Tag Archives: Tennessee

TN Legislators Introduce Bills to Decriminalize Cannabis Oil, Legalize Marijuana

Following news that TN NORML has launched a petition drive to place a referendum on Nashville’s upcoming August mayoral ballot that would allow voters to decide whether to defund enforcement of low-level marijuana arrests for possession of less than two ounces, state-level lawmakers have also introduced two new bills that, if they were to become law, would weaken Tennessee’s ban on pot. According to WATE-TV, State Representative Harold Love (D-Nashville) introduced HB0873, which would legalize possession and the casual exchange of a half ounce of marijuana or less. The bill would also modify Tennessee criminal code by adjusting the penalty for the possession, distribution, or casual exchange of over an ounce of pot to a misdemeanor punished by a $100 fine. A companion version of the bill, SB 1211, has been introduced in the Tennessee Senate by Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville). If it were to pass, the bill would go into effect on July 1 of this year.

From the other side of the aisle, Republican State Representative Jeremy Faison from Cosby, TN introduced a bill last month that would decriminalize the possession and use of cannabis oil for medical purposes. BenSwann.com previously reported on two Tennessee parents who were forced to move to Colorado to obtain cannabis oil treatment for their two-year-old daughter Piper who suffers from Aicardi Syndrome, a seizure disorder. According to WBIR-TV, Faison’s bill would allow individuals suffering from intense seizures to use cannabis oil. State Senator Becky Duncan-Massey (R-Knoxville) has introduced a companion bill in the Tennessee Senate.

Said Faison of the bill, “Cannabis oil has shown evidence to help children who suffer with seizures, and I strongly believe that if the legislature joins me in passing this bill, it will be one of those times that government does get it right.” Faison pointed out the fact that his bill would stop short of legalizing medical marijuana, as it would only allow oils with less than .9% THC content.

Back in September of 2014, Ben Swann released an expose on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana and cannabis oil. Despite the fact that the federal government claims that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs with no medical use, it also holds a patent on medical marijuana. Watch Ben Swann’s Truth in Media episode on medical marijuana in the player below.

TN State Senate Considers Bill to Ban Cops from Using Military Equipment

After a 2014 News Channel 5 investigation determined that officials in Tennessee had been abusing the US Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies, Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate is considering a bill that would ban cops in the state from owning or using military equipment. The bill, SB0039, was introduced by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and states that “no law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for law enforcement purposes.” The Tenth Amendment Center notes that the proposed law would also require all state and local police agencies to sell or destroy their existing inventories of military weapons and equipment before January 1, 2016.

News Channel 5‘s 2014 report noted that small law enforcement agencies, such as the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, which received 5 military-grade weapons for each of its 31 officers, were stockpiling far more weapons than could conceivably be useful in violation of Department of Defense policy. Weapons like M-16s and M-14s fell into the wrong hands after they were stolen from police, and the son of a rural police chief was caught impersonating a police officer while carrying an M-16 that he stole from the 1033 program.

Mike Maharrey at the Tenth Amendment Center described some of the equipment that the bill would ban from use by police if it were to pass, “Banned military weapons include machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, recoilless rifles, and crew-served weapons. The legislation also prohibits ‘military vehicles,’ defined as ‘a tactical armored vehicle obtained pursuant to Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.’ The bill specifically exempts some weapons, including magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled rifles or carbines designed for semiautomatic or automatic fire and grenade launchers adapted for non-lethal rounds.”

SB0039 was introduced by Senator Kelsey on January 14 and currently awaits a committee assignment.

The Tennessee Senate’s bill comes at a time when politicos across the nation debate the militarization of law enforcement agencies, as many Americans were recently shocked by news footage of heavily-armored police in places like Ferguson, MO and Berkeley, CA engaging in military-style crackdowns on police brutality protesters who were angry over the officer-involved deaths of unarmed suspects Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Ben Swann recently released a Truth in Media episode looking into the root of police militarization. Watch his expose on the subject in the player, embedded below.

New legislation could erase Common Core standards

As more and more states begin to reject and propose bills against Common Core standards, new legislation has been released which could cause an end to the controversial education system.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is the new chairman of the Senate’s education committee, and he has released two options to replace the education system. One replacement plan would have standardized requirements for math and reading between grades 3-8, while the other option offers states the choice to test annually or every three years to see how they are performing.

The second option, according to the Times-Picayune, would allow each state to choose which standardized test to administer to their students. Whether or not the state chooses to move forward with the Common Core standards would therefore be left up to the state.

