We Are Watching Endorses Craig Fitzhugh for Governor

There are many exciting races in Tennessee this year, and many worthy candidates. An unprecedented, at least in recent years, number of Democrats are running in 2018. While we have held off on endorsing any candidates this year, in the race for governor, we are making an exception.  We Are Watching Tennessee is endorsing House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh for governor.  There are many reasons for this decision, but it really comes down to this: Fitz is one of us.

When We Are Watching formed in early January of 2017, one of our primary goals was to educate and inform members of our movement about legislation being considered by the Tennessee Legislature, and to encourage members to hold legislators accountable for their votes. For the entire 2017 legislative session, We Are Watching members showed up at the Capitol every single Monday to greet state representatives and state senators as they went into session. One of our most popular chants was “You work for us!”

While all the Democratic legislators appreciated our presence, the lawmaker who seemed to appreciate it the most was Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh.  He’d exit the elevator and walk through the crowd with a beaming, contagious smile, shaking hands, thanking people for showing up.  He’d take selfies and hand out his business card and his personal cell phone number.

One Monday, Leader Fitzhugh actually brought a “soap box” to the Capitol and he and other members of the House Democratic Caucus took turns climbing onto the soap box to address the crowd. Fitz and the other Democrats proudly proclaimed “WE WORK FOR YOU!”

Many We Are Watching members developed a relationship with Fitz. His door was always open and he’d make time to talk to anyone about a bill or a vote. He welcomed the opportunity to hear from us and never missed an opportunity to thank us for showing up. If he saw you in the hall, he’d take a minute to stop, and say “Hey there! How are you? Glad to see you here today! Thanks for being here!” even if he was in a hurry.

Fitz is one of us.

There are other compelling reasons to vote for Fitz. For example, many feel that he as the best chance to win over moderate Republicans and Independents, especially those in rural areas.

Mark Braden, a Republican political operative in Nashville, says the Dean campaign is hoping to woo crossover voters, as former Gov. Phil Bredesen is attempting to do in the Senate race — but he doesn’t see that strategy working.

Braden, who is a senior vice president at Mercury Public Affairs, says that as a Republican, he doesn’t feel threatened by Karl Dean’s candidacy. “But Craig Fitzhugh scares me,” he adds. “I don’t think Dean can coalesce the modern Democratic party and the rural Democrats — I don’t see him connecting with those Reagan Democratic voters that have now left the party.”

Fitz is the only rural Democrat in the entire Tennessee Legislature. For year, he’s been re-elected in a ruby red district, a feat that’s virtually unheard of. As a banker in a small west Tennessee town, he sits across the table from farmers worried about making ends meet and setting aside enough money to send their kids to college. He talks to them about their concerns about affordable healthcare.

They trust him because he listens to them. And they vote for him because they know he means what he says.

Fitz has received many important endorsements from groups that We Are Watching supports. He was one of only 44 national candidates to be endorsed by the National Indivisible Projectone of only four governors endorsed by the group.

Prior to the national endorsement, Indivisible of East Tennessee unanimously endorsed Fitz. They gave each Democratic candidate an opportunity to answer a questionnaire in their own words.  Their answers were very telling and offered tremendous insight into their positions.  You should read them both for yourself.  Here’s Fitz’s and here’s Karl Dean’s.

Our friends at The Women’s March – Power Together Tennessee also endorsed Fitz.  You can read about their endorsement here.

women's march fitz

Fitz was the only candidate to even acknowledge the national #FamiliesBelongTogether marches taking place earlier this month. And he didn’t just acknowledge them, he delayed the grand opening of his Nashville headquarters that day to attend and stand with members of The Women’s March – Power Together team.

fitz families

Fitz is the only Democratic candidate that opposes the growth of charter schools, an issue very important to many public school advocates. His dedication to education earned him an endorsement from the Tennessee Education Association and led to over 70 middle Tennessee educators pooling their money to take out this advertisement in all the local neighborhood papers.

Craig Fitzhugh Full Page ad _ The News (2)

The only newspaper in the state endorsing gubernatorial candidates is the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  Their endorsement? Craig Fitzhugh.

We’ll stick with the very real Craig Fitzhugh, who is solidly living and demonstrating Tennessee values, even as he is running slightly to the left of Dean, who seems to be trying to outrun his reputation as an urban Democrat.

Fitzhugh recently sent out mailers proclaiming himself “a Democrat who isn’t scared to be one.”

That alone should get Craig Fitzhugh your vote.

Other very important endorsements include:

The Tennessee State Legislative Caucus

The Tennessee State Employees Association

The Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods

MNPS School Board Member Amy Frogge

LGBTQ Rights Advocate and Attorney Abby Rubenfeld

Former president of The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and educator Dr. Marisa Richmond

Through his years serving in the legislature, Fitz has built relationships across the political aisle.  Even the Republicans who may differ with him ideologically still respect him and like him because of his reputation for honesty and transparency. He is a straight shooter known for honoring his word. As minority leader, he’s spent plenty of time in the governor’s office and could “hit the ground running.”  And, more importantly, he is best suited for finding common ground with moderate GOP legislators who share Fitz’s positions on issues like expanding Medicaid, providing in-state tuition to Dreamers, and legalizing medical marijuana.

