House

Rep. Eddie Mannis is latest to retire from House

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Freshman Rep. Eddie Mannis is the latest Tennessee lawmaker to announce he won’t run again. The Knoxville businessman is the 10th Republican to decide against seeking re-election to the House this fall (see the full list here.)

Here’s the full announcement from Mannis:

“Yesterday, I informed my fellow Representatives of my intention to not seek reelection as Representative of District 18 in the State of Tennessee General Assembly.

As my guiding principle has always, and will always be, people before politics and partisanship, I wanted to publicly share the reasons behind my decision.

The recent passing of my dad has truly forced me to do a lot of soul searching. I have heard his final words, “Follow your heart,” over and over in my head. After weeks and weeks of prayer and conversations with my family and friends, I decided not to seek reelection when the 112th adjourns. It has been a very difficult decision, but I must truly follow my heart.

Serving in the Tennessee General Assembly has been one of the most challenging, yet fulfilling things I’ve ever done. Making decisions that impact people’s lives and livelihoods is a huge responsibility. I will always be grateful to the people of the State of Tennessee, Knox County, and District 18 for allowing me this opportunity.

It has also been an indescribable honor and privilege to serve with my fellow Representatives. While we haven’t always agreed on issues and I will no longer be serving alongside them, I will continue to support them in their efforts of working towards what is right and just, and what hopefully will make us all better Tennesseans.

I look forward to returning to my business ventures, working alongside my team who have made many sacrifices over the past several years. They have afforded me the opportunity to take on two very

hard-fought campaigns and serve the people of Tennessee for the past two years. I am also excited to restart HonorAir-Knoxville and get back to serving East Tennessee Veterans after a two-and-a-half-year break during the pandemic. Continuing to serve my community will remain one of the most important aspects of my life.

Although this is a bittersweet time for me, I leave hoping that it’s obvious that I’ve tried to make the best decisions possible based on my conscience and my desire to try and do what’s right. I am grateful. Thank you

House backs off delay on residency requirement for congressional candidates, sends bill to governor

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A bill seeking to require congressional candidates to have lived in Tennessee for at least three years before they can seek office is on its way to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk after the House dropped its effort to have the measure apply to the election cycle after this one.

If signed into law, the measure could imperil the 5th District candidacies of former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus and music video producer Robby Starbuck. Ortagus, who moved to Nashville last year, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Starbuck, a California transplant, has the backing of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

A legal challenge is also widely anticipated because the U.S. Constitution only requires candidates to be at least 25 years old and live in the state they are hoping to represent.

Other GOP candidates for the open 5th District seat include former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, businessman Baxter Lee, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, and retired National Guard general Kurt Winstead.

Rep. Jerry Sexton says he won’t run again

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station)

State Rep. Jerry Sexton, a Bean Station Republican best known for his efforts to declare the Bible the official book of Tennessee, isn’t running for another term in the House.

Sexton made the announcement at the Grainger County Lincoln Day Dinner, according to an attendee.

Sexton was drawn together with Rep. Rick Eldridge of Morristown as part of this year’s redistricting process, meaning the two incumbents would have had to run against each other in the Republican primary to try to hold on to the seat. But Eldridge was expected to have the advantage because his home county of Hamblen has a larger share of the population on the new district than Sexton’s Grainger County.

3-judge panel: No need to rush on redistricting lawsuit

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), left, walks to look at a proposed House redistricting map on Dec. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A three-judge panel has declined a request by the plaintiffs in a Democratic Party lawsuit to expedite proceedings. The judges said they weren’t convinced they had the authority to hurry up the case and that “expediting these proceedings as requested would not allow the important constitutional questions to be fully and meaningfully considered and adjudicated on the merits.”

The lawsuit claims the state House maps could have been drawn with fewer than 30 split counties and that the Senate plan violated a constitutional requirement for districts to be consecutively numbered in Nashville.

