Dunn won’t seek re-election to House in 2020

House Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) presents school voucher legislation on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville, the longest-serving Republican in the state House, says he won’t run for re-election next year. Dunn was the lead House sponsor of this year’s controversial school voucher legislation. He had already drawn a primary opponent.

“After the 2019 session was over, and we had passed Educational Savings Accounts legislation, as well as one of the most pro-life measures in the country, House Bill 1029, I decided it was the right time to conclude my public service on a high note,” Dunn said in a statement.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) today announced he will not seek re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2020.

Dunn currently serves as Speaker Pro Tempore — the second ranking member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. He recently was the acting Speaker of the House due to the resignation of the previous Speaker. Dunn was first elected to the General Assembly to represent the citizens of House District 16 in 1994, making him the longest tenured Republican House member now serving.

“After the 2019 session was over, and we had passed Educational Savings Accounts legislation, as well as one of the most pro-life measures in the country, House Bill 1029, I decided it was the right time to conclude my public service on a high note.”

Dunn said that he wanted to go ahead and make his plans known so that those interested in running for the seat could start making their own plans.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of our community for the past 26 years as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. I have reached a point in my life where it is time for me to seek new challenges. I am not sure what my future holds, but I look forward to many new and exciting adventures.”

During his tenure, Tennessee students became the fastest improving in the entire nation across math, reading and science. In 2019, Dunn championed an initiative that establishes the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program which gives students and their families the opportunity to select the school that most meets their educational needs.

Additionally, Dunn has been an unwavering and passionate voice for the Right to Life. He has fought to strengthen Tennessee’s pro-life laws in recent years and has strongly supported initiatives to protect unborn children and their mothers.  This year, the legislature passed one of the country’s strongest pro-life measures, House Bill 1029, which restores Tennessee’s pre-1973 pro-life laws when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Dunn was tireless in pursuing road improvements in the district, and he will leave office with major improvements to Emory Road in Powell, Highway 33 in Halls, and the I-640/Broadway interchange in Fountain City.

Dunn and his Republican colleagues have also cut more than $700 million in taxes since 2011, and they have supported a business-friendly environment that has led to statewide unemployment rates remaining near historic low levels.

“I will be leaving office with our state in a stronger position than when I first came to Nashville,” said Dunn. “We have vastly improved our education system, our state is ranked number one in fiscal responsibility, and, because of the conservative leadership, we continue to attract quality jobs.  I appreciate my colleagues for their friendship and for their dedication to the citizens of Tennessee. I represent the best people in the state and thank the constituents of the 16th House District for the opportunity they have given me to serve them and the great state of Tennessee.”

Bill Dunn is Speaker Pro-Tempore for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. Dunn is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules, Education, Government Operations, and Naming, Designating & Private Acts and Transportation Committees. He is also a member of the House Curriculum, Testing, and Innovation, and the House Infrastructure Subcommittees, as well as the Judiciary & Government Subcommittee of Joint Government Operations Committee. Dunn lives in Knoxville and represents Tennessee House District 16, which includes part of Knox County.

29 Responses to Dunn won’t seek re-election to House in 2020

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Bill Dunn is going out on a high note having supported further inroads to the monopoly of government schools but he only has a 79% American Conservative Union rating. We can do better. Nothing like a primary challenge to have these legislators move on. What we need is some serious primary challenges against some of the Toady Ten who refused to close Tennessee’s primaries.

    • Lenny says:

      If buckling under the pressure of a coordinated state and federal law enforcement investigation into an illegal bribe scheme is going out on a high note, then yes, that note can shatter glass.

  • Paul Williams says:

    Now, let’s get rid of other spineless Republicans. Rep.Tom Leatherwood, who is my Rep., would be a great start!

    • James White says:

      Tom Leatherwood would make a great congressman. He is the most conservative and constitutionalist in the state legislature today.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Tom Leatherwood is apparently in his first term of office. In times of great controversy like this there is only one way to know Tom’s worth as a legislator. Let’s wait until the Amercian Conservative Union/Club For Growth ratings come out at the end of this General Assembly to see Tom’s scores.

        • James White says:

          Tom served TWO terms in the TN Senate awhile back.
          And the Constitution and the Heritage/ACU/CFG scores does not look to the constitution to rate the votes, they look to the Lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Sorry, my mistake. This is the first year the Club For Growth is rating the Tennessee legislature so their rating is only based on the first session of the legislature – only 14 key votes. Anyway, Leatherwood gets a 75% just for your information. I have to admit, it will take awhile before the Club’s ratings will be useful.