His campaign video does a great job of summing up his values – OUR values – the simple concept that we all do better when we all do better.

Let us be very clear: in November, we will support and endorse whichever Democratic candidate is on the ballot.  We must all unite and support the Democratic slate of candidates across the board.  However, in this primary, we are #TeamFitz because he best represents our values.

And because he’s one of us.


Election Day is August 2nd.

-The We Are Watching Team


Stand with #DREAMers and #DefendDACA

Time to make some phone calls.

As a Tennessean, you have a right to contact your elected official and let them know that you oppose rescinding Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Some points to remember:

+ DACA recipients must have been brought to the country before their 16th birthday.

+ DACA recipients must have continually resided in the US since 2007. Kids brought here AFTER 2007 do not qualify. 

+ DACA does NOT grant citizenship. It DOES allow recipients to get a driver’s license, a social security number, and the ability to work and be protected from deportation.

+ DACA recipients must undergo a criminal background check.

+ DACA is not paid for by taxpayer money. It is paid for by application fees paid for by DACA applicants – around $485 plus legal fees.

+ DACA recipients must have a high school diploma, GED or been honorably discharged from the military.

+ 91% of DACA recipients are gainfully employed.

+ Thousands of DACA recipients are members of the United States military. They have volunteered to put their life on the line for the country they love.

+ The average age of a DACA recipient is 25. They have spent the majority of their lives in American schools, graduating from American colleges, and being part of their local communities.

+ As work authorizations provided by DACA expire, recipients will lose their jobs, leading to an average of 30,000 people being put out of work each month.

+ The US stands to lose over $400 billion in GDP (gross domestic product) over the next ten years without DACA.

+ More than 400 leading CEOs spoke out in opposition to ending DACA.

+ In a surprising reversal, Herbert Slatery, the Republican Tennessee Attorney General, withdrew Tennessee support for ending DACA.

Senate seats are statewide offices. They represent all Tennesseans.

Sen. Lamar Alexander

DC (202) 224-4944
Chattanooga (423) 752-5337
Jackson (731) 664-0289
Knoxville (865) 545-4253
Memphis (901) 544-4224
Nashville (615) 736-5129
Tri-Cities (423) 325-6240

Sen Bob Corker

DC (202) 224-3344
Chattanooga (423) 756-2757
Jackson (731) 664-2294
Knoxville (865) 637-4180
Nashville (615) 279-8125
Tri-Cities (423) 753-2263

Congresspeople represent geographical districts.  Click here to find our who represents you.

Rep. Phil Roe, 1st District

DC (202) 225-6356
Kingsport (423) 247-8161
Morristown (423) 254-1400

Rep. Jimmy Duncan, 2nd District

DC (202) 225-5435
Knoxville (865) 523-3772
Maryville (865) 984-5464

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, 3rd District

DC (202) 225-3271
Athens (423) 745-4671
Chattanooga (423) 756-2342
Oak Ridge (865) 576-1976

Rep. Scott DesJarlias, 4th District

DC (202) 225-6831
Cleveland (423) 472-7500
Columbia (931) 381-9920
Murfreesboro (615) 896-1986
Winschester (931) 962-3180

Rep. Jim Cooper, 5th District

DC  (202) 225-4311
Nashville (615) 736-5295

Rep. Diane Black, 6th District

DC (202) 225-4231
Cookeville (931) 854-0069
Gallatin (615) 206-8204

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, 7th District

DC (202) 225-2811
Clarksville (931) 503-0391
Franklin (615) 591-5161

Rep. David Kustoff, 8th District

DC (202) 225-4714
Dyersburg (731) 412-1037
Jackson (731) 423-4848
Martin (731) 412-1043
Memphis(901) 682-4422

Rep. Steve Cohen, 9th District

DC (202) 225-3265
Memphis (901) 544-4131



The Senate released their secret healthcare plan this morning, after reviewing it with health care lobbyists.  You can check it out for yourself here or read this CNN analysis, this CNBC analysis, or this one from the Wall Street Journal.

The Republicans continue to frame the healthcare debate as a choice between their plan or the ACA, which everyone agrees needs work.  At every chance, they refer to the ACA as “failing” or in a “death spiral.”  Of course, problems with the ACA are largely due to the numerous ways the GOP has fought to harm it.  The other alternative, of course, and the one that seems to favored by most Americans is to repair the ACA.  The AHCA written by the House and the new Better Care bill written by the Senate both include tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in care for many Americans.

Do not stand by and let this happen.  Plug these numbers into your phone and make some calls.  Make them daily.  Call each of their field offices.  Urge Alexander and Corker to look out for Tennesseans, including AND ESPECIALLY, the most vulnerable among us.

Commit to calling each of these numbers each day.  Challenge your friends to do the same.  We must let them know that we will not stand idly by and let them pass legislation that hurts Tennesseans.  We vote and #WeAreWatching.



(202) 224-4944

(423) 752-5337

(731) 664-0289

(865) 545-4253

(901) 544-4224

(615) 736-5129

(423) 325-6240


(202) 224-3344

(423) 756-2757

(731) 664-2294

(865) 637-4180

(615) 279-8125

(423) 753-2263

Business People Holding Red Phone

Faith, Family and A Little Assault Now and Then

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.24.18 PM
By now, everyone has heard that Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat, millionaire Greg Gianforte, has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s vacant position. (Zinke was named Secretary of the Interior leaving his seat open.) Gianforte’s campaign issued a statement last night that contradicted the actual audio of the altercation and the eyewitness account provided by Fox News reporters who were also in the room.

