Search Results for: carter lawrence

Carter Lawrence sworn in as interim Commerce & Insurance commissioner

Gov. Bill Lee has sworn in Carter Lawrence as the interim commissioner of Commerce & Insurance. He succeeds Julie Mix McPeak, who left to take take a job in the private sector.

Lawrence, of Williamson County, had served as deputy commissioner for the department’s administration and for regulatory boards. He has law and business degrees from the University of Tennessee.

McPeak was a holdover from Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.  Greenberg Traurig announced last week that she is founding the law firm’s new Nashville office — the company’s 41st location worldwide and 31st in the U.S.

McPeak was president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners last year.

Editor’s note: The Tennessee Journal is on summer break next week. Blog posting will be lighter than usual until July 1. 

Lee names Lawrence commissioner of Commerce & Insurance Department

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters during budget hearings in Nashville on Nov. 9, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has promoted Carter Lawrence to commissioner of the Commerce & Insurance. Lawrence, who had served as the department’s chief deputy, succeeds Hodgen Mainda, who resigned following a sexual misconduct investigation. Mainda has denied any wrongdoing.

Lawrence previously served as interim commissioner after former agency head Julie Mix McPeak left for the private sector last year.

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

NASHVILLE – Today Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Carter Lawrence will serve in his cabinet as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, effective immediately.

“Carter is a proven public servant who has stewarded key priorities for the administration throughout his tenure and I’m confident he’ll continue to support Tennessee businesses and consumers with integrity,” said Gov. Lee. “We appreciate his dedication to the Department of Commerce & Insurance and look forward to his continued service.”

Lawrence currently serves as Chief Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer at the Department of Commerce & Insurance.

He has also served on Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting Gov. Lee’s efforts to reboot the state’s economy.

A lifelong Tennessean and Nashville native, Lawrence earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior, he graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois.

He currently resides in Nashville with his wife and three children and is a member of Nashville’s Church of the Redeemer.

Former Sen. Jim Tracy joins Commerce Department

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks to a Chamber of Commerce event in Memphis on Dec. 6, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), who gave up his seat in 2017 when President Donald Trump appointed him as a state USDA director, is joining the state Department of Commerce and Insurance in Gov. Bill Lee’s administration.

Here are the personnel moves announced by the department on Friday:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) announces senior leadership role additions and staffing updates from Commissioner Carter Lawrence.

“With these senior leadership staffing updates, our Department is well positioned to continue our best-in-class service for Tennesseans and to further our mission of protecting Tennesseans through balanced oversight of insurance while fostering fair marketplaces and consumer education that promote the success of individuals and businesses while serving as innovative leaders,” said TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “I welcome these staff promotions and additions and thank them for their service to our great state.”

TDCI Staffing Updates:

Jennifer Peck assumes the role of Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer, while continuing in her role as Deputy Commissioner – overseeing Fire Prevention/State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy (TLETA)/Peace Officer Standards Training (POST) Commission and the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB). Previously, Peck served as an Executive Director in the Division of Regulatory Boards. Prior to joining the Department, she was the owner of Peck Legal Group, PLLC, which specialized in domestic relations litigation and mediation. She is a graduate of Auburn University and the Regent University School of Law.

Toby Compton is promoted to Deputy Commissioner – overseeing Insurance, Regulatory Boards, Securities and TennCare Oversight. Previously, Compton served as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Regulatory Boards for the Department. Prior to joining the Department, Compton was the President and CEO for Associated Builders and Contractors for Greater Tennessee, held leadership positions at the Metro Sports Authority in Nashville and worked at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He is a graduate of Lipscomb University and Cumberland University.

Bill Huddleston is promoted to Assistant Commissioner for Insurance. A TDCI team member since 2014, Huddleston previously served as the Director of Insurance where he oversaw the division’s administration which includes agent licensing, company examinations, company financial analysis and other duties. A certified public accountant, Huddleston also served as Receivership Director in the Insurance Division. In 2017, he was a recipient of a Governor’s Excellence in Service Award for his leadership in the Division of Regulatory Boards. Before joining TDCI, Huddleston served as a legislative auditor with the Office of the Comptroller. A Nashville native, Huddleston is a graduate of Lipscomb University as well as Harding University. He is married with three children.