Alexander also took time on Tuesday, while speaking on the House floor, to say he believes President Obama’s Education Department has overstepped its authority. He said he thinks the Education Department should not hold each state to a specific set of standards, but should allow each state to set their own standards. “The department has become, in effect, a national school board,” said Alexander.

While many believe a new proposed education bill is likely to succeed now that Republicans have control of Congress, not everyone is totally convinced it is the right choice.

Andrew Rotherham, one of the founders of the education consultancy Bellwether Education Partners, has said, according to the Washington Post, the point of Common Core was to make sure all children across state-lines were getting an equal opportunity to learn and achieve.

“This is basically a way,” says Rotherham on the legislation, “to make sure we don’t have a common definition. Some kids are going to get a really challenging and ambitious set of standards, and other kids are going to fall through the cracks.”

Tom Loveless, a scholar with the Brookings Institution, found students in states which have a more rigorous academic curriculum do not necessarily perform any better on standardize tests than their peers. Loveless argues the changes should not be made at the state level, rather individual school systems within the state need to be changed.

A study published by the Brookings Institution found, “students from wealthier families score significantly higher on [standardized tests] than students from poorer families,” within the same state.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Education Committee, agrees with Alexander in saying changes are needed in the education system, but says annual testing is needed to make sure schools are meeting some sort of standard.

“We know if we don’t have ways to measure students’ progress, and if we don’t hold our states accountable, the victims will invariably be the kids from poor neighborhoods, children of color and students with disabilities,” said Murray. “These are the students who too often fall through the cracks, and that is not fair…This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple.”

Tennessee Legislator: “It’s time to outlaw red light cameras”

DRESDEN, Tenn., January 8, 2015– State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) says his constituents are sick and tired of being constantly watched by street cameras hoping to make a quick dollar off of them. Holt took to social media to ask voters in his district whether or not they were in favor of the highly controversial cameras.

“If I could single-handedly outlaw every speed camera in the Great State of Tennessee, I would do it without a second thought,” said Holt. “Regardless of political party, the vast majority of folks are 100 percent against them.”

“Speed & red-light cameras are nothing more than a modernized form of speed-trapping. They have very little to do with safety, and everything to do with municipal greed. Apart from being a technically unlawful form of local fundraising off the backs of local citizens, it‘s a poorly contracted scheme since a large portion of the “revenue” is sent elsewhere, outside the State of Tennessee,” Holt continued. 

Holt says that many businesses in his district are concerned due to the fact that motorists are now avoiding streets where the cameras are located which is hurting their bottom line.

“In a depressed economic environment, I believe we should all be aware that money walks. This goes for all policy makers; federal, state & local. When people & businesses are over-regulated, they leave. It may not be the speed cameras that make folks leave, but the mentality of making locals pay for the perceived “needs” of a local government typically creates the urge to vacate. I support these movements if necessary; that’s the basis of liberty & freedom as our founders intended, and Tennessee is currently a beneficiary of these movements from liberal states. We need to ensure that our state does not begin moving in the wrong direction by allowing folks’ rights to be violated so out-of-state businesses can collect revenue,” said Holt.

Holt says he is encouraging city policy makers to dismantle their red-light camera programs, but says he is also considering state-wide legislation to ban them in totality.

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TN GOP Governor Announces Plan to Expand Obamacare

On Monday, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam outlined his plan to expand Obamacare. According to The Tennessean, he has branded the plan Insure Tennessee and dressed it in states’ rights rhetoric, claiming that the plan, which he says qualifies for federal funding under the Affordable Care Act, is an alternative to expanding Medicaid. WATE-TV 6 quoted a press release by Haslam in which he said, “This plan leverages federal dollars to provide health care coverage to more Tennesseans, to give people a choice in their coverage, and to address the cost of health care, better health outcomes and personal responsibility.”

Haslam announced that he would push for the policy in a special legislative session after the 109th General Assembly takes over in January. Tennessee’s legislature features a strong Republican majority.

The Tennessean published an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation which predicts that Insure Tennessee could result in over 160,000 additional Tennesseans qualifying for federal funds under Obamacare. Conservative critics in the state have pointed out the fact that federal funds for the program decline in future years, meaning the cost of the expansion could begin to leak into the state budget. Tennessee already has a state-run healthcare program called TennCare, which has been plagued by administrative failures of late, as thousands of Tennesseans found themselves stuck in a back log of applications earlier this year.