The Montana papers who had endorsed Gianforte quickly rescinded their endorsements. Because duh. But outrage from the right has been hard to come by. Paul Ryan said that Gianforte should apologize. Apologize – as though the GOP candidate had called the reporter a nasty name or insulted his wife or engaged in locker room talk or something.

Gianforte has until June 7th to report to court. Meanwhile, despite assaulting a reporter who dared to ask him what he thought of the just-released CBO score on the Republican healthcare plan, Gianforte’s chances of winning are still pretty good. Many people have already voted and others are likely not to care. Montana went overwhelmingly for Trump. And, we know how Trump and his fans feel about the press.

Of course, if you live in Tennessee and have been paying attention to politics for any period of time, you know that GOP voters don’t really mind if their candidates assault people. They don’t even care when they assault their spouses. Sometimes people just need somebody to shove.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane…

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.37.29 PM
hawk mug shotIn March of 2012, Greenville Republican Rep. David Hawk spent a night in jail after his wife told deputies he “struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her to the ground.” His then wife was Crystal Goan Hawk, a Greeneville attorney and at the time of the incident, she was the president of the Greene County Republican Women.

According to the Greenville Sun:

The sheriff department’s report stated that Mrs. Hawk told deputies the couple had been drinking on Saturday night and Rep. Hawk became angry about 1 a.m. Sunday after “looking through her cell phone.”

“Throughout the course of the morning she stated they had been arguing,” the report said. She told officers that the argument culminated in her being struck in the face about 8 a.m.

According to the report, she said that Hawk struck her while she was holding the couple’s 11-month-old daughter.
The report stated that Mrs. Hawk told deputies that, after she was struck, Rep. Hawk “took the child from her and went to a neighbor’s house.”

The report stated that Mrs. Hawk went to a friend’s house on Crockett Lane. Deputies were called and spoke to her there.

Rep. Hawk was later located at home and taken into custody, the report said.

The criminal complaint filed against Hawk in connection with the domestic assault charge alleges that he committed the offense “by grabbing the victim by the arm, striking her in the face, causing injury and knocking her to the ground.”

The victim “had bruising and swelling on and around her right eye, an abrasion (to) the upper and lower right side of her lip, and a large bruise on her left upper arm,” the complaint states.

Hawk was later convicted of of misdemeanor reckless endangerment. He and his wife are divorced. He went on to win re-election in 2012, winning his primary by nearly 400 votes and the general by over 3,000. He also won in 2014 and 2016.

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.42.10 PM
In March 2015, Sen. Joey Hensley the “family values” legislator who just a few years
before had gained national notoriety for sponsoring the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, found himself in the news again after his wife Gina accused him of hitting her with his car door.

From a WSMV story:

The order says that on Feb. 18, Hensley’s ex-wife, Gina, said she was moving into her new home in Hohenwald following their divorce when Hensley showed up and claimed she had taken items that did not belong to her.

At some point, she said she was standing by the driver’s side door of Hensley’s car with him behind the wheel.

In the report, Hensley’s ex-wife said, “Joey put his vehicle in reverse and hit me with the door, knocking me (sideways). I yelled out, ‘Stop Joey, you are going to run over me.'”
She claims Hensley then tried to shut the door, hit her again with the door and “Joey then stated he would be back.”

Hensley said it didn’t happen that way.

“She was telling me to leave, so I was trying to leave. She was standing in the open door, and she claimed that the door hit her before I could back out,” he said.

Hensley claims the door did not hit her.

His ex-wife wrote in the order that she called 911 and got the order of protection after, “I had been in fear of Joey’s anger and that his actions would escalate into physical abuse.”

Gina Hensley took out an order of protection but later withdrew it. 13190_Hensley_PalmCard_v7-t8

In 2017, we learned that in addition to divorcing Gina, his fourth wife, he also had an affair with his second cousin who was also his employee. The cousin also relies on him for her botox injections and he has prescribed her narcotic pain medication for her back pain.

This year, Hensley sponsored a bill named for conservative provocateur and renowned racist Milo Yiannopolis which drew public outcry and was never scheduled for a hearing. He also filed the “insemination bill” that would have made children conceived via artificial insemination to be legally illegitimate. (Yes, that’s actually what the bill said.) That bill also was also widely criticized and was never placed on a committee calendar. He was able to pass SB1180, despite opposition from a number of groups including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Because what do a bunch of lady parts doctors know about pregnancy? Certainly not more than a small town doc who shoots up his nurse/girlfriend/cousin with botox.

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.51.17 PM
martindanielIn the summer of 2016, Knoxville Republican Martin Daniel found himself in a crowded and contentious primary. That July, Daniel appeared as part of an 18th District GOP candidate forum on on NewsTalk 98.7. He and opponent Steve Hall got into a verbal argument during the broadcast that led to Daniel shoving Hall, all on live radio. You can hear for yourself here.

