and grandchildren. That’s false. They’re hurting us now. And what they do is they act kind of like a wet blanket.

And what they do is if productivity is growing at four percent then you ought to have real income rising at four percent. But if you have deficit spending that’s equal to more than four percent of the economy, then you may see a rise in your paycheck. But you’re going to see inflation in some of your basic goods. For example in housing prices. housing prices now across the country are going up because you see commodity prices like lumber, copper, and many of the materials that go into a home are rising at very very high rates.

And so the inflation is almost hidden. But it’s there. Let’s just say that inflation affects you at $1,000 and infects everybody at $1,000. Well, somebody’s making $50,000 dollars a $1,000 is two percent of their income. If you’re making a million dollars then $1,000 is imperceptible. If you’re a multi-billionaire, you’re making far more money on the increase in the value of your stock than you are worried about the effects of inflation.

Leahy: So I’ve got some data here. This is from a website called The Balance. It looks at the deficit as a percentage of the gross domestic product. And it’s been quite high. When Ronald Reagan took office ’19 in 1980 It was two point six percent that fiscal year. Of course, he took office and it would have been fiscal in 81 when it was two point five percent. When George H.W. Bush took office it was three point seven percent in 1990. Then we fast-forward.

It was actually a surplus during the last years of the Clinton administration. And that was due to the sort of the internet bubble. George H.W. Bush and the crash of 2008. In fiscal 2009, 9.8 percent of GDP. the deficit. it’s been really really high pretty much ever since it went down to three-point four percent in 2017. It shot back up in 2020 at 17.9 percent because of the COVID impact. And it’s going to be about 10 percent in fiscal 2021 except probably more than that now.

Carmichael: It will be more than that if this bill passes. And then they’re talking about another great big bill in behind it. And so the aging of the baby boomers is going to affect Medicare in the coming years. So under Trump the deficit as a percentage, I think you said it got down to like three-point six percent.

Leahy: Yes. Under Trump in 2017, it was three point four percent.

Carmichael: What was it in ’18?

Leahy: In ’18, it would be three-point eight percent.

Carmichael: Okay, what was it in fiscal ’19?

Leahy: Up to four-point six percent.

Carmichael: Okay. All right. And so then it was in fiscal 2010 that it exploded. So part of ’19 perhaps had something to do with COVID. I don’t know.

Leahy: No it would have been ’20.

Carmichael: All fiscal year ’20?

Leahy: Because fiscal year ’20 goes from September to October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.

Carmichael: But here’s what’s interesting. With all of those numbers in there, I think that the federal government is doing a very poor job of collecting the right data to understand productivity gains. I think there are a lot more productivity gains due to technology than that is being captured. I think the productivity gains that they’re capturing are in an old-school way. And productivity gains are much different now.

Leahy: That’s a very good point. Despite COVID productivity gains probably have limited the depth for people that that are involved in certain jobs it’s had less of an impact.

Carmichael: If we come out from the other side of COVID a lot of the changes that were made because of COVID will enhance productivity. If I can do a Zoom meeting and make a sale and I don’t have to go do a business trip to make that same sale then I can make perhaps three or four sales calls a day and not spend any money in doing so.

Leahy: And not travel.

Carmichael: And not travel and do all that. And so that would actually be a gain in productivity.

Leahy: In certain segments. But for instance restaurants. Making stuff in a manufacturing facility that kind of thing got hurt badly. At least on the restaurant side.

Carmichael: That’s not a manufacturer, that’s a restaurant. So what you’re seeing is that if there are a lot fewer business lunches and dinners then that hurts the restaurant business. But in terms of the macro, if people are doing things more efficiently and accomplishing the same goal then there’s a particular…

Leahy: Because one thing that you and I are not Crom, we are not Luddites. (Laughter) Luddites were the people that wanted to go in and break all the new machinery that made it easier to manufacture clothing and other things back in 19th century Great Britain.

Carmichael: So what I’m saying is that if you have a productivity gain of four percent and you have deficit spending four percent more or less than increase the money supply, then theoretically you’d have an inflation rate of close to zero. But if you have productivity gains and four percent and you have an increase in the money supply of 10 to 15 percent and that’s done consistently at some point that catches up with you and it doesn’t affect the wealthy nearly as much as it affects middle and lower class demographics.