Insure Tennessee would expand the Affordable Care Act to low-income Tennesseans through a program called the Healthy Incentives Plan, which would be serviced through TennCare. Haslam’s health care overhaul would also include a program called the Volunteer Plan which would grant a voucher that qualified participants could use to pay for healthcare plans offered by their employers. It is not yet clear whether Haslam’s program would subject Tennesseans to Obamacare’s individual mandate, as low-income individuals in the state can currently claim an exemption to the mandate due to the state’s non-participation in the health care law’s Medicaid expansion.

Tennessee’s Democratic legislators praised the plan, as did Republican senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Said Corker in comments to The Tennessean, “I’m pleased our state was able to adopt a solution that will build off of the innovative ways we deliver quality health care.”

In Tennessee’s state-level politics, Haslam is widely viewed as an establishment figure within the GOP, along with Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell. Earlier this month, Republican Representative Rick Womick led an unsuccessful conservative challenge against Beth Harwell for speaker. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey told The Tennessean last Thursday, “I think if the governor can truly revamp the way our Medicaid is run and TennCare is run, then I think he may be able to sell that to the legislature.”

Legislator’s open letter to Obama: Welcome to Rocky Top, We’ll See You In Court

DRESDEN, Tenn., December 9, 2014–

President Obama,

Welcome back to Rocky Top. Polls across the State of Tennessee have consistently indicated strong opposition to amnesty; especially unilateral, executive amnesty which you have chosen to force upon an unwilling populace.  While I am sure you will be greeted with a warm welcome at Mayor Dean’s Casa Azafran Center, I want to ensure that the voice of millions of Tennesseans, which your recent executive order will undoubtedly disenfranchise, is heard. This is why I have initiated a lawsuit against your administration, based on this aforementioned unconstitutional action, in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Mr. President, let me be clear: my opposition isn’t necessarily about immigration, and it’s not about party politics. My opposition is deeply rooted in principle and my constant effort to maintain the delicate balance of power; a separation of powers which has served our nation well for many, many years.

You do not have the power to commandeer state resources to fulfill your roughshod and unwelcome plans for immigration. Not even Congress has that power, as the Supreme Court of the United States has made this explicitly clear in more than 180 years of precedent. The most recent Court decision holding this doctrine being the ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius (Obamacare). Here is an excerpt from the majority opinion to refresh your memory:

“For this reason, ‘the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions.’ New York, supra, at 162. Otherwise the two-government system established by the Framers would give way to a system that vests power in one central government, and individual liberty would suffer.”

-But you already knew that.

While many, including myself, maintain that your executive order is illegal, some disagree. After all, “Bush did it!” Let’s say the Court does decide to grant the Executive Branch even more power by upholding your executive action as a constitutionally legitimate power. If your executive order is deemed the law of the land, then such laws are not allowed to mandate state implementation. At that point, based on precedent previously cited, if one dollar of state resources are required to carry out your demands, the anti-commandeering principle gives every state in America the power to render your lawless executive order null and void.

We plan to wage a full scale resistance to your executive action in Tennessee, and I hope that other states will continue to follow suit.

Enjoy your stay, and we soon hope to see you in court soon,

– State Representative Andy Holt (R- Dresden)

Press Release: State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) In Response To President Obama’s December 9, 2014 Visit To Nashville, Tennessee To Discuss Recent Immigration Executive Order

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Tenn. Thanksgiving DUI checkpoint will leave you speechless (VIDEO)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn., December 1, 2014– Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the Murfreesboro Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol set up a DUI checkpoint within the city limits. Camera in hand, three young men face the police head on and capture some astonishing footage. The Murfreesboro Police Department is no stranger to national media. Worldwide headlines were made last Fourth of July weekend when the same police department was filmed antagonizing a driver for “knowing his rights” at a DUI checkpoint. However, this most recent video, shot and published by the same individuals, is exponentially more shocking than the Fourth of July incident.


Happy Thanksgiving.

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BREAKING: Tennessee moves to sue Obama over amnesty

NASHVILLE, November 21, 2014– On Friday, in response to President Obama’s plan to take executive action on illegal immigration reform, two Tennessee legislators are filing a Joint Resolution requesting Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) file a lawsuit against the Obama Administration on behalf of the state.

“Article II of the United States Constitution is explicitly clear on the powers vested within the Executive Branch. President Obama lacks the authority to execute even the slightest change in policy. The Constitution delegates President Obama the power to make suggestions concerning policy and nothing more,” said State Representative Andy Holt (R- Dresden) Thursday night after President Obama delivered a prime-time speech announcing his plan of action. “Anything beyond making suggestions is an illegal usurpation of undelegated power, and we simply cannot allow it to go unchecked.”