Hall filed a complaint with the Knoxville Police. According to a report filed by WBIR:

“(Hall) stated that he and (Daniel) became embroiled in a verbal disagreement that involved name calling,” the KPD report states. “During this debate, the suspect got up and threw off his headset and moved like he was going to exit the studio door behind the victim. Mr. Hall advised that the suspect came over and stood above him, attempting to intimidate him.

“He stated that he stood and in doing so, the suspect took both hands, flat handed and shove (sic) him in the chest area roughly, assaulting him.”

Program host Hallerin Hilton Hill relayed what had happened to listeners and replayed the recorded incident on air. It was not recorded on video.

Daniel, who the year before had written an enraged letter to the Knox County Board of Education because he was angry his fourth grade daughter was being forced to learn about social justice, oppression, and discrimination, went on to not only win his primary milobut also the general election.

Daniel co-sponsored the Milo Bill in 2017 because presumably he was down with Milo’s brand of “in your face conservatism.”  To be fair, the GOP finally eventually stepped away from Yiannopolis this spring when video of him defending pedophiles surfaced.  Apparently, being a xenophobic, racist, sexist is totes OK with Republicans like Daniel and Hensley, but pedophilia is a bridge too far. That’s something, we guess.

So, don’t be surprised if Gianforte wins his election tonight. And don’t be surprised when his party doesn’t register outrage or even concern because, as we’ve seen in Tennessee, Republicans really don’t care about a little assault every now and then.

Family values, ya’ll!


As the 2017 legislative mercifully draws to a close, we are tracking fewer bills.  Through activism and pressure, we have successfully shut down a number of terrible legislation – the bathroom bill, marriage bill, several voucher bills, several anti-immigrant bills, permitless carry, expanded “stand your ground”, just to name a few, while others unfortunately made it through.  We’ve helped get some good bills through committees, and watched as others were not so lucky.

Below are several of the last bills #WeAreWatching this year.  They are up for votes THIS WEEK.  Since there are fewer to keep up with, we wanted to give a little more detail on each of them – specifically, how much they would cost the taxpayers if they were to be passed.  This estimated cost is reported in the bills “FISCAL NOTE.”  The costs ultimately come down to expenditures and revenue.  Expenditure means “money going out” and revenue is “money coming in.” Expenditures might include items like buying new equipment, incarceration costs, hiring additional staff, or covering legal fees.  Revenues might include items like fines or other monies paid to a city or the state.  FISCAL NOTES are researched and prepared by the Department of Fiscal Review.  They are often contested by the bill sponsors because bills with large fiscal notes risk not being passed.

Ironically, when it comes to proposing new laws, much of the legislation proposed by fiscally conservative Republicans is actually anything but fiscally conservative.

So take a look and take action. Take note of who the bill sponsors are and what they look like. The bills are divided by the day they are to be voted on and by the committee.  Remember, a bill has to pass committees and a full floor vote in both the House and Senate.  Two of the bills below (SB339/HB1176 and SB1180/HB1189) are up for votes in both House and Senate committees this week.  You can click on the bill number to see its summary and on FISCAL NOTE to see the actual fiscal note for the bill.  And, you can click on “Contact committee members” for a list of committee members’ contact information – please make some phone calls!

Let’s finish strong!  STAND UP – SPEAK OUT – FIGHT BACK!



Contact committee members
View committee agenda

108th General Assembly - Freshman Class - SenateSB339 by Nicely

Greatly reduces the penalty for carrying a handgun without a permit with the intent to go armed to a Class C misdemeanor with a $25 fine for a first offense or $50 for a second or subsequent offense and requires a citation to be issued in lieu of arrest.
FISCAL NOTE: Would decrease local revenue by $160,000 and would reduce local expenditures in excess $18,000
This means local revenue – in this case fines – to a city would be reduced up to $160k per year but the city would spend $18,000 less per year incarcerating individuals who have repeatedly been caught breaking the law by carrying a gun in public without a permit.

SB1085 by StevensJohn Stevens

The “sneaky” erasure bill that would require that “undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest.”  This is a thinly veiled attack on LGBT families.
FISCAL NOTE: Not significant (passing this bill would not result in financial impact)
*However, there are certain to be negative economic impacts associated with passage of this bill.  As we have seen in other states, tourists, businesses, and conventions often show their displeasure with discriminatory laws by taking their money to other states.

SB1180 by HensleyJoey Hensley
The 20-week abortion ban would prohibit abortion even in heartbreaking cases where the fetus is not viable; would redefine viability.
FISCAL NOTE: Would increase state expenditures $8,800
This means it is assumed that the proposed legislation will result in one additional class C felony admission every 10 years.   The average time served for a class C felony is 3.51 years – 1,282.03 days.  The $8,800 is the cost associated with imprisoning a physician for 3.51 years.


Contact committee members
View committee agenda

HB508 by Lamberth11-13-12 Lamberth_William State Rep
Would prohibit local governments from prohibiting or restricting guns on state of local property unless the property installs metal detection devices and hires security guards. If the property does not install metal detection devices and hire security guards, the bill would allow an individual or a membership organization (i.e. the NRA) to sue the city for TRIPLE damages and legal fees.
FISCAL NOTE: Would increase local expenditures in excess of $200,000 one-time/permissive and would exceeds $1,000,000 per year/permissive. ALSO, passage of the bill could put the Departments of Education and Children’s Services out of compliance with federal regulations. The amount and timing of federal funding that could be jeopardized is unknown. Annual federal funding for both departments total approximately $436,179,800.
-> This means that it will cost cities up to $200,000 to obtain and install metal detection devices in all affected properties AND would cost $1,000,000 per year to hire and pay security personnel to these properties.  The bill sponsor notes that these costs are PERMISSIVE, meaning that a city can choose not to comply.  BUT, if they choose not to comply, the bill would allow for an affected party – either and individual OR a “membership group” (i.e. the National Rifle Association) to sue the city and if the affected party wins, they would be required to pay TRIPLE damages to the individual/group who brought the lawsuit.



