Categories
Education Featured NewsTracker

Facing Uncertain Floor Vote, Campfield Pulls TANF Bill

It’s back to the lab this summer for lightning-rod state Sen. Stacey Campfield and his contentious welfare-for-grades bill.

The Knoxville Republican faced hecklers with signs as well as singing children and clergy gathered outside the state Senate chamber Thursday, there to show opposition to Campfield’s Senate Bill 132.

The atmosphere inside the upper chamber was more subdued, but Campfield still received pushback from lawmakers, including several GOP senators, who said they could not get behind the bill in current form. Apparently recognizing that the measure could go down if brought to a vote, Campfield instead asked the chamber to send it back to committee for special study during the assembly’s summer recess.

The legislation, sponsored on the House side by Savannah Republican Vance Dennis, would withhold up to a third of a parent’s state cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program if their child failed to meet grade-level requirements. Benefits would be reinstated if a parent took one of a handful of different actions including attending parenting classes, participating in two parent-teacher conferences in the year or enrolling their student in tutoring.

According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, roughly 53,000 families receive TANF benefits, with a mother and two children getting an average of $185 per month.

Critics, including many Democrats in the state Legislature, argue that the bill unfairly targets poor families and places an undue burden on students. But during floor discussion on the bill, Campfield stressed that TANF benefits are already contingent upon recipients maintaining a “personal responsibility plan” that includes work or school attendance. Campfield said his plan would help encourage parental involvement but wouldn’t create any new, burdensome requirements.

“I think we can all agree that the top ticket to break the chair of poverty is education,” Campfield told fellow lawmakers. “Linking benefits to a parent doing some absolutely minimal things to help in their child’s performance in school is showing incredible results in over 40 countries. What my bill will do, as amended, is put some absolute minimum responsibilities on the parents to be involved in their child’s education.”

“The goal is to encourage parents to do what they should already be doing,” he continued. “These aren’t high bars.”

A handful of lawmakers rose to back the legislation including Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who said the plan wasn’t punishment for low-income parents. It is rather a form of “discipline,” said the former special education teacher, and it “may be painful for a small season but it yields a good fruit, and the fruit of discipline will be the personal responsibility of breaking that cycle of poverty and allowing those children to know that the parent is involved and does care.”

But a number of other Republicans were not convinced.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville told Campfield the legislation made him “queasy.”He added, “You can say withholding the money from the parents doesn’t harm the child but you’re fooling yourself.”

Todd Gardenhire was even more blunt, telling the chamber ““You can’t legislate parental responsibility, I don’t care what you do.” The Chattanooga Republican also raised concerns about unintended consequences of the bill that could directly impact children.

“That kid is going to come home and his parent or the boyfriend of the mother is gonna beat the dog doo doo out of him when he gets home for taking away their 20 bucks, and that’s just what’s gonna happen,” Gardenhire said, referring to the potential lost cash benefits.

Norris and Gardenhire were joined by Republicans Ken Yager of Harriman, Doug Overbey of Maryville, Becky Duncan Massey of Knoxville, Mark Green of Clarksville and Steven Dickerson of Nashville, all of whom commended Campfield for attempting to take on an important issue, but who said they would vote no if the bill came to a vote.

Thanking his colleagues for their input, Campfield suggested that he would like to return with a resolution to refer the measure to the appropriate committees for further consideration.

While “summer study” can often imply that a bill is being sent out to pasture, never to be seen again, an ad hoc panel formed from members of the Senate’s Education and Health & Welfare committees has been specifically suggested as a discussion venue for hashing out a policy compromise before the measure is brought back up next year.

For his part, Campfield appeared confident, telling reporters after the floor session “I think it’s a first big step, a lot of positive feedback actually. I like to think there’s enough to hopefully move us forward in a good direction over the summer.”

Categories
Education NewsTracker

Campfield Not Backing Down on TANF Bill

State Sen. Stacey Campfield says he’s moving forward with a controversial bill that would tie some state benefits for poor families to their children’s school performance, despite objections raised by Gov. Bill Haslam.

