Monthly Archives: June 2022

6th Circuit clears way for ‘Heartbeat Bill’ to take effect in Tennessee

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has vacated a district judge’s injunction of Tennessee’s “Heartbeat Bill” enacted in 2020.

Here’s the release from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office:

Nashville- Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III issued the following statement after the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously vacated the district court’s injunction of the timing provisions in the Tennessee “Heartbeat Bill” in Memphis Center for Reproductive Health v. Slatery.

“Tennesseans, through their elected representatives, passed the “Heartbeat Bill” in 2020,” said General Slatery. “With today’s unanimous decision from the full Sixth Circuit, the timing provisions prohibiting most abortions are now enforceable.” 

It is now illegal in Tennessee to abort an unborn child who has a heartbeat.  Specifically, the Heartbeat Bill protects unborn children at 6 weeks gestational age who have a heartbeat, and it also protects unborn children at 8 weeks gestational age or older.  These provisions in the Heartbeat Bill have an affirmative defense for medical emergencies.

Additionally, and in connection with a separate statute (Tennessee’s Human Life Protection Act, generally known as the Trigger Act), General Slatery will notify the Tennessee Code Commission that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe and Casey decisions in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He will do this when the Supreme Court issues its judgment in Dobbs, which should occur no later than mid-July. Thirty days after that, Tennessee’s Human Life Protection Act will come into effect and take precedence over the Heartbeat Bill. Thus, around mid‑August, Tennessee’s Human Life Protection Act will prohibit the abortion of unborn children after fertilization. This law has an affirmative defense when necessary to save the mother’s life or to prevent irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

To read the Order along with this Office’s Emergency Motion and Reply, click here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/attorneygeneral/documents/pr/2022/pr22-21-motion-reply-order.pdf

Registration deadline for primary election is July 5

Campaign signs outside an early voting location in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The deadline to register for the August primary elections is July 5.

Here’s the release from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennesseans who want to cast a ballot in the Aug. 4 State and Federal Primary & State and County General Election must register or update their voter registration before the voter registration deadline on Tuesday, July 5.

“Going into this 4th of July holiday, I can’t think of a more patriotic thing to do than to register to vote,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “With our convenient online voter registration system, it’s never been easier or safer for Tennesseans to register to vote or update their registration.”

Registering to vote, updating your address or checking your registration status is fast, easy and secure with the Secretary of State’s online voter registration system. Any U.S. citizen with a driver’s license or a photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security can register online in minutes from any computer or mobile device at GoVoteTN.gov.

Voters can also download a paper voter registration application at GoVoteTN.gov. Completed paper voter registration applications must be mailed to your local county election commission office or submitted in person. Mailed voter registrations must be postmarked by July 5.

Election Day registration is not available in Tennessee.

Early voting for the Aug. 4 election starts Friday, July 15, and runs Monday to Saturday until Saturday, July 30. The deadline to request an absentee by-mail ballot is Thursday, July 28. However, eligible voters who will be voting absentee by-mail should request the ballot now.

For up-to-date, accurate information about the Aug. 4 election, follow the Secretary of State’s social media channels Twitter: @SecTreHargett, Facebook: Tennessee Secretary of State and Instagram: @tnsecofstate.

For more information about registering to vote, voter eligibility and other Tennessee election details, visit GoVoteTN.gov or call the Division of Elections toll-free at 1-877-850-4959.

State outpacing last year in mediating insurance refunds to consumers

The state has processed nearly 1,500 complaints about insurance coverage through the first half of the year, resulting in $5.4 million being returned to consumers through mediation and restitution. That compares with $8.2 million in the entire calendar year of 2021.

Here’s the full release from the Department of Commerce and Insurance:

NASHVILLE – At the midpoint of 2022, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) is highlighting the robust health of Tennessee’s insurance industry as well as the work of the Department’s team to assist consumers and insurance professionals.

“During the past two years, Tennessee’s insurance industry has risen to face numerous challenges, and I am proud to say that our team has equally risen and remained steadfastly focused on serving, assisting, and regulating insurance companies and professionals while serving Tennessee policyholders,” said TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “As we enter the second half of 2022, Tennessee residents can trust that our team is hard at work serving consumers while fairly regulating insurance companies.”

Recent figures show Tennessee’s insurance industry is thriving.

— Tennessee has approximately 294,000 licensed insurance professionals. This is the largest number of licensed insurance professionals in Tennessee in nearly 40 years. Additionally, the current number of licensed professionals is a nearly 10% increase compared to the 259,320 licensed insurance professionals in 2021.