Here’s the order:

This reapportionment case was filed on February 23, 2022. Plaintiffs Akilah Moore, Telise Turner, and Gary Wright are suing Defendants Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins in their official capacities, claiming that the State House and Senate maps are unconstitutionally drawn. Plaintiffs’ unverified Complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. On March 1, 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an Order designating the undersigned as the Three Judge Panel (“Panel”) to hear this case.

On March 2, 2022, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Motion to Expedite”). On March 3, 2022, Defendants filed Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Response in Opposition”). On March 4, 2022, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs’ Reply in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Plaintiffs’ Reply”). After conferring, the Panel entered an Order on March 3, 2022, setting Plaintiffs’ Motion to Expedite for a telephonic hearing on March 7, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

After considering the Motion to Expedite, the record, and the arguments of counsel for the parties, the Panel respectfully DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion to Expedite on the following grounds:

1.            The Panel was not convinced that it had authority to expedite the proceedings in the fashion requested in the motion.

2.            Given all the attendant circumstances, including Defendants’ preliminary estimate that they needed to develop expert proof to defend Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges and the possibility that discovery might be necessary, the Panel concludes that expediting these proceedings as requested would not allow the important constitutional questions to be fully and meaningfully considered and adjudicated on the merits.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

/Signed/

RUSSELL T. PERKINS, Chief Judge

J. MICHAEL SHARP Judge

STEVEN W. MARONEY, Chancellor

Democrat Stewart to retire from state House

Rep Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) speaks to reporters on the House floor in Nashville on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Mike Stewart, a former House Democratic caucus chair from Nashville, announced he is retiring from the General Assembly. Under initial Republican redistricting plans, Stewart was going to be drawn together with fellow Democrat John Ray Clemmons. But the majority party relented in a last-minute change, leaving the two incumbents in their own districts.

Here’s Stewart’s statement:

NASHVILLE — Today Mike Stewart announced in a Facebook Live appearance on the Tennessee Holler that he is not running for the state house seat he has held since 2008.  “I consider the opportunity to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly as one of the great honors of my life and I am grateful to all the people who have helped me along the way,” Stewart said.

Stewart intends to shift his political energy to protecting America’s democratic system, which is under serious internal attack for the first time since the 1850’s.  “We are facing a threat that I never expected to deal with during my lifetime; a former President and his followers attempting to invalidate a Presidential election and with it the system we use in this country to allow the people to choose their leaders.  I was one of those who mistakenly thought that President Trump was just being a sore loser when he made claims of election fraud; now it has been revealed that those claims were part of an orchestrated effort to cancel the 2020 election, thwart the will of the people and retain political control illegally.  It is the sort of thing that I expected to see only in other countries and in science fiction movies,” Stewart observed.

“As a lawyer and a person who has been deeply involved in elections for many years, I hope to do what I can to protect the democratic process in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections,” Stewart observed.  Specifically, I will be working with leaders around the nation to ensure that polling places are adequately monitored to prevent false claims of fraud, working to ensure that state legislatures are not controlled by anti-democratic leaders, and working to develop legal strategies to check those who continue to make false statements undermining our system of elections.”  

“Many citizens I’m talking to are feeling overwhelmed and defeated.  They grew up in the world’s most stable and admired democracy, and now see a former President, as well as Senators and Congressmen, debasing themselves on national television repeating claims they know are entirely untrue.  I plan to do everything I can to ensure that such people are not allowed to tamper further with our sacred system of elections so that the people have a fair opportunity to repudiate such irresponsible and, ultimately, immoral leadership.  Many are talking about the threat; it is time to develop concrete plans to respond to it on a state-by-state level.”

Stewart added, “I’d like to close this chapter by saying it has been a privilege to serve the people in House District 52 and I intend to continue fighting for you, as well as the rest of the country, in my new role.”

How they voted: House COVID bill limps across finish line

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

After much chest-beating and saber-rattling, the House backed off on several provisions of its bill aimed at blocking COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements. When the final vote was taken at 1:15 a.m. 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.

