State Senator Mark Pody on Differences Between House and Senate, Refusing Federal Government Dollars

State Senator Mark Pody on Differences Between House and Senate, Refusing Federal Government Dollars

Live from Music Row, Monday 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 Senator Mark Pody to the newsmaker line to discuss the differences between the House and Senate and refusing money from the federal government for the state’s education.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our newsmaker line state Senator Mark Pody. Good morning, Senator Pody.

Pody: Yes! Good morning.

Leahy: We’re delighted to have you here. Senator Pody, just for our listeners, tell us the area of your current district. You represent parts of Davidson County, right?

Pody: I absolutely do. I’ve got all of Wilson County and I am getting about 70,000 people in Davidson County. I have, for example, all of like Percy Priest Lake area as well as the airport. That is kind of the area that I represent.

Leahy: Well, that’s something. Tell us a little bit about your career. We’ve known each other for a long, long time. You were in the state House and then were elected to the state Senate. When were you first elected to the state legislature?

Pody: I came in with Governor Haslam. In 2010, there was kind of a wave that came in and I was in that wave as well. And so I’ve served underneath all of Governor Haslam and Governor Lee. And that’s as long as I’ve been in here.

Leahy: Now I have to tell you, Senator Pody, and I’m going to use a phrase that has been used to describe your level of energy before, and you’ll smile when I tell you this phrase, but I’ve heard many people say that State Senator Mark Pody has so much energy he makes coffee nervous. You remember that one, right?

Pody: (Chuckles) Yes. I tell you what, I love serving the people. I love lifting up my Lord Jesus Christ. And anything I can do, I just give him the credit and he’s given me the energy to go out and do this.

Leahy: What’s the difference between being in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate?

Pody: I will tell you, first of all, the House is a lot more fun if you like fireworks and things like that. In the Senate, it is a lot more collegial. We might have our disagreements, but it’s not, for example, on the floor, it doesn’t get into committees nearly as much. It has things worked out a lot more privately.

Leahy: That’s what I’ve seen as well. And of course, I think you really enjoyed sort of mixing it up in the state House.

Pody: I did. I can be very vocal. I know who I am, and I’m very comfortable with the views that I have. I’ve been told that I’m extremely conservative as well as outspoken. I know my views. I don’t change them often.

And I just believe in the Constitution. I believe in limited government and limited taxes. And now that I’m in Davidson County, I want to bring those views into Davidson County as well.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you.

Carmichael: Senator, you said that the two chambers are different and that the House is more fun. It almost sounds like you also feel like in the House, you can actually get more important legislation passed and then unfortunately, it dies in some very important legislation in your mind, in the Senate.

And I’m curious, I think the same thing happens in Washington D.C. Is it because it’s a smaller body? Is it because when you win, you win for a longer term? Why do you think that the state Senate in particular is more of a check on things like true education reform?

My sense of it is true education reform is more likely to pass in the House, especially for minority kids, than in the Senate. So if I’m wrong about that particular issue, please correct me, but if I’m not, please respond.

Pody: Sure. I will tell you, I was very interested in listening to Mr. Weber on the show earlier today talking with Michael, and he nailed it when he said that the House will probably be bringing more opportunities for education where the Senate would not.

And I’m actually on the Senate Education Committee, so we probably will be just staying with the third-grade retention law. The way it is, the House kind of debates out what they might be doing to change a little bit. I will tell you though, at the crux of the matter would be this.

The representatives are up every single two years, so they’re always having to be out with their constituents, listening and being very responsive to what their constituents need and want. In the Senate, we’re up only every four years so it is not top of mind in a lot of people’s thought processes.

Leahy: Let me follow up with that, Senator Pody. So you probably saw last week that Speaker of the House Cam Sexton said that he’s going to put out a bill to tell the federal government to keep all of their $1.8 billion of K12 public school money because with that money come strings. It got a fairly favorable reception in the House and from what I can tell in the Senate. Do you have any thoughts on that idea from Speaker Sexton?

Pody: Absolutely. In fact, I just was talking with a group about what it would look like if we just didn’t take any federal money anywhere. And I got actually a 500-page budget back, and I’m reviewing that now. But when we look at the number of strings that we have to put up with the federal government, it costs us a lot of money.

And Tennessee right now gets about 38 percent of its budget from the federal government. We’re one of the highest in the nation on the percentage that we get from the federal government. We did something with TennCare where we told Tenn Care if you would just give us the money and let us provide the healthcare that we need to in Tennessee, and if there are savings, let us share in that savings.

And we got literally a lot of money. And I think the governor addressed that in the state of the state where that program just went in and TennCare was able to use the money from the federal government, but we saved a lot of it without their strings, and we’re able to use some of that savings back in Tennessee.

I think we could do the same thing with education. If they want to give us that money, take the strings off. And if we can have better outcomes, let us have that money without your strings, and we’ll do a better job than what the federal government can do with their laws, rules, and strings.