Leahy: You’re exactly right and the people that are being hurt by all of this deficit spending really middle-class Americans.

Carmichael: And lower-income people.

Leahy: You are exactly right.

Carmichael: And all these policies the Democrats’ the school policies, in particular, they hurt lower-income children far more than they hurt anybody.

Leahy: They absolutely do. We’ll close that talk off.

Listen to the full third hour here:


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Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary Discusses Upcoming Special and Legislative Sessions Focus on Education and Medicaid Block Grant

Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary Discusses Upcoming Special and Legislative Sessions Focus on Education and Medicaid Block Grant

 

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 (R) TN State Representative Jason Zachary to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, Zachary discussed next week’s special and legislative sessions that will focus on learning laws and how Tennessee will prepare to be the first state in the nation to use the block grant initiated by President Trump. He described his roles as being part of the ad hoc committee regarding executive powers and that he will be going after unelected health boards that are attacking individual liberty.

Leahy: And on the newsmaker line state representative Jason Zachary. Good morning Representative Zachary.

Zachary: Good morning. How are you guys?

Leahy: I’m great. You may not recall this but you and I first met in 2013-2014 up in Maryville when you were running for Congress, I believe. And I was organizing the Beat Lamar campaign. Do you remember that?

Zachary: I do absolutely I believe it was even at the Blount County Library.

Leahy: Yes! You are exactly right. It was at the Blount County library and you have had quite a career since then very conservative member of the State House of Representatives here in Tennessee. What is the big agenda issue that you see in both the special session on education and in the regular session and thereafter?

Zachary: Sure. Well interestingly enough This is my fourth term and we are actually starting at a faster pace right now than we’ve ever started. Committees actually are going to be meeting today. We have something that most Tennesseans because of everything that’s gone on nationally most of what we’re doing right now is not getting attention. But we are getting ready to be the first state in the nation to move forward with a block grant from Medicaid.

The president approved that. We actually suspended the rules yesterday to be able to hear that in committee and walk that through the process. That will be an all-day endeavor for us here in the legislature. And that’s big news. But in terms of next week’s special session, I’m glad the governor’s done it because it really gives us the ability to focus on learning laws and focus on BEP funding especially for a county like my Knox County.

We are a donor county so we would take a significant loss with students not being in the classroom this year for BEP funding. We’ve got students and teachers that have just my wife’s a teacher. She’s a middle school teacher and the incredible stress that they’re under just keeping the doors open. So we’re going to address testing and holding schools and teachers harmless as we kind of walk through this.

Still providing accountability, but holding them harmless. It’s an important step to take and to get this off the table. Some of these steps we usually don’t take until May of the session. So it’s good to be able to take this now. But overall in terms of a special session when we come back probably that first week of February just from my perspective it’s really just doing what we’ve done since I’ve been here.

It’s making sure we do the best we can to limit government and limit regulation. Keep taxes low and keep spending under control. We’ve done a great job with that over the last 10 years and the record kind of speaks for itself. But we’ve got bigger work to do especially with this pandemic kind of hanging over everything that we do.

I’ve chaired the ad hoc committee regarding executive powers. And then I’m going after these unelected health boards that are attacking liberty and are big areas like it’s never been done before. Those are those that will be the two big things I’m involved in.

Leahy: Last night Murray County Mayor sent a letter to the governor and to the speaker and to the lieutenant and two members of the House and Senate and said look Facebook, Google, Twitter Amazon are stifling free speech. The state has some Authority here. There are $70 billion under management and invested by the state. He wants the state to divest of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon stock. And also to stop advertising with Google, Facebook, and Twitter. What do you make of that proposal?

Zachary: Well, I think that we have an oligarchy of tech companies that have been enabled by our federal government through Section 230. And it’s not something that has been talked about much. And I believe that indirectly the federal government is able to able to launch an assault on the First Amendment. I know some people have said well, it’s the first amendment, free speech and the First Amendment doesn’t really apply because it’s not government.

I completely disagree. What I have done through The Heritage Foundation and is more reading on Section 230. And I believe it’s Section 230 in Section ACB and it specifically says that through Section 230 they have certain protections and immunities. It references them as internet companies because back, when this was passed there wasn’t a Google and there wasn’t a social media and there wasn’t Amazon.

