Press Releases

TFA: Kingsport Officials Flirting with Flouting Constitution

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; October 3, 2012: 

Local Government Officials still working to infringe 2nd Amendment Rights of Tennesseans and the capacity of citizens to provide their own self defense.

The news report starts:

“KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen was expected to consider a change to city code tonight that would have prohibited residents with handgun carry permits from carrying their firearms in city parks, including Bays Mountain and along the Greenbelt.”

A few years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law which removed all restrictions on citizens carrying in state and federal parks (to the extent state law prohibited federal park carry). However, bowing to pressure from local government officials (who were probably lobbying on your tax dollars to defeat your rights) the legislature agreed to an “opt out” provision which allows local city and county governments to vote to close local parks to permit holders. It appears from this story that elected officials in Kingsport are seriously contemplating ignoring the constitution and the rights of citizens – sort of like Obama does.

They appear to believe it is their duty and option to close publicly owned land to all citizens of the state and visitors to this state who choose to provide for their own self-defense. It appears that they are believers in the “lies of the left” that banning citizens from carrying firearms will make the parks safe by discouraging criminals, robbers and rapists from going armed into those seldom patrolled areas. They have set upon a path and now shown that they, like Rep. Debra Maggart, perhaps do not abide by their oaths to uphold the constitution and therefore do not deserve to hold public trust or office.

While some might think that this is a local issue, it is not. This type of decision impacts anyone who might vacation or travel in the area. It sets a pattern which if not opposed might encourage other city and county officials in other areas to stomp on your rights.

The full story is here.

You can contact Kingsport officials at these addresses

Mayor Dennis
Vice Mayor Tom
Alderman Valerie
Alderman Jantry
Alderman Mike
Alderman Tom
Alderman John

You can also contact City Manager John G. Campbell at 423 229-9400 or at this Contacts page

Press Releases

TFA’s Tips for Getting Politically Active

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 23, 2012: 

“What Can I do?”

We frequently receive the question from people who want to get involved in protecting their rights “What can I do?”

There is much everyone can do – even if you have limits or are even restricted to home. For example, TFA has a group on Facebook. It has over 1000 people in that group and that group has an active discussion almost constantly discussing issues and news reports. This group was extremely active during the primary races and we expect it to be very active as well as the November elections. Even if you are not “on Facebook” consider setting up an account to participate on this resource.

TFA also has an online forum that is open to the public. It is It has a number of sections to discuss and explore issues related to a wide variety of topics. Common topics there include legislative and legal issues. It is also the primary source to keep up with announcements regarding the TFA chapter meetings across the state.

Please consider joining both. We use them to push and distribute information. More importantly these online venues are an area for you to get involved and to introduce yourself and others to grow this network and information ring. Its a place to share and congregate information. For example, one thing that is always helpful is to have people in all parts of the state watching constantly for news articles, TV stories and other reports that can be linked to the Facebook page and the TFA online forum to share with others and as a point of discussion.

Another thing that can be done is to make sure you have the personal and/or office numbers of all candidates for office and also those who are selected as your personal House and Senate members. Keep those telephone numbers and email addresses handy. Stay in touch with them – at least once or twice a month. Let them know you are interested in issues such as the Safe Commute Act, open parks and even the selection of legislative leadership. Often, you do not have to even tell them what you want – often it is enough to ask them questions about where they are on these issues. If you watch the TFA FB group and forum, the issues that you can ask them about will come up there as a matter of course.

As noted above, one big issue for all constitutionalists and conservatives in Tennessee is the issue of government leadership. While Republicans “candidates” and state party leaders have claimed for years while the Republicans were the minority party that they were the true conservatives, what we have seen over the last 4 years bears out little of that. Look specifically at leadership. Consider specifically Haslam, Ramsey and Harwell and the “fruits” of their dispositions over the last 2 years.

For example, many anticipate – or fear – that Haslam, with his vast personal and family fortune, will re-purchase his office in 2014. Can we afford another four years of a Governor that places a higher value on pleasing corporations than standing up for the 2nd Amendment rights of the citizens of this state? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has promoted Sharia, while demonizing those of us who are concerned about the danger posed by that socio-political system? Can we afford another four years of a Governor that has either left liberals in charge at all levels of our state government or has actively appointed them? Can we afford another four years of his corrosive influence on the legislature and the promotion of left of center values?

Ron Ramsey campaigned with his famous cowboy boots to cleanup state government. Well, he may not be the governor but he is the highest ranking senator. As we saw with the Safe Commute Act he knows how to block legislation from coming to the floor for consideration and a vote by all elected senators. He knows how to deprive all citizens of having their voices heard through their own senators. So, what evidence is there that he has done anything to stop or resist Haslam? Is the evidence more likely to establish the inference that his campaign against Haslam for governor turned to one of “whatever Haslam wants is fine.” Has Ramsey traded those cowboy boots for flip flops is a question we have heard more than once.

