Tennessee Journal

New TNJ edition alert: Lobbying spending rebounds after 2020 lockdown at state Capitol

In the absence of lobbyists banned from the state Capitol during the pandemic, lawmakers gather in the seats outside the House chamber in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Cold, hard advocacy: Lobbying spending rebounded this session

— Cabinet changes: Wiseman’s portfolio never quite matched lofty double-barreled title.

— Political roundup: Another Democrat mulls bid for governor, state party fined $103K.

— Fraud or fair play? Updated indictment filed against state Sen. Robinson on eve of trial.

Also: Durham’s lawyer updates the status of the feds’ criminal investigation into former lawmaker, the reclassification of the snail darter ends decades of political jokes, and House Republicans to hold a fundraiser at an undisclosed location.

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New edition alert: Events overtake special session push, redistricting committee named

Gov. Bill Lee tours flood damage in Waverly on Aug. 22, 2021. (Image credit: State of Tennessee)

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Special session talk fades as COVID-19 infections surge past 1 million.

— Sexton names redistricting committee, taps Arnold as chief of staff.

— From the campaign trail: Democrats join governor’s race, but record for second-term challenges isn’t strong.

— Legal update: Page to head Supreme Court after Bivins’ five years as chief justice, Bone firm merged.

— Obituary: Anti-income tax leader and vaccine skeptic Valentine dies of COVID-19.

Also:

Gardenhire dodges COVID-19 for eighth time, UTC administrator who fired public radio reporter resigns after harassment probe, and phishing emails from the House speaker.

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New edition alert: Lee order snubbed, GOP introduces fees to run, 3-judge panels named

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

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Big school districts ignore Lee’s executive order for opting out of masks

— That’ll cost you: State GOP approves fee schedule for candidates, bona fide updates.

— Money matters: Tennessee ends budget year with $2.96B surplus in its general fund.

— A three-judge tour: Supreme Court names first three-judge panels, two headed by Lyle.

— Also: Lee gets the Trump endorsement, Harshbarger late on stock disclosures, Haslam and Sundquist as new radicals, and was Fiscus barking up the wrong tree with her muzzle complaints?

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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.

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New edition: Sexton’s special session push, Lee looks to make splash with water projects

Gov. Bill Lee, left, is awarded a plaque at a Tennessee Cattlemens Association meeting in Gatlinburg on July 30, 2021. (Image credit: Gov. Bill Lee’s office)

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

— Gimme session? Sexton warns schools against mask mandates, Lee leans on doctors as intermediaries in vaccine push.

— Money matters: Lee looks to spend $1.86B of relief funds on water, broadband projects, Hagerty slows down infrastructure bill

— Constitutional amendments: Haslam joins leadership team to help pass ‘right-to-work’ measure.

— Republican prom: GOP’s Statesmen’s Dinner back on after taking hiatus during pandemic.

Also: Robinson calls federal charges a “racist attack,” Gardenhire calls out Hagerty for sitting out refugee attack, ‘urine therapy’ in the Knox City Council election, and the difference between human and bovine Tennesseans.

Access the your TNJ copy here or subscribe here.

Farewell to the commentariat

Lawmakers await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Dear readers:

The TNJ: On the Hill blog is turning off its comments section.

The decision comes after a flurry of complaints including about personal attacks, profanity, and impersonations. More than 23,000 comments have been made on the blog since 2016. Some have been informative, but many veered into personal debates about off-topic matters.

The blog will continue, but visitors’ commentary will now need to find another outlet. The good news is there are ample outlets for such discourse in the social media universe.

New edition alert: COVID-19 fallout, campaign finance, redistricting

Lawmakers attend a House floor session on Feb. 3, 2020, in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s Tennessee Journal tackles the political implications of the pandemic’s resurgence:

_ Worsening COVID-19 picture presents political quandary for GOP.

_ Registry wrap-up: Ketron’s lump-sum penalty OK’d, missing Jerry Cooper account expunged, and the treasurer of the Tillis attack PAC can’t be reached.

_ The free-for-all-to-come? Fundraising kicks into high gear with uncertain future of 5th District. Meanwhile, DesJarlais raises … $508.

Also: Terry talks breakthrough COVID-19 infection, Byrd returns after missing whole session, and we apply the Ragan interpretation to HIPAA to self-medication.

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Or subscribe here.

Top TNJ: On the Hill posts of 2020 so far

A man scrubs graffiti off of a building following protests in downtown Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As we hit the halfway mark of a tumultuous year, here is a look at the the most popular posts on the TNJ: On the Hill blog so far (again with a hat tip to our friends at the Nashville Post, from whom we have stolen the idea on more than one occasion).