The Knoxville Republican lawmaker told TNReport that he plans to bring Senate Bill 132 up in the Senate floor Thursday, saying he isn’t convinced by what the Haslam administration called “philosophical” concerns about the legislation.

“I’m waiting to hear their legitimate objections,” Campfield said. “I talked to the governor about it and really he just said it sends a bad message but, you know, sometimes we have to think about the future generations instead of the immediate political ramifications. What’s been portrayed a lot of times about this legislation sure may sound bad in the media, but the reality of the bill is that it helps kids get out of poverty.”

Campfield’s measure, carried on the House side by Savannah Republican Vance Dennis, would lower the amount of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families payments by up to 30 percent if a child fails to pass to the next grade. Parents could prevent the reductions by attending two parent-teacher conferences during the school year, taking an eight-hour parenting class or enrolling their child in a tutoring program or summer school.

The bill’s sponsors argue that it will encourage parental involvement in students’ academic progress. But the governor, himself a Republican, has said that he’s not sure cutting benefits is the right way to address the issue.

“My concern has been (that) whenever we want to have a cause-and-effect, we want to make certain that there really is a direct link there in the relationship,” Haslam told reporters Monday. “I think that there are too many other reasons that could cause a child to struggle in school beyond just a parent’s lack of involvement. Parents’ involvement is a key, and we all think that. And we’re all working hard to have more parental involvement in children’s education. But to have that direct link there, when there are so many other factors, is worrisome to me.”

The proposal has also sparked much harsher criticism, especially from Democratic legislators, and even earned a bit of national television mockery on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus has dubbed the plan the “Starve the Children Bill” and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory called it “bigotry” during a press event Tuesday.

A spokeswoman with the Tennessee Department of Human Services told the House Government Operations Committee during a discussion on the bill April 9 that about 53,000 families in the state receive TANF payments. The maximum benefit for a single mother with two children is $185 per month.

During the same meeting, Memphis Democrat Johnnie Turner compared that monthly benefit figure to the $173 Tennessee lawmakers make as a “per diem,” arguing that legislators might not fully appreciate how much of an impact the money has for the state’s poorest families.

“Why would we only penalize the poorest—$185? That’s how much we make a day,” Turner said. “Do these parents care about their children? Yes. Do they want them to get a better education than they did? Yes. But there are circumstances that they cannot overcome…They love their kids, they’re doing the best that they can, so we’re going to penalize the child, ultimately who is the victim.”

The Government Operations Committee ultimately voted 8-4 along partisan lines to give the legislation a positive recommendation. The House version is next set to be considered by the lower chamber’s Finance, Ways & Means committee.

Gov. Haslam has suggested that, should the measure pass both chambers, it might be a candidate for veto.

Amelia Morrison Hipps and Mark Todd Engler contributed to this story

Categories
Press Releases

Tracy, Weaver File Bill to ‘Curb Abuse’ of EBT Benefits Program

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 29, 2013:

(NASHVILLE) — State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) have filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to curb abuse of purchases made through Electronic Benefit Transaction (EBT) cards used by recipients of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Senate Bill 244 prohibits use of a welfare recipient’s EBT card in establishments that primarily sell tobacco products, tattoo facilities, psychic services, adult cabarets, and any establishment open to the public where liquor, wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages are served for consumption on the premises.

“It is outrageous that these benefit cards, which are meant to help feed families with children in times of desperate need, are reported to have been misused for everything from theatre tickets and a tour of Graceland, to the purchase of alcohol and nightclub entertainment,” said Senator Tracy. “Tennessee law should make it perfectly clear that we will not tolerate this fraudulent use of taxpayer money.”

The legislation comes after a report was released last summer by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, which uncovered numerous examples of abuse by welfare recipients. According to the report, EBT cards were swiped at liquor stores, nightclubs, malls, retail outlets, and adult entertainment establishments, as well as for a hotel stay and UPS services, among others. The Center reported one transaction at a liquor store totaling $790.

“This money is supposed to be used to feed children in struggling families, providing them with essentials until the family gets back on their feet,” added Rep. Weaver. “We need to put some teeth in our law to ensure that this abuse does not happen again.”