Then we have Beth Harwell. Look at her miserable voting record where she often puts other issues – any other issues – as a higher priority than her sworn oath to uphold the Constitution. Look at who she selected as her 2nd lieutenants – Debra Maggart and Gerald McCormick. Enough said.

There is much to be done. At a minimum, every conservative who believes that the priorities of state government come from mandates of God, from the principles underlying the Constitution and then from the people must be ever engaged with their voices and presence to impress on those who seek and hold office that they are stewards vested with temporary authority not rulers serving by divine right. We must know which of those seeking public office have the right priorities and which, like too many in leadership now, have inverted their priorities so that the most important thing to them is the perpetuation of their own positional power to rule over us. Knowing who has the right mind and spirit of a steward, we must work to prune the tree of liberty of those who do not work first to restore and protect the liberties on which this state and country were founded.

Debra Maggart was not the goal – she was merely the long hanging fruit in this specific election.

Recall the words of Samuel Adams —

“It does not take a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority
keen on setting brush fires of freedom
in the minds of men.”

Press Releases

TFA: Demand General Assembly Take Accountability for Maggart ‘Lies, Bullying’

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 27, 2012: 

This is the entire body of message that went to all legislators in Tennessee this morning. Call your legislators now and reinforce this message. Demand that they speak out publicly against Maggart’s lies and bullying. DO NOT let them tell you that they want to “stay out of it” – they are elected officials and sometimes that means demanding publicly ethical conduct of their peers.

The Tennessee Firearms Association has taken a position on Debra Maggart and focused our attention and resources on her as an example of what is wrong with the General Assembly.

All legislators have some, and in some instances for those who have publicly endorsed her a significant degree of, accountability for the actions of Debra Maggart. She is a selected leader of the Republican caucus. She is a legislator and is subject to ethics charges. She is causing great concern to arise regarding whether the entire legislature is nothing but a cesspool of people more concerned about being re-elected than representing the people with the honor and truthfulness of a steward. It is your opportunity and obligation to demonstrate to the people of this state that you do not stand with or condone lying and unethical legislators and that you will speak the truth to condemn misconduct of those in public office.

TFA is demanding that each legislator take action to stop Debra Maggart. She is engaged in inappropriate and unethical conduct in her campaign. She needs to be told to immediately stop and apologize. That demand needs to be made public so that there is no question who stood for truth and who stands with or even silently tolerates a liar. There is no setting on the sidelines as a spectator for an elected official who lies and abuses her position of power. You either condemn this action or your inaction signals your willing acceptance of it.

Each legislator has the ability to bring ethics charges against Debra Maggart.

Each legislator has the ability to stand up and publicly renounce the intentional lies and misrepresentations of Debra Maggart.

Each legislator has the ability to tell the lobbyists that they do not have to submit to Debra Maggart’s demands for support in her campaign or risk retaliation.

Each legislator’s actions or inactions will be measured in the public dialogue.

So, what are the problems that demand your involvement – NOW?

1. Debra Maggart is using her legislative telephone number on her campaign advertising. It can be inferred that by doing so she is using her legislative office phone services, office supplies and state paid staff in her re-election campaign. This may be a criminal violation and if not it should be. This certainly should be an ethics violation and should be prosecuted with an ethics complaint of the most harsh degree. This absolutely is wrong and she should be publicly chastised by her legislative peers for her gross misconduct.

This is what she is using as a campaign footer:
© Debra Young Maggart | State Representative 45th District
112 La Bar Dr. Hendersonville, TN 37075 | 615-741-3893
Paid for by Debra Maggart for State Representative; Debra Maggart, Treasurer
This email was sent to To ensure that you continue receiving our emails, please add us to your address book or safe list.
manage your preferences | opt out using TrueRemove™ Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
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Is Debra also using her legislative budget to pay for this email service? Who knows. However, are you willing as elected officials to be accountable to your constituents for letting another legislator use state paid resources – including staff – in her re-election campaign? Your actions – including your silence – will answer that question in the next few days.

2. Debra Maggart is intentionally lying to the public about the candidate disclosure form. It is an intentional misrepresentation by Maggart and should be condemned.

The facts are simple. Candidates for office must fill out a disclosure form (the state SS-8004). One question on the form asks:

Bankruptcy – List any adjudication of bankruptcy or discharge received in any United States district court within five (5) years of the date of this report.

Lt. Col. Rogers answered “none” to that question. That was truthful and accurate answer.

Rogers and her husband did file bankruptcy following a failed business effort after retiring from the military. The Rogers chapter 7 bankruptcy according to the Court’s records, was opened on 3/2/05. They were discharged on 6/15/05 but the court appointed bankruptcy trustee did not conclude the administration of the estate and close it until 7/28/08. Those are specific and federally defined terms.