  • susan swan says:

    Dunn has totally ignored the majority his constituents’ voices . Dunn has turned his back on the poor, helping to change the law to line the pockets of the rich. Hopefully, his lap dog support of the voucher bill will result in in some criminal indictments with bribery charges. Those “improved’ scores in math, science, and reading are just plain outright “misleading” with Dunn taking the credit. This is laughable to anyone that has true knowledge of how ridiculous these so called improved scores really are . In my opinion, never has one man managed to wreak so much havoc on the unsuspecting taxpayers of Tennessee and our public schools, the cornerstone of our American Democracy. Yes, Dunn it is time for you to cut and run. You can run, but you can’t hide from the FBI Investigation on legislators taking bribes in return for the support of your buddies’ voucher bill. This happened on your watch. You own it.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      I understand that government schools with their bloated bureaucracy and far left unions are such an important part of liberal power in this country but calling them “. . .the cornerstone of our American Democracy” should embarrass even their strongest advocates. Voters are getting increasingly tired of their lien on their taxes while producing dismal results compared to other wealthy industrialized countries. It is way past time that we introduced the vitalization of free markets and private enterprise into our sclerotic educational system in this state and country.

      • susan swan says:

        Public schools are absolutely the cornerstone of our American Democracy! Charters will cost the taxpayers even more . Without public schools , there is no social mobility. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Public schools level the playing field. If public funds are diverted to scammer charter schools that cherry pick their students refusing the discipline problems, special needs, and low performing students. Most vouchers won’t pay the full tuition and costs of private schools. Charter schools are scams to line the pockets with gold of the rich and their friends. Poverty of students is the greatest challenge to public schools. Propping up public schools with proper funding is the way to show student improvement. Our students are not a “free enterprise business” to make a profit. You have been drinking the Kool-Aid. Billionaires and the big corporations are the ones pulling the puppet strings to these scammer charter schools. You are the one that should be embarrassed for being “played” by the wealthy special interests groups lining their pockets with public school tax dollars. The charter school scams are the next best thing for rich investors to triple their money since the “prime mortgage scam” that crashed the stock market in 2008. Start thinking for yourself! You have been scammed!

        • James White says:

          Susan, I suggest you read the U.S. Constitution and all 50 State Constitutions. Our founding Fathers hated Democracies and gave us a Republic. And Public schools were NOT the the plan.
          Our government schools today have Failed. Lets try something else. If you love children, don’t send them to a government school.

          • susan swan says:

            I don’t have to read the Constitution or the entire encyclopedia from A-Z to spot a scam! Charter schools/vouchers are scams. Our public schools have not failed. Non regulated charter schools for profit aren’t the answer. Usually, the way it works is that the person running the school gets $250K and his wife or another relative gets $250k in salary for another job title. Fully funding public schools is the answer. Public schools are held to a higher standard and take “all” the students. If you want to send your children to a private school, you can. You have that choice. 91% of American children attend public schools. The rich will get richer and the poor poorer…period. I don’t like my public park. I want my park tax money to start my own private park with my own rules that I make. I don’t like my local hospital. I want my part of the tax money to start my own hospital. I don’t like the police department or the fire department, so give me my tax money for those so I can start my own with my friends. If everyone did that, there would be no way to fund any public services. The love of money by the greedy rich is all the love that we are talking about here!

          • James White says:

            Susan, if public schools have not failed, Why can’t graduates read? Why do college’s have remedial classes? Why are student’s test scores being beat by other countries?

            Yes some charter schools are rip offs. But let a few parents in a small neighbor get together their money and hire a teacher that well actually educate the children according to the parents beliefs.

            Most of government school money goes to bureaucrat to bureaucrat to administrator to administrator before any gets to the teacher or the classroom.

            One thing that could be done to help students immediately is to just teach the basics. No frills education. That is what the neighborhood teacher would do,
            Math, Reading, Writing, History, Science, Geography; if they teach that then our government schools might be first and not last.

          • susan swan says:

            Our public schools have never been last ..ever. Some countries may rank higher in some subjects at certain times when comparing apples to oranges. Other countries select only the top students to continue their education after the sixth grade forcing the rest into the trades or other occupational training. Comparing the scores of the entire USA with the selected top students of other countries isn’t an accurate assessment. All criterion must be equal to compare our American students with students from other countries. In America, we educate the masses and not a selected group of students. America is very far ahead in the education of their special needs population over other countries. To protect and keep America strong the masses require educating without regard to race, religion, IQ, disability, mental illness, zip code, nor politics. With 25% poverty in America, the only way to address that is through fully funded public education of all its citizens. Public schools strive to teach all our students regardless of how difficult of a task. The newspaper is written on a sixth grade reading level so all of our citizens can understand it, and just a select population.Without strong public schools, our country won’t last very long. It will be a world of the haves and the have nots. I do agree with you that the top needs a reduction with more money actually funneled into the classroom. Charter schools will be far worse at this with scant oversight. Teaching the basics absolutely will not work. The world is far too complicated to navigate if only the basics are taught. One teacher cannot teach all the subjects require. It’s impossible. I trust your imaginary neighborhood teacher would teach anything you wanted them to teach because you sign their paycheck. I want ” all ” the children in America to have a strong well funded secular, public school to attend regardless of their status at birth. United we stand strong. Separated we fall. All the children, not just some of the children!