The House started out with an effort to create a near-universal ban on businesses imposing mask or vaccine mandates on either customers or employees — a rule that would have even extended to people hired to provide home care in private residences. The final version of the bill retained the ability of sports and entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or a negative test, restored the power of private citizens to set requirements for their homes, and allowed all private businesses to require masks.

Also exempt from the vaccine mandate ban are health care facilities and companies or institutions that can show their federal funding would be imperiled by noncompliance.

The bill does impose a ban on mask mandates at all public (but not private) schools. But the issue has been the subject of litigation ever since Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of mask mandates. (A separate bill to fine local officials up to $10,000 for ignoring executive orders (as was done in Shelby County and Nashville) failed in the Senate.)

Business groups will be parsing through the final language of the omnibus measure to see whether their concerns about increased litigation and conflicting state and federal rules have been addressed.

Read the Tennessean and Associated Press accounts for the full rundown.

In the end, 57 Republicans and one Democrat, John Mark Windle of Livingston, voted in favor of the bill. Thirteen Democrats and nine Republicans voted against. Nineteen members were either absent or abstained.

Here’s the breakdown:

RepresentativePartyVote
Alexander, RebeccaRAbsent or abstained
Baum, CharlieRNo
Beck, BillDNo
Boyd, ClarkRYes
Bricken, RushRAbsent or abstained
Byrd, DavidRYes
Calfee, KentRYes
Campbell, ScottyRYes
Camper, Karen D.DNo
Carr, DaleRYes
Carringer, MicheleRYes
Casada, GlenRYes
Cepicky, ScottRAbsent or abstained
Chism, JesseDAbsent or abstained
Clemmons, John RayDNo
Cochran, MarkRYes
Cooper, BarbaraDAbsent or abstained
Crawford, JohnRAbsent or abstained
Curcio, Michael G.RNo
Darby, TandyRYes
Dixie, VincentDAbsent or abstained
Doggett, ClayRYes
Eldridge, RickRYes
Faison, JeremyRYes
Farmer, AndrewRYes
Freeman, BobDNo
Gant, Ron M.RYes
Garrett, JohnnyRNo
Gillespie, JohnRYes
Griffey, BruceRYes
Grills, RustyRYes
Hakeem, YusufDAbsent or abstained
Halford, CurtisRYes
Hall, MarkRYes
Hardaway, G. A.DNo
Harris, Torrey C.DNo
Haston, KirkRYes
Hawk, DavidRYes
Hazlewood, PatsyRNo
Helton, EstherRYes
Hicks, GaryRYes
Hicks, TimRYes
Hodges, JasonDNo
Holsclaw, Jr., John B.RYes
Howell, DanRYes
Hulsey, BudRYes
Hurt, ChrisRYes
Jernigan, DarrenDAbsent or abstained
Johnson, CurtisRYes
Johnson, GloriaDNo
Keisling, KellyRYes
Kumar, Sabi ‘Doc’RNo
Lafferty, JustinRYes
Lamar, LondonDNo
Lamberth, WilliamRYes
Leatherwood, TomRYes
Littleton, MaryRYes
Love, Harold M., Jr.DAbsent or abstained
Lynn, SusanRYes
Mannis, EddieRNo
Marsh, PatRYes
McKenzie, SamDAbsent or abstained
Miller, Larry J.DAbsent or abstained
Mitchell, BoDNo
Moody, DebraRYes
Moon, JeromeRAbsent or abstained
Ogles, BrandonRYes
Parkinson, AntonioDAbsent or abstained
Potts, JasonDAbsent or abstained
Powell, JasonDNo
Powers, DennisRYes
Ragan, JohnRYes
Ramsey, BobRAbsent or abstained
Reedy, Jay D.RYes
Rudd, TimRYes
Rudder, IrisRYes
Russell, LowellRYes
Sexton, CameronRYes
Sexton, JerryRAbsent or abstained
Shaw, JohnnyDNo
Sherrell, PaulRYes
Smith, RobinRYes
Sparks, MikeRYes
Stewart, MikeDNo
Terry, BryanRYes
Thompson, DwayneDAbsent or abstained
Todd, ChrisRYes
Towns, Joe, Jr.DAbsent or abstained
Travis, RonRNo
Vaughan, KevinRYes
Vital, GregRYes
Warner, ToddRYes
Weaver, Terri LynnRNo
White, MarkRYes
Whitson, SamRNo
Williams, RyanRYes
Windle, John MarkDYes
Wright, DaveRYes
Zachary, JasonRYes

Here are your House committees for Special Session III

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

Here are the committees House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has assigned for the third special session of the year. The Senate is sticking with its regular committees.

