Monthly Archives: June 2023

New TNJ edition alert: A beachhead for the Hills and the history behind lying in state

Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) attends a House briefing on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is here. Here is what’s in it:

— Get the band back together? Timothy Hill wins GOP nod to return to state House.

— Nashville council picks interim member for vacated House seat.

— Lying in state: A look at who has been bestowed the honor (spoiler alert: it’s mostly Democratic men)

Also: Jonathan Skrmetti decries a “media circus” not of his own making, T.J. Ducklo gets un-cancelled, a bid to rename Clingman’s Dome, and a blackout on the legislative website … in Italy.

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

Or subscribe here.

Hill ad features candidate striding through town located outside district

In a new ad, Republican Timothy Hill purposefully strides past a courthouse. The only problem is the building is in Washington County, which is not part of the state House district he is running to represent.

Hill gave up the District 3 seat in 2020 to make an ill-fated bid for Congress. The serpentine district is comprised of all of Johnson and parts of Carter, Hawkins, and Sullivan counties. The seat was vacated by Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City) after he was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with intern. Hill is considered the favorite in Thursday’s special Republican primary against Sullivan County real estate agent and Air Force veteran Stacy Vaughan.

Hill’s ad also features former Reps. Micah Van Huss (R-Gray) and Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), both of whom lost their seats to primary challenges in 2020.

Timothy Hill, left, with his brother, former Rep. Matthew Hill.
Timothy Hill, right, with former Rep. Micah Van Huss.

Here’s a transcript of the ad:

You know he’s a conservative fighter. Timothy Hill. In Nashville, he fought for us. And that’s what he’ll do again. The Second Amendment? Timothy Hill will protect it. The unborn? Hill is their champion. Men in women’s bathrooms? Timothy Hill will shut the door on that so fast. Oh, yeah, and Hill says: No way to men in women’s sports. Timothy Hill. Pro-gun, pro-life. East Tennessee values. Our conservative fighter.

UPDATE: This post was updated to reflect that Washington County wasn’t part of District 3 even when Hill previously held the seat.

Tennessee observes Juneteenth holiday for first time

State employees have a paid day off on Monday as Tennessee observes the Juneteenth holiday for the first time.

Lawmakers this year passed a bill championed by Gov. Bill Lee to establish the new holiday. The measure passed 61-18 in the House and 24-4 in the Sente. The original price tag for the measure was $7.7 million, but the projection was revised downward to $691,890 after it was determined that it wouldn’t cost the state more money for employees to stay home.

Juneteenth is also a federal holiday. It commemorates the day in 1865 when federal troops informed slaves in Texas that they were freed. Lee’s previous attempt to make Juneteenth a state holiday failed in the legislature last year. It was instead named a day of special observance.

This year’s legislation was carried by Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), the two chambers’ respective majority leaders.

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New TNJ edition alert: Lee finds fight between state and Nashville ‘counterproductive’

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters near Crossville on June 1, 2023. He is joined by Senate Republican Caucus Chair Ken Yager, left, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is here. Here is what’s in it:

— Lee: Fight between legislature and Nashville ‘counterproductive’

— Political roundup: Hagerty leading GOP effort to boost early voting, another Humble delay, and the Justins win their primaries.

— From the courts: Rulings favor naughty tags, rights of employees to write to lawmakers

Also: The late Cormac McCarthy’s ode to grimy Knoxville, Sheila Butt doubles down on impact fees, Garth Brooks discusses which clientele he wants for his new honky-tonk, and Judge Tommy Parker weighs in on “low value speech.”

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

Or subscribe here.

Group calls on Lee to cancel special session over public safety concerns

Protesters hold a rally outside the state Capitol on April 3, 2023, marking one week since a fatal school shooting in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition is calling on Gov. Bill Lee to cancel a planned special session in August due to public safety concerns about what it calls “schemes made by Marxist agitators targeting said session.”

The letter is signed by the group’s board members Aaron Spradlin, Scott Nelson, Dave Galbraith, and Greg Lewis.

Here’s the letter sent to the governor on Tuesday:

Governor Lee, 

It is important to note, before we get into our main issue of disagreement with you, sir, that we, the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, recognize that there are many important things we do agree with you on. To name a few issues from just this past year, we want to commend your commitment to defending the unborn and the right to life, conservative criminal justice reform, and legislation that you’ve signed defending children against mutilation. 