        • MARLE says:

          Susan….why are public schools allowing discipline problems to be in a classroom with children who want to learn? Public schools lost their way when they abandoned homogeneous classrooms and turned their back on separating out those who want to learn from those who don’t.

          I understand that these “issues” make for higher employment as it takes smaller classes and the addition of Teacher Aides to deal with unruly children, those who are language challenged, and multiple learning levels tossed into the same room. It also helps boost pay as we, taxpayers, are giving what amounts to “hazard pay” to compensate for the combat-like classroom environment.

          • susan swan says:

            Charter schools just get rid of their disciple problems. Public schools take all the students regardless of their educational problems to improve upon. Public school don’t allow discipline problems to permanently remain in the classroom. They have procedures to follow to address any student that is a discipline problem. Public schools have not lost their way. Are all public schools perfect? No. Charters schools are not the answer. Public schools are the best solution to giving ” all” children a fair and appropriate education. Any failures on the part of the public schools are a result of under funding. The underlying issues of poverty that the public schools face require resources to solve those problems. Students make more progress in public schools over charter schools according to the latest research. How many planes landed safely in Atlanta last year? Did you hear about all the planes that landed safely? If you have an issue with public schools, pay out of your own pocket for private schools.

          • MARLE says:

            I have been watching the public school spending debate for decades. The answer it seems is that we “just aren’t spending enough”. ALWAYS that is the answer.

            Exactly how much more per child did we spend per pupil in prior decades?

            Class sizes must be kept low, I hear. How is that a senior in high school cannot be expected to learn in class sizes greater than 30 but just months later, in college, they can learn in survey size classes of 100 or more?

            The reason obviously is that colleges can teach in greater class size b/c the class is made up of motivated, disciplined, students ~ the same type of students you would have IF classes were homogeneously grouped.

          • MARLE says:

            And FYI…I was a teacher; my mother was an English teacher (of the yr in her state); her sister was a teacher, then principal and superintendent; she taught in the Cincinnati inner-city school system.

          • MARLE says:

            The reason you don’t hear about the planes that arrived safely is that they are Adding to the economy, not costing taxpayers the burden of the catastrophe and its attendant misery.

            The bright students from successful families will do well whether they are home-schooled, in charter schools, in public schools. The Public School challenge is to educate those who will be a life-long underachievers unnecessarily (if you were fulfilling your mandate to educate every child, not just have them take up a seat @ $10K per yr) burdening the rest of us for a lifetime.

          • James White says:

            Is public education necessary? The answer is obvious: it was not needed then (before public schools), and it is certainly not needed today. Schools are necessary, but they can be created by free enterprise today as they were before the public school movement achieved its fraudulent state monopoly in education. Subject education to the same competitive market forces that other goods and services are subjected to, and we shall see far better education at much lower overall cost. Instead of a “crusade against ignorance” to reform the world, we shall have schools capable of performing the limited and practical functions that schools were originally created to perform. – Samuel L. Blumenfeld, Is Public Education Necessary?

            Why should I as a Christian be forced to pay for an atheist school system? Why can’t Christians have their own Christian schools, and Jews have their own schools, and Muslims have their own schools and atheists have their own schools (that other’s do not have to pay for)? End compulsory funding of government schools.

  • Eddie White says:

    Bill Dunn deserves much credit and appreciation for his pro-life leadership in the House. Job well done.

  • susan swan says:

    I don’t call an ongoing FBI investigation on bribery and corruption “a high note”.

  • Beth Cooper says:

    Good riddance of someone who worked hard to funnel taxpayer money to private investors’ pockets (vouchers), thinks he should make decisions about women’s bodies, and is a-ok with people dying because poor people don’t deserve health insurance (failure to expand medicaid in TN.) Now if a few of your corrupt cronies could retire too maybe we could get some people in here to clean up your mess.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Elect sane independents. And more women.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      There are many reasons to decide to vote for someone, indeed our current Hobson’s Choice Election for the U. S. Senate should put everyone to the test of trying to come up with one, but I don’t think that voting based on genitalia is moving us closer to a well chosen one.

      • MARLE says:

        Well, Donna…..there you have it. Stuart has once again (possibly buoyed by your suggestion that he was a clever wordsmith) given us insight into his thinking~ women are distinguished only by their genitalia. Probably goes a long way to supporting his wisdom of renting rather than marrying.

  • Benton Temple says:

    Good riddance. Voted with the kooky caucus one too many times.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    The state and feds will likely cease their investigation into Dunn as a result of his agreeing not to run again. Kind of a plea deal. Similar to what Gerald McCormick did

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *