Friday, April 26, 2024

Beacon Center Young Professionals, Happy Hour, Tue, April 30th


Happy Hour, Networking, and Legislative Session Recap

WHEN: Tuesday, April 30
TIME: 5:30 PM until 7 PM
WHERENEW LOCATION! Nashville City Club, 
200 2nd Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
We will validate your parking if you park at the 222 garage
222 2nd Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201.

RSVP is not required, but if you know you'll be able to join us, let us know by replying here!

It's that time of the year again. The legislative session is coming to an end, and we all want to know exactly what went on at the capitol between January and now. Join us to hear from several folks who were on the inside at Cordell Hull and the Capitol as they unpack all of it! 

If you are interested in free markets, limited government, and individual liberty, join others like you for this non-partisan event to learn more about state-based policies and reforms, meet new people, and enjoy an open bar! Feel free to forward this email to anyone else you think might be interested. 

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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill to Criminalize Adults Who Help Minors Obtain Gender-Transition Services

 By BRITTANY BERNSTEIN, National Review, April 25, 2024 - The legislation would penalize any “adult who recruits, harbors, or transports an unemancipated minor” in Tennessee “for the purpose of receiving a prohibited medical procedure that is for the purpose of enabling the minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex or treating purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor’s sex and asserted identity, regardless of where the medical procedure is to be procured.”

Violations would be charged as a Class C felony. Individuals found guilty of breaking the law could face three to 15 years of prison time and fines of up to $10,000. The measure also “authorizes a person who violates this amendment to be held liable in a civil action for such violation.”

Actions that violate the bill, S.B. 2782, would include talking to adolescents about a website where they can find information on where to access gender-transition services or helping a minor travel outside the state to receive such services.

The bill will now make its way to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for final approval. While Lee hasn’t publicly shared his position on the bill, he previously signed the state’s ban on gender-transition treatment for children. (read more)

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Nashville asking for sales tax increase to help fund $3.1B transit plan

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Apr 22, 2024 - Nashville’s will look to add an additional 0.50%
sales tax to help fund $3.1 billion in transit work through a Nov. 5 referendum.

If the transit proposal passes, the tax will begin on Feb. 1, 2025.

The city is hoping to receive $1.4 billion of federal funding toward transit projects over the next 15 years.

The project would include everything from sidewalks, signals and street work to corridor and transit improvements across the city.

“Ninety percent of Nashvillians told us through Imagine Nashville that they support investing in public transit and the Choose How You Move Program will get us where we want to go faster and safer, no matter how you’re moving,” Mayor Freddie O’Connell said in a statement. “This is the best opportunity we’ve ever had to build out our priority sidewalks, to synchronize signals so you’re spending less time at red lights, and to connect neighborhoods via a better transit system that doesn’t have to come downtown just to go somewhere else.

“This is about the sustainability of our workforce and this community, and how we bring the cost of living down so that our residents can afford to live here.”

The project will add 86 linear miles of sidewalk along with 592 new or upgraded traffic signals.

The designated transit corridors will put dedicated transit-only lanes in strategic locations on 10 of the city’s most used roadways on areas such as Murfreesboro Pike, Gallatin Pike, Nolensville Pike, Dickerson Road, West End, Charlotte Pike and Bordeaux/Clarksville Pike.

The Choose How You Move project includes 12 modern transit centers, 17 Park & Ride facilities and double the hours of our high-frequency daily service and increase total bus service by almost 80%. 

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Bill to block transporting minor for abortion without parental permission headed to Lee's desk

 By Jon Styf , The Center Square, April 24, 2024- A bill making it a misdemeanor punishable by just less than a year of imprisonment for assisting in bringing a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental permission is headed to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee.

An amended Senate Bill 1971 was concurred by the Senate 25-4 after passing the House 74-24.

Sen. Paul Rose, R-Covington, told members the bill’s goal is to protect parental rights and prevent other adults from assisting a minor in circumventing Tennessee law in obtaining an abortion.

The amended bill exempted common carriers transporting passengers during regular service – such as by bus, train or airplane – and also exempts ambulance drivers.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville said he was disappointed the amendment didn’t fix the issues he has with the bill, including the “vagueness of terms” and “clear intent to target travel between states and the clear intent to target communications and First Amendment communication of information.”