Carmichael: How many states, Senator, do you think have asked the federal government for waivers like that? I think, for lack of a better term, would you refer to those as block grants?

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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.
Background Photo “Tennessee State Capitol” by Brandon Hooper.


All Star Panelist Crom Carmichael and Senator Mark Pody Discuss Tennessee General Assembly Agenda and Vaccination Exemption

All Star Panelist Crom Carmichael and Senator Mark Pody Discuss Tennessee General Assembly Agenda and Vaccination Exemption


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 the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael and Senator Mark Pody (TN-17) to the studio to discuss the Tennessee General Assembly’s remaining agenda and upcoming vaccination bill which advocates for governmental exemption status.

Leahy: In studio the original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael, and State Senator Mark Pody from Wilson County. Senator Pody, what’s on the agenda for the remaining month of the Tennessee General Assembly?

Pody: Well, to start with today is a big day because we have a vaccination bill that is going to be heard in the health committee.

Leahy: Now, when you say vaccination bill, tell us what that bill is and does.

Pody: Alright. So what that bill is going to do and is being carried by Senator Janice Bowling Aad it’s going to say that if you have a religious exemption or if you have a conscience that says you don’t want to get that vaccination, you cannot be forced by the government to take that vaccination.

Leahy: Now, that seems to me like a common sense and individual liberty bill. This bill died, didn’t it and then it came back?

Pody: Yes. A similar bill died, and there was one that I was actually carrying earlier this year and it died in the House. So we had the votes in the Senate to pass the bill, but it died in the House. And we currently have this exemption right now in the state of Tennessee. However, if the governor calls an emergency, then that exemption goes away.

And for whatever reason, just because we call it an emergency does not mean that our constitutional rights or religious freedoms should be stepped on. And that’s what this bill does. It’s going to say even underneath an emergency, that we have the right to say we don’t want that vaccination.

Leahy: What are the prospects of it passing the health committee in the House today?

Pody: I think it’s a pretty good chance right now. I talked to the chairman of that committee, and he is for it and he’s on board with it. And I know Joey Hensley is on that committee, and he’s going to be for it. So I think we have a good shot. But there’s going to be a rally down there at the Capitol today with Gary Humble and Tennessee Stands.

Leahy: He was in studio here with Ben Cunningham on Wednesday when I was out of town in Tallahassee putting together The Florida Capital Star deal.

Carmichael: You know, what’s interesting about that bill is that I think you said that government does not have the right to do that.

Pody: Yes.

Carmichael: If you watch what the Biden administration is trying to do with this so-called health card passport, he says they’re working with private industry. So what they’ve done is they’ve kind of looked at the way that if you’re protected by Section 230, then corporations are able to do the bidding of the Democrat Party by canceling and demonetizing people who disagree with progressive policies.

So rather than have the federal government try to pass a national bill on a COVID passport, they’re working with big companies to try to get those companies to force it. So it’s the private sector. So what the Senator is saying here is the government won’t be able to do it. But it sounds like that under your bill, a large private company or private employer could impose a restriction on everyone who doesn’t carry a COVID passport.

Pody: That’s correct.

Carmichael: Whether over a religious exemption or not, they would still have to carry the passport, which means they have to go have the vaccine.

Pody: That’s correct. Now, this bill is only focused on government. There is another bill that’s coming that would actually address the private industry as well. But that’s not the one that’s up to date. This is the one that’s coming today. And we’re working through that. The other issue that’s coming up is money. We’re going to be passing the budget in April, and we have money in Tennessee. Tennessee is a well-run state, one of the best in the entire nation. Unlike the federal government, we only spend the money we have. We don’t go into debt. We are one the lowest debt in the nation.

Leahy: Crom, you might want to weigh on this.

Carmichael: Well, what’s interesting is this because the Senator is right. We are a very well run state. We’re a very low tax state. We have no income tax. We have no estate tax. We don’t even have a tax now on interest in dividends. And the people on the left said if you eliminate those taxes, you’ll lose your revenue.

Leahy: They were wrong.

Carmichael: They were wrong. Because when you eliminate those taxes, you become more attractive to people to move to your state who create wealth. The states with the highest income taxes are the ones that run the biggest deficits. The corollary is just as clear as it can be. California and New York are terribly run states with huge deficits, as is Illinois. Please, go ahead.

Pody: I got to tell you, the people that are moving here out of those kinds of states because of their tax problems are coming here. We just don’t want them to bring their same politics here because they’re going to turn us into that kind of taxing state.

Carmichael: If there’s any extra money, have it to fund an educational program for newly minted Tennesseeans. (Laughter)

Leahy: That’s actually not a joke, because, as it turns out, there’s an idea called The Welcome Wagon.

Carmichael: I love it.

Leahy: Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has put this out. There’s some teeth behind it. And State Senator Pody, we’re going to bring this to you when it is fully developed in the next couple of weeks.

Pody: I look forward to it.

Carmichael: I love that. That’s right.

Leahy: We’re in the business of finding out ideas that Crom will love. (Laughter)

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.