Contact committee members
View committee agenda

HB1189 by HillMatthew Hill
The 20 week abortion ban would prohibit abortion even in heartbreaking cases where the fetus is not viable; would redefine viability.
FISCAL NOTE: Would increase state expenditures $8,800
This means it is assumed that the proposed legislation will result in one additional class C felony admission every 10 years.   The average time served for a class C felony is 3.51 years – 1,282.03 days.  The $8,800 is the cost associated with imprisoning a physician for 3.51 years.

HB126 by BrooksHouse Composite Images 2009  106th Session
Would create the “Opportunity Scholarship Pilot Program.”
FISCAL NOTE:  – The increase in state expenditures exceeds $330,400/FY17-18 and $230,400/FY18-19 and subsequent years.  Also, for local education agencies that have schools in the bottom five percent of achievement and are mandated to participate in the statewide scholarship program, the shift of state and required local BEP funding from these local education agencies to the non-public participating schools is estimated as follows: $8,867,500 in FY17-18; $13,633,100 in FY18- 19; $18,632,500 in FY19-20; and an amount exceeding $18,632,500 in FY18-19 and subsequent years
-> This means it would initially cost the state $330,400 to operate the program for the 2017-2018 school year and would cost the state $230,400 to operate the program in 2018-2019 and in future years.

HB1176 by Faison108th General Assembly -  House of Represenatatives
Greatly reduces the penalty for carrying a handgun without a permit with the intent to go armed to a Class C misdemeanor with a $25 fine for a first offense or $50 for a second or subsequent offense and requires a citation to be issued in lieu of arrest.
FISCAL NOTE: Would decrease local revenue by $160,000 and would reduce local expenditures in excess $18,000
This means local revenue – in this case fines – to a city would be reduced up to $160k per year but the city would spend $18,000 less per year incarcerating individuals who have repeatedly carried a gun without a permit).

HJR037 by Van Huss108th General Assembly - Freshman Class - House
Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Tennessee recognizing that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God.
FISCAL NOTE: Would increase state expenditures $9,100 one time.
-> This means that it would cost the state $9,100 to implement this bill


Who’s Who in the #TNLEG

By now, you’ve probably noticed that although there are 132 legislators in the Tennessee General Assembly, there are a few whose names you see more than others.  Certain legislators seem drawn to certain types of legislation, both good and bad.  And, even though you see their names in the news or in our posts, you might not recognize them as they walk past you in the Capitol or the halls of Legislative Plaza.  So, here’s a little overview of legislators #WeAreWatching.

Sen. Mae Beavers – Lebanon

Sen. Mae BeaversRetired
Sponsor of:
> SB244 – Fetal heartbeat bill
> SB766 – Ban abortion after 20 weeks, redefines viability
> SB272 – Require anyone not a citizen to have  “ALIEN” or “NON-US CITIZEN”  on all forms of ID
> SB752 – Nullifies same-sex marriage in Tennessee
> SB771 – “Bathroom bill”
> SB147 – “Open Carry Firearms Freedom Act”

– Upset by protestors despite being a leader of “anti-income tax” protests in 2000.
– Spoke about Muslim terrorists infiltrating churches, despite knowing information was inaccurate.

Rep. Bill Dunn – Knoxville

108th General Assembly -  House of RepresenatativesBusinessman
Sponsor of:
> HB336 – Create statewide vouchers
> HB356 – Would allow local education agencies discontinue payroll deductions for teachers’ union dues
> HB045 – Would no longer require schools provide students with PE or recess



Sen. Mark Green – Clarksville

108th General Assembly - Freshman Class - SenatePhysician
Sponsor of:
> SB131 – Guns in schools, on playgrounds, restore gun rights to those convicted of violent felonies, guns on college campuses
> SB386 – Makes it easier for someone who has committed a violent felony to restore their rights to possess firearms
> SB155 – Prohibits sanctuary cities; would strip state tax money from cities if they don’t comply
> SB127 – “License to Discriminate” bill
Planning to run for Governor in 2018
Possibly candidate for Secretary of the Army in Trump Administration

Sen. Joey Hensley – Hohenwald

Joey HensleyPhysician
Sponsor of:

> SB1180 – “Tennessee Infant Protection Act”; would prohibit the abortion of any fetus deemed viable; requires viability testing if woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant
> SB1153 – Would make any child conceived via artificial insemination legally illegitimate
> SB1165 – “Milo Bill” named for former Breitbart writer and known misogynist, racist, xenophobe Milo Yiannopolis.  (Yiannopolis left Breitbart after a recording of him condoning pedophilia was made public.)
– “Family values” senator who sponsored the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2012 was accused by his estranged wife of hitting her with his truck in 2015.
– Recently reported that while married to his fourth wife (the one he hit with his truck), he was having an affair with a married nurse in his office who was also his second cousin.  He also has been prescribing her pain pills and giving her Botox shots.