“I don’t think this has done the job and this remains a pretty bad bill,” Yarbro said.

The offense would be called abortion trafficking and can only be avoided with signed and notarized parental consent.

A Tennessee trigger law passed in 2019 went into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade.

“This bill is a direct on me, on my family, on my friends, on my network that support Tennesseans that are pregnant and vulnerable minors that need access to care to go across state lines and receive the necessary care,” said Rep. Aftyn Behn, D-Nashville.

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Rep. Susan Lynn's wrap-up Report of the 113th General Assembly.

Rep. Susan Lynn 
From Rep. Susan Lynn, April 26, 2024- The 2024 session successfully carried into law a slate of conservative policies that prioritized public safety, economic development, rural health care, education, and conservation.  

“This session was the most tough on crime in the history of Tennessee,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “We took additional steps to reduce crime by passing stricter sentencing laws for violent adult and juvenile offenders. I’m thankful for the 113th General Assembly and how we are protecting our communities and fighting to keep our families safe.” 

The session was highlighted by the supermajority’s continuous efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally responsible while prioritizing Tennesseans' needs. 

“Tennessee leads because Republicans continue to stand strong to preserve the common-sense conservative values that are important to the people of this state,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland. “Republicans have wisely and responsibly invested in making government work more effectively and efficiently for our citizens. We will continue to build on our successes and deliver on our promise to build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous Tennessee.”

Lawmakers were well prepared to face new budgeting challenges this session with lower state revenue collections, passing a $52.8 billion zero-debt balanced budget which is $10 billion less than last year’s budget. More than a decade of consistent conservative budgeting during times of record-high revenue growth enabled lawmakers to make strategic investments and keep recurring expenses low. This year’s budget deposits $100 million in the state’s Rainy-Day fund, bringing the total to more than $2 billion. 

“The 113th General Assembly cast a bold vision. I’m incredibly pleased that we rose to the occasion by exceeding expectations and ensuring Tennessee remains the greatest state in the union,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby. “I appreciate the strong conservative fortitude and unwavering dedication of my colleagues. Our state economy is strong and our Rainy-Day fund is healthy. We are well-positioned to face any challenge that comes our way. Tennessee’s future is brighter than ever because of the strong conservative values of this General Assembly.”

Law and Order

The General Assembly passed legislation that continues Tennessee’s efforts to improve public safety and provides proactive measures to combat illegal immigration. Tennessee is a law-and-order state that values and appreciates its law enforcement and first responders. These investments include:

  • $17 million for 60 new Tennessee State Trooper positions 
  • $15 million for grant pools for volunteer firefighters, rescue squads, and EMS
  • $6.4 million for military border deployment of Tennessee National Guard
  • $4.4 million to implement blended sentencing to address juvenile crime
  • $3.3 million for mental health evaluations / treatment for certain misdemeanor defendants 
  • $1.5 million to reduce recidivism of repeat misdemeanor offenders
  • $750,000 in security grants for houses of worship 
  • $383,500 to collect data on illegal immigrants in Tennessee from law enforcement 
  • 13 new positions for the TBI
  • Criminalized abortion trafficking of minors (HB1895)
  • Duty to Warn Act (HB1625)
  • Strengthened deterrents to curb juvenile crime (HB2126)
  • Prioritized public safety when setting bond amounts (HB1642)
  • Increased protections for domestic violence victims (HB2692)
  • Increased support for victims of child sex trafficking (HB1906)
  • Enhanced penalties for threats of mass violence (HB2538) 
  • Strengthened the punishment for bullying (HB2590)
  • Parental Accountability Act (HB1930) 
  • Increased protections for law enforcement officers from assault (HB1881/Back the Blue Act) 

Healthy Tennessee Families

Budget and legislative priorities include significant investments in rural and behavioral health care, with $303 million in new dollars directed to 17 programs. These funds will help to expand bed capacity, fund infrastructure projects for children’s hospitals and expand access to behavioral health inpatient care. These priorities are funded through shared savings from Tennessee’s successful TennCare waiver, which allows the state to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the TennCare program. 