But it specifically says the internet companies are allowed to censor constitutionally protected speech. It says that specifically. I even Tweeted that a couple of days ago. And so the federal government is indirectly coming after the first amendment and working to silence us through that. I truly believe that. And these tech companies are leading the way. And if we have tech companies that are more powerful than the president of the United States then that’s a problem.

So I appreciate Andy. I know Andy, I appreciate him drafting that letter. We had a little bit of conversation about that this week. I think that will probably ramp up. We had an organizational period. And again we spent which never happens. We spent hours on the House floor yesterday going through this Medicaid block grant that we’ve got that we’re working to get past.

So I believe those conversations will ramp up after we get through this. And I’ve already had some conversations with various departments about where we stand as a state with those tech companies and absolutely it’s something that needs to be addressed. I’m glad he wrote the letter.

Swain: Now what are you all doing to prepare for the assault from the left? Because we know what the Biden administration, we already see it with the media and the local media. They’re willing to lie and distort when it serves their purposes. They will come full force against you guys. Have you planned your strategy?

Zachary: Yes, Carol. That’s a great question. It’s interesting you ask that because actually the governor and I were texting about that a couple of days ago and about firewalling the state of Tennessee. What steps do we need to take and what planning needs to be done even above and beyond what we typically do to firewall us from the federal government.

So if three, four, or five months from now, they come to us and say these are the steps that you need to take and we say no as Tennessee and we’re not going to take those steps because we’re not going to be complicit with a government that will probably be initiating a socialist agenda and try to continue to strip away our Constitution. Tennesseans are not going to be complicit with that.

Swain: Well that’s the problem. But the other part is that when you’re dealing with the Medicaid block grant and these other issues the left is going to come at you full force as far as the media. Do you have a plan as far as selling your ideas to the public so that they will not be distorted by the left?

Zachary: We do. actually yeah we had a caucus meeting and discussed that yesterday specific to the Medicaid block grant program. Here are just the quick details. So it’s basically a block grant that comes to us from Medicaid and it gives us incredible flexibility. Right now we have what could buy what most publications considered one of the top five run Medicaid programs in the country. Ours is TennCare.

But right now when we are not rewarded or incentivized to save and steward resources well. So we can save money. But we as Tennesseans don’t get to participate in those savings. So now what this block grant does is they provide us with the block grant with just a few requirements versus the incredible strings and entanglements were under now. But any savings that we incur we’re able to keep half that money versus sending it all back to the federal government.

Swain: The part that you keep, are you able to use it for medical expenses? Because we know that there are increased costs that relate to the elderly and those costs will probably be increasing rather than decreasing because of the age of the population. So, how will the savings be used?

Zachary: Yes ma’am that’s a great question. That was going to be my very next point. It will give us the ability to do is enhance the services within Medicaid. During the pandemic that role has grown by 100,000 Tennesseans have been added to the Medicaid program. But with the additional savings, it will allow us to give enhanced services. It will allow if we chose to do so to increase the various populations that we’re servicing.

Provide a higher quality of healthcare because of that savings. It will give us much more flexibility to run it the Tennessee way. But it won’t cost more money to us or the federal government because we will be much more efficient. Because we don’t have the entanglements and requirements of the federal government. Something we talked about yesterday Carol, in talking about messaging. I’ve already started getting emails about it.

So many continue to bang that Medicaid expansion drum. Which thank the Lord we did not take that step. That was just before I got here. But if you were for Medicaid expansion and you are on the left, yesterday we had two hours of Democrats railing against this. How could we do this? How could we take this step with a block grant? If you are for Medicaid expansion you should absolutely be for this block grant because it will allow us to service Tennesseans better under Medicaid.

But it will allow us in the Tennessee way to expand populations if we chose to do so without the entanglements and the cost associated with what would have been Medicaid expansion. We’re going to be so much more efficient in the way we run the program that we will be able to serve larger populations in some respects if we chose to do so. It doesn’t mean we have to. The rolls have swollen to 100,000 over the last year and we’ve been able to walk and manage through that.

