Stop Byrd Protestors Stage 24-hour Sit-In At Governor Lee’s Office | TN Holler

Rep. David Byrd has apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them as children.

Even after meeting with one of Byrd’s victims, Governor Lee has been silent about Byrd’s presence in the legislature- so Enough Is Enough-TN staged a sit-in at Lee’s office, and ended up spending the night, as state trooper’s threatened the press with arrests.

Watch the VIDEO:

And holler at Governor Lee HERE if you think #ByrdMustGo.

VIDEO: State Senate Candidate Powers Plays Dumb About Vouchers

State Senate Candidate Vote Bill Powers – running in Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery counties in a special election to replace Mark Green – gave a vague, wandering, uninformed, non-answer answer when asked about school vouchers this week:

“I haven’t seen a copy of the bill, so I can’t speak to it.”

The bill has been available for 2 months.

He went on:

“Glen Casada… I know Jack Johnson the majority leader has come out in favor of it – this is the governor’s proposal. Is it a voucher program? It’s a hybrid as far as I can tell. But having not seen it, all I can say as it relates to education, is every child deserves an education.”

He’s either ignorant, uncurious, or deceptive. None of the 3 are good qualities to have in a state senator.

Powers then went on to talk about rural broadband as a dodge, then again said he hasn’t seen the bill before dropping that he’s a 2-term city councilman, and eventually coming back to this:

“All I can say is education is important to me, and I’ll be there for the people of Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery.”

This is the kind of answer you give when you know your constituents don’t want it, but the people who are funding your campaign do.

Watch the VIDEO:


Powers was last seen agreeing the LGBT movement is “Demonic” and the “Muslim Agenda” must be pushed back against on his Facebook page, then claiming not to have said it while also not expressing support for those Tennesseans.

Will Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery counties send another anti-LGBT pro-vouchers senator to Nashville?

He faces Democrat Juanita Charles April 23rd, as well as Doyle Clark and David Cutting.

VIDEO: Sec. Hargett’s Voter Registration Criminalization Extravanganza (HIGHLIGHTS)

In 2018, the Tennessee Black Voter Project set out to register 55,000 voters – and ended up registering close to 90,000.

Now Secretary of State Tre Hargett has a bill – HB 1079/SB 971 – which would criminalize voter registration efforts, with fines and penalties for mistakes on forms, and potential criminal punishment for turning forms in with deficiencies, or not getting the “proper” training.

It would be the first of its kind in the country.

The bill passed a senate committee this week, despite opposition from Senators Jeff Yarbro and Steve Dickerson.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

Dickerson was concerned that the bill sought to punish people for mistakes, pointing out that it’s already illegal to submit fraudulent forms.

Yarbro made the point that most registration groups feel they’re required to turn in even incomplete forms, so to punish them for doing what they’re compelled to do by law would be unfair.

Yarbro was by far the most vocal in opposition.

He also pointed out that there’s a standard amount of deficiencies according to federal statistics, and this bill would end up punishing pretty much any large-scale voter registration drives as a result. He also reminded the committee that the proposed penalties are harsher than some violent crimes.

The Holler spoke with Tequila Johnson, one of the driving forces behind the Tennessee Black Voter project, who confirmed the group was in fact under the impression that they were required to turn in any forms voters had touched, and had been advised to do just that. She also said they took careful measures for quality control purposes, and adamantly insisted they did not pay per form, which is what Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the bill intended to put a stop to.

Johnson says the Black Voter Project attempted to reach out to Hargett’s office even before the project for guidance, but were turned down. Instead they met with local election commissions who told them to turn in any forms that voters even partially filled out.

Johnson:

“We were careful. We didn’t want anything to jeopardize the integrity of the project… mistakes happened, but not at the scale they’re talking about. They’re taking a few times it happened and highlighting it to mischaracterize the whole project.”

Johnson says she tried to go and testify, but nobody would return her calls.

“I reached out several times. Nobody would return my calls. People don’t respect black organizers… I’m from Tennessee, bred and buttered. I’m used to their attempts to limit access. It’s just another hoop to have to jump through. Bring it on. I’m sure this bill will discourage some people, but it won’t be me.”

Johnson insists nobody was paid per form but by the hour. This was a major sticking point for Goins, who was there on behalf of Secretary of State Tre Hargett. Goins offered no proof to the contrary, but instead used a statement from a worker who said they were told to “register everyone and not take no for an answer”, as well as another from a man whose wife had been deceased when she was registered.