  • Legislative initiatives will support Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens, including individuals with disabilities
  • Expanded TennCare health coverage for mental health services (HB 2921)

Economic Development

Tennessee delivered the strongest protections in the nation when it comes to managing the risks and potential of artificial intelligence. The ELVIS (Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security) Act puts in critical safeguards to protect the humanity and artistic expression of Tennessee innovators and creators from theft through AI-generated media.  

  • $393 million to deliver tax cuts and provide $1.5 billion in nonrecurring funds to simplify franchise tax
  • $36 million to help distressed counties and rural communities with economic development initiatives for community asset improvements, marketing and downtown revitalization grants


The budget adds $261 million in new recurring dollars for K-12 education, bringing the total base Tennessee Investment in Achievement (TISA) budget to $6.8 billion and the overall budget for public education to $8.55 billion. The new dollars will cover medical insurance premiums, retirement for teachers, and funding for teacher raises to bring the annual starting base salary up to $50,000 by 2026. 

  • $30 million for summer learning programs 
  • $3.2 million for AP courses to students across rural and urban Tennessee
  • $2.5 million to strengthen students’ reading and phonics skills
  • Protected students from political indoctrination in the classroom (HB1605)
  • Ensuring AI regulations in education (HB1630)
  • Allow college students to protect themselves on campus (HB1909)
  • Improved school safety by allowing school faculty and staff to participate in voluntary training programs for crisis management  

Children and Families

  • Enshrined parental rights in state law (HB2936)
  • Increased protections for children online from accessing pornography (HB1614)
  • Protected children from abortion trafficking (HB1895)
  • Required parental consent for minors using social media (HB1891)


  • $59 million for Tennessee State Parks capital projects
  • $51 million to the Heritage Preservation Fund to preserve land across this state
  • $20 million to expand blueways trail access with new recreational access points 
  • $10 million to improve water quality at rivers, lakes and streams across the state
  • $10 million to expedite the Bill Dance Signature Lakes initiative
  • $5 million to protect and enhance scenic beauty along our major highways
  • $3 million to make state parks more accessible to Tennesseans with disabilities

Open Meetings Act Bill Passes!!

Rep. Lynn informs you that HB2176 has passed. This bill adds a little "teeth" in our sunshine law.  As introduced, permits a court to award the reasonable court costs and attorney's fees to a petitioner successfully proves that a governing body knowingly and willfully violated the public meetings laws in this state.

Republicans Increase Protections for Children From Adult Content Online

Republicans passed legislation that will further protect children from accessing pornography online in Tennessee.


The General Assembly this week passed the Protect Tennessee Minors Act, sponsored by State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. The act requires websites to implement an age-verification process if a substantial portion of their content is harmful to minors. 

“We do not allow minors to go into adult establishments,” Hazlewood said. “We do not allow minors access to written materials that are inappropriate. This bill would do the same thing in the cyber world. There is a great deal of in-depth research and data that shows exposure to these kinds of materials at a young age is very damaging to our children.”

The legislation requires website owners with adult content to match a user’s photo to a valid form of identification issued in the United States. Stored data must not include any personal identifying information and the active user must remain anonymous after access has been granted.

Search engines, internet service providers and public interest broadcasts and publications are excluded from the age verification requirement. Any website owner or operator found to be in violation of the law would face a Class C felony.

national survey found that 73 percent of teen respondents between the ages of 13 and 17 admitted to having viewed pornography online. House Bill 1614 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2025.

General Assembly Approves Penalties for Abortion Trafficking

The General Assembly this week approved legislation further protecting the unborn in Tennessee. 

House Bill 1895, sponsored by State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, makes abortion trafficking a minor a Class A misdemeanor. The legislation seeks to prevent anyone from attempting to circumvent the state’s current abortion law by helping to facilitate an abortion for a minor without parental consent. 

“The legislation that you have in front of you ensures that parents can make the best decision for their children,” Zachary said. “(It) is critically important because the recruitment and transporting of a minor to facilitate an abortion is happening in our state.”

The legislation also allows any adult who illegally transports a minor for an abortion to be held civilly liable for the wrongful death of the unborn child.

Republicans in the General Assembly in 2019 laid the groundwork to ensure life is protected at conception in Tennessee should the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverse its decision to legalize abortion. The General Assembly that year passed the Human Life Protection Act, a conditional trigger law written to go into effect 30 days following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade. 

