Constituents and fellow Tennesseans, I’m back from Special Session and I have to admit, it wasn’t very special, at least not for hard working Tennessee families. It was special for corporate special interests and private prisons, yet we didn’t do anything to benefit hard working Tennesseans.
What the Republican majority did at the $100,000 Special Session:
- Passed the Telehealth Bill, which is not a bad bill. (Gov. Lee could have extended it through January under his State of Emergency, he did not have to spend over $100,000 taxpayer dollars to make it happen.)
- Passed a Liability Bill that levels the playing field for bad actors like private prisons and the less than 1% of businesses who are not keeping workers and customers safe. (The vast majority of businesses are doing everything right during the pandemic and we already have laws on the books to protect them. They will tell you it was to protect schools and non-profits and that’s just not true, they are already protected.)
- Removed access to the justice system from those who need it most.
- HB 8004 – Increased penalties for peaceful protesting, which is targeted at peaceful protestors who have been at the Capitol for 60 days wanting to speak with the Governor about racial justice and the KKK Grand Wizard bust in a place of honor in our Capitol, wanting just to be heard.
- HB 8005 – It is now a felony to camp on state property, punishable by a 1-6 year sentence and up to a $3000 fine–and a loss of voting rights. (For perspective, here are some crimes in Tennessee that are misdemeanors: false imprisonment, sexual contact with a minor by an authority figure, a public official using position to make money, and child abuse and neglect of a child over 9 years of age.)
This is not about vandalism, we have laws on the books for that, this is about silencing the voices of non-violent protestors who just want to be heard, because they also want and deserve to feel safe in Tennessee.
All the while, adding up to $1.3 million to our budget each year.
The Special Session Tennessee families deserved and what we could have done:
- Expanded Medicaid at no cost to our state, so that all Tennesseans have access to affordable healthcare and a rural hospital when they need it during a pandemic.
- Fixed our broken unemployment system so folks aren’t waiting months for a check.
- Assured that our schools were ready to open by public health metrics and science and not a rush to give the appearance that all is well, endangering our kids and school staff.
- Developed a comprehensive plan for rapid testing, contact tracing, and a mask mandate to help contain the virus so we could begin to bring back the economy.
Yet the Republican supermajority had to punish protesters and do the bidding of the special interests to be sure they would get their campaign donations at election time. I’m pretty sure those guys won’t be sending me checks, I voted for Tennessee families instead of them ;-). That’s why I am asking you to chip in if you can, because they will be coming for me and I need to be ready to fight back with all I have.
To send State Rep. Gloria Johnson back to Nashville to fight for you, real Tennessee values and House district 15; Chip in here if you can,