Rep. Matthew Hill – Jonesborough

Rep. Matthew HillBroadcaster
Sponsor of:
> HB663 – Would allow women to sure abortion providers for emotional distress
> HB1189 – “Tennessee Infant Protection Act”; would prohibit the abortion of any fetus deemed viable; requires viability testing if woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant
> HB 668 – Would provide civil immunity (no penalty) to a driver who injures a protestor if the driver is exercising “due care.”
– In 2013, Hill changed his vote on the popular “wine in grocery stores” bill, leaving his Republican colleagues, including Speaker Harwell feeling angry and double-crossed.  Hill later lost his Committee Chairmanship as a result.

Rep. Andy Holt – Dresden

Rep. Andy HoltFarmer
Sponsor of:

> HB632 – Would develop system to cap public assistant benefits at median household income for the state
> HB493 – Guns in schools, on playgrounds, restore gun rights to those convicted of violent felonies, guns on college campuses
> HB1006 – Expands existing “Stand Your Ground” law
>HB1007 – Would allow lobbyists to give gifts to candidates and legislators as long as they are “friends.”
– Sponsored “AG Gag” bill that made it harder to prosecute cases of animal abuse
– Was investigated by EPA for not having proper permits and for dumping waste from his hog farm into streams on his property
– After questions about whether or not it was appropriate to follow through with plans to give away AR-15 rifles at a campaign event immediately after the Orlando Pulse shooting (where 49 people were gunned down with an AR-15), Holt defiantly decided to give away two.

Rep. Mark Pody – Lebanon

108th General Assembly -  House of RepresenatativesInsurance
Sponsor of:
> HB892 – Nullifies same-sex marriage in Tennessee
> HB888 – “Bathroom bill”
> HB895 – Personhood bill; would confer rights legal rights to an embryo from moment of conception



– Rep. Pody believes that God has called him to keep gay marriage out of Tennessee
– Rep. Pody is undeterred at the extraordinarily high fiscal note attached to his bill.

Rep. Micah Van Huss – Jonesborough

108th General Assembly - Freshman Class - HouseWeb Programmer
Sponsor of:

> HB108 – Fetal heartbeat bill
> HB040 – “Open Carry Firearms Freedom Act”
> HB687 – Would require mayors to swear an oath to to enforce immigration laws; would strip state tax money from cities whose mayors don’t swear the oath or comply
>HB091 – Would require recipients of SNAP benefits to prove that they’re working, looking for work, or  doing community service
> HB686 – Requires a court to to impose an additional $5,000 fine for a conviction for voter fraud; provides a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for voter fraud
> HJR037 – Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Tennessee recognizing that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God

-Rep. Van Huss passed a law last year naming the .50 caliber Barrett rifle the “state gun.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons – Nashville

Sponsor of:

> HB1246 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Act.”
> HB0477 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Transparency Act.”
> HB423 –  Would permit any registered Tennessee voter to vote absentee for any reason after providing a certification as to the identity of the voter in the application for a ballot; requires an absentee ballot to be counted for the election in which the ballot is cast.
> HB374 – Would expand the sales tax exemption for purchases of textbooks to include purchases of reading materials required for high school or college classes.

Rep. Joanne Favors – Chattanooga

House Composite Images 2009  106th Session

Sponsor of:

> HB183 – “No Representation Without Population Act of 2017.”
> HB184 –  Would allow a person 65 years of age or older who has never been issued a birth certificate to be issued a photo identification license for voting purposes after providing other forms of identification
> HB395 – Would require all new school buses be equipped with seatbelt
> HB127 – Raises age from 21 to 25 to be able to drive a school bus

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh – Ripley

Rep. Craig Fitzhugh

Banker and Attorney
Sponsor of:

> HB841 – “K-12 Block Grant” to improve public education; appropriates $250 million from excess state tax revenues over collected in fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 for K-12 block grants
> HB953 – Would allow people to register and vote the same day during early voting
> HB954 – Would allow people to register and vote on election day
> HB842 – Would require the commissioner of commerce and insurance to establish minimum essential benefits for health insurance coverage in Tennessee that is no less extensive than that available under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
> HB845 – “Tennessee Congressional Redistricting Commission Act,” which establishes a five-member congressional redistricting commission
> HB741 – Would eliminate the sales tax on over-the-counter medicine, diapers, and feminine hygiene products; reduces sales and use tax rate on food and food ingredients by .5 percent
– Rep. Fitzhugh is considering a run for Governor

Rep. Brenda Gilmore – Nashville

House Composite Images 2009  106th SessionRetired Director at Vanderbilt
Sponsor of:

HB822 – would require juveniles to undergo a mental health screening after being found delinquent twice of an offense that would be considered a misdemeanor if committed by an adult
> HB820 -changes from 1,000′ to 500′ the distance away from a school, library, or park a person must sell drugs to qualify for enhanced penalties under the drug free school-zone law
> HB818 – would make defendants convicted for having or selling drugs in school zones eligible for parole after serving 33 percent of the defendant’s sentence; eliminates the requirement that defendants serve a mandatory minimum sentence before parole eligibility
> HB818 – Would require body cameras for law enforcement officers
> HB825 – Would require a court to sentence a person who was convicted of a nonviolent offense and is the primary caretaker of a dependent child to an individually assessed sentence based on community rehabilitation with a focus on parent-child unity and support