1. Sethi on the air with new ad hitting ‘Leftwing Lockdown.

June 11: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi has a new TV ad out in which he goes after what his campaign is calling liberals’ double standard on the coronavirus lockdown.

2.  So what’s essential? A look at Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order.

March 30: Here are details about which businesses are exempted by Gov. Bill Lee’s order for non-essential operations to shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a long list, ranging from marinas to dry cleaners. It also includes “any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten or fewer persons accessing the premises.”

3. Give me refills or give me death? Protest organizer laments need to pay for extra iced tea.

April 20: According to The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison, a top lament of an anti-lockdown protest organizer at the state Capitol is that he can’t get free refills for his iced tea under social distancing rules.

A sign outside the Pink Cadillac drive-in movie theater in Centerville advertises church services on May 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

4. Lee announces end of stay-at-home order for 89 of 95 counties.

April 20: Gov. Bill Lee has announced stay-at-home orders will expire next week in all but six of Tennessee’s 95 counties. The counties that will continue to be covered by local bans on nonessential business are Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Madison, and Sullivan.

5. Candidate blasting China for COVID-19 married to man convicted of mislabeling drugs from … China.

May 11: Kingsport pharmacist Diana Harshbarger has been making a splash in Tennessee’s open 1st Congress District race by self-funding a series of television commercials. One of her latest spots attacks China for the coronavirus pandemic. Left unsaid is that Harshbarger’s husband pleaded guilty to federal charges of distributing misbranded drugs from China in 2013.

6. From urging to requiring: Lee makes stay-at-home mandatory.

April 2: Gov. Bill Lee is ramping up his stay-at-home directive, moving from urging people to avoid all non essential activities to requiring it. The move follows an uptick in traffic and movement around the state.

7. Lee orders statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 and on dine-in restaurants, bars.

March 22. Gov. Bill Lee has issued a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and  ordered all restaurants be limited only to drive-thru or takeout service.

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

8. Lee extends state of emergency until Aug. 29.

June 29: Gov. Bill Lee is extending Tennessee’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until Aug. 29.

9. Election officials instructed not to immediately comply with judge’s order on absentee ballots.

June 5: A Nashville judge has ordered the state to start issuing absentee ballots to any registered voter who requests one, but State Election Coordinator Mark Goins is telling local officials not to immediately comply.

10. Should toppled Carmack statue be repaired at Tennessee Capitol?

June 1: Protesters over the weekend tore down the statue of Edward Ward Carmack, a newspaper editor and U.S. Senator who was gunned down in the streets of Nashville in 1908. Carmack was a notorious segregationist, though it’s unclear whether the demonstrators specifically targeted the monument (a historical marker commemorating Nashville’s lunch counter sit-ins in 1960 was also destroyed).

State troopers guard the toppled statue of Edward Ward Carmack outside the state Capitol on May 31, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee Journal: The perfect gift for that political junkie in your life

Looking for the perfect gift for that certain someone who just can’t get enough of the inner working Tennessee politics? Look no further than The Tennessee Journal, the weekly insiders’ newsletter on state government, politics since 1975.

For just $209 for the first year, you will receive 49 issues covering major happenings at the state Capitol and from the campaign trail. Download a sample copy here.

The upcoming year promises to be the latest chapter of upheaval in state politics. And The Tennessee Journal will be there to cover it all, including:

√ Another open U.S. Senate seat.

√ Tennessee’s presidential primary on Super Tuesday.

√ New Gov. Bill Lee ramping up for his second legislative session.

√ A new House speaker tries to bring calm to the chamber after his predecessor barely lasted half a year.

√ The state prepares to roll out a controversial school voucher program after the governor’s signature legislation passed under controversial circumstances.

√ All 99 state House seats and half of the 33 state Senate seats are up for election.

√ Freshmen members of the Tennessee congressional delegation (three in the House and one in the Senate) work to make their mark in Washington.

√  Revenue collections continue to overflow the state’s coffers, but for how long?

And, as always, The Tennessee Journal will closely monitor the progress of key bills, legislative maneuvering, and the state budget.

Subscribe here!

Tennessee Journal flashback: Dear Grabby

This week’s Tennessee Journal flashback is from 1982, once again confirming that the more things change, the more things remain the same. Also, a funny joke about then-Gov. Lamar Alexander’s Perrier habit.