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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Senator Janice Bowling Talks Priorities: Abortion Remains Burial and Fiber to Premises for Rural Communities

State Senator Janice Bowling Talks Priorities: Abortion Remains Burial and Fiber to Premises for Rural Communities

 

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 (TN-16) Senator Janice Bowling to the newsmakers line to discuss her priorities in the current session with common-sense bills that she’s passed and continues to work towards.

Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by our good friend, State Senator Janice Bowling from Tullahoma. Good morning, Senator Bowling.

Bowling: Good morning, Michael. How are you in Nashville?

Leahy: Well, we’re delighted that we have this time to chat with you. Very busy time in the Tennessee General Assembly. You’ve been pretty busy at it as well. Tell us what your priorities are and how they’re doing so far.

Bowling: Well, I’ve had several priorities with this session, and one was to get the bill passed that allows for the burial of the human remains of a child after an abortion. And that sounds like, my goodness, what were they doing prior to now? But that legislation has passed out of committee very handily. And hopefully we will get that on the floor and that will be passed in Tennessee. There had been no regulatory oversight for that. And even though we had regulatory oversight for veterinarians on what to do with animals, we had nothing for the human remains, even abortion.

Leahy: That sounds like common sense legislation to me, Senator Bowling.

Bowling: It really was common decency, common sense. I think it was Supreme Court Justice Thomas and his talk with the majority when it was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court that he said the insane thing is that we would have to be even discussing that this would take place and would be appropriate to take place.

Leahy: I agree with Justice Thomas. I almost always agree with him.

Bowling: So do I. I really admire him so much. And then another bill that I’ve carried now for multiple years, Michael, is the expansion of fiber to the premises in Tennessee, particularly in rural Tennessee. Fiber to the premises. And at one time I said high-speed Internet. But then you get into discussions with all of the providers about what constitutes high-speed Internet.

And they were trying to say 10 megs down and three megs up. Well, you need symmetrical these days. You’ve got to have upload and download speeds. The only thing that really gives you symmetry is fiber. So rather than trying to argue the points that 10 megs down and three megs up is more like a tom tom drum or kerosene lantern that you waive in the window it’s really not appropriate for 21st century needs.

I just left off anything that said broadband and went straight to fiber to the premises because, with that, you can stream videos. You can do voice over Internet. You will have more than adequate bandwidth and speed for everything. And it’s really 80 percent of your cost is going to be in the installation of the product. So go ahead and put in what’s future proof. You don’t need radio waves in rural Tennessee. Hills, hollers, trees, and weather, those things all interrupt. Plus they’re not secure. So that was one thing. And I did get four votes in committee this year.

Leahy: So you keep making progress on that. Senator Bowling, you know what this reminds me of? This reminds me of the Rural Electrification Act in the 1930s.

Bowling: 1937. You are exactly correct. And what some of my colleagues say incorrectly, in my opinion, is that you’re trying to interfere with the free market. Well, I would submit to you that when a company has regulatory protection and has tax subsidies, which is what the legacy providers, as they call them have and they’ve gotten the benefits of universal tax since the 1990s.

About five years ago, one of the largest providers had received over nine billion dollars of tax subsidy in order to expand broadband into rural America. And one of the providers gets $500,000. a month from Tennesseeans to expand the product. And we are still without it.

Leahy: What is the state of that in the status of fiber to the premises in rural Tennessee right now?

Bowling: Well, right now, the sad tragedy is that if you have electricity anywhere in Tennessee, you have fiber running in front of your home because TVA requires SCADA systems and those are internal auditings if you will. They determine if there’s an outage. Where is it? It’s an internal ability to know exactly where you are online, where you’re not, and many other facets of the provision of electricity.

Now, Chattanooga got a grant back when Obama was President, and fortunately, they used it successfully. They created the SCADA system for Chattanooga, and they then expanded that into fiber to the premises. And we all know what has happened in Chattanooga since that happened. Someone complained about the source of the original grant. And my theory on that is, I don’t like for the government to pay for things, but once they roast that hog, I want to make sure that my people, my constituents, get as many ribs as they can.