Under the bill, welfare recipients who use EBT benefits for alcohol, tobacco or a lottery ticket would be subject to disqualification from the program. The legislation also prescribes civil penalties to businesses that sell those products and accept EBT benefits as payment in violation of the law. The fine for a violation by the seller would be $100 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation within five years, and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation within five years.

In addition, the legislation calls for welfare recipients who purchasing items or services banned under the proposed act to reimburse the state for the illegal purchase.

“Many taxpayers struggle to make ends meet and to pay their taxes,” added Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen. “The selfish misuse of the welfare system undermines those who truly need and utilize temporary assistance lawfully and causes widespread public distrust in government services. Taxpayers should not tolerate it.”

Categories
Education Featured NewsTracker

Campfield Bill Would Link Student Attendance, Performance to Gov’t Benefits for Parents

Saying his intention is to try a new way to “break the cycle of poverty,” Knoxville Sen. Stacey Campfield has introduced sure-to-be-controversial legislation tying a low-income child’s educational progress to the aid his or her parents receive from the state.

A member of the Senate Education Committee, Campfield told TNReport.com recently that his aim is to place “more accountability on people who are on government benefits.”

Senate Bill 132 would establish mechanisms for reducing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families payments for TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school. According to the Tennessee Legislature’s website, the bill doesn’t yet have a House sponsor.

“Right now, the only top ticket out is education for people in poverty,” said Campfield, a Republican who served three terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives before winning his state Senate seat in 2010. “And what we have a lot of times are people in poverty who don’t care if their kids graduate, go to school or not.”

Campfield noted that state government has over the past couple years shouldered teachers with more responsibility for ensuring Tennessee’s public school children show marked improvement. Parents of under-performing kids need to share the load, he said. “We have to have parents who say it’s important that my kid goes to school,” said Campfield.

Last year the Legislature nearly unanimously passed a bill that established a pilot program geared toward encouraging greater parental involvement in a student’s academics, particularly in poorly performing schools.  Sponsored by Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, and Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, the legislation launched a system for parents of young children in the state’s worst schools to grade themselves on the direction and discipline the child gets at home.

In Campfield’s view, more can be done. In particular, parents on welfare need to be on the hook for kids who chronically play hookey, he said. If a child misses a lot of days, doesn’t take classwork seriously or quits school all together, “then it should come back on the parents.”

“There has to be some accountability,” Campfield said. “We’re not going to keep paying for you to have kids who are quitting school and repeating the cycle of poverty generation after generation.” He said it is not acceptable for children to say, “‘Well, my parents never graduated and they’re doing OK, so why should I graduate?’

“We’ve just got to break that,” said Campfield.

Amelia Hipps and Mark Engler contributed to this report.

TNReport.com is a nonprofit news service supported by generous donors like you!

Categories
Business and Economy NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Watchdog Group’s EBT Abuse Probe Appears to Spark Bipartisan Support for Reform

Gov. Bill Haslam says the state should consider tightening rules for where welfare recipients can use their taxpayer-funded benefits.

“One of the questions people always have about benefits is, are they being used in the right way? I think, obviously, that’s part of our responsibility,” Haslam told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

A recent report from the investigative arm of The Beacon Center found that some people benefiting from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program were using their allowances at venues including a strip club, bar, tobacco shop, high-end clothing stores and Graceland.

The free-market think tank reviewed thousands of transactions using electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards, which work like debit cards. The investigation examined usage in MemphisChattanooga and Knoxville.

Unlike other programs for the needy that are restricted to food products, TANF benefits, as much as $500 per month, can be used in whatever way the beneficiary sees fit.

Haslam said he knew nothing about the reported use of EBT cards but said he would inquire as to whether there is something the state can do to restrict where funds are accessed.

Top House Democrat Craig Fitzhugh agreed that the state may need to tighten the reins on how those dollars are used, although he said the state should stick using the EBT cards because they’re safer than using paper checks.

“I don’t have any problem with tightening those regulations up so the few don’t abuse,” Fitzhugh said. “It certainly gives the whole a bad name.”