As for the 55% deficiency number cited by Goins at the hearing, we have reached out to ask where that comes from. It appears to come from this article about Shelby county registrations, but the number in that article does not apply to all 30,000 new forms, and does not get specific about how many new registrations were seemingly fraudulent vs. just deficient.

Secretary Tre Hargett told us this week that it is “not true” the bill is retaliatory against black voters in nature, but Tequila Johnson remains unconvinced and says they knew this was coming:

“We knew there would be backlash even when we named it the Black Voter Project. But we have to not be afraid to stand in our truth. Our ancestors survived a lot worse. I’d be a damn coward to back out now.”

She also says this shouldn’t be a partisan issue:

“I have Republican Friends. I registered Republicans personally. People with confederate flags, Trump stickers… this isn’t just about black or brown, or Republican or Democrat – it’s about access. It’s about power and money. But I do feel like people don’t respect black organizations in this city. ‘Equity’ is just a buzz word to them.”

And went on to stress that The Tennessee Black Voter Project is not some behemoth organization:

“We’re 100% volunteer-led. We don’t have a full-time staff. Hargett’s yearly salary is more than we’ve ever raised. We figured out how to do what he should be doing.”

Tennessee regularly ranks near the bottom in voter turnout.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) says this about Hargett’s bill:

“This bill would have a chilling effect on voter registration in Tennessee. It punishes Good Samaritans… The idea of punishing this virtuous behavior is absurd.”

If you think Tennessee should be making it easier to register to vote, not harder, Holler at Secretary of State Tre Hargett HERE.

EMAIL: tre.hargett@tn.gov

Reps Weaver & Love Face-Off Over Child Suspensions & Expulsions And Science

With black kids being expelled & suspended at alarming rates, Rep. Harold Love’s bill for teachers to at least consider a child’s home environment before expelling/suspending them meets resistance from Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, who skeptically asks why anyone would use science when it comes to bad behavior and thinks the problem may be that teachers aren’t allowed to discipline:

“Some of these kids need a spanking.”

The bill moved on to full committee. Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

Rep. Lamar’s Bill to Help Pregnant Hope Scholarship Teens Passes With Bipartisan Support

Rep. London Lamar’s bill to give pregnant Hope Scholarship high schoolers more time with their babies before having to go to college passed with bipartisan support, after Lamar and Rep. Antonio Parkinson reminded the committee of its “pro-life” nature, and pointed out that the intention of the bill is to make it so that underprivileged girls aren’t forced to choose between their child and their education.

There was pushback both from the representative from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) in his testimony, and from Chairman Mark White (R), who claimed that allowing this concession to pregnant teens would open up the process to people with other medical issues – like depression and mononucleosis.

Lamar pushed back by stating the obvious:

“Pregnancy is not the same as depression.”

Lamar had support from an unlikely source in Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn (R), who agreed that pregnancy is different than the other medical issues Brought up, and appreciated that the bill would keep pregnant teenagers from having to choose between their children and their education.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D) had the last word in support, saying that pro-life legislators needed to be consistent and support this bill.

“If we are going to be in a pro-life culture we need to, at a minimum, give people the tools to make pro-life decisions.”

He then called on anyone who supported the Heartbeat Bill to support the legislation.

The bill passed 14-6.

HB0689 by Lamar – HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
Rec. for pass; ref to Government Operations Committee 4/3/2019
Passed
Ayes………………………………………..14
Noes…………………………………………6

Representatives voting aye were: Baum, Byrd, Coley, DeBerry, Dixie, Dunn, Hodges, Hurt, Love, Moody, Parkinson, Vaughan, Williams, Windle — 14.
Representatives voting no were: Cochran, Haston, Leatherwood, Sexton J, Weaver, White — 6.

VIDEO: Sec. Hargett’s Voter Registration Criminalization Bill Press Conference

In 2018, the Tennessee Black Voter Project set out to register 55,000 voters – and ended up registering close to 90,000.

Now Secretary of State Tre Hargett has introduced a seemingly retaliatory bill which would criminalize voter registration efforts, with fines and penalties for mistakes on forms, and potential criminal punishment for registering too many people or not getting the “proper” training:

“Republican Rep. Tim Rudd’s bill HB 1079 (SB 971) calls for class A misdemeanors if, knowingly or intentionally, groups that register 100 or more people pay workers based on voter-registration quotas, don’t complete state training, or fail to ship completed voter registration forms within 10 days of registration drives or by the voter registration deadline.”