When the high court overturned its 1973 decision on June 24, 2022, the Human Life Protection Act became law and automatically made abortion for any reason a felony in Tennessee. 

House Bill 1895 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. It will take effect July 1.

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Davidson County Democratic Party is as Woke and Silly as Ever.

by Rod Williams, April 26, 2024- I posted on this site a few weeks ago that the State Democratic party had suddenly stopped attaching a pronoun tag along with the letter writers name when closing a letter. I was aware of this practice because I thought it was such a silly, woke, virtue-signaling thing to do, so when they ended the practice, I noticed. I thought the practice of using the preferred pronoun tag exhibited how out of touch Democrats are with normal people.  I wondered what discussions went in to making the decision to end the practice. Well, I got an email letter today from the Davidson County Democratic Party, and they are still as woke as ever. Maybe it resonates with people in Nashville, more than other parts of the State. With Republicans becoming the Party of conspiracy theorist, Putin appeasers and election deniers, one would think the Dems would try to make themselves more attractive to disaffected Republicans, but they just can't seem to do it. 

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What’s the purpose of partisan media?

"It’s not to inform, lord knows. It’s not really to persuade, either. Fox News and MSNBC may get a few “leaners” from the other side tuning in from time to time, but spend an evening watching their prime-time lineups and you’ll see that they’re not geared toward reasoning with the center. They know where their bread is buttered.

The purpose of partisan media is to validate the beliefs of readers or viewers, especially their belief that they’re morally superior to their opponents." The Dispatch, Boiling Frogs, Nick Catoggio,  Apr 23, 2024

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Only two of Tennessee's Eight Republicans voted for aid to Ukraine. I am very disappointed in Congressman Mark Green.


by Rod Williams, April 23, 2024- On Saturday, the House passed aid to Ukraine after a six-month delay. It may be too late to save Ukraine; I hope not. 

The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. However, more Republican voted against the aid package than voted for it. Every single Democrat who voted, voted for it. 

 Of Tennessee's nine representatives, only three voted for the aid packet. One was Democrat Steve Cohen and the other two were Republicans Chuck Fleischmann and David Kustoff. 

Rep. Mark Green
voted against aid to
I am not surprised about Andy Ogles and Tim Burchett. I did not expect better. The others I did not know had become such ...? Such what? Isolationist? America Firsters? Peaceniks? Trumpinistas? Doves? Appeasers? I don't know a neutral term to describe them. In the not-too-distant past I would have thought of one who cast a vote against aid to a Democracy resisting aggression from a totalitarian neighbor as a liberal or a leftist. Now, most of the press, and I think most people, consider those who vote this way as "ultra conservatives," or "hard right." 

To say the least, I am disappointed. I am most disappointed in Mark Green. I have always liked Mark. I have contributed to his campaign, attended his campaign functions and his annual fish frys, have heard him talk at functions such as First Tuesday, and I subscribe to his newsletter. I thought I knew him. I viewed him as a level-headed, smart, solidly conservative, defense hawk. I was proud to have him as my congressman. I sort of feel betrayed. It almost makes me miss Jim Cooper. 

This vote further alienates me from the Republican Party and what passes for contemporary conservatism these days. I had already discontinued by financial support for Republican Party organizations. If Tennessee had party registration, this would be the vote that would cause me to change my registration from Republican to Independent. I am out of step with the modern Trump-era Republican Party. I don't feel at home in the Republican Party. I feel orphaned. My tribe moved off and left me. 

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales Blast Fellow Republicans: "I serve with some real scumbags”

Rep. Tony Gonzales

“It's my absolute honor to be in Congress but I serve with some real scumbags. Look, Matt Gaetz — he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties. Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi. These people used to walk around with white hoods at night. Now they're walking around with white hoods in the daytime.” - Rep. Tony Gonzales (link)

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Trump’s Save America leadership PAC spent almost $3.7 million on Trump's Legal Bills in March

 Trump’s super PAC has helped foot his legal bills.

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Don't Freakout about the Proposed Amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code

Scary fear-mongering image used by Tennessee Stands to
generate opposition to updating the Uniform Commercial Code
by Rod Williams, April 7, 2024- Tennessee Stands, the rightwing organization headed by Gary Huble, is raising alarm about proposed amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code. The organization has already convinced 15,000 people to take action urging their lawmakers to vote against the bill adopting the amendments. I doubt that very few of the people motivated by Tennessee Stands to take action know what they are talking about. 