Leahy: (Laughs) I’ve not heard that phrase, but where did you pick up that phrase? That’s a good one.

Bowling: That is a Janice. I have lots of phrases.

Leahy: Do you? I love that phrase. That’s very good.

Bowling: But it’s very common sense. And on my mountain, within my district and the rural seven counties, they have a lot of sayings that I have picked up on, such as plain talk which is easily understood. And when you talk plainly it is. Everyone knows exactly what’s being discussed, and you don’t need to flower things up. Sometimes you just need to give the truth, the plain truth, and nothing but the truth. And they also say if there’s a problem, there’s a solution. If there is no solution, there is no problem. Think about it.

Leahy: Well, I think also, your ability to craft a phrase may come from your long experience as a teacher. You were a teacher. And now you represent the Tullahoma and the surrounding counties in the state Senate.

Bowling: Yes. As a matter of fact, I taught when my husband was in graduate school, then he went into the Air Force and we went to California, and we began our family…

Listen to the 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Rep. Chris Todd from Jackson Weighs in on Court Packing, National Issues, and Etiquette as a Member of the Tennessee House

State Rep. Chris Todd from Jackson Weighs in on Court Packing, National Issues, and Etiquette as a Member of the Tennessee House

 

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 Tennessee State Representative (R), Chris Todd of Jackson, to the studio to discuss court-packing, keepnine.org, and attention to national issues that affect constituents.

Leahy: In studio with us, our good friend, State Representative Chris Todd. Chris, you’re ready for the big question?

Todd: I guess so. Been waiting on it. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: Here it comes. The big questions. The progressive Democrats in the House in the United States Senate are going crazy. They want to pack the court. They want to add four left-wing lunatic justices to the Supreme Court and make it 13 instead of nine. And my question to you is, do you think in this current session of the Tennessee General Assembly, there would be a possibility that the General Assembly in the House and the state Senate would pass a resolution strongly opposing any efforts to pack the United States Supreme Court?

Todd: I believe it’s a significant possibility. Yes.

Leahy: Terrific. That’s very good news. I think Tennessee could lead the way on this. I don’t know if other states have looked at this in terms of opposing this resolution. Have you heard of this group called Keep Nine?

Todd: No.

Leahy: There’s a group called Keep Nine and they actually have another element to this. They are asking state legislatures to pass resolutions to support a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of justices to nine.

Todd: I think that’s a good idea as well. It’ll be a challenge to get that through. But just because of all the concerns of an Article Five that we talked about a while ago.

Leahy: Well, this wouldn’t be necessarily Article Five the resolution to ask Congress to pass that amendment and then to go to the states for ratification.

Todd: But I think the chances of Congress doing that are almost as slim as them putting limits on themselves right now.

Leahy: Now, you raise an interesting point. Let me just throw this out there. This is real time now. You just proposed a bill that would support an Article Five Amendment for the specific purpose of just looking at term limits. Would such a bill that specifically looked at an amendment to limit the Supreme Court to nine justices? Would that be a possibility?

Todd: I would say it’s a possibility. And I don’t know how strong that group is and how well funded they are, but it takes a significant effort to get the public informed and it costs money to get the public informed. You would need lobbyists in order to go to each one of these legislatures and work that kind of a bill to find a sponsor and then to get the support for it just like we’ve done with term limits. I had quite a few folks helping me on this from U.S. term limits specifically and then some local groups. So I think it’s very possible and that’s just going to take an effort. And if the people really want it, they need to put their money where their mouth is and support these groups.

Leahy: I’ll send you the link. There is a group called the Keep Nine Amendment and they are basically the local representative, actually here from Tennessee, former Attorney General Paul Summer. And he is working with this group. And they are submitting a series of resolutions that would establish an amendment to the Constitution to keep nine in the Supreme Court.

