Monthly Archives: February 2020

Planned Parenthood endorses Mackler in U.S. Senate race

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has endorsed Democrat James Mackler in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race.

“People across Tennessee want their elected officials to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks that put our health, rights, and freedoms at risk,” Francie Hunt, the executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, said in a release. “James Mackler has been steadfast in his support for abortion rights and making the full range of women’s health services available to all.”

Diana Onyejiaka of Nashville and Marquita Bradshaw of Memphis have also announced they will seek the Democratic nomination in the race.

Leading Republican candidates Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi are staunch opponents of abortion rights.

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Klobuchar, Buttigieg join Bloomberg in campaigning in Tennessee

Mike Bloomberg won’t be the only Democratic candidate campaigning in Tennessee in the run up to Super Tuesday. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is holding a rally and fundraiser in Nashville on Friday and another event in Knoxville on Saturday. And former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is holding a town hall in Nashville on Saturday.

Klobuchar’s downtown Nashville event is at the Bell Tower starting at 4:30 on Friday. The Knoxville event  is scheduled for the Hilton Hotel starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Buttigieg’s town hall is scheduled for the public square outside the Metro Courthouse in Nashville at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Bloomberg is making his fourth visit to Tennessee on Friday. He starts the day with a rally in Minglewood Hall in Memphis at 8:15 a.m., followed by an event at the Old Glory Distilling Co. in Clarksville at 12:45 p.m., and concluding at a Blountville event at the Tri Cities airport at 5:45 p.m.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms campaigning on behalf of former Vice President Joe Biden in Nashville on Friday. Her events are a Women for Biden event with state Sen Brenda Gilmore at the City Club at 9:15 a.m., a healthcare roundtable at Nashville General Hospital at 11:30 a.m. , and a meet-and-greet along with state Rep. Harold Love JR. at Swett’s at 1 p.m.

Biden’s wife, Jill, is scheduled to headline an event at Loflin Yard in Memphis on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and a fundraiser in NAshville that evening.

Tennessee’s presidential primary is on Tuesday.

(This post has been updated to add Buttigieg’s and Jill Biden’s appearances)

Lee to lead efforts to remove handgun carry permit requirement

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday he will lead efforts to get rid of Tennessee’s requirement to obtain a state-issued permit in order to carry handguns in public.

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Gov. Bill Lee announced that he is proposing legislation to advance the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Tennesseans by implementing a Constitutional Carry law.  

“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I am pleased to announce Constitutional Carry legislation today that will protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans, while also stiffening penalties on criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms. I appreciate Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Sexton for helping to lead the way on this important issue.”

The governor’s legislation would extend the constitutional right to carry a handgun to all law-abiding citizens with or without a permit who are 21 and older, except in current restricted areas.

The legislation also includes several increased penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:

  • Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a felony;
  • Providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car;
  • Increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days;
  • Increasing the sentences for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.

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The long hello: Crowe officially joins 1st District congressional race

Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), right, confers with colleagues as they await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Rusty Crowe has officially announced his candidacy for the 1st District Seat being vacated by the retirement of U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, a fellow Johnson City Republican.

Here’s the release from the Crowe campaign:

Jonesborough — State Senator Rusty Crowe (R) picked up his petition to officially join the race to represent Tennessee’s open First Congressional District seat Thursday. U.S. Representative Phil Roe (R) announced in January he will retire rather than seek a seventh term. 

Crowe said he is running for Congress “because Tennessee’s on the right track and D.C. needs a good dose of Tennessee.”

“I’ve spent my life serving Tennesseans as a volunteer for the Vietnam War and then as a citizen legislator in the Tennessee Senate,” Crowe said. “Today, Tennessee is thriving because we’ve applied common-sense conservative principles to achieve extraordinary results.”

Crowe noted Tennessee is now the top state for fiscal stability with the lowest debt as a percentage of personal income and leads the nation in business climate, advanced industry jobs, and small business growth.

“It Matters Who Governs,’ and it matters how Republicans govern when they get the chance,” Crowe continued.

“In Tennessee, we’ve done exactly what we campaigned on, but the last time Republicans controlled Congress, they broke their promises to the voters, especially regarding federal spending, Obamacare, and border security and immigration. Sometimes you have to hold your own party to its principles. When a Republican governor tried to impose an unconstitutional, job-killing state income tax on Tennesseans, my decisive opposition was what stopped it dead in its tracks once and for all.”

“The current Speaker of the House and her socialist colleagues want to fundamentally transform our nation into something our Founders never intended and obstruct President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda,” Crowe said. 

“With the House and the Senate so completely polarized, President Trump under relentless partisan attack, and a socialist likely to be leading the other party in the general election, D.C. has never needed a good dose of Tennessee as badly as it does right now,” Crowe concluded. 

“That’s why I’m officially running for Congress. It’s about personally serving the people of Northeast Tennessee, supporting our president, and protecting our fundamental constitutional rights.”

Crowe will appear on the August 6, 2020 GOP primary ballot to serve as the Republican nominee for the First Congressional District.

 

Sethi outlines plan to tackle spread of coronavirus

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi speaks at a campaign event in Clarksville on Feb. 4, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Senate Manny Sethi, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is outlining his plan to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

“We must stop listening to the Wall Street elites, who are more worried about not spooking the markets and their pocketbooks, than they are about protecting Americans,” Sethi said in a release. “And we must start listening to the doctors and researchers who have been sounding the alarm on this.”