Watch the press conference with Tequila Johnson and Charlane Oliver of The Equity Alliance, Aftyn Behn of Indivisible, Reverend James Turner, Reps Gloria Johnson, Vincent Dixie, John Ray Clemmons, Bob Freeman, and State Senator Brenda Gilmore HERE:

Tequila Johnson, co-founder of the Equity Alliance says:

“This bill from Secretary of State Tre Hargett is an attack on the Tennessee Voter Project and its success.”

Tennessee regular ranks near the bottom in voter turnout, which Senator Brenda Gilmore reminds us is in no small part because of a voter suppression/voter ID bill which passed in 2008 (after Obama was elected).

Aftyn Behn of Indivisible lists the ways in which this bill seeks to criminalize voter engagement.

Charlane Oliver of Equity Alliance and Rep. Jim Cooper’s office points to all the ways the vote is suppressed in Tennessee – including by the registration form itself, and Reps. Johnson, Dixie, and Freeman all make it clear they’ll be voting against the bill, which Freeman calls an effort to “intimidate” voter registration groups.

Reverend Turner also reminds us that many people bled for the right to vote, particularly African-Americans, and that this is a step in the wrong direction.

“It seems like it’s racist. It seems like we’re going back in time.”

If you think Tennessee should be making it easier to register to vote, not harder, Holler at Secretary of State Tre Hargett HERE.

EMAIL: tre.hargett@tn.gov

Anti-LGBTQ Adoption “License to Discriminate” Bill Passes TN House

A proposal to allow agencies to deny service to LGBTQ Tennesseans seeking to adopt a child passed the House of Representatives 67-22.

If enacted, House Bill 836 would permit private child-placing agencies to deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

Watch the Floor debate highlights HERE:

The bill—sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33—passed the full House on April 1.

Democrats Rep. Bo Mitchell and Rep. John Ray Clemmons spoke out in opposition to the bill, questioning why we would deny any loving family the right to adopt if they so desired in light of the fact that 8000 children are currently in need of homes.

Mitchell questioned whether Jews could be denied adoption by certain agencies, to which Rudd responded:

“I have no idea.”

Mitchell said we’re on a “slippery slope”, and Clemmons said “we have gone too far” when it comes to discrimination.

Rep. Jeremy Faison was the loudest Republican in support, attempting to seize the mantle of “tolerance” and saying that “liberals” should be willing to extend the same tolerance to the intolerance of those agencies.

The question becomes: Is tolerance of intolerance actually tolerance? Or is it more intolerance? Is in “intolerant” to not want to “tolerate” bullying? Where do we draw that line?

The Tennessee Equality Project says the bill allows agencies to discriminate because LGBTQ citizens are not a “protected class” under federal law.

There are more than 8,000 children in the care of the Department of Children Services. The department works with a network of adoption agencies to find foster care and permanent homes for the children in state custody. Under the rules of the bill, DCS could not deny an agency’s license or service contract for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ families.

NOTE: JOHN MARK WINDLE WAS THE ONLY DEMOCRAT TO VOTE IN FAVOR.

How they voted: House Bill 836
Representatives voting to allow adoption agencies to deny adoptions to LGBTQ Tennesseans for “religious or moral” reasons:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, District 27
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, District 9
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, District 66
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, District 57
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jesse Chism, D-Memphis, District 85
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86
Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56
Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, District 28
Rep. G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 93
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13
Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84

Representatives Present, Not Voting
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96

Absent or Missed Vote:
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. John Holsclaw, Jr., R-Elizabethton, District 4
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, District 65

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, District 52

VIDEO: Rep. Jim Cooper Fires Up The Crowd At The CLC Lunch

This week Rep. Jim Cooper visited the Central Labor Council lunch in Nashville and spoke to a rapt audience about the need for unity and togetherness in the coming election, when the labor movement would be a key part of a “winning strategy” in the hopes of preserving key programs like Medicare and social security.

Cooper spoke about rampant inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Gilded Age, acknowledged that the system isn’t fair, but reminded everyone that “the rich people are out there voting”.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

VIDEO: VOUCHER VOTE HIGHLIGHTS

Governor Lee’s effort to steer public dollars to private schools through “Education Savings Accounts” aka School Vouchers passed committee yesterday with John Deberry, Jr. the only Democrat in support.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS

And watch Rep. Harold Love and Rep. Antonio Parkinson react:

(another) BAD WEEK FOR WORKING WOMEN

Republican lawmakers on the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee rejected four bills that would improve working conditions for women and families in Tennessee—all in less than an hour.

Read more