Rogers’ discharge is indisputably on March 2, 2005. Roger’s disclosure form is dated 3/19/12. Therefore, the relevant window regarding the bankruptcy question would be 3/19/07. Roger’s discharge was almost 2 years prior and clearly outside the five year window designated on the form so a “none” response was truthful and accurate.

Apparently, the state did not consider bankruptcies older than 5 years to be relevant because it specifically created the five year window . The question clearly requires the disclosure of any “discharge” which is a specific legal event under federal law not the date the estate was “closed”.

The date of a “discharge” is critical under 11 USC Secs 524 and 727 because it is that specific event and date which determines the rights and obligations of future creditors. The termination of prior claims as to the individuals granted the discharge and many other matters. The date a bankruptcy estate is closed has nothing to do with a discharge or even whether a discharge is ever granted.

TFA has the bankruptcy file and will email it to you if necessary to resolve the disagreement on the facts. is one of the few news agencies that has actually reported on this story. Other news agencies have reported that Maggart was “shopping” the story but after looking into it they concluded it was not a factually reliable story. TNReport issued this story on July 9.

In it, they asked a Nashville bankruptcy attorney, Ed Rothschild to review the matter for them. This is the quote from the story:

But a Nashville bankruptcy attorney questioned whether the chain of events in Rogers’ case met the five-year test.
The late closing of the case had nothing to do with the actual ruling and liquidation, which was finished by 2005, says Edgar Rothschild, who was not involved in the case and reviewed the documents at the request of TNReport.
“I see nothing unusual about the fact that it was opened in 2005 and not closed until 2008,” he said. “The fact that the trustee took so long moving his paperwork along and disposing of the assets had nothing to do with the debtors. There is nothing in the report which indicated that the debtors did anything questionable.”

The fact is clear that what Debra Maggart is using as her primary negative attack on Lt. Col. Rogers is intentionally and knowingly false. Perhaps, it is perhaps possible that Maggart is too illiterate to know the difference – but let her make that excuse. In either event, she apparently hopes that the citizens will not learn or know the truth until its too late to make a difference.

Maggart has tried to make a big issue out of this. In response, the Rogers campaign has already asked elected members of the General Assembly to “sanction their own”. It is sad that apparently none of you have publicly done so at this point. That is sad because your silence turns your back on and thereby condones intentional lies by Maggart. Are you willing to tolerate that kind of deceitful and unethical misconduct?

3. Debra Maggart has taken on the NRA and is now lying about her record. Debra Maggart has put out a campaign ad that claims:

– Debra Maggart has consistently been given an A+ rating by the NRA—the highest rating possible on gun rights.

While Debra claims – as do most of you – that the NRA is the leading entity for giving endorsements on 2nd Amendment issues, Debra misleads the public by claiming she has an “A+” rating when in fact she received a “D” from the NRA this year. That is a clear and undeniable lie. Are you willing to tolerate that kind of deceitful and unethical misconduct regarding what is normally a cherished NRA endorsement?

4. Debra Maggart is falsely claiming that Lt. Col. Rogers is running a “negative campaign”. While it is true that the NRA and the TFA are negative on Maggart, Lt. Col. Rogers is not attacking Maggart other than discussing specific votes and specific bills.

5. Debra Maggart is misusing her campaign funds. In the Summer of 2011, Maggart and 14 other members of the TN General Assembly made a trip to China (

Debra Maggart apparently saw fit to reimburse herself for luggage for that trip from her Campaign Finance Account. If you go to you can enter the last name of a candidate and access the candidate’s campaign finance reports. If you access Rep. Maggart’s “Early Mid Year Supplemental (2011)” report you will find an entry for the reimbursement of a $431.54 “Travel Expense” she paid to Mori Luggage in Nashville. The entry is dated 2/28/2011. Tennessee statutes prohibit the use of campaign funds for the personal use of a candidate.

Also of interest in that same report is an entry for the purchase of $2,084.15 in furniture from C.W. Sanderson, Kenton, TN. The entry indicates the reimbursement to Rep. Maggart is for “Legislative Office Furniture.” Since the State of Tennessee provides furniture for her Nashville office one must assume the purchase was for her “home office.”

That report also includes two entries to Home Depot for “Legislative Office Paint” and several entries for “Office Supplies.” All these entries should be viewed with the understanding that the State of Tennessee provides a $1,000 a month to you as members of the General Assembly to offset expenses involved in maintaining an office in their home district.

Debra Maggart is trying to twist the arms of legislators to support her campaign. Do not fall for it. Debra Maggart and perhaps others have made their bed by selling out constitutional rights and getting in bed with Federal Express and its conspirators. When her campaign reports are filed, those who support her with money will be on public record.