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a comprehensive set of laws governing all commercial transactions in the United States. It is not a federal law, but a uniformly adopted state law. As the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) explains, uniformity of law governing commercial transaction is essential for the interstate transaction of business. Because the UCC has been universally adopted, businesses can enter into contracts with confidence that the terms will be enforced in the same way by the courts of every American jurisdiction. The resulting certainty of business relationships allows businesses to grow and the American economy to thrive. For this reason, the UCC has been called “the backbone of American commerce.” (1)

The ULC was established in 1892 and has been working to harmonize state laws governing commercial transactions since then. Usually, the work of the ULC is not controversial. ULC is a private organization that develops the UCC and then each state may adopt the code. The code was first published in 1952 and forty-nine of the states have adopted it.   The UCC is from time to time amended to reflect innovations in commercial transactions. When it is amended then the amendments are submitted to the states for adoption. Usually this is routine.

A recently proposed update of the UCC has proven controversial. The attempt to modernize the UCC is in response to the impact of new technologies on commercial transactions over recent years including digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. The proposed amendments in short redefines money. This was in response to El Salvadore and Central African Republic adopting Bitcoin as legal tender. As CATO explains, "Because Bitcoin is legal tender in those countries, it should be considered money within the current version of the UCC since it is a “medium of exchange…authorized or adopted by a…foreign government.”

This is a problem. "If Bitcoin is money within the UCC, then it changes how someone would go through the necessary legal steps to secure an enforceable legal claim on Bitcoin as collateral for a loan. Likewise, it changes how jurisdiction is determined, as the location of the money in question is where the UCC assigns jurisdiction. Before Bitcoin became legal tender and thus money within the UCC, the jurisdiction would simply have been wherever the debtor in question was located." (2) This gets complicated, and some argue that this is a good thing for Bitcoin. To dig deeper into this, see the CATO article

Some view the redefinition of money as paving the way for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). There very well may be privacy concerns with CBDC's. However, as CATO concludes, "while the risks posed by CBDCs should not be understated, this change to the UCC does not appear to be the Trojan Horse that it appears to be at first glance."

For more on this issue see, Why Ron DeSantis and Others Are Wrong on UCC's Role in Crypto and CBDCs - Barron's ( To read the bill and the legislative analysis see, Tennessee General Assembly Legislation (

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Ethics Complaint filed against Carol McCoy by Arts Commission Employee, dismissed.

Carol McCoy

by Rod Williams, April 18, 2024- Things just seem to not improve at the Metro Arts Commission. I don't see how they could get much worse, but they are not getting better.

The last thing to occur is that an ethics complaint was filed against Carol McCoy, a member of the Metropolitan Arts Commission. The way it looks to me is that she was doing nothing but doing her job as a conscientious member of the Arts Commission. 

Carol McCoy is the former Davidson County Chancellor, who served two decades on the bench. She was first elected Chancellor of the Chancery Court, Part II, Davidson County Tennessee in August 1996 and re-elected Chancellor in 1998, 2006 and 2014. She has an impressive resume and has served on various boards for nonprofit organizations in Nashville.  She was the first female President of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and a founding member of the Lawyers Association for Women. 

Carol has served as a Commissioner on the Tennessee Arts Commission as well as Trustee for Watkins School of Art, Film, and Design. She was appointed to the Metro Arts Commission by Mayor Freddie O'Connell in April 2023, along with three other new commissioners. 

The ethics complaint is that McCoy discussed and voted on matters not on the agenda of Arts Commission meetings thus violating open meetings rules, publicly humiliated a Black female Arts Commission employee by questioning her qualifications and made racist and classist remarks concerning certain members of the arts community.

As to humiliating a Black employee, the employee was the new Director of Finance for the Arts Commission introduced to the Commission during the meetings of November 16, 2023.  The complaint says McCoy "aggressively" asked, "You’re the director of Finance? What qualifications do you have?”. The Complaint says she challenged the qualifications of the Black female employee but not the qualifications of the two White female employees, and this caused the Black employee to become visibly upset and exit the room in tears.