Banking

  • Chair: Powers
  • Vice Chair: Boyd
  • Alexander
  • Bricken
  • Halford
  • Hardaway
  • Harris
  • Hicks, T.
  • Jernigan
  • Mannis

Covid-19

  • Chair: Farmer
  • Vice Chair: Grills
  • Carr
  • Carringer
  • Cooper
  • Darby
  • Eldridge
  • Faison
  • Hall
  • Hodges
  • Howell
  • Hulsey
  • Johnson, C
  • Lamberth
  • Potts
  • Rudder
  • Sherrell
  • Thompson
  • Todd
  • Warner
  • Zachary

Elections

  • Chair: Moon
  • Vice Chair: Wright
  • Campbell
  • Casada
  • Cepicky
  • Dixie
  • Doggett
  • Lafferty
  • Mitchell
  • Ramsey

Emergency Orders

  • Chair: Littleton
  • Vice Chair: Leatherwood
  • Calfee
  • Chism
  • Clemmons
  • Kumar
  • Lynn
  • Moody
  • Ogles
  • Parkinson
  • Rudd
  • Stewart

Finance, Ways, & Means

  • Chair: Hazlewood
  • Vice Chair: Hicks, G
  • Baum
  • Campbell
  • Camper
  • Chism
  • Cochran
  • Crawford
  • Gant
  • Faison
  • Helton
  • Howell
  • Lamar
  • Lamberth
  • Miller
  • Moody
  • Russell
  • Shaw
  • Vital
  • Williams
  • Windle
  • Zachary

Public Health

  • Chair: Terry
  • Vice Chair: Hawk
  • Byrd
  • Gant
  • Gillespie
  • Haston
  • Holsclaw
  • Kiesling
  • Love
  • Marsh
  • McKenzie
  • Powell
  • Smith
  • Sparks
  • Towns
  • Vaughan
  • White
  • Whitson
  • Williams

Judiciary

  • Chair: Curcio
  • Vice Chair: Russell
  • Beck
  • Garrett
  • Griffey
  • Hakeem
  • Hurt
  • Johnson, G
  • Lamar
  • Ragan
  • Reedy
  • Travis
  • Weaver

Calendar & Rules

  • Chair: Zachary
  • Vice Chair: Darby
  • Camper
  • Curcio
  • Faison
  • Farmer
  • Freeman
  • Gant
  • Grills
  • Hazlewood
  • Howell
  • Lamberth
  • Littleton
  • Love
  • Moon
  • Powers
  • Shaw
  • Terry
  • Todd
  • White
  • Windle

Here are the House committees for the special session

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to colleagues on the House floor in Nashville on Oct. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate is keeping its regular committees in place for the special session, but House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) is appointing special panels to hear the Ford incentive bills and other legislation.

Here are the special House committees:

Commerce

  • Chair: Vaughan
  • Vice Chair: Todd
  • Bricken
  • Chism
  • Freeman
  • Gillespie
  • Griffey
  • Halford
  • Harris
  • Hurt
  • Leatherwood
  • Miller
  • Moody
  • Parkinson
  • Powers
  • Ramsey
  • Travis
  • Vital
  • White

Health and Safety

  • Chair: Terry
  • Vice Chair: Grills
  • Calfee
  • Campbell
  • Carringer
  • Cepicky
  • Cooper
  • Doggett
  • Hakeem
  • Hardaway
  • Howell
  • Johnson of Knox
  • Lafferty
  • Ogles
  • Ragan
  • Rudder
  • Smith
  • Thompson