Here’s the full release from the Sethi campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On Monday, President Trump announced an emergency funding request to address the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19). 

Dr. Manny Sethi, candidate for U.S. Senate, applauded President Trump, called on Congress to act quickly, and released his own plan for how to handle the international epidemic.

Dr. Manny released the following statement and eight-point plan: 

We have a massive international crisis brewing, and need something as bold and ambitious as a Manhattan Project-style effort to combat it.

I appreciate President Trump’s stand to defend Americans from this contagion. Congress must act quickly and give him what he has asked for, without politicizing the issue by adding extraneous requests to the emergency funding bill that have nothing to do with the coronavirus.

We must stop listening to the Wall Street elites, who are more worried about not spooking the markets and their pocketbooks, than they are about protecting Americans. And we must start listening to the doctors and researchers who have been sounding the alarm on this.

Let’s direct every resource available at developing an accurate, reliable screening test capable of identifying virus victims quickly, and stopping them from unknowingly spreading the virus.

Time is not on our side – we need thousands of researchers working on this around-the-clock, which means Congress must give the President the funding he needs to fight this crisis.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that this crisis ends being less terrifying than it looks right now. But hope isn’t a strategy – we need our leaders to take every step we can to protect Americans and be prepared.

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Bloomberg to return for three Tenn. stops Friday

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to reporters after a rally in Chattanooga on Feb. 12, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is returning for another three stops in Tennessee on Friday.

The former New York mayor will campaign in Memphis on Friday morning, Clarksville in the early afternoon, and Johnson City that evening.

“Tennessee is often ignored by Democratic presidential contenders, so we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mike back for his fourth trip to the state,” Bloomberg state director Courtney Wheeler said in a release. “Our field team connects with voters every day, and it’s clear that they want a president who is committed to working with our local leaders to solve our biggest challenges.”

Bloomberg last visited Chattanooga and Nashville on Feb. 12. He’s also made previous stops in Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville.

Bloomberg won’t be the only Democratic candidate in the state that day. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is planning a fundraiser in Nashville on Friday.

Tuesday is last day of early voting in Tennessee

Image: Secretary of State’s office.

Early voting for Tennessee’s presidential primary ends on Tuesday.

About 199,000 people voted early through Saturday, down from 208,000 through the same period in 2016. There had been 29,228 fewer Republican ballots casts through the first 10 days, compared with an increase of nearly 20,000  Democratic ones. GOP voters still accounted for 55% of the early votes cast, but that was down from 66% in the 2016 primary.

Democrats have seen their biggest gains in Shelby County (+4,116 votes), Hamilton (+2,023), Williamson (+1,961), Davidson (1,808), and Knox (+1,417) counties.

Republican turnout has been most depressed in Davidson (-4,087), Knox (-3,907), Rutherford (-2,359), Shelby (-2,202), Monroe (-1,681), and Sumner (-1,459) counties.

Wilson County has had the highest increase in turnout compared with 2016, with 2,560 more voters casting ballots (1,423 Republicans and 1,083 Democrats).  The next highest increases were in Shelby (+1,914), Washington (+1,766), Blount (+891), and Williamson (+783).

Tennessee’s Super Tuesday primary is on March 3.

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FBI searches nursing school founded by Democratic state senator

The FBI has executed search warrants at a Memphis  home and nursing school of Democratic state Sen. Katrina Robinson.

Toranio Bishop, who works at the nearby Detroit Barbershop, told the Commercial Appeal he said he saw what appeared to be FBI agents enter the nursing school at at 7 a.m. Friday.

“They came in like a parade,” Bishop told the paper, adding that  students arriving  at the school then left immediately.

The lawmaker didn’t immediately respond to questions from the Commercial Appeal or the Daily Memphian.

“We’ve been made aware of the investigation and have received no indication that it relates to the legislature or her legislative service,” said Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman Brandon Puttbrese. “Because the investigation is ongoing, we will not be making additional statements and will defer any further questions to Sen. Robinson’s attorney. Our thoughts are with Sen. Robinson and her family.”

Robinson founded the Healthcare Institute in 2015, according to its website. The for-profit school received at least $1.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Robinson in 2018 defeated incumbent Sen. Reginald Tate in the Democratic primary. Tate died last year.

Tennessee AG joins effort to block Equal Rights Amendment

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is joining four counterparts in Republican states in trying to block an effort to revive the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Virginia lawmakers last month ratified the amendment stating that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Supporters argue that Virginia is the 38th state to approve of the language, meeting the requirement that three-fourths of states agree to amend the Constitution.

Opponents point to the a ratification deadline set by Congress was 1979 and that it was later extended only to 1982. Those deadlines are unenforceable, according to a lawsuit filed by Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada.

Tennessee lawmakers approved the amendment in 1972, but voted to rescinded their action in 1974.

Read the release from Slatery’s office after the jump:

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Lee now to pursue family leave policy through legislation

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s effort to offer 12 weeks of paid leave to state workers to care for a new child or an ill family member will now be pursued through legislation rather than by executive order. The governor’s office said the change will allow employees from all three branches of government to benefit from the change.

“After consultation with legislative leaders, we feel the best course of action is to implement paid family leave via legislation rather than executive order,” Lee said in a statement. “We will propose legislation that is retroactive to March 1, 2020, so that no state employee is negatively impacted by this change in course.”