As far as making racist and classist remarks, one of the examples to support that charge is that during a meeting she said the following:

I have been a member of many nonprofits. I don't think I've ever been on a micro agency that has a budget of $25,000. That is not even enough to pay one staff person, so it occurred to me that if you give money to a micro agency or to an individual, how do you do it in such a way it can be accounted for and properly used.

The other evidence to support the charge of racist and classist remarks is that she said this:

People who come in who just want to start a new venture. Their application is woefully poor, you wouldn't award anyone that money until you thought it would be handled properly... The one I remember was the Chinese New Year's festival, it was a little group of people getting together and I think they asked for $5,000 but the grant was just so poorly written, maybe if they'd gone to the center for nonprofits they might have gotten some help.

I can't believe it. In the above examples it sounds like someone simply doing their job. Those are the kinds of questions and comments I would expect from a responsible board member. 

The Metro legal department concluded the complaint, if true, did not violate ethical standards and should be dismissed. On April 5th, the Board of Ethical Conduct unanimously voted to dismiss the complaint (1). 

This is just the latest in the drama that has been going on at the Arts Commission for years. For more on the topic, see the following:


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Mayor Freddie O'Connell's transit plan.

Nashville Banner Executive Producer Demetria Kalodimos interviews Mayor Freddie O'Connell on his transit plan and the November referendum.

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Busy week awaits for Tennessee Legislature

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, April 19, 2024- Several pieces of Tennessee legislation could see action in the next week, with the bills either held from long calendars or intentionally delayed for further discussion.

The state’s amended $52.8 billion budget bill, however, passed both the House and Senate.

The reduced budget comes as Tennessee beat its budgeted tax collections by $17.6 million in March but remains $420 million behind budgeted estimates for the first eight months of the fiscal year.

Next year's budget is $10 billion less than the budget for this fiscal year.

“After years of record-high revenue growth, the state’s revenues have normalized,” said Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson. “We’ve tightened our belts and kept recurring expenses low to alleviate future financial burdens. Despite declining revenues, this budget maintains low taxes while also providing services to those in need, particularly disabled and vulnerable populations.”

Conference committees were named to debate the different House and Senate versions of a franchise tax repeal and rebate with the House version refunding $713.6 million or one year of franchise tax while the Senate passed a version worth three years of franchise taxes for an estimated $1.6 billion.

The House version also requires the companies receiving a refund to be named on the website of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development and those companies to first use any department tax credits to offset the refund amount.

Reps. William Lamberth, R-Portland, Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville and Larry Miller, D-Memphis will be joined by Sens. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, Watson and Ken Yager, R-Kingston.

Progress on statewide educational savings accounts slowed to a halt, with the bills held in Senate and House Finance, Ways and Means without progress and with reports that the bills are close to not moving forward this session.

Meanwhile, a concealed carry bill for school employees on school grounds passed the Senate before the House held the Senate version on the desk.

Changes to the state’s certificate of need laws will next be discussed in the Senate as soon as next week. 

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Foreign Aid is only about 1% to 2% of Total Federal Government Spending.


by Rod Williams, April 22, 2024- I am pleased that the House has finally, after a six-month delay, approved aid for Ukraine. I just hope that it is not too late. The vote was 311 in favor of aid and 112 opposed. Of those 112 opposed all were Republicans. Of the Republicans casting votes on the aid, 98 voted in favor and 112 against. (1)

I am beyond disgruntled and am downright disgusted that the Republican Party has become the party of Putin appeasement. I, for the most part, stopped giving money to Republicans in 2021 because I did not want to help elect to public office those who oppose the peaceful transfer of power and continue the big lie, that the 2020 election was stolen. Now, I have another reason not to support Republicans. I do not want to help elect to Congress people who are enablers of Putin's aggression. 

All of my life it was Democrats who did not want to assist nations resisting aggression. It was Democrats who were for stopping funding for wars, pulling the rug out from under our allies, and skimping on funding the military.  Often foreign policy has been bipartisan and there have some notable Democrat defense hawks, but when there has been an "anti-war," peace faction, it has been among Democrats. 