Todd: I think that’s very worthwhile.

Leahy: Keepnine.org. There’s a guy in Washington, D.C., Roman Bueller has been putting this together. You talk about lobbyists. He calls me like every two weeks. He says, Mike, Mike, are you ready to help us? I said, as you said, I think it’s a great idea. I just don’t have the time for it. I think maybe now I’m going to have the time to help. What do you think?

Todd: It’s all a matter of priorities. When we see the threat to our way of life, to the point that it motivates us, that’s when it will happen.

Leahy: Exactly. It’s keepnine org. Take a look at it. Because you just you don’t have enough to do, right?

Todd: Oh, no. I’m looking for something.

Leahy: You’re looking for some other challenges right now?

Todd: Absolutely.

Leahy: When you go back and you talk to your fellow members of the Tennessee General Assembly most of the time, the conversation is about the bills, right?

Todd: Probably so.

Leahy: You are all narrowly focused on getting your bills. But when something like this happens, when there’s a national effort by the Progressives to pack the Supreme Court you kind of have a reaction to that, don’t you?

Todd: It gets bumped up in priority, just like with our citizens. When something reaches that level that says, okay, this is contradictory to what we’ve always done. This is a threat to what I do day in and day out, the way I raise my kids, the way my family operates, the way our country operates. Then I’m going to be motivated to do something either, to donate money, to make phone calls, to write emails, whatever it might be.

Leahy: You talk about getting things done, right. And you have to understand the committee process. We’ve talked about that quite a bit. You also have to have relationships with people, right?

Todd: Critical.

Leahy: Very, very important. And are there different styles that people decide to follow when they go to the state General Assembly?

Todd: Oh, absolutely. I think most people come with their own style, just from their nature at that stage of their life. Will it change? I think somewhat. You probably change a little bit from the people that you’re around, but your basics are still the same. Your tendencies are still the same. If you’re an honest person, you’re going to stay honest. If you’re not, you’re probably going to get worse.

Leahy: I was under the impression that every single member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and the Tennessee state Senate honest as the day is long. (Chuckles) 

Todd: That is a primary assumption that you should make.

Leahy: That’s my assumption.

Todd: Let them prove you different.

Leahy: But occasionally human nature being what it is people reveal themselves as perhaps not totally being people of their word.

Todd: Sometimes. That doesn’t happen all that often. But most of the time, the differences are about how you accomplish something. I find that we have the same goal. Let’s say that is to make sure that our children are brought up in a great education and are provided a good education so that they can enter the workforce and be successful.

How to get there is where we might differ on. Does that mean how we choose textbooks? Does that mean how we fund the schools? Does that mean all of these things? Do we bus them? You get all the fine details of how do we get to that end goal? But most of the time we have the same goal in mind, but it’s the method of getting there that is where we differ.

Leahy: So we’ve got about three more weeks left I think the Tennessee General Assembly.

Todd: Probably.

Leahy: So then the legislative side of this job ends. What happens to a state legislature later after you’re in session? Is your job over? Or do you still have lots of stuff to do, but different kinds of stuff?

Todd: It’s just lots of stuff to do, but different kinds of stuff. Last year was quite different with COVID. Most everything was canceled. Meetings were canceled, events were canceled, but I think this year will be back to fairly 80 percent normal, which is many days of the week you’re required to be somewhere with at least a jacket on and make an appearance, make a speech or meet with a group and hear their concerns about legislation for next year or just dealing with phone calls and emails from constituents that have an unemployment issue or they can’t get broadband even though the company ran it in front of their house and had the grant to do so. A state grant that didn’t hook them up. There are just all kinds of things that we deal with. I have a person in my office that’s full-time to answer those questions.

Leahy: Back in Jackson?

Todd: Here in Nashville. A legislative assistant, but I still field a lot of that, and we bounce things off of each other about what the right path is.