TFA is asking you now to stand up and be good stewards. Do not allow your inaction on these issues to signal to the public that you condone Debra Maggart’s conduct. Hold her accountable for her actions. Hold her accountable openly and in the public square and discourse.

Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources Liberty and Justice NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Turner Laments ‘Extreme’ Shift of Legislature

As entertained as Democrats were watching Republican challengers pick off GOP incumbents in the primary election this month, the minority party says they’re concerned a wave of “extreme” right-leaning legislators would bad for legislative business.

But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner wouldn’t go as far as to say whether that holds true if Speaker Tempore Judd Matheny chooses to seek the top seat in the House of Representatives.

“Judd’s kind of a mixture of things. He kind of votes for working people a lot, but yet he’s kind of out there on some of the social issues, and some of the gun issues. I don’t think you can stereotype him by any means,” said Turner, D-Old Hickory, in an interview with reporters last week.

Matheny, R-Tullahoma, has said it sometimes seems the more conservative Republicans are told by leadership in the House to take a back seat to GOP centrists.

Matheny was focused in 2011 on passing legislation banning the use of Sharia law, but the bill was eventually watered down. It’s an issue near and dear to at least some Republicans in the state. Party chapters in a handful of counties allege the governor is promoting Sharia by allowing his administration to hire a Muslim woman in its office of Economic and Community Development.

Turner says he calls Matheny a friend, but points out that Democrats have a good working relationship with sitting Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican who aligns herself as a moderate and the governor’s ally.

Turner stopped short of backing either Harwell or Matheny for the gavel.

“I think an endorsement from me for either one of them will probably kill their chances of being speaker, so I’m not going to get involved in their politics,” he laughed.

The Republican Caucus will elect its choice for the next speaker later this fall, but that vote will have to go to the House floor, where Democrats can voice their say.

Regardless who is selected the next speaker in the Republican-led chamber, Turner suspects the growing volume of conservative voices running for office will make compromising over key pieces of legislation more difficult.

“Some of the new crop that’s coming in are not that reasonable. And they don’t believe in compromise, and they don’t believe in reach across the aisle,” said Turner. Democrats work well with current Republican leadership, he said, although only one of their signature job bills was written into law last year.

“We work with them all the time. We get mad as heck at each other sometimes, but that’s part of the process. And that’s what makes a democracy strong when you have different point of views,” Turner said.

Press Releases

TFA Questions Maggart’s Truthfulness

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 25, 2012: 

Debra Maggart has been running a radio ad claiming that Courtney Rogers has used a “loophole” to avoid disclosing on her campaign disclosures whether she had a bankruptcy discharge within 5 years of the disclosure report. The fact is that Courtney Rogers had a business related bankruptcy 6 years prior to the time that she filed the report. The fact is that many of a military veterans and small business owners after September 11 2001 found themselves having to file bankruptcy. The fact is – even for most of those in pre-K – that 6 is a number that is not equal to or less than 5.

Debra Maggart is lying about those facts. Perhaps “lying” is too strong for some people. Perhaps she is just too stupid to understand the instructions on the form. Perhaps she thinks she will not get caught by the voters for misleading them. Perhaps, and this one is scary, she has a delusional mental illness that impairs her ability to understand fact from fiction – something like the “insanity plea” that criminals rely upon when they do really heinous things.

Did you hear Steve Gill this morning? He absolutely ripped Maggart for most of his “bonus hour” on his radio show and broke down each of Maggart’s false statements in her ad against Rogers.

From this link, pick the Steve Gill Bonus Hour from July 25 and prepare to get angry with the lies and deception of Debra Maggart.

Listen to the entire clip. If you need some landmarks to replay, click in at about the 14 minute mark. Gill breaks down the Maggart lies in her advertisement by taking statement by statement and phrase by phrase and discussing Maggart’s lies. There is no doubt that Maggart is an unrepentant liar who believes that she can lie to the public and get away with it. Interestingly, Pastor Maury Davis from Cornerstone Church calls in at about this time to comment as well and he is clearly not defending Debra Maggart.

Steve Gill also broke the story this morning that Maggart and House Leadership are pressuring other House Caucus members – all of whom have their own races to run – to “max out” on contributions to Maggart’s campaign so that Maggart can apparently make some very large media purchases. (click at the 20 minute mark). The indicator is that she is trying to raise another $80,000 or more for TV spots.

Steve Gill also raises a very serious question about the rest of the House Republican caucus, Republican leadership – even the Governor. It is important to note that the House Republican caucus SELECTED Maggart as their caucus chair. Certainly, we are not to believe that none of those caucus members knew the truth that is Debra Maggart and her incapacity for truth. So, with the clear evidence that Maggart is lying, how many of these Republican caucus members are coming out and condemning the liar? How many are pledging that they will not support Debra Maggart even if she somehow returns to office? How many are pledging to support Courtney Rogers as the better and more ethical candidate for that office? It appears that NONE of them are doing so. What does that say about those elected officials?