One of the arguments that those opposed to helping our allies will use, is that we just can't afford it. People will say things like we should take care of people at home before sending money overseas. They will say we should help our veterans before helping starving people in Africa or before helping Ukraine resist aggression. We spend a lot of money on foreign aid, for sure. For that aid we stop aggressors from achieving their aims, help people remain free, we gain influence and goodwill around the world, and we provide relief for starving and war-ravaged people in need.  In my view, it is money well spent. Sure, one can quibble about this or that particular expenditure, but in general foreign aid is the right thing to do and is money well spent. 

I suspect some people think foreign aid is a major slice of the budget. It is not. It is usually about 1% of the federal budget and is currently less than 2%. For more on where our foreign aid goes and what it pays for visit this link

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Rep. Susan Lynn, Week 14 Recap


Rep. Susan Lynn 

                 General Assembly Passes $52.8 Billion Budget

Budget highlights supermajority’s efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally conservative

Members of the 113th General Assembly on Thursday fulfilled their constitutional duty with the passage of a $52.8 billion balanced budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

This year’s budget highlights lawmakers’ continuous efforts to keep taxes low and remain fiscally responsible while prioritizing the needs of Tennesseans. The zero-debt budget is a spending plan that advances Republicans’ efforts to strengthen families, improve public safety, advance education, and create new opportunities for businesses to grow. 

“This budget addresses a diverse range of needs across our state while continuing our tradition of good fiscal governance,” said House Finance Chair State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. “Crafting this budget was a challenge because we are facing increasing demands due to rising inflation. Tennessee remains a model for economic prosperity because we’ve managed our spending limits and planned well for the future.” 

Total legislative initiatives make up nearly $21 million in recurring investments and $141.5 million in nonrecurring expenditures. While revenues have slowed considerably, Tennessee continues to be among the most fiscally stable states in the nation with no state income tax and low tax burden overall.

The slate of budget and legislative priorities includes significant investments in rural and behavioral health care with $303 million in new dollars directed to 17 programs. These funds will help to expand bed capacity, fund infrastructure projects for children’s hospitals and expand access to behavioral health inpatient care. 

The budget adds $261 million in new recurring dollars for K-12 education, bringing the total base Tennessee Investment in Achievement (TISA) budget to $6.8 billion and the overall budget for public education to $8.55 billion. The new dollars will cover medical insurance premiums, retirement for teachers, and funding for teacher raises to bring the annual starting base salary up to $50,000 by 2026. 

Among new investments in public safety, are a $17 million investment for 60 new Tennessee State Trooper positions and $750,000 in security grants for houses of worship

The budget includes a $36 million investment to help distressed counties and rural communities with economic development, such as community asset improvements, marketing and downtown revitalization grants. 

It also makes a $100 million deposit in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund, which serves as the state’s savings account to help withstand economic downturns, bringing the fund to a historic balance of more than $2.15 billion. 

Tennessee is among the lowest-taxed states in the nation and collects zero income tax. Tennessee holds the highest bond rating issued by all three of the nation’s credit rating agencies, which reflects extreme confidence in the Volunteer State’s preparedness in meeting financial commitments in tough economic times. 

House Approves CON Reform to Increase Health Care Access, Lower Costs

The House chamber this week approved legislation allowing for additional health care services to be more quickly and easily accessible in Tennessee. 

House Bill 2269, sponsored by State Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, would gradually phase out the Certificate of Need (CON) permit requirements needed to provide nearly a dozen various health care services in the state during the next five years.

The Tennessee Health Facilities Commission currently regulates the health care industry statewide through the CON program. This process, which can be lengthy and costly, requires a permit to be issued for the establishment or modification of a health care institution, facility or service at a designated location.

“It is essential that every community in Tennessee has access to vital health care facilities and services,” Boyd said. “This legislation represents the culmination of years of diligent work by various stakeholder groups from across Tennessee committed to ensuring that happens. These reforms will not only improve access to potentially lifesaving medical services in our state, but they will help reduce costs for patients as well.”

