Cameron Sexton

Lawmakers scramble to raise money before high-noon deadline

Lawmakers are scrambling to collect last-minute campaign donations as a fundraising ban looms. The blackout begins once the gavel falls on the start of the regular session at noon on Tuesday. It will last until the General Assembly adjourns for the year — or May 15 if they can’t complete their business before then.

As Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) had an event to raise money for his PAC on Monday at the Nashville City Club, while his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), held an event at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse .

Sexton spokesman Doug Kufner told the paper “the practice of hosting fundraisers on the day before the start of a legislative session is not uncommon and has occurred regularly among members of both parties in recent years.

Raising money will be all the more crucial for lawmakers facing potential primary challenges under this year’s newly drawn political maps.

Sexton to AP: The Nashville split is on

Rep. Cameron Sexton presides over his first session as House speaker on Aug. 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton is confirming plans to carve up the heavily-Democratic 5th Congressional District in Nashville to give Republicans a chance to pick up an eighth of the state’s nine congressional seats.

According to Associated Press reporters Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, Sexton wouldn’t say exactly how many districts would split the state’s second-largest county.

“I won’t give an exact number. but it’s either two or three,” Sexton told the AP.

“I’ve never bought into the approach that having multiple people represent a big city is bad thing,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper has held the seat since 2003.

UPDATE: Andy Sher at the Chattanooga Times Free Press spoke to Sexton about whether plowing Democrats into currently safe GOP seats could make future races competitive.

“Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, which is fine. . . . Whether or not it does what people say it does, only time will tell that,” Sexton told the paper.

“It’s not unprecedented in our state where those large urban areas and congressional areas have been split . . . . We think we can do it, and we think it will be constitutional if we go that way,” Sexton said.

Lee declines to sign nullification resolution passed during special session

A statue of President Andrew Jackson is seen in front of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has declined to sign a resolution passed during a recent special session touting the state’s purported right to pass laws to nullify federal COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements.

The Republican governor does not appear to have transmitted a statement to lawmakers about why he is allowing the resolution to go into effect without his signature.

The Senate version passed 24-6, while the House vote was 64-17.

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) carried the measure on behalf of House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

“The nullification theory was first broached in 1832 when Tennessee’s own Andrew Jackson was president,” Ragan said in floor comments. “The state of South Carolina began it, and President Jackson threatened to invade with federal troops to settle the issue. However, the federal government ultimately backed down.”

Ragan’s statement drew a retort from Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson).

“I wanted to make sure the record was clear: the federal government didn’t back down, South Carolina quit,” said Curcio, who voted against the resolution. “But they continued in their behavior until eventually Fort Sumter was fired on, creating a tragedy for this country. I want to remind everybody that emulating such behavior is very, very serious.”

The full language of the resolution follows.

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Sexton’s nullification resolution declares right to snub federal COVID-19 rules

A statue of President Andrew Jackson is seen in front of the state Capitol in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has a filed a resolution declaring the Tennessee General Assembly may “nullify” actions it deems to constitute federal overreach.

“It is the right of the Tennessee General Assembly to enact such legislation as it deems necessary to nullify actions taken by the federal government regarding COVID-19 when those actions violate the United States Constitution,” according to Sexton’s resolution.

The resolution employs terminology echoing the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, in which South Carolina lawmakers called a state convention to declare a federal tariff null and void. Supporters thought President Andrew Jackson, a Tennessee plantation owner, would back them. He instead issued a proclamation stating his opposition to the move and threatened to respond with force if supporters took up arms over the issue.

South Carolina ultimately backed down, and Jackson, who is memorialized with a statue outside the state Capitol, was credited with staving off the Civil War by 30 years.

Here’s the full text of Sexton’s resolution:

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 9005

By Sexton C

A RESOLUTION to address the federal government’s penalizing, or taxation of, citizens of this State through enforcement of restrictions relative to COVID-19 by supporting the challenging, condemning, and nullifying of such action.