The two legislators are citing the commandeering of state resources, which would be required to execute the President’s Executive Order, and the lack of enforcement of deportation statutes as warrant for legal recourse.

“President Obama’s moves are a dangerous and insidious display of blatant abuse of power. Tennesseans will not stand for it, and I am here to demand the integrity of our Constitution and our state is protected,” said State Senator Mae Beavers (R- Mt. Juliet). “As state legislators, we have a constitutional responsibility to ensure our state is not illegally commandeered by the federal government.”

Holt and Beavers cite 180 years of Supreme Court precedent protecting state governments from the federal commandeering of resources.

“Illegally assigning millions of illegal immigrants what equates to pseudo de jure citizenship will cost Tennessee incalculable tax-payer dollars,” said Beavers. “Not even Congress has the power to place this undue burden on Tennessee tax-payers, so it’s unclear why President Obama, acting alone, believes he has the authority to do so. Let me be clear– he doesn’t.”

“The United States Supreme Court has been very clear concerning the commandeering of state resources by means of federal legislation and initiatives through coercion,” said Holt. “For more than 180 years the Court has explicitly repudiated such acts of commandeering in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, New York v. United States, Printz v. United States, and most recently in NFIB v. Sebelius.”

Both legislators believe the need for reform exists, but that it must be delivered by legal means.

“Our immigration system is wrecked, and I doubt anyone denies that. However, we are a nation of laws, not men, and we must work together to resolve these issues while maintaining the integrity of our Republic,” said Holt.

Holt will draft and sponsor the House Resolution, and Beavers will carry it in the Senate. 


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Common Core: Tenn. introduces legislation prompting State to dismantle program

NASHVILLE, November 19, 2014– On Wednesday, according to a press release, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) introduced a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives that seeks to clarify Tennessee’s position on Common Core and dismantle the de facto federal education program.

“A few weeks back, I asked my constituents what issues were most pressing to them. A full repeal of Common Core landed inside the top five. This resolution is a direct response to those calls for action,” says Holt. “Our parents and local school boards know what is best for our children, not federal bureaucrats that have never stepped foot in Tennessee’s 76th House District.”

The resolution commends activists and parents in Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma and North Carolina for successfully fighting off Common Core’s implementation, and parents in other states like Tennessee that are entangled in a battle paralleling that of “David and Goliath”.

“I want to ensure parents and activists in Tennessee know that I hear them loud and clear, and I want them to know how appreciated they are. This is for each and every one of them,” says Holt.

The resolution cites the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) move to repudiate Common Core.

“Even the RNC is coming out strongly against Common Core by encouraging legislators to immediately dismantle the program,” cites Holt.

The resolution (full text below) reads, in part:

“The Tennessee General Assembly, in conjunction with the governor and the department of education, should be the next such state to remove the Common Core standards from implementation.”

Holt is running a petition in order to engage residents inside of his District. 

“So far, in the last three weeks alone, more than 500 people have signed the petition to help us stop Common Core. This is a crucial step in ensuring that Tennessee has official direction with regard to where we stand on Common Core, and I’m going to ensure their voices are a part of this resolution.”

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Rep. Andy Holt: Tennessee Resolution To Dismantle Common Core by BFCLLC

LOTFI: Education commissioner resigns amid Common Core investigation

NASHVILLE, November 17, 2014- Last week, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman resigned his post. Because of Huffman’s ties to the Obama Administration, many Tennesseans were unhappy with his appointment from the start.

“I wish Commissioner Huffman well in his next endeavor, but I am undoubtedly pleased to see him moving on from the Tennessee Department of Education. I think I’ve made it abundantly clear in previous statements, but Commissioner Huffman’s absence does not immediately resolve other issues that have been and are still currently restricting teachers from teaching and our students are suffering the consequences,” says State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). 

Last Summer, 16 Republican legislators called for Huffman’s resignation after performing what many considered to be illegal maneuvers to cover-up Tennessee’s poor Common Core results.

“In the past three years we have required compliance, transparency and excellence from our teachers and school systems. We expect our government officials to set the example and be held to the same level of accountability. We are Tennessee, not Washington DC. Commissioner Huffman has lost the integrity to be able to lead education efforts in our state,” said State Rep. Sheila Butt (R- Columbia) last Summer.

Local media has covered the resignation extensively. However, not a single media source felt it was necessary to report one critical detail. The fact that State Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg) and State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) launched a legal formal investigation into Huffman’s maneuvers has been omitted from every report.

The status of that investigation is unknown.