Others in Republican leadership – notably Haslam, Ramsey, Harwell and McCormick have all publicly proclaimed their unwavering support for Debra Maggart’s re-election. Have any of them recanted or demanded that Maggart withdraw the lies and tell the truth – NO, none of them have done so. We did not expect Haslam to do so but what about Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey? Is he so awash in political power that he will side with a known liar rather than stand for the truth? That may sadly be the case. By their knowing association and failure to condemn heinous campaign dishonesty, all of them are co-conspirators in the lies and deception that is Debra Maggart.

Debra Maggart is the target in 2012 but the fact is that the landscape for 2014’s races is not looking a lot like a “whack-a-mole” of liars and those tolerant of liars. The hard part for the next election cycle is going to be selecting the most egregious ones to target in that election cycle and raising once again the grassroots frustration to get it done.

Right now, however, the task is clear. If you have not donated time and money to the battle to elect Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers and to defeat a willing liar like Debra Maggart – you need to do so.

We must demand the capacity of truthfulness from our elected officials. We must remove those who have a proven record of lying to the public. We must demand constitutional leadership from all elected officials including those in state and local leadership.

Many TFA members have already driven from as far as Memphis to come work “on the ground” to knock doors and speak with local voters. Saturday July 28 is the last Saturday before the primary. This is a call to action for all TFA members and supporters to come and spend a day, even a few hours if that is all you have, to help this citizen patriot veteran candidate prevail in this battle to defeat Debra Maggart.

Plan to meet in Goodlettsville on Saturday July 28th for a pre-election sign waving day. Wear your TFA shirts and hats. If you do not have them, we should have some available that morning. Bring water and other items for a few hours as a volunteer.

There will be a group, probably being directed by Mike Rogers, in the parking lot at “Big K” at 230 Long Hollow Pike, Goodlettsville, Tennessee that will be organizing the volunteers that morning. Arrive as early as possible but any time between 9:00am and 1:00pm to get location assignments, signs and push cards. You will be assigned to an intersection or other location from that point. You may be assigned to work by knocking doors and bring the good news that there is a strong alternative to the liar known as Maggart. People is Sumner County want and need an alternative and all that needs to be done is to make that introduction in many instances.

Please RSVP to johnharris AT so that we can advise the campaign how many 2nd Amendment supporters to expect this Saturday.

Business and Economy Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Ramsey May Go His Own Way on Guns-in-Lots

As gun advocates continue dropping political bombs on legislative incumbents this election season, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he’s beginning to think legislative leaders and lawmakers may not be of “a mood” to expand gun laws next year.

At least, not with the help of gun rights groups.

Between the National Rifle Association launching an expensive political war with a top House Republican and the Tennessee Firearms Association firing criticism all over the party’s leadership, Republicans have lately felt themselves unfairly targeted. Ramsey said Thursday those attacks may sour leadership’s plans to consider allowing gun owners to keep their weapons locked in their car while at work, or cause leaders to sideline state and national gun groups from helping hammer out a bill.

“I don’t know what the mood of the General Assembly will be when we come back in, whether it will be a mood to pass a bill or whether it will be a mood that you don’t negotiate with people that threaten you. I don’t know where we’ll be,” Ramsey told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, adding it’s “pretty obvious” guns groups are trying to bully lawmakers.

However, John Harris, Tennessee Firearms Association executive director and a vocal critic of GOP leadership, said actions that may appear like bullying to a politician could more appropriately be described as an effort to add accountability into the political mix.

Statehouse GOP leaders have adopted an attitude of “We’re the rulers, and we’re the ones who make the decisions, and you don’t tell us what to do,” said Harris.

“That’s not being a representative of the people who voted for you,” he said. “If their mentality is, ‘Play with us on our terms or we’re not going to deal with your issues,’ then our response as a grassroots organization is, ‘We’re going to go in your district and find someone who will beat you in the primary or beat you in the general election.'”

That’s exactly what’s being attempted by gun-rights advocates in Sumner County, where the National Rifle Association has poured more than $75,000 into an effort to unseat Rep. Debra Maggart, the House GOP Caucus leader they blame for holding up the so-called “guns in parking lots” bill. They are supporting challenger Courtney Rogers, a former Tea Party organizer and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, in the Aug. 2 GOP primary.

The guns-in-lots issue divided the Republican party this year as they had to choose between two key constituencies: Second Amendment advocates who want the tools to protect themselves and business leaders who say they have a right to ban guns from their property. Firearm advocates eventually agreed to compromise by narrowing the bill to only handgun permit holders, but Republicans stopped the bill just short of a House floor vote.