Categories
Press Releases

Beacon Center: August 2012 Policy Snapshot

Newsletter from the Beacon Center of Tennessee; August 30, 2012: 

Happy Capital Day?

Have you ever wondered why we have a special holiday to celebrate labor but not the capital creation that makes labor possible? From the Foundation for Economic Education’s Lawrence Reed: “[T]his year on Labor Day weekend, I’ll also be thinking about the remarkable achievements of inventors of labor-saving devices, the risk-taking venture capitalists who put their own money (not your tax money) on the line and the fact that nobody in America has to dig a ditch with a spoon or cut his lawn with a knife…Labor Day and Capital Day. I know of no good reason why we should have just one and not the other.” Read his entire article here.

TN Watchdog attracts national attention

Last month, Chris Butler, our director of government accountability and editor of Tennessee Watchdog, published an attention-grabbing story about how Memphis welfare recipients were using their taxpayer money to make purchases in liquor stores and buy tickets to tour Graceland. Television stations as far away as San Francisco covered the story, and radio shows from Ohio to New Hampshire picked it up as well. Even the national Washington Examiner made mention of our story, which you can read here. For the original investigative report, visit TennesseeWatchdog.org.

School choice debate heating up

The Beacon Center has made enacting a school choice program a top priority for the 2013 legislative session of the General Assembly. But we’re not waiting on lawmakers to return to Nashville to start the discussion. As Channel 4 News notes in an interview with Beacon CEO Justin Owen, the governor has appointed a task force to study the matter, which will report to him this November. It is widely expected that this will be the hottest topic next session, and Beacon will play a crucial role educating our fellow Tennesseans about the benefits of school choice. Watch the Channel 4 News interview here.

Car bailouts, bank bailouts…state bailouts?

The federal government has gone on a bailout spree, giving banks and car companies a handout. Could some states be next? In an op-ed that appeared in the Tennessean earlier this week, Beacon CEO Justin Owen joined the Illinois Policy Institute’s Ted Dabrowski in warning against a federal bailout of the states. Owen and Dabrowski explain why this would be devastating for Tennessee taxpayers and call on Congress to swiftly refuse any bailout of irresponsible states. Read the entire article at BeaconTN.org.

 

Categories
Press Releases

Beacon Center: TN Policy Snapshot

Newsletter from the Beacon Center of Tennessee; July 31, 2012: 

Elvis, liquor, and your tax dollars

What do these three things have in common? For one, Tennessee’s welfare program. Our intrepid investigative reporter, Chris Butler, recently dug through nearly 140,000 transactions by Memphis welfare recipients using their cash benefits in the form of Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT cards. Among the purchases with no government oversight included transactions at liquor stores (one totaling $790), Greyhound bus tickets, Orpheum Theater concert tickets, and a tour of Graceland. Where else did they spend your money? Read the entire article at TennesseeWatchdog.org to find out.

Beacon calls for state-led welfare reform

As a result of Butler’s hard-hitting report, WMC-TV Channel 5 in Memphis ran an exclusive on his findings. As the station noted, Beacon is calling on state lawmakers to pass a law prohibiting the use of EBT cards to purchase alcohol and other non-essential items, and is also pushing for more state oversight of the welfare program. Beacon is further urging lawmakers to rebuff President Obama’s recent attempt to nix the work requirement in the existing welfare law. Watch the Channel 5 story, which details Beacon’s findings and our solution to the problem, at this link.

Taxi regs harm consumers, cost jobs

After it was discovered that bureaucrats with the Metro Nashville Transportation Licensing Commission were posing as police officers and targeting smaller limo and sedan companies, the commission has come under much scrutiny. In a recent article appearing in the Tennessean, Beacon research associate Steven Strausbaugh explains how the commission’s regulations are bad for consumers and for job creation in the Music City. Strausbuaugh calls for the elimination of the commission and a return to free market principles in the transportation business. Read more here.