— The Department licensed 45 new insurance companies in 2021, bringing the total number of licensed insurance companies to 1,959.

— $51.5 billion in premium volume was written in Tennessee in 2021.

— $1.12 billion in premium taxes were collected in Fiscal Year 2021, a 7.5% increase from 2020.

— Tennessee’s climb as a domicile in the captive insurance industry continues as the state is ranked as the 8th largest domestic captive domicile and the 13th largest captive domicile worldwide with over 495 active risk-bearing entities.

TDCI regulates all types of insurance and encourages consumers to contact TDCI’s Consumer Insurance Services team with any insurance-related question or concern. So far in 2022, consumers have filed 1,467 complaints that have resulted in over $5.43 million being returned to consumers through the Department’s mediation and restitution efforts this year. The top three reasons for consumer complaints are denials, delays, and low settlement offers.

For the sake of comparison, over $8.2 million was returned to consumers in 2021.

“Our dedicated Consumer Insurance Services team is eager to assist Tennesseans who feel they have a claim that has been unjustly denied or who have a question about their insurance policies,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner Bill Huddleston. “I want to thank our entire team for their hard work and diligence through the first six months of 2022. I know our team will continue to exceed expectations through the rest of this year.”

Dave Ramsey endorses Ogles for GOP nomination in 5th District

Personal finance advice guru Dave Ramsey is endorsing Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles for the Republican nomination in the open 5th Congressional District race.

Here’s the Ogles campaign:

Columbia, TN – Conservative Mayor Andy Ogles, Republican candidate for Congress for the newly-drawn 5th District, today announced that he has been endorsed by nationally syndicated, award-winning radio talk host and 5th Congressional District resident Dave Ramsey and his wife Sharon.

“Sharon and Dave Ramsey are great assets to our community and country, and I am thrilled that they have endorsed me in my race for Congress,” Ogles said. “Their Christian, conservative, and fiscally responsible leadership reflect the values we share and those I will fight for in Washington.”

“Andy Ogles is a man who courageously stood for freedom and individual rights while others cowered in the corner of their offices. His strong stand for real common sense values and conservative beliefs make him the person we need in Congress,” Ramsey said in announcing his support for Ogles in the August 4th Republican Primary and November General Election. “Sharon and I are proud to back and endorse our friend Andy for Congress.”

Dave Ramsey started his media career on one radio station in Nashville in 1992, sharing practical answers for life’s tough money questions. Today he’s joined by his co-hosts reaching 18 million combined weekly listeners nationwide. (www.ramseysolutions.com)

“If President Biden could convince Dave to serve as his Treasury Secretary and then follow his lead on economic and fiscal policy issues, we would quickly recover from the economic disaster we are suffering and be on a path to dramatically reducing the national debt,” Ogles noted. “Sadly, getting Biden to cut up the national credit card as Dave has helped millions of families to do with their personal finances is too heavy of a lift even for him.”

New TNJ edition: TWRA chafes at legislative interference, Hargett seeks to limit fallout from DUI arrest

Lawmakers attend Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tenenssee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Dangerous game? TWRA leaders chafe over Capitol pushback.

— Statehouse roundup: Hargett seeks to contain fallout from post-Bonnaroo DUI arrest, speakers take “truth in sentencing” signing ceremony on the road (without the guy responsible for signing bills).

— From the campaign trail: Channeling “Ole Fred” and blasting the Jan. 6 investigation in the 5th District race.

— Obituary: Bryant Millsaps, who was at the center of statehouse power struggles, dies at 75.

Also: Bill Hagerty goes golfing with Donald Trump, bogus ballots in Shelby County cross party lines, a Franklin road gets renamed after Connie Clark, and the crab walk comes to the Capitol.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Tennessee reaction to Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade

Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision set off shockwaves around the country. Here is some reaction in Tennessee:

Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of a hopeful, new chapter for our country. After years of heartfelt prayer and thoughtful policy, America has an historic opportunity to support women, children and strong families while reconciling the pain and loss caused by Roe v. Wade. We have spent years preparing for the possibility that authority would return to the states, and Tennessee’s laws will provide the maximum possible protection for both mother and child. In the coming days, we will address the full impacts of this decision for Tennessee. — Gov. Bill Lee.