Alex Martin joins the Department as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Regulatory Boards. Previously, Martin served as Deputy Director of External Affairs and Director of Appointments for Governor Bill Lee. In his prior role, Martin worked with the Lee Administration to appoint many of the members of the Department’s boards and commissions within the Division of Regulatory Boards. An eighth generation Tennessean, Alex is a graduate of Tennessee Tech and served on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Jim Tracy joins TDCI as a Senior Advisor to the Department. Tracy most recently served as State Director for USDA Rural Development in Tennessee – working with rural communities to address local issues including facilities, broadband, water and sewer. In this role he facilitated federal grants and lower-interest loans for businesses and citizens. Tracy’s list of public service spans decades – having previously served as a State Senator, Bedford County Board of Education member, President of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, founding member of the Bedford County Economic Development and Tourism committee and Chairman of the Tennessee Leadership Council of the National Federation of Independent Business. For more than 20 years, Tracy owned and operated his own insurance company where he sold all lines of insurance. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in Agriculture Education. Jim and his wife, Trena, have been married for over 30 years and have three sons: Chad, Craig and Connor.

Patrick Merkel is promoted to Director of Insurance after having served as Chief Counsel for Insurance, Securities and TennCare Oversight since July 2019. Merkel is on his second term of service with the Department. He first joined the Department in 2007 and worked with the Division of Regulatory Boards and as Chief Counsel for Fire Prevention and Law Enforcement. Merkel previously worked in private practice representing clients before the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General and Reporter, state trial courts and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Merkel is a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Dayton School of Law. Patrick is married with a daughter and two step-sons.

McPeak to leave Lee administration

Gov. Bill Lee, bottom left, looks on as his Cabinet takes the oath of office in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak has become the first member of Gov. Bill Lee’s Cabinet to step down.

McPeak, a holdover from Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, is seeking unspecified “career opportunities in the private sector,” according to a release from the Lee administration.

McPeak is the past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak announces today she is leaving Tennessee state government in order to pursue career opportunities in the private sector. Her last day as commissioner will be June 14, 2019. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has named TDCI Deputy Commissioner Carter Lawrence to serve as the Department’s Interim Commissioner until a permanent commissioner is selected. 

“We thank Julie Mix McPeak for her over eight years of service and her tireless commitment to her Department and to Tennessee. We wish her the best in her future endeavors,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “Carter Lawrence has ably served as Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Commerce and Insurance, and I look forward to serving alongside him as he steps into the role of Interim Commissioner.”

McPeak, who was first appointed commissioner by Governor Bill Haslam in 2011, is the immediate past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance, McPeak is the first woman to serve as chief insurance regulator in more than one state.

Continue reading

Here are the projected amounts headed to TN cities and counties under the COVID relief program

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee’s cities and counties are projected to receive $2.27 billion under the latest federal COVID-19 relief package. On a conference call about the influx earlier this week, Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) asked for a breakdown of exactly how much is headed to each local government.

There’s a big caveat: The rules for how the money can be spent aren’t entirely clear yet. So state officials are warning local governments to be careful about how they plan to spend the money.

And even then the answer for local allocations isn’t simple.

The Federal Funds Information Service has come up with projections for the totals that could be flowing soon. Estimates for the biggest cities is based on Housing and Urban Development data while smaller towns and cities’ are based on census estimates from 2019. County totals are filtered through adjusted Community Development Block Grant data.

While none of it is final, here’s how FFIS sees it breaking down for counties and cities:

CountyAmount
Anderson14,929,409
Bedford9,641,530
Benton3,134,132
Bledsoe2,921,570
Blount25,811,598
Bradley20,967,269
Campbell7,727,111
Cannon2,846,708
Carroll5,385,239
Carter10,936,687
Cheatham7,887,114
Chester3,354,647
Claiborne6,198,251
Clay1,476,882
Cocke6,982,754
Coffee10,961,706
Crockett2,759,821
Cumberland11,737,481
Davidson134,624,954
Decatur2,261,967
DeKalb3,973,909
Dickson10,462,882
Dyer7,206,759
Fayette7,977,492
Fentress3,592,422
Franklin8,185,982
Gibson9,529,043
Giles5,714,361
Grainger4,522,770
Greene13,395,507
Grundy2,604,084
Hamblen12,593,549
Hamilton71,333,321
Hancock1,283,908
Hardeman4,858,293
Hardin4,975,047
Hawkins11,013,295
Haywood3,356,004
Henderson5,453,119
Henry6,273,114
Hickman4,883,118
Houston1,590,533
Humphreys3,603,864
Jackson2,285,822
Jefferson10,568,970
Johnson3,449,873
Knox91,214,310
Lake1,360,710
Lauderdale4,971,363
Lawrence8,561,069
Lewis2,379,303
Lincoln6,665,074
Loudon10,486,156
Macon4,771,406
Madison19,003,393
Marion5,606,335
Marshall6,666,820
Maury18,693,665
McMinn10,433,015
McNairy4,983,193
Meigs2,409,170
Monroe9,027,116
Montgomery40,532,905
Moore1,258,308
Morgan4,150,980
Obion5,831,697
Overton4,313,505
Perry1,566,290
Pickett979,029
Polk3,264,463
Putnam15,563,024
Rhea6,432,535
Roane10,353,110
Robertson13,927,689
Rutherford64,444,630
Scott4,279,953
Sequatchie2,914,200
Sevier19,054,982
Shelby181,757,575
Smith3,909,326
Stewart2,659,940
Sullivan30,710,619
Sumner37,098,160
Tipton11,946,747
Trousdale2,188,462
Unicoi3,468,298
Union3,873,446
Van Buren1,138,838
Warren8,005,420
Washington25,091,485
Wayne3,233,626
Weakley6,463,760
White5,303,394
Williamson46,238,539
Wilson28,055,334
TOTAL1,324,476,243
Continue reading