WHEREAS, on September 9, 2021, the President of the United States announced an executive order that mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for employees of federal contractors and subcontractors; and

WHEREAS, President Biden also announced a forthcoming Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or routine testing for employers with more than 100 employees; and

WHEREAS, part of the President’s COVID-19 Action Plan includes having the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies; and

WHEREAS, the new CMS requirements will be in addition to the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities previously announced by CMS, and will apply to nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care; and

WHEREAS, federalism is described and analyzed in Bond v. United States, 564 U.S. 211 (2011), in which the United States Supreme Court declared that the federal system rests on the insight that “freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one”; and

WHEREAS, the Court further stated that this freedom is enhanced “first by protecting the integrity of the [two] governments themselves, and second by protecting the people, from whom all governmental powers are derived”; and

WHEREAS, federalism serves “to grant and delimit the prerogatives and responsibilities of the States and the National Government vis-a-vis one another . . . [and] preserves the integrity, dignity, and residual sovereignty of the States”; and

WHEREAS, this federal balance “ensure[s] that States function as political entities in their own right”; and

WHEREAS, “[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake”; and

WHEREAS, the limitations prescribed under federalism are not “a matter of rights belonging only to the States. States are not the sole intended beneficiaries of federalism. An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balance between the National Government and the States”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012), further analyzed federalism and the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as the taxing power of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the Court acknowledged that a government’s “police power” is the general power of governing, possessed by the states but not by the federal government as the federal government only possesses enumerated powers listed in the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution’s express conferral of some powers for the federal government makes clear that it does not grant others, and the federal government can exercise only the powers granted to it; and

WHEREAS, the independent power of the states serves as a check on the power of the federal government; by denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power; and

WHEREAS, the federal government may create incentives for states to act in accordance with federal policies, but when pressure turns into compulsion, it runs contrary to federalism, and the Constitution does not give federal government the authority to require the states to regulate, regardless of whether the federal government directly commands a state to regulate or indirectly coerces a state to adopt a federal regulatory system as its own; and

WHEREAS, assertions of federal authority must be grounded in some constitutional grant of power, with the most common basis for federal intervention in private affairs being the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which empowers Congress “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states”; and

WHEREAS, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court held that the Commerce Clause cannot be used to compel individuals to engage in activity, even when such activity has an impact on interstate commerce; and

WHEREAS, while the compelled activity in NFIB was purchasing health insurance, the logic applies with equal force to a federal mandate to get an injection or submit to a weekly test, as foreshadowed by Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, when he rejected an interpretation of the Commerce Clause that would allow, for example, Congress to pass a law requiring individuals to buy vegetables to promote healthier eating habits; and

WHEREAS, it is Congress, not the executive branch, that is granted the enumerated power under Article I, § 8, to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”; and

WHEREAS, the essential feature of any “tax” is that it produces at least some revenue for the government, and in distinguishing penalties from taxes, the general concept of a “penalty” means punishment for an unlawful act or omission; and

WHEREAS, the federal government cannot change whether an exaction is a tax or a penalty for constitutional purposes simply by describing it as one or the other; and

WHEREAS, the Court in NFIB determined that the exaction that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imposed on those without health insurance, through the act’s shared responsibility payment, was a “tax,” for purposes of Congress’s taxing power, though the act described the exaction as a penalty rather than as a tax, and the exaction was intended to affect individual conduct; and

WHEREAS, by requiring employees or employers in this State to pay for a COVID-19 test to comply with federal mandates, including the forthcoming ETS to be issued by OSHA, such employees or employers will effectively be taxed by the executive branch and not by an act of Congress, as constitutionally required; and

WHEREAS, reliance by the federal government on OSHA to implement a federal mandate represents an egregious overstepping of the authority that is granted to OSHA under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, as nothing in that law even hints at the sweeping powers the President has claimed; and

WHEREAS, the Occupation Safety and Health Act’s reference to “substances or agents” strongly suggests that OSHA’s ETS power is meant to target workplace hazards like dangerous chemicals and not naturally occurring hazards like viruses; and

WHEREAS, decisions regarding any vaccine mandate properly belong to the states, not the federal government, and United States Supreme Court precedents on the validity of vaccine mandates under Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) and Zucht v. King, 260 U.S.