For too long, abortion policy in this nation has been controlled by the federal judiciary. Now, once again, the voters of the individual states will have the ability to make policy through democratic means. In Tennessee, the voters have already made their views known through the passage of a constitutional amendment that makes clear that no right to abortion is contained in our constitution. With passage of our trigger law and a comprehensive heartbeat bill, Tennessee’s General Assembly has been well prepared for this day. — State Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

This is a victory for democracy. For the first time in almost 50 years, the voters and their elected representatives will have control over this issue rather than unelected judges, and we applaud that. This decision will allow our Tennessee laws to reflect our Tennessee values that unborn children should be protected by law and that every person deserves the right to be born. – Tennessee Right to Life President Stacy Dunn.

This decision is a direct assault on the rights of Tennesseans. The Court’s interpretation of the constitution on this issue is flawed and a direct insertion of political activism on the highest court in the land. This decision made by a conservative majority on the court, will empower a radical majority serving in state legislatures across the country. Politicians will be even more emboldened by this decision to impose their most restrictive views on us. Today, an essential and lifesaving freedom was discarded by a court installed to protect it. – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Hendrell Remus.

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling ends a 50-year-long national tragedy that deprived 63 million innocent human beings of life. For decades, Republicans have fought to advance and uphold the pro-life and pro-family values held by an overwhelming majority of Tennesseans. Today, we celebrate a momentous victory. We applaud the justices for their wisdom in recognizing a vulnerable baby still in its mother’s womb is a precious life worthy of protection. Tennessee House Republicans continue our unwavering commitment to fight for families and defend the defenseless. – State House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland).

The Supreme Court’s unprecedented and unconscionable decision today rolls the clock back nearly 50 years on our fundamental rights, forcing anyone who becomes pregnant in Tennessee into second class status. And politicians won’t stop here. The same anti-abortion extremists seeking to control the bodies of pregnant people are coming for our right to access birth control and gender-affirming care, marry who we love, and vote,” ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg.

I believe we have a moral duty to protect unborn children who cannot protect themselves. Today is a consequential day, not only for those who believe that all life is a precious gift, but also for American democracy and the rule of law. This decision doesn’t ban abortion—it simply returns decision-making on abortion to the people. That’s how it should be in a republic—matters not addressed by the Constitution should be decided by the people through their elected representatives, not by nine unelected judges in Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Nashville).

Having worked alongside Tennesseans to protect the innocent lives of unborn children for years, I applaud today’s Supreme Court ruling. Despite false claims from the left, this decision will not ban abortion. Instead, it returns the decision to the states and empowers state legislatures with more flexibility to craft policy through the democratic process. – U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood).

Abortion is a complicated and very personal decision. And I personally believe that we don’t spend enough time on finding solutions to the reasons why some people have to have abortions. However, this ruling means that in Tennessee, all abortions will be criminalized, including for victims of rape and incest. Women should have the right to make their own, personal healthcare decisions. This is an unfortunate decision based on politics instead of established law and, according to the vast majority of polls, the will of people. — State House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis).

Lee reappoints Rausch as TBI director

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has reappointed TBI Director David Rausch to a full six-year term.

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

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced he will appoint David Rausch to serve a second term as Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), effective July 1. Director Rausch’s term will expire June 30, 2028.

“David is a committed public servant who has worked tirelessly to keep Tennessee communities safe,” said Lee. “I appreciate his leadership and am confident he will continue to serve and protect Tennesseans with integrity.”

Director Rausch has served as Director of the TBI since 2018. Rausch is a U. S. Army veteran with more than three decades of law enforcement experience, including 25 years with the Knoxville Police Department. His career with the Knoxville Police Department includes service on the SWAT Team and seven years as the Chief of Police. Rausch earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Science in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville.

29 counties see growth in fiscal capacity index

Source: TACIR.

 Twenty-nine counties are experiencing an upward trend in their fiscal capacity, 11 are holding steady, and 55 are trending downward, according to an index complied by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The fiscal capacity model is used to calculate how much local governments must contribute under the school funding formula — both under the old Basic Education Program and the new Tenenssee Investment in Student Achievement program.

Here is a look at each county’s ratio between their the 5- and 15-year averages to show whether their trend is up, down, or stable.

