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?

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.