Ramsey contends the issue is “not about the Second Amendment,” but rather the right of employers to set workplace rules.

“The Second Amendment protects us from the government, from the government taking away our firearms,” said Ramsey. “This is a contract between two people. We’re talking about landowner and an employee.”

Guns-in-lots legislation supporters contend that the property-rights argument cuts both ways, given that an employee’s personal vehicle is involved and the employers are in essence demanding the authority to dictate what’s transported to and from work inside them. Harris said the real issue is essentially one of state-sanctioned discrimination against a certain class of otherwise law-abiding citizens exercising a constitutional right.

“If the employee owns the car, they have a right to have whatever they can legally transport in the car, and the employer shouldn’t have a say in there,” said Harris.

Ramsey, who has delighted in the support of gun-rights enthusiasts in the past, said he’s now grown weary of the TFA and NRA. The lieutenant governor — who like leaders in the House intervened to ensure no vote would be taken on the matter on the chamber floor — said he may try to hammer out a related piece of legislation next session with or without support from gun groups.

He said the bill could include employees putting a copy of their handgun carry permit on file with their employer. Ramsey said he would also like to include language that reiterates that handgun-carry permit holders must have taken a gun safety course, submitted to background checks and allowed the government to keep their fingerprints on file, he said.

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Dem Leader Forecasts Partisan Fireworks Over Education Again in 2013

Even though Republicans are lately focused primarily on the federal health care ruling, a top House Democrat expects education will again emerge as the most contentious political issue in next year’s Tennessee Legislature.

Debate about college tuition, charter-school expansion and school choice will be among the hottest of hot-button issues come dead of winter 2013, minority-party caucus chairman Mike Turner predicted this week during a conversation with reporters in Nashville.

And Turner doesn’t seem particularly optimistic his party will fare any better getting its way and protecting its interests than has proven the case in the last two years. During the 2011-2012 Tennessee General Assembly, Democrats failed to successfully defend one of their dearest and most loyal constituencies, unionized teachers, from landmark legislative defeats at the hands of a politically aggressive GOP bent on removing the Tennessee Education Association as an obstacle to majority-party education reforms.

“I don’t think next year is going to get any easier,” Turner said. “They may be better at what they’re doing. Governing is new to them, being in the majority is new to them. God help us all if they get their feet underneath them before we get it back.”

He added, “I think education next year will be a big fight again.”

Gov. Bill Haslam has said his next big issue is indeed higher education. Haslam has said he wants the state to re-evaluate the system’s costs, boost the number of graduates and better weave degrees with Tennessee employers’ needs.

On that particular education issue, and likely few others, Turner hinted that Democrats and Republicans might be able to find some common ground trying to determine how to diminish bloated, upper-level bureaucratic dead weight in the state’s university system.

“Higher ed has got to learn that we are in difficult times. When they cut, they just tend to cut the bottom,” said Turner, a firefighter from Old Hickory who isn’t facing a re-election opponent this year. “They’ve still got their 19 vice presidents and their department heads and above them they’ve got chancellors, and I don’t think they live in the real world up there. If the United States can have one vice president, I’m not sure UT needs 19.”

Such concerns are in fact presently on the minds of some of those attending government-funded colleges. Recently, students at the University of Tennessee launched an online petition drive in Knoxville to protest a $22,000 raise for its chancellor at a time when student tuition is expected to jump an average of $289 per semester.

Nevertheless, Turner characterized the pending evaluation of the costs of higher education as something of “a crisis coming” for college-bound students of low-to-moderate means.

Turner expects the Republican-led Legislature to take another shot at raising the bar on awarding the state-funded Hope Scholarship. Students now need either a score of 21 on the ACT or a 3.0 grade point average.

Haslam last year slid school choice issues to the back burner, asking a panel to study the implications of allowing parents to send their children to private, charter or other public schools outside their local area using a voucher program. The panel is expected to report its findings to the governor this fall.

“I think vouchers will be in play, big time this time,” said Turner. “I think they’re going to push them hard.”

Turner also anticipates a GOP-led push to expand charter schools, which he predicts “will ultimately lead to private re-segregation of the schools.”

Haslam began his first few months in office working to lift the cap on the number of charter schools that can open statewide.

Press Releases

TFA: GOP Needs to Make TN ‘Citizen Friendly,’ Focus Less on ‘Big Business’

Statement from the Tennessee Firearms Association; May 7, 2012: 

News Reports Indicating Tennessee Republican Legislature being “Big Business” First Confirms Concerns of TFA

As news reports start to surface that the Tennessee Republican controlled Legislature passes legislation that is oriented toward big business and passed little if any laws to restore or strengthen the constitutional rights of citizens, we see confirmation of what TFA has been concerned with for the last 2 years.  The Republican leadership in the General Assembly has taken constitutional issues and core constitutional interest groups for granted and is instead pandering to Big Business primarily for money.