Leahy: So do you have, like, just one staff member?

Todd: Yes.

Leahy: Just one. in Congress. They have what, 25 staff members?

Todd: Nobody knows.

Leahy: They have quite a few up there.

Todd: And here, back in the district.

Leahy: But it’s pretty much you.

Todd: Pretty much.

Leahy: When you say that you’ve got to go, like, you have to go and make it, you don’t really have to go to thee events.

Todd: Correct.

Leahy: People will introduce you and say, Hey, come on in.

Todd: It’s expected and it’s good manners. It’s expected.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Weighs in on MLB Gone Woke and the Coming Agenda in the General Assembly

Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Weighs in on MLB Gone Woke and the Coming Agenda in the General Assembly

 

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 Congressman Scott Cepicky to the newsmakers line to weigh in on Major League Baseball’s decision to withdrawl from Georgia, cancel culture, and the upcoming agenda in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line, by our good friend, state Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. Scott, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Cepicky: Michael, how are you doing today?

Leahy: Well, I’m doing great. You are, of course, our favorite state legislator who is a former professional baseball player. You played for the AA Nashville Express and the AAA Nashville Sounds and almost made it to the bigs had not been for a trade between the Chicago White Sox and the Montreal Expos that brought Tim Raines to Chicago. I just got to ask you, what are they thinking in Major League Baseball to cancel the All-Star Game in Atlanta?

Cepicky: Well, you know, Michael it is very troubling what’s happening in professional sports right now and the hypocrisy of all of these other corporations. So you know as well as I do and your listeners, let’s talk about Delta Airlines. If you’re going to go pick up your ticket at Delta Airlines the first thing they ask you for is your ID. Or if you’re going to go to a Nashville Sounds baseball game and you are going to pick up your tickets at will call the first thing they’re going to ask you for is your ID to prove who you are.

I think Georgia has done just common sense. What people are wanting is, hey, we’re not denying anybody the ability to go vote. Just make sure you bring your ID to prove who you are so you’re able to vote. And I think Major League Baseball is really overstepping the boundaries here. And then you mentioned how they are going to Coors Field in Colorado that has voter ID laws.

Leahy: It doesn’t make any sense to me. And what’s troubling to me, you are a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and according to the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution, election procedures and election laws are the responsibility of the Tennessee General Assembly for federal elections and for state and local also for the Tennessee General Assembly and the governor. What is it with these Fortune 500 companies that are so woke and they think they are the ones who set the rules about elections? What’s happening with that?

Cepicky: Well, my dad taught me a long time ago, he said, Scott, always understand what role you play and stay in your lane. And you’re right. The General Assembly is the one that affects the laws on elections. And the corporations are the ones that hire people to work in Tennessee. Michael, the last time I checked, we don’t have a problem with corporations or people moving to Tennessee because of the laws we have and the lack of oversight of laws.

We have no state income tax and the loan tax structure here in Tennessee is very attractive for corporations to move here. And for that matter, if you look at Georgia with the environment they have Coca-Cola is there. Delta Airlines is there. CitiBank is there and major corporations are there because of the laws that they all live under, but they’re very quick to bite the hand that provides those opportunities.

Leahy: What is the general attitude among your colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly when they see a woke ridiculous decision by Major League Baseball, by Delta, and by Coca-Cola, to try and force sovereign states to do things that they think are better for the general population?

Cepicky: Well, I don’t speak for all the members, but I know a great deal of us are concerned about how this whole culture is and this cancel culture. If you disagree with them, they want to shut you down right away. And that’s not the way our country was founded. We were founded on differing opinions and trying to find the middle ground. And now there’s no middle ground either.

If you agree with them, then they give you the thumbs up. If you disagree with them, then they want to cancel you out and they want to call you a racist or a bigot. I think we’ve got to get past that as a country. I mean, do you see the poll just like I do? This is probably the most divided our country has ever been, and we need to start to work together towards making our country as great as it used to be.