Today, we are writing you because you have made it clear that you are planning to use your authority to officially call an ill-advised special session of the Tennessee General Assembly on August 21st  to address gun issues in the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting tragedy, a heinous and despicable act committed by a mentally ill individual who claimed to be on the transgender spectrum. 

In the interest of public safety, the safety of downtown Nashville, the safety of those brave men and women charged with maintaining order at the Capitol, the safety of legislators, staff, interns, and visitors, and in  defense of the Constitution – we, the Board of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, plainly and emphatically oppose the calling of a special session of the General Assembly on this issue and are prayerfully writing to strongly urge that you reverse course on your plan, not call a special session, and wait until normal session in January to make proposals for the legislature to consider – as is the normal process of government. 

As you and the public are aware, that heinous act of the murder of six individuals has been politicized by far Left activists and anti-Second Amendment groups funded by Leftist interests, the Biden Administration, Marxist agitators in the General Assembly who nearly started a riot over legislatures lack of desire to take away our Second Amendment constitutional rights – namely Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson, and others who wish to make every inroad they can in order to fulfil their ultimate goal of eliminating the constitutional protections that exist in the Second Amendment. 

As you are aware, due to reporting by The Tennessee Star, SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, and other media organizations, Marxist groups that include, Planned Parenthood and the so-called “Tennessee 3” protest organizers have already held at least one meeting in which audio was obtained that demonstrates clear and cohesive planning for agitators and potential terrorists to disrupt a special session. That same audio also contains details that some of the agitators will be armed and that they are planning to be arrested. 

If nothing else, this proposed special session currently scheduled for August 21st has become a rallying cry and a clarion call for every Marxist, Leftist, Soros-funded, and anti-Second Amendment organization across the United States to come to Nashville and, as said in the leaked audio, “____ it up.” 

It is important to oppose any encroachment on the Constitution and we firmly oppose Red Flag laws. The Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition has nothing but the highest praise for the leadership and members of the Tennessee General Assembly who are defending the U.S. Constitution against Red Flag laws, leadership that includes: House Majority Leader William Lamberth (who actively blocked a Red Flag bill presented at the end of this past session), Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, Senator John Stevens, Representative Chris Todd, Representative Rusty Grills, Representative Jason Zachary, Representative Jody Barrett, and many others. 

However, given that the General Assembly has justly made public their commitment to defending the Constitution, the more immediate concern is the danger of violence and other illegal acts that are being planned by the Marxist Left because of the proposed Special Session. 

It is imperative that a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly not be called this summer and we again reiterate our prayer that you, in the interest of public safety, do not officially call the special session currently proposed for August 21st.  

It is additionally worth pointing out that the United States does not have a gun problem, but rather a God problem. The power centers of our society promote mental illness and spurn faith in God. Violence is a crisis of the soul, one that will not be solved by passing additional anti-Second Amendment laws. The only way to fix what ails our national soul is by turning back to God. 

Attached to this letter is a statement of facts that we hope you will additionally consider as you make your decision. 

We look forward to continuing to work with you and your office on areas where we share common ground.

Respectfully and Prayerfully, 

The Board of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition 

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Nashville sues governor, speakers over airport board takeover

Nashville has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bill Lee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and Senate Speaker Randy McNally over a new law stripping the mayor of most his appointments to the city’s airport authority.

Under the previous law, the Nashville mayor named all the members of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. Republican lawmakers this year passed a bill to give the governor and the speakers the authority to name two members each and leave the mayor with just two.

The lawsuit says the law violates home rule protections in the Tennessee Constitution by applying only to a single local government without local approval. The complaint notes that major airports in Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga are unaffected by the new law.

Nashville earlier this year successfully sued to block a new law cutting the size of the Metro Nashville Council from 40 voting members to 20. The city has also sued to block a state law changing requirements for the council to approve changes at its fairgrounds to accommodate upgrades at its racetrack.

New TNJ edition alert: Judge hammers lawmakers, DeSantis to headline GOP fundraiser

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is here. Here is what’s in it:

— Parker shot first: Judge slams lawmakers in blocking drag law.