Why money?  Several reasons.  First, big businesses cannot vote.  They can however “invest” money in campaigns and into the businesses of legislators (for those who have careers or jobs).  Small business owners can vote but they do not have a lot of “political” money  or slush funds.

Second, when legislators pass legislation that companies like FedEx, AT&T, Bridgestone, Nissan, Volkswagon and Amazon demand, then the legislators claim that the legislation is about “jobs, jobs, jobs” which is code talk for pro-Big Business and cheap labor.  Almost none of the “business” legislation helps small businesses, family farms or people who work for themselves or small family businesses.

The Knoxville news posted this article on Monday discussing how the Republican controlled legislature turned its back on citizens and the constitution and spent its time on Big Business legislative items:

Actions of the 107th General Assembly, recently adjourned, establish that businesses generally have reached a new peak of political power in our state.

Probably the most prominent illustration came when the business lobby locked horns with the Second Amendment lobby over whether employees should be able to keep guns in their locked cars in the company parking lot, even if the company prohibits firearms on premises.

The “Safe Commute Act,” as the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association called it, was the subject of a vigorous and intense push – including a TFA threat to politically crucify those voting no. The business lobby pushed back with less rhetorical bombast but equal vigor.

Maybe the whole thing – pitting individual gun rights against business property rights — was largely symbolic. But legislators took it seriously and business won.

Beyond the symbolic, examples abound of legislators in the Republican majority making Tennessee, already rated at the top of business-friendly lists, even more business friendly.

A sampler:

– Complaints about unwarranted collection of unemployment benefits led to the Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012, which creates stricter rules for qualifying, requires more verification that recipients are looking for work, makes recipients subject to random enforcement audits, makes those getting severance pay ineligible for unemployment checks while the severance is still being paid, and requires recipients to take jobs at lower pay than their lost job. (SB3658)

– The inheritance tax was repealed, providing substantial savings for those who want to pass their business on to heirs. The exemption level, now covering estates valued up to $1 million, will be raised in steps between now and 2015. (HB3760)

– Having enacted a major tort reform bill last year by limiting noneconomic damages in successful lawsuits, legislators followed up this year with lesser measures with a similar goal. Perhaps most notable is a bill that requires the person filing a lawsuit to pay the defendant’s attorney fees up to $10,000 if the lawsuit is ruled groundless by a judge on a motion to dismiss. (HB3124)

– The state’s FastTrack support of new and expanding businesses will now include $80 million of direct cash grants in addition to previous incentives to cover infrastructure improvements, job training or tax credits. (HB2344)

– Bills that could be characterized as a tax increase were shot down. Examples include the proposed repeal of a property tax break now enjoyed by solar installations (HB3296), deemed too broad by the state comptroller’s office, and a bill that could have increased local government collections of hotel-motel taxes (HB3319).

– While legislators in the past have approved multiple mandates requiring health insurance to cover various things (hearing aids for children last year), this year no such efforts were successful. An example was legislation that would have required insurance companies to pay for orally administered anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs. That bill was defeated despite an appeal by Republican Rep. Curry Todd, who revealed that he suffers from cancer. (HB1087)

– State departments and agencies would give more advance notice — at least 45 days — to those holding state professional licenses, certifications or registrations that would be impacted by any pending fee increases or regulation changes. (HB3688)

– The “Tennessee Works Act” makes companies eligible for state grants (largely using federal money) for training of previously unemployed workers they hire. (SB2129)

One is hard pressed to find legislation approved in this year’s session that could be deemed as unfriendly to businesses.

A possible example, at least for some big companies, is a bill that requires advance approval from the Department of Revenue when claiming deductions from the state excise tax for payments made to affiliated companies. (SB2234).

The department estimates the measure, which was part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative package, will translate into $12.5 million in increased revenue. That’s based on the proposition that companies will be deterred from even trying to take debatable deductions and, if they try, will be turned down in many cases.

As things stand now, Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts told a Senate committee, that about 100 companies are “in various stages of audits” to determine whether deductions previously claimed are appropriate.

Of course, the commissioner also saw the bill as business friendly. The companies will now know on the front end whether their deductions pass muster, he reasons, and thus avoid the hassle of an audit.

And, to paraphrase Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s comments on businesses fighting the gun bills, if that’s the biggest worry businesses have in Tennessee’s Legislature, business people are very fortunate folks indeed.

Certainly, Tennessee’s Republican leaders can claim Tennessee is “business friendly”.  That is not the question.