The timeline for removal of CON permit requirements includes:

  • July 1, 2025: Freestanding emergency departments not located within 10 miles of a competing acute care hospital or other freestanding emergency department would no longer need a CON. Additionally, any county without an actively licensed acute care hospital would also not require a CON for any services except rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, hospice, methadone clinics and nursing homes.
  • Dec. 1, 2025: Intellectual disability institutional habilitation facilities, burn units, neonatal intensive care units, magnetic resonance imagining services and positron emission tomography
  • Dec. 1, 2027: Ambulatory surgical treatment centers, linear accelerator procedures and long-term care hospitals
  • Dec. 1, 2029: Open heart surgery


The bill requires rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, methadone clinics, and nursing homes to continue operating under CON in all 95 counties. Cardiac catheterization services, outpatient diagnostic clinics, acute care hospitals, and organ transplants will, for now, remain under CON in counties that currently have a licensed acute care hospital. The companion version of House Bill 2269 is expected to be heard on the Senate floor next week. 

General Assembly Makes Voter Registration Process More Secure

Legislation making the voter registration process more secure in Tennessee was approved by the General Assembly this week. 

House Bill 1955, sponsored by State Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, prohibits people and organizations from pre-filling out voter registration applications. The legislation also requires third-party voter registration organizations to register with the Secretary of State’s office and prevents certain felons from handling applications.

“The last thing we need is someone who’s been convicted of voter fraud, perjury or abuse of a senior citizen is having senior citizens’ Social Security numbers,” Rudd said. 

The legislation states that it’s presumed the date an applicant signs a voter registration application is the date the person or organization received or collected the application. It also ensures no alterations to the voter registration form are made without the applicant’s consent. The state election commission can impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for violations of bill. The legislation now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. 

Parental Notification Required for Gender Affirmation Accommodations

Legislation expanding parental rights in Tennessee public schools was approved by the General Assembly this week. 

House Bill 2165, sponsored by State Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, requires parents and school administrators to be informed if a student makes a request for an accommodation to affirm their gender identity. 

The legislation also prohibits school employees from knowingly giving false or misleading information to parents regarding their child’s gender identity or their intention to transition to a gender that differs from their biological sex. Accommodations could include the student asking to be called a name not on their school registration forms or using pronouns that do not correspond with the sex listed on the child’s birth certificate. 

A student’s parent may also bring civil action against a non-compliant school system, according to the legislation. House Bill 2165 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. 

Nearly Two Dozen People Killed in Work Zone Crashes

TDOT Reminds Motorists to Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down During National Work Zone Awareness Week April 15-19


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is joining states across the nation to ask motorists to Work with Us – move over and slow down for highway workers. TDOT will spread that message statewide during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 15-19) to improve safety in Tennessee’s interstate and highway construction and maintenance work zones. This year’s theme is Work zones are temporary, your actions behind the wheel can last forever. We welcome the media to use TDOT’s PSA online or on air to help us share the message. 


“We engineer our roads to be as safe as possible,” said Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “But there’s no amount of engineering that can change driver behavior. 113 TDOT workers have been killed while working on our roads. This is very personal for me. Everyone must slow down, move over, and pay attention every time they’re behind the wheel, especially in work zones.”


So far this year, there have been 29 incidents where drivers crashed into TDOT equipment and vehicles. The spring and summer months provide perfect weather for highway work. Work zones include everything from major interstate widening projects to repaving and Litter pickup. Motorists will encounter work zones across the state. Last year in Tennessee, 22 people died in work zone crashes.


TDOT launched the Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down safety campaign in 2017 to help bring awareness to the importance of safety in work zones all year long. To learn more about the campaign, see the answers to many frequently asked questions about work zones, and take the Work with Us pledge, click on the Work with Us link below. 


TDOT’s overhead Dynamic Message Signs will display work zone safety messages on interstates in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. Prominent buildings and bridges will be lit in orange, and “Work with Us – Move Over, Slow Down”signs are posted at work zones across the state, displaying this message at various locations statewide.


This Wednesday, April 17th, is “Wear Orange Day”. Please show your support for National Work Zone Awareness by wearing orange. Throughout this week, follow @myTDOT on Facebook, X, and Instagram as we will be posting photos, infographics, and videos to broaden awareness of the importance of driving safely and undistracted, especially through work zones. 


In 2023, there were 2,832 total crashes634 with injuries in work zones on Tennessee roads. Do your part to keep yourself and TDOT road workers safe – check TDOT SmartWay in advance and Know BEFORE You Go, secure your phone in a hands-free device, and Work With Us by moving over and slowing down when you see vehicles with flashing lights.

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