Leahy: Jason Zachary. Thank you so much for joining us today. Very enlightening.

Listen to the full third hour here:


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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks About His Letter to Governor Lee About Forced Investment to Companies that Censor

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks About His Letter to Governor Lee About Forced Investment to Companies that Censor

 

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 Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to the newsmakers line.

At the top of the second hour, Ogles explained his recent proposal to Governor Bill Lee suggesting Tennessee discontinue doing business or any investing in support of companies that advocate for censorship. He continued to voice his concern noting that the United States is in a situation where non-governmental agencies and government tell you what you can and can’t say and when you can and cannot say it.

Leahy: And our guest on the newsmaker line Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. Welcome, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: I’m great. Yesterday you made some news and you sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Speaker of the House Cam Sexton. I’ll read from this and then just get your reaction. ‘Tennessee and should not be forced to invest in support the very companies that are conspiring to silence them.

Furthermore, the state of Tennessee should refrain from doing business with these companies by way of prohibition of advertising on Google, Facebook or Twitter. And a prohibition of Amazon Services until such time these companies admit their errors and remove said censorship and prohibitions from their respective platforms. Have you received any response to this proposal yet Andy?

Ogles: Not directly from leadership. But last night I had several members of both in the Senate and the House reach out to me thanking me for taking a bold stance and thought that it would be great and that they were going to work on legislation to try to get introduced. Now just to set expectations, you know, they convened for session. They are in their organizational phase but then next week they go into special session which will last three to five days. and then they’ll recess till probably March or April. So there’s not much going to be done from the legislature outside of education just because of the way it’s structured this year.

Leahy: Gotcha, so, What would be the very specific proposals? And has anybody said I’m going to sponsor such a proposal?

Ogles: Not yet. But you know, when you think about it and a lot of people realize that states across the country they have retirement plans and they have huge cash amounts dollars that they have to invest. They have budget surpluses etc. And so the state of Tennessee, the state of Florida, Utah, South Carolina, etc., they’re all huge institutional investors.

So, you know up there, you know in Nashville, you know, we’ve got 100 or 150 or so in a department and that’s all they do is invest Tennessee’s money. and so, you know these states have a lot of power. And look you can like Trump you can hate trump. It doesn’t matter. The fact that they have censored the president of the United States is incredibly concerning, period.

And that’s why you’re seeing the chancellor of Germany, the president of France, the president of Mexico and Brazil all saying hold on a minute. This is wrong. You can disagree with this man. and you know in France and Mexico their respective leaders don’t like President Trump, so it’s not like they’re in love with this man, but they understand we’re in a state where suddenly the President of the United States can be blocked, banned, censored and there’s no recourse.

They just have all the authority. And this is a scary time. We’re an Orwellian time today. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but now we’re in a situation where you have non-governmental agencies and the government telling you what you can and can’t say and when you can and cannot say it. And that’s the United States, I’m not talking about Venezuela. I’m talking about here in our country now.

Leahy: How big is this investment fund that the state of Tennessee has under its control? Is it like 100 million a 150 million? How big is it?

Ogles: Well, yeah, I don’t know the answer to that. We have a rainy day fund and we have budget surpluses. We have funded pension funds. So you’re talking upwards of a billion dollars.

Leahy: There’s a let’s say there are a billion dollars. And that billion dollars is typically invested in bonds and stocks. and a lot of that if it’s a typical stock portfolio, you would have a lot of investment I would think in Google and Facebook and Twitter, I would guess right?

Ogles: You would assume. And so once these states and it would only take a handful to suddenly pull out of Twitter to pull off some of these technology companies and hits them and punish them through their stock. The other thing that can be done is just simply not Google advertising. Don’t advertise it on Twitter or Facebook. And you know, what’s unfortunate is that you know, Facebook has become and Twitter has become a major form of communication.

So they have gone beyond just being a business being part of the media. And so they’re in a hybrid situation of where yes their company. You know, it’s one thing to let’s say you were I or on Twitter or on Facebook and we post something that’s inflammatory or shouldn’t be posted. I get it. They have the right to delete that particular post. But to blatantly block and then delete the President of the United States again, I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat or Independent, that should concern you to a degree that you can’t sleep at night.

Listen to the full second hour here:


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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