174 (1922), involve state, not federal, laws, and are part of the broad “police powers” enjoyed by the states; and

WHEREAS, the announced executive orders and COVID-19 Action Plan are attempts by the federal government to coerce the State of Tennessee and its citizens in violation of both the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution; and

WHEREAS, each member of the General Assembly has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of Tennessee and the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, if the federal government intends to overreach its authority to the point that it assumes the traditional constitutional role of a state legislative body, it is only fitting and proper that the very existence, as well as the depth and breadth, of this federal power be condemned and challenged not just in a court of law, but also through actions of the General Assembly to nullify such federal overreach; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE

CONCURRING, that the State of Tennessee condemns any attempt by the federal government to penalize or tax citizens of this State in an effort to enforce an unconstitutional mandate regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or other COVID-related restrictions and requirements.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the right of the Tennessee General Assembly to enact such legislation as it deems necessary to nullify actions taken by the federal government regarding COVID-19 when those actions violate the United States Constitution.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Tennessee General Assembly urges the Attorney General and Reporter of the State of Tennessee to initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the State of Tennessee or, in the alternative, seek appropriate relief in a federal court of competent jurisdiction regarding COVID-19 mandates issued by the federal government, and any actions taken by the federal government, including the President of the United States, the head of any department or agency, or any other employee of the executive branch of the federal government, in violation of federal law or as prohibited by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, or any other statutory or constitutional provisions of the United States or the State of Tennessee, with respect to the implementation or enforcement in this State of any provision of the federal government’s mandate that requires citizens of this State to either receive a COVID-19 vaccination or submit to routine testing.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Attorney General and Reporter of Tennessee.

79 special session bills have been filed in the House, but here are the 8 that matter most

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House members have submitted 79 bills this week’s 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 have one key thing in common: their sponsor is House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

With the upper chamber’s filing deadline coming later, it will be most interesting to see whether Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) serves as cosponsor to Sexton’s package of bills. (UPDATE: McNally signed on to all of them).

Having spearheaded the effort to hold this special session, Sexton will be under enormous pressure to pass most or all of his agenda. It remains to be seen how far the Senate will be willing to go along — and how forcefully the business community will push back against efforts to interfere in their operations.

Here are the bills in question, in a rough order of controversy:

HB9078: Banning businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from customers or employees.

HB9077: Allowing employees fired for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to collect unemployment benefits.

HB9072: Requiring partisan school board elections for school boards.

HB9076: Granting the governor exclusive authority over orders and directives regarding county health departments during a pandemic and giving county mayors the power to decide over local health matters.

HB9074: Requiring the state Attorney General to seek fines of $10,000 for failing to enforce or execute emergency orders.

HB9071: Allowing the state attorney general to request a replacement for a local prosecutor who “peremptorily and categorically refuses” to bring criminal charges on certain laws.

HB9075: Limiting the duration of states of emergency issued by the governor from 60 to 45 days.

HB9073: Allowing banks to use cash as a form of eligible collateral for purposes of securing public deposits amid the massive influx of federal recovery funds.

Sexton threatens abstentions on Ford deal if there is no second session on COVID-19 mandates

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to colleagues at a House Republican Caucus on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Republicans may sit on their hands rather than vote for a $500 million incentive package for Ford’s massive investment in West Tennessee if there isn’t going to be another special session on COVID-19 mandates, Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said Friday.

“If there wasn’t a special session, you’d have members who vote against [the Ford deal] in the House,” Sexton told WWTN-FM. “Instead of getting the 90-plus votes that is like everyone’s in unison with the decision and wanting Ford, you’d be in the 70s. It would still pass, but is that really the message you want to send to the biggest investment in Tennessee history?”

Gov. Bill Lee has called a special session for the week of Oct. 18 to address issues related to the Ford deal. He extended his executive order allowing parents to opt their school children out of mask mandates on Thursday and said he wants to fight against federal rulings and orders about the issue in court rather than in the General Assembly.