Sen. Lee Harris – Memphis

Sen. Lee HarrisLaw Professor
Sponsor of:

SB322 – Would require the joint legislative services committee to publish on the general assembly website the floor voting record of each member following the conclusion of each annual or extraordinary session of the general assembly
> SB326 – Would prohibits solitary confinement for juveniles in a juvenile detention facility
> SB670 – Would create security temporary orders of protection that a law enforcement officer may seek to temporarily remove firearms from an individual believes to be an immediate danger to themselves or another
> SB671 – Would create within the TBI a voluntary “Do Not Sell” registry on which a person may place or remove their name; creates criminal offense of transferring a firearm to anyone on the registry

Sen. Sara Kyle – Memphis

Sen. Sara KyleAttorney
Sponsor of:

> SB1105 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Transparency Act.”
> SB1106 – “Tennessee Pay Equality Act.”
> SB117 – “MaKayla’s Law” would hold adult gun owners responsible if a child under 13 accesses their recklessly stored gun, fires it, and injures or kills themselves or another person
> SB1097 – Would require all guns sold go through a licensed dealer and that all buyers undergo a background check
> SB1110 – Prohibits outsourcing jobs related to the maintenance, operation, and preservation of state parks, including buildings, facilities, structures, or improvements
> SB1134 – Decreases incarceration time for non-violent offenders
> SB1102 – “Transparency in Charter School Finance Act.”

Rep. Mike Stewart – Nashville

Freshmen House MembersAttorney 
Sponsor of:

HB787 – Would establish automatic registration of a person to vote when a person applies for a motor vehicle driver license or photo identification license
> HB1319 – Would require all guns sold go through a licensed dealer and that all buyers undergo a background check
> HB1320 – “Long-Acting Birth Control Information Act” would provide information about and greater access to long acting forms of birth control
> HB1328 – Would enact the Prescription Drug Fair Pricing Act
> HB1329 – Would provide additional remedies available to employees who are victims of wage theft

Sen. Jeff Yarbro – Nashville

Sen. Jeff YarbroAttorney
Sponsor of:

> SB265 – Would reduce penalty for possession of small amount of marijuana
> SB422 – Would allow any registered Tennessee voter to vote absentee for any reason
> SB588 – Would require any candidate for President to file with the Tennessee Secretary of State tax returns for the five years as a prerequisite for being placed on a primary ballot
> SB741 – Would eliminate the sales tax on over-the-counter medicine, diapers, and feminine hygiene products; reduces sales and use tax rate on food and food ingredients by .5 percent
> SB831 – K-12 Block Grant” to improve public education; appropriates $250 million from excess state tax revenues over collected in fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 for K-12 block grants





Protests for thee, but not for me?

UPDATE: This post, originally written in February of 2017, is once again relevant and a reminder of the rank hypocrisy of some on the right.  As Trump and other Republicans decry “liberal mobs”, few criticized the “mobs” more than Marsha Blackburn.  Following her Nashville campaign event where protestors were forcibly removed, Marsha complained about an “angry mob.” Pretty hypocritical considering she was the ringleader of the anti-income tax protest circus back in 2001.  Read below to learn more:

After refusing to answer constituents’ questions about two controversial bills that target the LGBT community at a town hall meeting on the gas tax last week, Sen. Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody were greeted by citizens, many of them Wilson county constituents of theirs, at Legislative Plaza yesterday afternoon.  The duo were holding a hastily thrown-together press conference and were perhaps not expecting constituents and concerned citizens to be there.  Just a few minutes into the event, after the people in the audience asked them to pull the bill, Beavers and Pody walked out of the room.  Frustrated citizens followed them to their offices.  Both legislators ended up leaving the plaza, accompanied by State Troopers.

Sen. Beavers was not happy that people wanted her and Rep. Pody to answer questions.  She complained to the media that the citizens, many of whom held signs that noted they were from the zip code 37122, meaning they were her constituents, were “bullies”.  It’s worth noting that many of these bullies were families. She went further than that today, telling the AP that “the protest was “despicable,” and suggested that the protesters should be imprisoned.”

Now, let’s go back in time a bit, shall we?  In the late 90s and early 2000s, there was a heated battle going on in Tennessee over a proposal to pass a state income tax.  The anti-income tax contingent was loud and angry.  Fueled by talk radio hosts Phil Valentine and Steve Gill, protestors drove around the state Capitol honking their horns and blocking traffic for days.  They also showed up at the Capitol and some of the protests grew very tense, with protestors banging on the doors, and at least one protestor punched a reporter he mistook for Sen. Bob Rochelle, one of the leading proponents of the income tax.  Beavers, then a state representative, would go on to beat Rochelle and has been in the senate ever since.

The protests were reported nationally, such as this story in the New York Times:

Tennessee lawmakers abandoned plans to resurrect a plan for a state income tax today after protesters chanting ”No new taxes” broke windows at the Capitol.