Thursday is last day to vote early

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

The early voting period for the Nov. 3 election ends on Thursday following what has been a record turnout.

In-person and absentee voting through the first 12 days had already exceeded the total turnout during the entire early voting of the last presidential election in 2016 period by 16%.

Only five counties had seen decreases with two days of results left to report: Haywood (-12%), Carter (-11%), Franklin (-8%), Madison (-4%), and Knox (-1%).

The biggest increases in early and absentee balloting have occured in Shelby (+44,914), Davidson (+40,278), Rutherford (+25,177), Williamson (+25,177), and Hamilton (13,573).

Here is the statewide breakdown:

County2020 through
12 Days
Compared with
all of 2016
Anderson23,70510%
Bedford12,47220%
Benton4,91810%
Bledsoe2,18439%
Blount43,46226%
Bradley31,97514%
Campbell7,3613%
Cannon3,35622%
Carroll7,03325%
Carter10,295-11%
Cheatham14,45828%
Chester4,77212%
Claiborne7,83217%
Clay2,06128%
Cocke9,07229%
Coffee14,68915%
Crockett3,71517%
Cumberland20,55815%
Davidson218,78723%
Decatur3,30817%
DeKalb4,2719%
Dickson13,83521%
Dyer9,75010%
Fayette13,8146%
Fentress5,54312%
Franklin8,922-8%
Gibson12,73722%
Giles7,4088%
Grainger5,57021%
Greene12,87212%
Grundy2,96923%
Hamblen13,8554%
Hamilton88,32418%
Hancock1,20022%
Hardeman6,0967%
Hardin6,63613%
Hawkins14,0928%
Haywood4,051-12%
Henderson7,45210%
Henry9,30014%
Hickman6,09831%
Houston2,32615%
Humphreys5,4019%
Jackson2,73833%
Jefferson15,44523%
Johnson4,75213%
Knox140,685-1%
Lake1,34512%
Lauderdale5,78413%
Lawrence10,03022%
Lewis3,55021%
Lincoln8,0426%
Loudon21,91716%
Macon6,28419%
Madison24,788-4%
Marion6,68726%
Marshall9,96135%
Maury26,1918%
McMinn13,81014%
McNairy6,30011%
Meigs3,33224%
Monroe13,27820%
Montgomery42,13214%
Moore2,31926%
Morgan4,37019%
Obion8,3986%
Overton6,16823%
Perry1,92336%
Pickett1,55413%
Polk4,69340%
Putnam18,3383%
Rhea8,38023%
Roane16,69412%
Robertson19,19017%
Rutherford104,59332%
Scott5,67035%
Sequatchie4,27229%
Sevier23,26912%
Shelby288,56018%
Smith5,49315%
Stewart4,04514%
Sullivan46,6452%
Sumner55,59521%
Tipton18,7328%
Trousdale2,58418%
Unicoi5,47213%
Union3,45033%
Van Buren1,57621%
Warren8,9603%
Washington35,95416%
Wayne3,46612%
Weakley9,03918%
White6,79910%
Williamson107,07528%
Wilson54,03828%
TOTAL1,962,90016%

Early voting down 8% compared with 2018 primary

Early voting was down 8% compared with Tennessee’s 2018 primary election featuring a heated governor’s race and another open U.S. Senate seat.