Government gets into the airport business

Tennessee Watchdog has been hot on the trail of the situation at the Chattanooga Airport, where the government is funding a competitor to TacAir, a fixed base of operations that provides fuel and other services at the airport. Now, as Tennessee Watchdog’s Chris Butler explains, the issue has caught the attention of a national aviation group. The National Air Transportation Association has asked Gov. Bill Haslam to investigate why taxpayers are footing such a massive bill to unnecessarily compete against a private FBO. Read Butler’s entire story at TennesseeWatchdog.org.

Categories
Liberty and Justice Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

Subcommittee Passes Drug-Testing Requirement for Gov’t Aid Recipients

Tennesseans applying for welfare would have to submit to, and pay for, drug testing before receiving financial assistance, under legislation slowly advancing in both chambers of the legislature.

After a lengthy debate Tuesday night, on various aspects of the bill, that left members on both sides of the issue visibly irritated, the House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee passed HB2725, sponsored by Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City. The Senate version of the bill, SB2580, sponsored by Knoxville Republican Stacey Campfield, passed the Senate’s health committee last week and is currently awaiting action in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

In an opinion rendered March 20, state Attorney General Robert Cooper said “the Social Security Act, the TennCare waiver and the federal Food Stamp program do not permit a state to condition eligibility on substance abuse testing or consent to such testing.” He also concluded that such suspicionless drug testing constituted an unconstitutional search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

When asked by Chairman Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, how that affected her legislation, Hurley said it did not. The AG was comparing “apples to oranges,” she said, grouping in her bill with legislation from other states that she didn’t consider to be the same. As a result, she said she didn’t consider it to be a “validated opinion.”

Information on similar proposals around the country are summed up here, by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

An amendment adopted in the Senate committee narrowed the measure so that only people convicted of a drug felony or arrested on drug charges in the previous five years would be tested. Hurley initially introduced the amendment to the House committee, but appeared displeased with the change.

When pressed by members for her feelings on the matter, she said only that she “accepted” the amendment. Eventually, Hill asked Hurley directly if she wanted the committee to consider the amendment. Hurley said no and the amendment was withdrawn.

The House committee did adopt an amendment stating that laid-off workers, who took a drug test for their former employer in the previous 45 days, would not have to be tested again and providing protections for children’s assistance, in the event that their parent(s) test positive. Parents can designate a relative or other individual to handle their children’s benefits.

Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, raised the issue of whether or not said designated individual should be tested, as well. When Hurley offered him the chance to propose such an amendment, Armstrong said that if he were making a proposal, it would be to table the bill until next year.

General Counsel for the Department of Human Services, Bill Russell, told the committee the department didn’t have a problem with the “general concept” of the legislation, but couldn’t ignore the AG’s opinion. He also expressed concerned with forcing applicants to pay for the drug test – which he said cost around $26 in Florida when that state passed similar legislation – and the potential cost of litigation, which he said should be expected if the bill becomes law.

A federal judge last year issued a temporary injunction to stop Florida from drug-testing welfare recipients and the law is currently being contested in court.

Russell also said, if applicants test positive, there should be rehabilitation assistance available to them, to get them off drugs and back to work “since that’s the point of the program.” Hurley responded by claiming that the program would create $1 million in savings, which could be used to provide such rehab, if the department wanted to do so. When challenged on that claim by several members of the committee, Hurley repeatedly referred them to the bill’s fiscal note, inviting them to read it for themselves.

The note, provided by the Fiscal Review Committee which estimates a bill’s impact in dollars and cents, states that “the total decrease in recurring state expenditures” as a result of the new welfare eligibility requirement is estimated at $1,280,040. However, the DHS reports that the department has hit the cap for allowable administrative costs. As a result, the note says, “any cost avoidance resulting from this bill would be used to serve [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] eligible clients, resulting in an equal increase in state expenditures, for a net impact of zero on TANF funds.”

The estimated decrease in state expenditures comes from the 2,551 welfare applicants the DHS expects to sanction as a result of failed drug tests. Paul Lefkowitz, family assistance policy director for DHS, told the committee that the department based that estimate off of a CDC study into drug use amongst welfare recipients.

The fiscal note also estimates a cost of $100,000 for litigation resulting from the program, a dollar amount some committee members found dubious, as well.