The question is whether Tennessee is “citizen friendly” under the control of the Republican leadership.  One must seriously consider that question as we see in the last few years the infringement of the citizens’ right of self defense, the citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, the citizens’ right to a trial by jury as to all factual issues (which includes damages),  the attack on citizens’ access to the courts through the chilling adoption of progressively liberal  ‘English Rule’ when “loser pays” in civil actions, medical malpractice reform designed to discourage attorneys from brining smaller but justifiable cases, reductions in workers compensation benefits, reductions in unemployment benefits, and the list goes on.

The evidence suggests that whenever an issue arises that involves “Big Business” then the money bet for the gambler is on “Big Business” to win the legislative battle because the trend is that Big Business always wins even if the opposition is the Constitution or the fundamental rights if citizens.

Health Care News NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Rep. Curry Todd Says He Has Cancer

A state lawmaker who has repeatedly attracted national attention announced to a legislative committee Tuesday he has an incurable form of cancer.

Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, revealed his condition during a House Commerce Committee meeting Tuesday while arguing for HB1087, a proposal requiring insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy treatments.

“This is not about me. This is about helping those other cancer patients out there, and that’s what I’m about,” he told reporters in a press conference, saying he has known about his disease for four years and added it is incurable. He said he does not yet require treatment for his cancer, specifically called macroglobulinemia.

Todd said he announced his condition, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in an effort to help people would would benefit from the bill if it were to become law. The measure is getting pushback from the insurance industry, which sees the measure as a government mandate. The measure will get picked up again in the committee Tuesday, April 10.

The representative found himself in the national spotlight repeatedly over the last few years, most recently for his DUI arrest in Nashville last October, which also included charges of possession of a gun while intoxicated and refusing a Breathalyzer test. Todd was the sponsor of legislation years before to allow gun carry permit holders to bring their guns with them into bars so long as they abstained from drinking.

Todd also drew attention to himself in 2010 when he likened pregnant women in the country illegally to “rats.”

The representative declined to comment on how his condition would affect his pending DUI charge in court, saying the question was “inappropriate.” He said he planned to seek reelection.


Press Releases

TFA Alarmed by Medical Providers Inquiring About Gun Ownership

Press Release from Tennessee Firearms Association Legislative Action Committee; Jan. 19, 2012:

Medical Database Being Developed of Households with Guns?

Government laws increasingly require health care providers to computerize and standard patient records. It is foreseeable that over reaching laws like Obamacare, and other government health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tenncare, and even local and state provided “public health” programs, etc., will be computerizing, standardizing and sharing patient records. For some, this seems to be a good idea.

However, was it inadvertent or intended that some medical care providers, including those who are developing patient records for government health care services, are commonly asking patients and parents of patients if there are “guns in the home.” Really? Is that even remotely relevant to an OB appointment, to having your blood pressure checked, to getting an annual physical or a well baby visit? What part of medical history, diagnosis or treatment needs to know whether there are “guns in the home.” None.

It really does not matter what fabricated excuse or concotion of lies that advocates for medical professionals asking about “guns in the home” may present, the information has no medical necessity and, as a result of electronic record keeping, can too easily be gleaned to created a governmetn database of households with firearms.

State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R.) has heard complaints from constituents and has taken action. On January 19, 2012, he introduced House Bill 2672 which has also been sponsored in the Senate by Stacey Campfield. The bill has 2 primary components.First, it provides that

No health care provider licensed under title 63, or health care facility licensed under this title shall make a written or verbal inquiry to a patient or a patient’s family member as to whether the patient or the family member owns, possesses or stores a firearm or ammunition unless the practitioner in good faith believes that the inquiry is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or to the safety of others.

The second component of the bill provides that:

No company or agent issuing any type of insurance policy shall deny coverage, increase any premium, or discriminate against any insured or applicant for insurance on the basis of or upon reliance on an insured or applicant’s lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition or the lawful use or storage of a firearm or ammunition.

Each of these categories of events are real concerns for Tennessee’s Firearms Owners.

Although the bill is not even 24 hours old, it is reported that lobbyists for the medical interests are already hard at work to kill this legislation. It is also reported that there may be many co-sponsors already on the bill.

Its time to take action. As other Alerts have already indicated, there is pressure coming primarily from House leadership (Speaker Harwell) to discourage any 2nd Amendment legislation. When we see legislators such as Faison and Campfield moving forward with 2nd Amendment legislation in this environment then it is a NECESSITY that the citizens and voters who support these bills and the efforts to protect and defend the rights of citizens lend aid and assistance to support them.

Call your Representatives and Senators (look them up, their phones, addresses and emails at the links) and urge them to co-sponsor these bills and help push them to the respective floors for a full, recorded vote. Help the stand against those who seek to continue this kind of abuse and the risk that electronic medical records can be used to collect data which might be culled to generate a database of gun owner households.

Act now.