Republican voting was down 11%, while Democratic turnout was up 2%. GOP voters still showed up in far greater numbers than Democrats, 354,600 to 215,790.

Only 21 counties saw increases in Republican early voting, led by a 63% growth in Washington County in the heart of the 1st Congressional District, where 16 Republicans are vying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City). Other counties in the district posing GOP gains included Unicoi (21%), Sullivan (14%), Sevier (11%), and Grainger (8%). Turnout decreased in the district’s remaining counties: Jefferson (-9%), Hamblen (-13%), Greene (-21%), Johnson (-23%), Hancock (-28%), and Cocke (-30%).

Democratic turnout saw its biggest boost in Davidson County, where early voting was up 53% compared with two years ago. Knox County also saw a Democratic gain of 29%, while GOP turnout dropped 10%. In Hamilton County, Democrats saw a 24% increase but Republican turnout also grew 19%.

In Shelby County, which usually accounts for the state’s largest turnout for both parties, Democratic early voting was down 4%, while GOP balloting cratered by 25%.

The full early voting list by county compared with the 2018 primary follows below.

Continue reading

Here’s how much federal relief money is flowing to Tennessee counties

The Senate meets in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A total of $13 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money is flowing to Tennessee, and a new interactive state website allows users to break down how much is headed specific counties.

In a meeting of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group on Monday, Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) asked whether the amounts can be broken out on a per-capita basis to ensure smaller counties weren’t getting less than the likes of Metro Nashville and Shelby County. Gov. Bill Lee’s administration didn’t have those figures at their fingertips, so the Tennessee Journal has crunched the numbers. Here are the top 10 per-capita recipients of federal aid (Anderson County, where McNally lives, comes in at No. 12):

  1. Jackson, $7,126
  2. Cheatham, $4,363
  3. Davidson, $3,931
  4. Carroll, $3,380
  5. Smith, 3,738
  6. Fayette, $3,525
  7. Cannon, $3,056
  8. Carter, $2,643
  9. Giles, $2,643
  10. Bledsoe, $2,557

The full per-capita breakdown follows:

Continue reading

GOP early voting lags behind 2018, while Nashville surge boosts Democrats’ totals

(Graphic credit: Don Johnson)

Republican turnout has been down 10% compared with the first 13 days of early voting in 2018, while Democratic turnout has been up 3%. Overall turnout has been down 7%.

(This post has been updated to reflect turnout figures for the first 13 of 14 days of early voting.)

Early voting for the Aug. 6 primary runs through Saturday.

The nominations for the open U.S. Senate race in 2018 were settled by the time the primary rolled around, but that year featured a rough-and-tumble primary for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. This year’s campaign season has been dominated by a bitter GOP contest for yet another U.S. Senate vacancy between former Ambassador Bill Hagerty and Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi.

Despite the comparative lag, Republicans have still turned out in far higher numbers than Democrats across the state, 330,580 to 194,368.

The biggest increase in GOP early voting has been a 64% jump in Washington County, which is in the heart of the 16-way 1st District primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City). It’s also home to heated primary challenges of state Reps. Matthew Hill and Micah Van Huss (both R-Jonesborough). GOP voting has been down in 72 of 95 counties.

The biggest increase in early voting among Democrats has occurred in Nashville, where turnout has been  61% higher than it was through the same period two years ago. This year’s primary features Keeda Haynes’ insurgent campaign against longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) and a spirited contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville).

See your county’s turnout compared with the first 13 of 14 days of early voting in 2018 below.

Continue reading

Absentee voting well ahead of 2016 primary, nearing level of last presidential election

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)

Requests for absentee ballots are well ahead of the number cast in the August 2016 primary and are already coming close to matching the levels of that year’s November presidential election, according to data gathered by The Tennessean‘s Joel Ebert and Carmel Kookogey.

The Secretary of State’s office said it doesn’t keep track of absentee ballot requests, referring the newspaper to local election commissions. The newspaper contacted officials in all 95 counties. Eighty provided information on how many mail-in ballots had been requested as of last week, nine refused to release data, and six did not respond.

A judge last month ordered the state to allow anyone who fears infection by the coronavirus to cast absentee ballots. The state is appealing that ruling, but it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will decide the issue before the Aug. 6 primary.

About 57,000 absentee ballots had been requested as of last week. That compares with about about 12,000 for the August 2016 primary and 64,000 for that year’s general election.

A look at the percentage difference between absentee ballot requests this year and the number cast in August and November 2016 follows after the jump.

Continue reading