That’s not good enough for some GOP lawmakers.

“You just have members who are like, If I’m in East Tennessee, and it’s great that we landed that in West Tennessee, but I’ve got families and parents over here and who need help and we’re not doing anything to help them. And why can’t we?” Sexton said.

“Members at that point may choose to vote for it anyway or they may choose to say I may not vote no, but I’m not going to vote yes,” he said.

One issue Sexton said lawmakers may want to take up is whether businesses should be subject to lawsuits from workers they require to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Currently they have absolute immunity if an employee has a reaction to that vaccine,” Sexton said. “So, I think it’s important for us to go in and take a look and say if you do a mandate on your employees then you shouldn’t have the immunity to where they don’t have any repercussions if that happens.”

The business community is likely to take a dim view of lifting liability protections enacted amid the pandemic.

Sexton and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) issued a joint statement on Friday:

The Ford megasite deal is transformational for Tennessee, and we look forward to working with Gov. Lee to finalize this project as part of his special session call for Ford Motor Company. At the same time, we have heard from many Tennesseans seeking relief from burdensome Covid-19 mandates being imposed upon them. We are working together per our state constitution to call an additional special session upon the completion of the megasite session to address issues surrounding Covid -19.”

Sexton names House redistricting committee

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) presides over a House floor session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has named the membership of the House Select Committee on Redistricting.

The panel will be led by Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville). Speaker Pro Tem Pat Marsh is the vice chair. Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) will serve as East Tennessee coordinator, while Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) and Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) will oversee the East and Middle grand divisions, respectively.

Four of the committee’s 16 members are Democrats.

Here’s the full release from Sexton’s office:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) today announced the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting. The announcement comes after a prolonged delay by the U.S. Census Bureau in releasing state-level redistricting data.

The bipartisan committee consists of 16 House members, including four Democratic members. Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) will chair the committee, and Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) is the committee’s vice-chair.

Additional committee members include:

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) 

Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)

Rep. Karen Camper (D- Memphis)

Rep. John Crawford (R-Bristol/Kingsport)

Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)

Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville)

Rep. John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton)

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland)

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)

Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore)

Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin)

Rep. Ryan Williams (R- Cookeville)

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)

“As we continue reviewing the long-awaited statewide data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, I am excited to announce the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting,” said Speaker Sexton. “The makeup of this panel is representative of the distinctive voices of Tennesseans from across all three grand divisions of our state. I appreciate both my Republican and Democratic colleagues for their work as part of this panel, which will play a critical role in a transparent, public process that will produce both fair and constitutional redistricting plans representative of all Tennesseans.”

House Ethics Counsel Doug Himes will serve as counsel for the committee. The date of the first meeting of the bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting has not yet been determined.

For additional information on the redistricting process in the Tennessee House of Representatives, please click here

Cameron Sexton is the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A former Republican Caucus Chairman, Majority Whip, and House Health Committee Chairman, Sexton resides in Crossville. He is in his sixth term serving House District 25, including Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties.

Sexton hires Arnold as chief of staff

Rep. Cameron Sexton presides over his first session as House speaker on Aug. 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has hired Sammie Arnold, an assistant commissioner at the Department of Economic and Community Development, as his chief of staff.

Arnold’s wife, Laine, is Gov. Bill Lee’s communications director. His first day in Sexton’s office is Sept. 1.

The chief of staff position has been open since Scott Gilmer left in January 2020. Holt Whitt served as interim chief until he was questioned by FBI agents in connection with a raid on three lawmakers’ homes and offices in January 2021. Whitt was placed on leave while the investigation was underway. He was hired as a senior adviser in the state Department of Human Resources in July after obtaining a letter from prosecutors saying he was considered a witness.

Here’s the full release from Sexton’s office.

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) today announced Sammie Arnold as his new Chief of Staff in the Tennessee House of Representatives.  