The state police locked the Capitol after about 200 people banged on the doors of the Senate chamber, broke office windows and accosted lawmakers as they made their way through hallways with police escorts.

A state employee trying to lock a side door to the Capitol injured his hand as the weight of the crowd pushed against him. There were no other injuries reported, and no arrests were made.

Two state troopers were dispatched today to the home of Senator Robert Rochelle, a Democrat who is a leading proponent of the income tax, after one talk-radio host encouraged demonstrators to drive there and honk their horns.

Reporting at the time in the Desert News stated, “Protesters hurled rocks through Capitol windows, chanted “no new tax!” and banged on the locked doors of the Senate chamber where Tennessee lawmakers were debating the creation of a state income tax.”

From SweetLiberty.org, a conservative website:

As protestors began to gather outside the legislative chambers Monday evening, several legislators were taken away by ambulance and hospitalized for blood pressure and heart problems as tensions rose and tempers flared.

By Tuesday morning, tax protestors were brandishing signs reading, “Let’s send them all to the ER!”

Leading the charge against the income tax were then-Representative Mae Beavers and then-state Senator Marsha Blackburn.  In fact, Beavers and Blackburn worked closely with the talk radio hosts who were firing up the anti-income tax protestors.  In the days before ubiquitous smart phones, Beavers and Blackburn were the eyes and ears feeding the radio personalities with insider information.

From a World Net Daily story in 2000:

WorldNetDaily reported last week that mass tax protests spurred by Nashville talk radio stations prompted a virtual shutdown of the legislature when it became apparent that passage of a state income tax was imminent. Tennessee is only one of nine states without a state income tax.

State legislators fighting the tax increase say they are under intense pressure from legislative leaders pushing for the tax, but the outpouring of public support for their position has emboldened their resolve.

“The tax protests have made all of the difference,” said Rep. Mae Beavers, an outspoken anti-tax legislator. “If people hadn’t come out and made their feelings known, the votes would have been there last week to pass the income tax. All the horn-honking and daily protests shook a couple of their votes loose.”

So, you read that last paragraph, right? 

“The protests have made all the difference.”

Seems like when protestors are on her side, she thinks that they make a difference.  But, when they oppose her, she thinks they should be locked up?

Conservatives like to accuse citizens that show up at town halls and their capitols voicing dissent and frustration of being “paid protestors”, there to incite violence and create chaos. The president has accused people exercising their first amendment rights of being “anarchists and thugs.” 


State Senator Paul Bailey recently accused protestors in Nashville of being paid, from out of state, and bused in.  He even shared a video, purportedly of protestors leaving a #MoralMondays rally at the Capitol boarding charted shuttles.  Of course, as he knew when he shared the video, the shuttles were there to take legislators to a reception at the Ryman.  But, why let facts get in the way of a chance to push #alternativefacts, right?

But here’s the rub: the widespread protests we’re seeing across the nation mirror the Tea Party Protests of 2009 and 2010.  And, the #MoralMondays rallies at the Tennessee Capitol and the impromptu protest Wednesday are not that different than the anti-income tax protests – EXCEPT that there’s been no violence, threats, punches thrown, broken windows, protesters dispatched to lawmakers’ homes, or legislators sent to the hospital.

Many of those anti-income tax protestors twenty years ago were viewed as heroes by the same people who are now angry that constituents drove all the way from Lebanon and Mt. Juliet to get answers from their legislators.  And, it’s the height of hypocrisy for lawmakers to praise some protestors for their beliefs but call for the imprisonment of protestors whose beliefs (and in this case, whose rights) they oppose.

Show me what hypocrisy looks like? THIS IS WHAT HYPOCRISY LOOKS LIKE.

But, guess what?


A recap – #BeaversLogic

These protestors are bad.


These protestors are good, even the one with the airhorn.


These protestors are bullies.


These protestors jamming the road around the Capitol are exercising
their first amendment rights.


#MoralMondays protestors and State Troopers at the state Capitol.


Anti-income tax protestors and State Troopers after a rock was thrown
through the Governor’s window.


Then state Senator Marsha Blackburn standing in solidarity with the
anti-income tax protestors.  Now, she’s keeping details about her Town Hall
under wraps due to concerns that protestors will attend.

Statement on Senate moving session starting time

The Tennessee State Senate has moved their session this coming Monday, Feb. 6 from its traditional 5pm time to an earlier 3:30pm. We take this as a clear indication that last Monday’s We Are Watching protest — during which hundreds of protestors from all over Tennessee gathered in the Capitol lobby to remind their legislators that We the People will not remain quiet as our Constitutional rights are trampled by partisan politics — was an effective action that has put the Republican majority on the run.

However, in the face of this scheduling change — as well as the absurd lies voiced by Sen. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) that a number of the protestors last Monday were paid — we must ask: What are the Republicans afraid of? We the People have a Constitutional right to free speech and assembly, rights that we hold sacred… and rights which each and every one of these legislators swore an oath to protect. To serve in public office should be an honor and a sacrifice to make this country a better place for all, not a shield to cower behind while enacting tyrannical, invasive, and dangerous legislation that robs Americans of their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

So, in response to the Republican Senate majority’s scheduling cowardice, we say: Thank you. Thank you for showing us that you heard our voices, that you felt our pressure, and that our message is working. We will see you Monday. And We Are Watching.