Most read TNJ blog posts of 2021

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The TNJ: On the Hill blog has published 326 posts in 2021. Here are the 10 that garnered the most attention from readers:

10. Speaker Sexton strips Griffey of committee assignments. March 25, 2021.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton stripped Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) of his committee assignments. The move comes after Griffey’s unsuccessful attempt earlier this week to pull an e-verify bill that had earlier been defeated in a subcommittee straight to floor. Griffey was later restored to his committees.

9. GOP lawmaker levels impeachment threat over bust removal. March 15, 2021.

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) introduced legislation declaring that statues on the second level of the state Capitol — including a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest —shall never be altered. And it would be an impeachable offense for any governor to do so. The bill the didn’t pass and the bust was later moved to the Tennessee State Museum.

8. Ford picks Memphis Regional Megasite for $5.6B electric vehicle and battery plant. Sept. 27, 2021.

Ford announced plans to build a $5.6 billion electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility on the sprawling Memphis Regional Megasite. The Dearborn, Mich-based automaker said the project dubbed Blue Oval City will create nearly 6,000 jobs.

7. Sexton threatens abstentions on Ford deal if there is no second session on COVID-19 mandates. Oct. 1, 2021.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened that Republicans could sit on their hands rather than vote for the incentive package to secure Ford’s massive investment in West Tennessee if there wasn’t going to be another special session on COVID-19 mandates. While Gov. Bill Lee ultimately declined to call another session, Senate Speaker Randy McNally dropped his opposition lawmakers calling themselves back to Nashville. The Ford incentives passed overwhelmingly.

6. How they voted: House COVID bill limps across finish line. Oct. 30, 2021.

After much chest-beating and saber-rattling, the House backed off on several provisions of its special session bill aimed at blocking COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements. When the final vote was taken at 1:15 a.m. on a Saturday, the measure received the support of just 57 Republicans — a significant drop from the unanimous 73 who signed on to the petition to hold the the special session.

5. 79 special session bills have been filed in the House, but here are the 8 that matter most. Oct. 27, 2021.

House members submitted dozens of bills in advance of a special session aimed at dialing back COVID-19 mandates (among other things). But the last eight dropped in the hopper before the filing deadline are the ones most worth paying attention to. They all had one key thing in common: their sponsors were House Speaker Cameron Sexton and his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally.

4. Fired chief vaccine officer’s husband ran against erstwhile Lee ally Casada. July 13, 2021.

The state’s firing of its top vaccination officer, Michelle Fiscus, sparked national outrage. Fiscus grabbed the media spotlight by claiming she had become a scapegoat for conservative lawmakers’ anger over the department’s efforts to vaccinate teeenagers against COVID-19. There was a political subcurrent to the firing. Fiscus’ husband, Brad, ran as an independent candidate against state Rep. Glen Casada in last year’s election, finishing third.

3. Tennessee congressional delegation recoils at Capitol incursion. Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty, who called for active duty troops to be activated to quell social unrest during last year’s campaign, denounced the breach of the U.S. Capitol by demonstrators supporting President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his electoral loss. “What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is not peaceful, this is violence,” Hagerty said in a tweet. “I condemn it in the strongest terms. We are a nation of laws and this must stop.”

2. Former commissioner reports Rep. Weaver to DC police. Jan. 14, 2021. 

A former commissioner in then-Gov. Ned McWherter’s administration reported state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) to law enforcement for taking part in Washington protest that turned into a riot. “I respectfully inform you that Terri Lynn Weaver… was a participant,” Dudley Taylor wrote to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. “She posted photos and informed The Tennessean, the daily newspaper in Nashville, that she was ‘in the thick of it.’ She claimed to be a ‘patriot,’ of course.”

1. Last place you’ll ever visit? Tennessee’s vaccine policy becomes late-night TV fodder. July 15, 2021.

Late-night TV comedian Stephen Colbert is taking aim at Tennessee’s decision to fire its vaccine chief and stop marketing any immunizations to children. “Tennessee, the Volunteer State, has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country,” Colbert said in his monologue Wednesday. “And they aim to keep it that way.”

Colbert suggested the state is proud of it’s anti-vax ways, and his program created a new tourism ad to suit: “Discover Tennessee: Scenic lakes, beautiful state parks, and soon: polio!” the ad’s narrators says. “There are just so many things to do — and catch — in Tennessee.”