Finance, Ways & Means

  • Chair: Hazlewood
  • Vice Chair: Hicks of Hawkins
  • Baum
  • Boyd
  • Camper
  • Carr
  • Faison
  • Farmer
  • Gant
  • Garrett
  • Haston
  • Hawk
  • Helton
  • Hodges
  • Lamar
  • Lamberth
  • Littleton
  • Lynn
  • Shaw
  • Whitson
  • Williams
  • Windle

Calendar & Rules

  • Chair: Zachary
  • Vice Chair: Russell
  • Beck
  • Camper
  • Curcio
  • Darby
  • Faison
  • Halford
  • Hazlewood
  • Howell
  • Jernigan
  • Keisling
  • Kumar
  • McKenzie
  • Mitchell
  • Lamberth
  • Marsh
  • Reedy
  • Terry
  • Warner
  • Weaver

Here is the petition for the special session on COVID-19 mandates

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is the petition lawmakers are circulating to hold a special session on efforts to dial back COVID-19 mandates. It will take 66 signatures in the House and 22 in the Senate to take effect:

PETITION: Requesting the Speaker of the House of Representatives to call the House into session pursuant to Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution of Tennessee.

We, the undersigned members of the 112th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, and members of the House of Representatives of such body, petition the above presiding officer to call this body back into session in Nashville upon similar action taken by the Senate, on October 27, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. (CDT) for the limited purposes of:

(1) Considering and acting upon legislation to establish uniform standards regarding facial coverings, vaccinations, and other restrictions relative to COVID-19; to address the enforcement and use of state funds by public and private entities for restrictions relative to COVID-19; to address adverse actions against an employee based on an employee’s vaccination status; to address the federal government’s commandeering of public and private resources relative to COVID-19; and to address the federal government’s penalizing, or taxation of, citizens of this state through enforcement of restrictions relative to COVID-19;

(2) Considering and acting upon legislation to address the creation, organization, and authority of local entities and officers charged with the promotion, protection, and maintenance, through local health services or directives, of the health of citizens of this state; to address the provision of monoclonal antibody treatment; and to address authorization to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to a minor without parental consent;

(3) Considering and acting upon legislation addressing liability of an employer, and compensation of an employee, for harm or injury suffered by an employee as the result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was required or incentivized through the employee’s employment; and to address an employee’s receipt of unemployment benefits relative to COVID-19;

(4) Considering and acting upon legislation to address the length of time and enforcement of an executive order or proclamation issued by the governor under the governor’s emergency management powers; to address a district attorney general peremptorily refusing to prosecute all instances of a criminal offense without regard to facts or circumstances; to include cash as eligible collateral and adjust the amount of eligible collateral pledged for the deposit of public funds; and to address partisan elections of school board members; and

(5) Considering and acting upon legislation to make appropriations sufficient to provide the first year’s funding for any act which receives final passage during the extraordinary session; and to pay the expenses of the extraordinary session of the General Assembly, including the expenses of carrying out any actions taken pursuant to this call.

House redistricting panel to hold first meeting Wednesday

The House Select Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting on Wednesday.

Anyone wishing to participate in the public comment section of the meeting must register by Tuesday afternoon.

Traditionally each chamber comes up with its own redistricting plan, while the House and Senate combine to draw new congressional maps.

Here’s the agenda:

Select Committee on Redistricting

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – HHR I – 1:00 PM

Johnson C, Chair; Marsh, Vice-Chair; Camper, Crawford, Faison, Freeman, Hazlewood, Hicks G, Holsclaw, Lamberth, Parkinson, Russell, Vaughan, Whitson, Williams, Windle

I. Call to Order & Introductions

II. Presentation – Doug Himes, Counsel to the Select Committee on
Redistricting

III. House Redistricting Guidelines

IV. Submission of Redistricting Plans

V. Public Comments*

VI. Adjourn