tnj: on the hill

Here are the 10 most-read TNJ blog posts so far this year

Lawmakers attend Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the most read stories on the TNJ: On the Hill blog through the first half of the year:

10. GOP attorney John Ryder dies. May 15.

9. Here’s who is retiring from the General Assembly this year. March 29.

Rep. Brandon Ogles attends a House floor session in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

8. Guess who’s back? Judge restores Starbuck to ballot. June 3.

7. Lee chooses Campbell to fill Supreme Court vacancy. Jan. 12.

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

6. Drew Alexander, son of former governor, dies at 52. Jan. 1.

5. Robin Smith resigns, pleads guilty. April 7.

Reps. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) and Mark Cochran (R-Englewood) are sworn into the 112th General Assembly on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

4. Ex-girlfriend testifies Cothren had her register PAC for him. Jan. 14.

3. Lee declines to sign ‘truth in sentencing’ bill. May 5.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), left, and Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) await a joint convention on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

2. Trump endorses Ortagus in 5th District. Jan. 25.

1. Hargett charged with DUI after Bonnaroo visit. June 18.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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.”

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.

U.S. Capitol incursion, bust removal among top stories of first half of 2021

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

Here are the 10 most-viewed posts on the TNJ: On the Hill blog through the first half of 2021.

10. New PAC takes aim at Gov. Bill Lee’s re-election bid. April 29, 2021.

9. Knoxville ballpark, Tebow charity among entities getting grants in Lee budget. April 14, 2021.

8. Hagerty names Jim Henry as state director. Jan. 13, 2021.

7. Feds rescind effort to lock in Medicaid changes made by Trump administration. Feb. 23, 2021.

6. FBI visit to Tennessee Capitol sparks jitters. March 10, 2021.

Federal agents meet with legislative staffers outside the office of Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) in Nashville on Jan. 8, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

5. Here are the projected amounts headed to TN cities and counties under the COVID relief program. March 30, 2021.

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

Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) attends a meeting at the legislative office building in Nashville on Dec. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

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

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

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) attends a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Year in Review: The most viewed TNJ blog posts of 2020

Republican Bill Hagerty speaks to a reporter before casting his early vote in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the Top 10 most viewed stories on the TNJ: On the Hill blog this year.

1. June 11: Sethi seeks to make political gain out of coronavirus pandemic.

2. May 11: Things get interesting in the open 1st District race.

3. Aug. 5: Hagerty does some creative accounting to obscure Romney donation.

4. March 30: Lee’s stay-at home order in detail.

5. April 20: Protest leader demands free refills.

6. April 20: The lockdown ends.

7. July 16: Hagerty launches the negative ad barrage.

8. Dec. 15: We’re No. 1.

9. Jan. 19: In like Flinn.

10. Nov. 13: Most signed, some didn’t.