RankCounty5 to 15 RatioTrend Direction
1Williamson1.1584UP
2Moore1.1258UP
3Pickett1.1254UP
4Trousdale1.1186UP
5Rutherford1.1139UP
6Lewis1.0994UP
7Wilson1.0972UP
8Hancock1.0842UP
9Davidson1.0831UP
10Sevier1.0816UP
11Maury1.0799UP
12Sumner1.0665UP
13Union1.0583UP
14Marshall1.0537UP
15Hickman1.0497UP
16Fayette1.0443UP
17Monroe1.0392UP
18Overton1.0365UP
19Rhea1.0359UP
20Blount1.0313UP
21Stewart1.0307UP
22Wayne1.0289UP
23DeKalb1.0264UP
24Meigs1.0206UP
25Robertson1.0188UP
26Perry1.017UP
27Franklin1.0169UP
28Loudon1.0156UP
29Dickson1.0105UP
30Putnam1.008STEADY
31Grainger1.0037STEADY
32Scott1.0031STEADY
33Jefferson1.0008STEADY
34Smith0.9999STEADY
35Humphreys0.9992STEADY
36White0.998STEADY
37Cumberland0.9979STEADY
38Bedford0.9975STEADY
39Hardin0.9962STEADY
40Sequatchie0.9911STEADY
41Hamblen0.9897DOWN
42Van Buren0.9891DOWN
43Marion0.9874DOWN
44Hamilton0.9866DOWN
45Cocke0.983DOWN
46Knox0.982DOWN
47Morgan0.9814DOWN
48Cheatham0.9792DOWN
49Bradley0.978DOWN
50Lawrence0.9727DOWN
51Benton0.9681DOWN
52Johnson0.967DOWN
53Decatur0.9664DOWN
54Grundy0.9636DOWN
55Lauderdale0.9625DOWN
56Giles0.9623DOWN
57Crockett0.9586DOWN
58Henry0.9583DOWN
59Macon0.9583DOWN
60Warren0.9579DOWN
61Washington0.9566DOWN
62Montgomery0.9548DOWN
63Anderson0.9544DOWN
64Lincoln0.9514DOWN
65Coffee0.9506DOWN
66Claiborne0.9477DOWN
67McMinn0.9456DOWN
68Henderson0.9449DOWN
69Gibson0.9449DOWN
70Campbell0.9422DOWN
71Madison0.9392DOWN
72Hawkins0.9362DOWN
73Tipton0.9337DOWN
74Chester0.9309DOWN
75Sullivan0.9301DOWN
76Clay0.9284DOWN
77Weakley0.9276DOWN
78Dyer0.927DOWN
79Carter0.926DOWN
80Fentress0.9247DOWN
81Cannon0.9242DOWN
82Obion0.9146DOWN
83Lake0.9139DOWN
84Roane0.9068DOWN
85Houston0.9028DOWN
86Polk0.9002DOWN
87Unicoi0.8989DOWN
88Carroll0.8923DOWN
89McNairy0.8906DOWN
90Hardeman0.8906DOWN
91Haywood0.8898DOWN
92Greene0.8814DOWN
93Shelby0.8786DOWN
94Bledsoe0.8559DOWN
95Jackson0.8113DOWN

5th District ad watch: The ’ole general’ and the southern border

Two Republicans vying for the nomination in the new 5th Congressional District have new ads out touting their conservative credentials. Kurt Winstead dubs himself the ”ole general,” while Beth Harwell calls for finishing former President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Here’s what Winstead says in his ad:

Joe Biden’s America? Shocking gas prices, painful inflation, open borders, immigration run rampant. My America? Well, I grew up on a small farm, conservative Tennessee values, country first, don’t spend more than you bring in, defend the defenseless, do what the Bible says. It just might take an ole General to bring America back in line. I’m retired Brigadier General Kurt Winstead and I approved this message.

And here’s the transcript on the Harwell spot:

“I’m Beth Harwell. America’s illegal immigration crisis starts here at our southern border, but it ends in our own backyard. Soaring crime, human trafficking, opioids and fentanyl in the hands of our kids. I’ve spent my life fighting for strong families, safe neighborhoods, and Tennessee values. In Congress, I’ll fight to finish President Trump’s wall, fight for tougher penalties on criminals, and ban sanctuary cities. I’m Beth Harwell and I approved this message because we must secure this border.”

Hargett charged with DUI after Bonnaroo visit

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Secretary of State Tre Hargett has been charged with drunken driving after attending the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Coffee County.

Hargett was at the event from Friday afternoon through around 11:30 p.m. when he was stopped by Tullahoma police. He was given a blood test and charged with DUI.

“Driving Under the Influence is a serious matter, and I regret the circumstances that led to my arrest,” Hargett said in a statement. “I respect law enforcement and will trust the legal process as we move forward.”

Hargett is a former state House minority leader who was elected by a joint convention of the legislature to his first four-year term as secretary of state in 2009.