— From the campaign trail: DeSantis headlines GOP fundraiser, no leader in Nashville mayor’s race.

— Obituaries: Nashville Rep. Bill Beck, 14-year Knox County exec Dwight Kessel.

Also: Lackluster fundraising numbers for the Justins, Glenn Jacobs hangs out with Donald Trump, John Ingram rails against a racetrack deal, and a new area code in East Tennessee.

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

Or subscribe here.

Beck to lie in state at Tennessee Capitol

Rep. Bill Beck, who died of a heart attack over the weekend, will lie in state at the state Capitol in Nashville on Thursday.

Here are the details:

NASHVILLE—Funeral arrangements have been determined for beloved State Representative Bill Beck.  Representative Beck unexpectedly passed away Sunday after suffering a sudden heart attack at his home.  The Nashville attorney served in the Tennessee Legislature for almost a decade representing parts of downtown Nashville, East Nashville, Germantown, Inglewood, Madison, Old Hickory, and portions of Donelson.   Arrangements are as follow:


Representative Beck will lie in state at the Capitol from 2:00 to 6:00 PM.


Funeral at Polk Theatre at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. 

Services begin at 11:00 AM.

Doors open at 10:30 AM.

Reactions to the sudden passing of Rep. Bill Beck

Lawmakers attend a House floor session in Nashville on March 16, 2020. Watching from the gallery are, from left, Reps. Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), and Bill Beck (D-Nashville). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville) died of a heart attack over the weekend at age 61. The attorney was first elected to the House in 2014. He was a fierce advocate for his constituents, but also well liked across the aisle.

Here are some reactions to Beck’s passing made through statements or social media postings:

House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis):

Bill Beck was one of my closest friends. He was not only my colleague, but also my confidant. His warmth, intellect and passion for people made the House of Representatives a better place. Bill was well respected by members on both sides of the aisle. No matter the political differences or issues, Bill would always find the humanity in a situation.  Any encounter with Bill made your day better.  I will miss his laugh and his counsel.  He was truly the best of us and I cannot imagine the world without Bill Beck in it.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville):

We are incredibly saddened to hear that our colleague, Rep. Bill Beck, has unexpectedly passed away. Bill was a dedicated servant and powerful voice for the city of Nashville, a husband, father, and friend to everyone in the General Assembly.

House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville):

Today we lost a brother, and we are devastated. Our hearts go out to Pam, Meredith and Bill’s entire family. Bill and I entered the legislature together, and it was a true honor to serve with and learn from him. He was a source of advice, inspiration and much-needed levity for me and many others at the most crucial moments. Everyone privileged enough to ever cross Bill’s path knows what a special person and caring individual he was. He truly had a public servant’s heart and the most memorable laugh.

State Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis):

Bill Beck spoke up against the injustice of our expulsions with tact & leadership that’s lacking in the Tennessee General Assembly. He served well & wasn’t afraid of speaking against racist, discriminatory, and immoral legislation targeting Nashville. God grant him peace.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett:

I am saddened to learn about the passing of Rep. Bill Beck. He was smart, witty, and passionate. He treated others with respect, and he served our state well. Please lift up his family in your prayers.

State Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City):

Please join me in praying for Rep. Bill Beck’s friends and family tonight. Bill was a lifelong servant of our great state, and was a friend to many.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper:

Bill Beck was a constant charming and kind presence. He brightened every room with his grace and wit, and he made politics better for us all. Bill was a true friend, and we will miss him everyday. Our prayers are with his wife Pam & their family as we all mourn this tragic loss.

New TNJ edition alert: Redistricting case update, special session wrangling, AG-approved drag shows

A proposed redistricting map is shown on a screen in a House committee room on Dec. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is here. Here is what’s in it:

— Redistricting case may test anyone-can-sue-government statute.

— Speakers trying to find alternatives to ‘red flag’ law in special session.

— Risqué, but OK? AG says Memphis drag shows ‘don’t even come close’ to violating law.

— Flight of the Phoenix: Sexton declines to discuss Cothren claim of alliance in speaker’s race.

Also: FBI agents raid home of Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr., early voting underway in two of three special state House elections, and the Registry’s former home gets a rebranding.

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

Or subscribe here.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.