“I am excited to announce Sammie Arnold as my new Chief of Staff,” said Speaker Sexton. “I’ve known Sammie and his family for several years and have worked with him extensively throughout his time as a staffer with former Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as in his roles with our Department of Economic and Community Development. Sammie’s extensive knowledge of our Tennessee communities, experience in public policy, and working with the General Assembly over the years not only makes him a great choice for the position but will ensure a smooth transition without missing a beat.”  

A native of Dyersburg, Arnold most recently served as Assistant Commissioner of Community and Rural Development for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). In this role at TNECD, Arnold was tasked with overseeing the department’s efforts to boost investment and development in the state’s rural communities, emphasizing Tennessee’s distressed and at-risk counties.  

“It is an incredible honor to join Speaker Sexton and his team as Chief of Staff in the Tennessee House of Representatives,” said Arnold. “I have known and admired Speaker Sexton since he was first elected to the General Assembly, and no one is better equipped than he is to lead this body during this moment of unprecedented opportunity for our state. I look forward to working with him to ensure he and all of our members continue to serve their constituents with the utmost success.”  

Before joining TNECD, Arnold served as legislative liaison for former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. He was also a staffer on former Gov. Haslam’s successful gubernatorial campaign. Arnold earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He lives in Nashville with his wife Laine and daughter Magnolia.  

His first day as Chief of Staff is Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.  

Cameron Sexton is the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A former Republican Caucus Chairman, Majority Whip, and House Health Committee Chairman, Sexton resides in Crossville. He is in his sixth term serving House District 25, which includes Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties.  

New edition alert: Sexton brings pressure for special session. Now can he deliver?

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here’s what’s in it:

— Sexton pressures Lee to call session to halt COVID-19 mandates. But getting signatures for a letter is one thing, finding consensus is another.

— Lee already ranks third for special sessions and new one would make him No. 2 among all Tennessee governors.

— Opt-out provision to mask mandates posited as a way to take down the temperature.

— Census numbers start trickling in as lawmakers nervously ponder the future shape of their districts.

Also: Easley dismisses conspiracy theories about quarantine camps, WPLN -FM hires a new political reporter, the Titans launch a new PAC, and GOP lawmakers confirm they consider it their duty to tell locals what to do.

Access the your TNJ copy here or subscribe here.

Southern Legislative Conference kicks off in Nashville on Saturday

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus after winning their nomination for speaker on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Southern Legislative Conference is holding its annual meeting in Nashville this weekend. The group is chaired this year by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).

Here’s a release detailing proceedings:

Nashville, Tennessee – Approximately 1,500 Southern state legislators, legislative staff, and government officials convene today in Nashville for the 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC).

Guided by SLC chair Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (Crossville), the SLC Annual Meeting provides state lawmakers the opportunity to engage with experts on pressing policy issues and collaborate on state government solutions.

“I am excited to welcome state lawmakers from across the region to Tennessee,” said Speaker Sexton. “The exchange and discussion of ideas with other lawmakers on the many accomplishments and successful policies we all championed the last couple of years is something that we all look forward to. This meeting is about learning from one another to improve our home states and the lives of our constituents. As the Southern states have led us through these difficult times to positive recovery, I can’t think of a more critical time than now for all of us to come together, to learn from each other, and celebrate our successes.”

Tennessee’s leadership role within the SLC is a long-established one. Tennessee has had the distinction of hosting the inaugural meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in 1947; adopting the SLC’s organizational rules at its ninth Annual Meeting in Gatlinburg in 1955; serving as host to the 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting in 1996 and, most recently, the 65th Annual Meeting in 2011 in Memphis.

The conference agenda features several notable guest speakers, including:

— Former Governor Bill Haslam

— Maneet Chauhan, Chef, Restauranter, Author, and Television Personality

— Rick Barnes, Head Coach, Tennessee Volunteers, University of Tennessee, and

— Colonel Littleton, Designer, and Proprietor, The Great American Leather Company.

Site visits highlighting Arrington Vineyards, Lipman Brothers Distillery, and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Smyrna Campus and Nissan Training Center will offer participants the chance to experience local innovations first-hand.

Attendees also will give back to the community during their stay, packaging 50,000 meals for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee at the annual Campaign Against Hunger event.