mark pody

Senate backbenchers: Two can play at that game

State Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) waits for the State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Not to be outdone by House backbenchers filing the bulk of the bills in the ongoing special session on dialing back COVID-19 mandates, a handful of Senators who otherwise have little legislative clout have followed suit in a big way.

Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) is sponsoring 27 bills, Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) has 12, Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) as signed on to 11, and Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) is backing 10. Together, the four senators account for 60 of 84 bills filed before the deadline, or 71% of the total.

Here’s full breakdown.

  • Mark Pody (R-Lebanon): 27
  • Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma): 12
  • Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald): 11
  • Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains): 10
  • Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge): 9
  • Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville): 4
  • Mike Bell (R-Riceville): 2
  • Paul Rose (R-Covington): 2
  • Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis): 2
  • Ed Jackson (R-Jackson): 2
  • Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield): 1
  • Steve Southerland (R-Morristown): 1
  • Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville): 1

Boyd pulls out of Pody fundraiser

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd won’t be hosting that fundraiser for firebrand state Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) after all.

The Tennessee Journal noted the odd political alliance in Friday’s print edition, leading to follow-up reporting by the Knoxville News Sentinel and Knoxville Compass. Pody was heavily involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement following last year’s presidential election and has been a main sponsor of legislation seeking to exempt the state from the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision and to allow men to block their female sexual partners’ decisions to get an abortion.

“Senator Pody has been a long-time friend,” Boyd said in statement Friday. “We do not agree on all issues. But he called and asked for my help, and I said, yes, in my role as a private citizen and not in any official capacity.”

By Saturday, Boyd was singing a different tune, the Knox News reports. In an email to faculty members, Boyd said his offer to pay for the breakfast was mistakenly interpreted as agreeing to host the event.

“I have not solicited nor did I intend to solicit any contributions for him,” Boyd wrote. “I have not made a contribution to him either personally or through a PAC. I am also not attending the event and have decided not to pay for the breakfast.”