Rep. Sexton Talks Cutting Strings Attached to Federal Money and Maintaining Tennessee Values in Public Schools

Rep. Sexton Talks Cutting Strings Attached to Federal Money and Maintaining Tennessee Values in Public Schools

 

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. (R) State Representative Jerry Sexton to the studio to discuss the Tennessee General Assembly’s intentions to control what is being taught in K12 public schools and the catch of accepting education funding from Washington.

Leahy: In studio our good friend State Representative Jerry Sexton from Bean Station, Tennessee. Jerry during the break, we were talking a little bit about education policy. There’s this real disconnect between what the Tennessee General Assembly says should be taught in schools and what actually is taught in schools. The schools’ curriculum is leaning left. Big time.

Now the Joe Biden Department of Education, I don’t know if you saw this is making grants available to teach critical race theory and The 1619 Project, which has been debunked historically. Critical race theory is an effort to divide America and to tell a false history. The concept behind critical race theory is not, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, that we should be judged by the content of our character.

But critical race theory says that everything should be seen through the lens of race. My question to you is there are apparently, some state legislators who are considering, even in the last couple of weeks of the session of introducing legislation, maybe in a caption bill, you would know better than I how it would come about, that would prohibit the teaching of either The 1619 Project or of critical race theory in Tennessee K12 public schools. If such a bill were proposed, how would you vote?

Sexton: Ha! I would vote to kill it. To kill it, kill it, kill it. And I know that I have several colleagues on the Education Committee that are fighting against this type of policy. And this is what’s ruining our public schools. It’s not about education. And I say it all the time. I was only on the education committee last session, and I talked about this all the time that it’s not about teaching, writing, arithmetic those types of things. It’s about indoctrinating our children. And we must put a stop to it. We must do that. We’ve stood up in this legislature just this past year. There was a program to come out to go into homes. And I don’t know if your people talked about that.

Leahy: Wellness checks without the approval of the parents.

Sexton: And we were livid. And it’s because of the Tennessee legislature and some conservative representatives that stood up and expose this for what it was. And we got it stopped. And, Michael, until we have the backbone to stand up and say, no, absolutely not, Washington you keep your money, you keep your values, you keep your education will keep ours in Tennessee. And I’ll be happy in five years to show the difference to Washington. They’re not teaching education. They’re teaching propaganda.

Leahy: Yeah, it’s kind of bizarre that our K12 public schools have devolved into propaganda machines. But that’s the reality of where they are now. I have this little pet idea, and I want to run it by you. So K12 public education in most States is funded by about 40 percent by local taxes, 50 percent by state taxes, about 10 percent from federal revenue. With federal revenue comes federal strings.

And usually, they come up with all these stupid ideas that if you want federal money, you’re going to have to do X, Y, or Z and all this stupid stuff. So here is my idea that I’ve kind of floated around. Why doesn’t the Tennessee General Assembly pass a bill that says we are not going to take a dime of federal money for education? You can keep your money and you can keep your regulations and we’ll do it our way. That makes some sense to me. As a legislator, what do you think of that concept?

Sexton: Well, let me veer off into another area and it deals with federal money. On my way home last Thursday, I’m getting calls from my county mayors. They’re wanting to know we had two million dollars put into the budget that would go directly to these counties for them to spend the money on infrastructure or whatever they needed. The local people and mayors…

Leahy: They know what’s needed. If the road needs fixing, they know which road needs fixing.

Sexton: I have a little Cumberland gap. It’s just a small place right there on the Kentucky border. And the Mayor told me he said, we need some roads and we’re going to get $40,000. of that money and we want our roads resurfaced. He said I’m hearing that they’re talking about not putting that in the budget because of the federal dollars.

Here’s what he said and here’s what every mayor told me. Those federal dollars come with strings. He said I can’t pave my roads. He said, I have to do one, two, three, and most of them have to do with the Green New Deal or something like that. He said I need the state money because I can do whatever I need to do for my town, for my county.

But he said if these federal dollars, he said, I have to do whatever they tell me to do. And he said I’m hearing that they’re wanting to take the $200 million out because of all the federal dollars. And I said, not in the House. The House is fighting for you. And I said it’s my understanding the governor is fighting for you. So I don’t know what the Senate is going to do. I’m not in the Senate. But that’s exactly what we’re doing with education. We need to tell Washington you keep your money, we’ll keep our money and we’ll teach our kids Tennessee values.

Leahy: Will you in the next session, introduce a bill to accomplish just that?

Sexton: I would love to accomplish that. I would love to introduce that bill. I will be glad to do that.

Leahy: All right. We’ll track it. And I say that with a smile on my face.

Sexton: Sure.

Leahy: And you know why there’s a smile on my face? Because there are huge hurdles to such a bill.

Sexton: Oh, absolutely.

Leahy: The Teacher’s Union. The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, and the Tennessee School Board. They’re all going to oppose it. All of them. Because they want the money.

Sexton: What’s most important to us? Funding the teachers union in the large infrastructure in the education Department? Or teaching our students? what’s the most important?

Leahy: I agree. And I’ve talked to a representative, Mark White, who’s a chair of the Education Administration Committee. He was favorably inclined to that idea.

Sexton: Absolutely.

Leahy: At least at the initial stages. It is a tough political battle. But we’ll see how that plays out.

Listen to the first 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. Rusty Grills on His No Mandatory Vaccines and Protecting Individual Liberties

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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