Tennessee State Rep. Rusty Grills on His No Mandatory Vaccines and Protecting Individual Liberties
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 Tennessee State Rep. of District 77, Rusty Grills, to the newsmakers line to discuss his bill for not mandating the COVID vaccine during a state of emergency or epidemic and protecting the liberty of Tennesseans.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our good friend, State Representative Rusty Grills. Rusty, before we get into the agenda that you see for the Tennessee General Assembly, just a little side comment, I keep telling my wife, I really would like to buy a little farm, little vegetable farm, apple orchard just because I think it would be fun to have it. And she says you might like to have it but you don’t really want to run it. (Laughter)
Grills: Well, I can understand that. To be completely honest with you, we have cattle and I have some mama cows and baby cows put it in layman’s terms. And my wife and I because I loved her so much and just a headache that caused her back home when I was up here if there was an issue, someone else had to take care of him. So I loved her so much that I decided to get rid of her. And actually, she pretty much said you need to get rid of them because they are too much headache. (Leahy laughs) You know how that is.
Leahy: Believe me, I understand.
Grills: Before we get started on something else, I want to tell you how much I appreciate this because I’ve only been in the legislature for a year and a half now. But I remember when I was younger that Mr. Steve Gill always has his radio show. We could pick it up over in West Tennessee, and I used to listen to him every day.
And I learned so much from those state issues that were being broadcast that I was able to keep up with what was going on in the state. And that really was a huge benefit to me because I’m a political junkie. I guess if you will. My dad started me off on Rush Limbaugh twice a day when we were younger and raising a real conservative family. But then you get to hear those world views proven over and over again.
So that kind of helped me develop just a fundamental conservative worldview with a biblical background. And because of the right people in my life, I had the opportunity to be right in having that world view. So I want to thank you for the efforts that you put out to make sure the people in the state of Tennessee realize what is going on with their legislature so they can be engaged and interact with their legislators.
Leahy: Well, I appreciate that. And it is our mission, actually, to give members of the Tennessee General Assembly and an opportunity to express their views and explain what’s going on there. So I appreciate that.
Grills: It’s so important because there are so many people that do not get involved until after the fact. And honestly, I got elected up to the County Commission in the county that I live in in 2010. And the reason I got involved is that I went to a guy one day and told him I said, if you do not quit raising our taxes, I’m going to run against you. And I was joking. I was only 26 years old and he told me, he said young man, the best thing for you to do is just pick you up petition next time, and run. So when the next election came up, I picked up a petition. I ran and I beat him.
Leahy: Way to go.
Grills: And just because I was involved, I wasn’t being a smart alec. I wasn’t trying to be smart. I was kind of tongue in cheek, just cutting up a little bit. But he kind of got me to thinking and those opportunities I had listening to Steve Gill and Rush and all the other different radio shows to pick up some things and you get tired of seeing those same paths traveled that lead to destruction, which is a more government-controlled society or progressive, more Liberal, more socialist, more Marxist. Whatever term you want to use. And I do not subscribe to that way of thinking.
Leahy: Tell me what is on your agenda for the next couple of weeks as we wrap up the Tennessee General Assembly.
Grills: Well, last week I had a bill that was very close to my heart. It prevents the governor in a state of emergency from forcing the church to shut down, which is extremely important because we see the left in California and Michigan, and New York, and they tried to pull that. And in Tennessee, I know Governor Lee never did shut the churches down, but at the same time, he won’t always be governor. So we were able to the past that last week, which is pretty close to my heart. Today I have a bill that protects school-age children from forced COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of enrollment. And that’s been somewhat fun.
Leahy: Tell us where that stands right now. Has it made it through the committee? Is it going to be on the floor?
Grills: The companion bill in the Senate is going to be voted on this morning on the Senate floor. My bill I started in Education Sub, Education full. Then they double referred me back to health. And I have been in health and two weeks ago I was in health. We wrote it a week ago and then we got in health yesterday and we spent about an hour discussing and they rolled me to the Hill up to today and we’re still discussing it.
And Lord willing, we’ll be able to get through it. Here’s the deal. I’m not one of those guys that don’t want to see individuals be vaccinated. I think vaccines serve a great purpose in our community. and I want each individual to get vaccinated if they choose to. But I do not want to see force vaccines on anyone because of these adverse effects. And if you do something, if you do something and you make the decision to do it and it turns out to be bad, then it’s your fault.
But if someone forces you to do it and you’re not necessarily crazy about it, you’ll have animosity towards that person and maybe regret, and not to mention, you could potentially have a lawsuit. So that’s my thought. And honestly, gosh, COVID-19 has been horrible but the survival rate of COVID has been high. I don’t want to be accused of being an anti-vaxxer.
Leahy: Apparently, yesterday we have a story by Corrine Murdock about your bill that Robin Smith, the state representative from Hixon, had an amendment that would sunset it after two years. Did you have a discussion with her about that? Do you agree with that or disagree with that?
Grills: I was willing to work with Representative Smith who is a great person, and she’s always shot me straight. So I appreciate that. But she didn’t do anything that was unkosher. We agreed to that amendment. We talked about it, and we worked together, and we agreed to that amendment. But the problem was that my bill also has another amendment on it that guarantees religious exemptions in the time of an emergency or an epidemic. And that’s the problem we had yesterday. That part does not sunset. So there are those that think that you do not necessarily need a religious exemption in the time of an epidemic. And then there are those that do, which I’m one of those people.
Leahy: So State Representative Sam Watson, he’s from Franklin. He actually represents the district in which I live and he opposed the bill entirely. He asserted that it constituted government overreach since it would prohibit private groups from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. Did you have a response to that?
Grills: My response is we’re not mandating anything. We are simply protecting individual liberty and the choices that God gives each American in the United States of America and the state of Tennessee. The responsibility of the government, in my opinion, is to guarantee that right. God has given you and protected those rights, not to give them back to you as they see fit. And ultimately, we have just different views of the world. Not that he’s a bad man or we’re not friends, or we can’t get along, it’s just we see things differently.
Leahy: Let us know. What do you think the odds are your bill passes and becomes law?
Grills: I think there’s a chance we get this thing through.
Leahy: That’s pretty good. If you were a betting man, that’s not a bad number.
Grills: I don’t ever want to bet against freedom.
Leahy: (Laughs) A good line.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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