Leahy: Yeah, I agree with you completely. If I can turn the corner a little bit on that topic and go to the Tennessee General Assembly. I think the chairman of the Education Committee is doing a great job there. What is going to be happening in the last couple of weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly? What’s on your agenda?

Cepicky: Well, in education we worked very hard to make sure that we just don’t overburden our teachers and administrators with just more things to do. We are laser-focused on K-3 education, trying to make sure that all kids, no matter where they come from, no matter what background they have, all children will be able to read, write, and do math so that they can prosper in the four through 12-grade levels.

We are working on textbooks, making sure that they align with our standards and curriculums are aligned to our standards. And lastly, the supplemental materials that you hear that teachers will inadvertently pull something off the Internet that’s confrontational or questionable, and it gets the LEA in trouble that now supplemental materials will have to align the Tennessee standards and our values.

So a lot of work has been done in education. We had a special session with literacy and going back to summer school and getting kids help with tutoring. We are all in. We are all in with making sure our kids know how to read, write, and do math. And then yesterday on the House floor I thought we did something rather appropriate as we recognized Dolly Parton as the first lady of literacy in Tennessee with all she’s done with the Imagination Library.

I think over 152 million books have been distributed through the Imagination Library and 1.7 million Tennesseeans have had the opportunity to experience Imagination Library, including my two children. So a lot of things happening. We’re probably four weeks away from wrapping up the session.

Leahy: You mentioned Dolly Parton. It’s interesting because Scooter and I were talking a little bit about Dolly Parton. Everybody in America thinks highly of Dolly Parton. She’s done a remarkable job not just for the state of Tennessee, but for the country with her literacy efforts.

Cepicky: Oh, absolutely. I mean, as an elected official, I don’t want to get caught up in your position here. I can talk for two hours on education, but Dolly Parton can come up to a microphone and speak for two minutes which weighs 10 times more heavily on literacy. And so we just wanted to make sure that Dolly knew that we appreciated her efforts in education. She knows how important it is for Tennessee to be able to read, write, and do math. And we just wanted to make sure that she felt appreciated by the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: What other big things do you see happening in the final three or four weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly?

Cepicky: Well, you know, the permitless carry. And I’m going to say its permitless carry has passed the House and Senate. It’s gone on to the governor’s desk. There are other bills. Criminal justice reform. There’s a bill coming through the pipeline.

Leahy: I have one question for you. I saw that the House passed what I think is a very good bill yesterday to provide a formal review process for the constitutionality of executive orders from the president. What’s your take on that?

Cepicky: You read my mind. That was the one I was trying to remember. Government operations, the House passed and we’ll have the ability to look at all the executive orders or, for that matter, any law that’s passed by the federal government to make sure it doesn’t infringe on our Tenth Amendment rights or, for that matter, it’s constitutional. There was another bill that’s making its way that will be filed here shortly on vaccine passports opposing those in the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: I saw the bill to review the constitutionality of executive orders coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the office of the President. The bill passed 70 to 23, mainly along party lines. But there were two Democrats who voted for the bill. State Representative Johnny Shaw from Boliver, but also John Mark Windle. What a great guy he is.

Cepicky: He has been there, I think since Abraham Lincoln was born. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: I will tell him you said that if we get him in here.

Cepicky: He has his principles and he will not be swayed from his principles, which is very admirable to him. And sometimes his principles do not align with this party, and he’s not afraid to stand up and take that vote. And he sits two spaces in front of me on the House floor. He’s very well respected up there, the General Assembly. And obviously, he’s well respected by his constituents because they keep sending them back up there year after year after year.

Leahy: When you sit down next to him today on the House floor, just say tell him, hey, please, come in. Michael Patrick Leahy wants you to come in studio on The Tennessee Star Report. Will you do that for us?

Cepicky: I will do that Michael.

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

 

 

 

 

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.