Bill Dunn

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.

Voucher sponsor Bill Dunn draws GOP primary challenger

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

Rep. Bill Dunn, the lead House sponsor of this year’s school voucher bill, has drawn a primary challenge from Patti Bounds, a former teacher and Knox County school board member, Knox TN Today reports.

“I opened the bank account today,” Bounds told the publication.  “And now it feels real.”

Bounds opposes the “Education Savings Account” measure enacted at first-year Gov. Bill Lee’s behest. Dunn has been a longtime supporter voucher proposals. He has served in the General Assembly since 1994. He currently serves as speaker pro tem, the ceremonial No. 2 position in the House.

It’s on! Bounds vs. Dunn 2020

Dunn is the second incumbent to draw a primary opponent over the voucher issue. Freshman Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington), who voted for the education savings account bill, has drawn a primary challenge from Lee Mills, a former Shelby County GOP
chairman who opposes the measure..

 

Dunn takes over as temporary House speaker

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

With Glen Casada’s resignation fro the House speakership Friday, Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) takes over until a special session to vote on a new speaker.

Here’s a release from the House Republican Caucus:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) today in his role as Speaker Pro Tem will begin carrying out the duties of the House Speaker, including calling the August 23rd Extraordinary Session to order and presiding over the election of the next Speaker.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the House of Representatives,” said Speaker Pro Tem Dunn. “I am eager to move forward so that we can continue to serve our communities and make Tennessee the best state to raise a family, work, and retire.”

Upon Speaker Pro Tem Dunn acceding to the speaker’s role, Republican Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) stated, “I have always admired Bill Dunn’s commitment to public service, and I know he will provide a steady hand in the Speaker’s office. I look forward to working with him during this upcoming special session as we transition to new leadership under Speaker Select Cameron Sexton.”

Speaker Dunn has served in the General Assembly since 1994. He is currently the longest-serving House Republican member.

Dunn thinks election results help school voucher cause in state House

State Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, tells The Tennessean he’s optimistic that school voucher legislation can pass the state House in 2017 after repeated failures because of changes in the membership because of the 2016 elections.

“Some of the opponents were defeated in this last election so that increases the number,” he said, adding that he knows of one lawmaker who previously didn’t support the bill changing his mind after visiting schools. “He came back and changed his mind and said there’s got to be options,” Dunn said, declining to identify the lawmaker in question.

…Dunn said he thought the potential of approving the legislation during last year’s session came down to just one or two votes.

“It was right there and there were a couple of people who were undecided,” he said.

This year there will be 10 new lawmakers — eight Republicans and two Democrats — in the House, which could help the bill’s chances of passing.

Two Republicans — Reps. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, and Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta — received donations of $4,000 and $5,000, respectively, in October from the political action committee for the Tennessee Federation for Children.

Note: Curcio and Sherrell replace Democrats – respectively the retired Rep. David Shepard of Dickson and the defeated Rep. Kevin Dunlap of Sparta, both voucher critics. TFC’s PAC also spent more than $100,000 in attack ads that may have played a role in the August primary defeat of Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, also a voucher skeptic, by Mark Lovell, who took money from the pro-voucher PAC.

On the other hand,  pro-voucher Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, was defeated in the primary by Sam Whitson, who the Tennessean says is undecided on vouchers. Also, pro-voucher Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, was elected to the Senate and his House successor, John Crawford, R-Kingsport, and is also reportedly undecided.

And Democrat Dwayne Thompson defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova, with opposition to vouchers as one of his main campaign issues.

The voucher views of other freshman House members have apparently not been reported by media.