Democratic House Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said he was concerned with the amount of “unanswered questions” about the bill. He also took issue with the message he said it sends to Tennesseans who are already down on their luck.

“We kind of indicate by doing this, that everyone on food stamps is possibly a drug addict. We put a stigma to it,” he said. “We’re kind of pointing a finger at them. It had to be embarrassing enough for a lot of people to do it. It would be embarrassing for me to go on food stamps if I had to, but I would to feed my family. That’s what concerns me about this bill.”

Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, put the focus on legislators – recipients of public money, themselves – and addressed Hurley directly. She asked the sponsor if she thought the bill was compassionate. When Hurley said she thought the bill was “fair,” Favors responded with a lengthy statement.

“Listen,” she said. “As a mother, a female, as a relative, most of us have had some experience, with relatives and friends, who have been substance abusers. As a compassionate individual and a mother, I would think that most of us would be concerned about interventions and preventions first, rather than initiating and enacting a bill like this. Now there are some of us who exhibit some bizarre behavior as elected officials, but nobody has requested that we undergo drug screening or the same type of psychological exam that police officers undergo.”

She went on, “But I can assure you that some of the behavior that has been exhibited by some of the elected officials in this Tennessee General Assembly do merit having some psychological exam based on my medical background.”

Favors is accurate when it comes to drug testing state legislators and other state workers, for that matter. Despite the push for drug testing of welfare recipients, supported by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, and state programs rewarding business for testing workers, Tennessee state government is not a ‘drug-free workplace.’

Categories
Press Releases

Philip Gordon Named Animal Welfare Director

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Health, March 29, 2010:

New Division Will Enforce Commercial Breeders Act

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Philip Gordon, DVM, has been named director of the newly created Division of Animal Welfare in the Tennessee Department of Health. In this position, he will oversee implementation of the Commercial Breeders Act and lead the department’s efforts to ensure compliance with the new law among Tennessee’s cat and dog breeders.

“Dr. Gordon’s experience in state government and in the private sector has given him tremendous organizational and management skills, and I am pleased he has accepted the challenge of directing this new division,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “His background in animal care and regulatory medicine are an asset to the program and I am confident he will provide solid leadership in his new role.”

As director of the Division of Animal Welfare, Gordon will establish the new program to ensure compliance with the Commercial Breeders Act, which regulates Tennessee’s cat and dog breeders. Passed into law in 2009, the act requires licensure for individuals owning 20 or more unsterilized cats or dogs for the purpose of selling the offspring as companion animals. The law also includes requirements for standards of care, conditions and inspection of premises and completion of an annual report by licensees. Those found to be in violation of the law stand to face disciplinary action and/or civil penalties.

“I am excited about this new opportunity to continue my service to the people of Tennessee and look forward to the challenges of this new position and to working with Commissioner Cooper and the Department of Health,” said Gordon.

Gordon’s responsibilities as Animal Welfare Director include implementation of the licensing program for commercial dog and cat breeders; supervision of field activities of five animal health technicians; coordination of educational outreach to pet breeders and the public about both state and federal laws and inspection procedures; and ensuring applicants meet requirements for licensure as commercial breeders.

Gordon has 35 years of experience as a veterinarian and manager and comes to the Department of Health from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, where he has served as assistant state veterinarian since 2005. In this position, Gordon served as manager for the dog and cat dealer licensing program and had oversight of all state animal disease control programs. Gordon also served as the Animal Health Section contact for emergency management incidents involving animals. He has devoted two terms of service to the Department of Agriculture, from 1992 through 1994 and most recently from 2000 through the present. Gordon has also provided veterinary care services for clinics in Murfreesboro and Pulaski, Tenn. and Madison, Ala., and managed his own veterinary practice in Pulaski from 1975 through 1992.

Gordon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Vanderbilt University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Auburn University. In addition, he has completed numerous training courses provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. He is licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Tennessee, and has held licenses in both Alabama and Mississippi.

To learn more about the Division of Animal Welfare, visit the Department of Health Web site at http://health.state.tn.us/Commercial_Breeders_Act.htm.