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VIDEO: Sen. Lamar Alexander literally runs away from GOP voters wanting to ask a question

Bristol, Tennessee, August 3, 2014– U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is currently locked inside the battle of his life. He’s running for a third term in the U.S. Senate, but Alexander’s run has far more riding on it than his own career. In fact, many Tennessee insiders know all too well that Alexander has no plans to actually finish the term– should he win it. Alexander will likely retire so that the Governor and others in leadership can hand pick their very own replacement. After all, politically, Alexander would never survive another election. This will be his last. Rather than go out with a bang, Alexander is simply running away. Literally.

Feeling the heat, Alexander has been purposefully been skipping votes in Washington so State Rep. Joe Carr (R- Lascassas), Alexander’s tea party backed challenger, cannot use his votes against him. That should give outsiders some idea of just how liberal Alexander is. He cannot even vote on a single issue without upsetting Conservatives in his home state.

Local media has criticized Alexander for running away from even his own positions. “When tea party sympathizers say U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has failed to stand up to liberals and Democrats on the things they care about most, they have a point,” writes Scott Stroud of the Tennessean. “Tea partiers aren’t wrong when they slam Alexander for his reluctance to take a stand.”

Last Friday, Lamar Alexander spoke at King College to the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

At the event, a college student representing the Real Conservatives National Committee politely asked Alexander if he would answer a question.

Questioner: “Can I ask you a question?”

Alexander: “Yes.”

Alexander then turned his back and ran back to his table where his staffers shielded him from further questions.

Later, Alexander spoke for ten minutes at the event and took no questions.

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Exclusive: Inside Tennessee’s Common Core cover-up costing taxpayers thousands

NASHVILLE, July 28, 2014– In the Volunteer State, a cover-up is beginning to reveal itself. For the most part, state and local media have been ignoring the low-hanging fruit that is Common Core’s rot. That being said, it’s all starting to fall apart.

“For some, this may be about a hot button issue like Common Core, but for me it is about the much larger picture, which includes a complete breakdown of leadership inside the Tennessee Department of Education,” says Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown).


To many, it may have seemed innocuous enough– In 2011, Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Kevin Huffman to head the Tennessee Department of Education. However, as Common Core began to reveal itself, many conservative state legislators dug into Huffman’s past and were not satisfied to learn that he had been heavily involved in campaigning for Common Core and was an avid supporter of President Obama’s.

Fast forward to March of this year when Republican presidential hopeful, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) met with Haslam and Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) at an ‘invited media only’ (closed to the public) Common Core round table. Those invited media were all education reporters from around the country. The round table’s mission for invited media was simple– Use Republican leaders from around the country to prove that Common Core is a stunning success– Even in Republican states like Tennessee.

Conservative lawmakers were less than impressed with the closed-door meeting. In fact, many protested.

“The tide is beginning to turn against Common Core in Tennessee and it was my hope that Senator Alexander would join conservatives and help us work to defeat it. Instead, it appears Senator Alexander is once again joining with the political establishment, this time fighting to save Common Core,” said Tea Party endorsed Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas), Alexander’s August Republican primary opponent.

The press did the job they were told to do, and reported how Alexander, Bush and Haslam were urging state lawmakers to give up the fight against Common Core. After all, it was such a successful program…


That was all in March. Only a few weeks later, Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores became due. These scores reflect a standardized assessment (now Common Core aligned) required of all 3rd-8th grade Tennessee students.

As it turns out, Common Core has been causing Tennessee students to flunk their assessments.


For context, let’s flash back to this 2013 article on Republican politicians being paid off to support Common Core, “So, who exactly is pushing Common Core in the state of Tennessee? Perhaps one of the largest groups lobbying for Common Core in the state is the Ayers Foundation. Jim and Janet Ayers, founders of the organization, are extremely active in Tennessee politics. The Ayers Foundation is in many ways a political think tank. In 2012 the foundation was given a $1.2 million grant to push Common Core standards into the state of Tennessee. If Common Core is successfully implemented in Tennessee, the Ayers foundation is sure to prosper even more.

You will notice in the addressee list state senator Jim Tracy (R). Tracy is running for US Congress in Tennessee’s 4th congressional district where he lives. This is the same district that is home to the above referenced city of Murfreesboro, TN, which just spent $5.2 million of money that they did not have to push common core standards.

Emails were recently discovered that show Janet Ayers lobbying the Tennessee state legislature to accept and institute Common Core in the state of Tennessee

As it turns out, Jim and Janet Ayers are some of senator Tracy’s largest donors. They both donated the maximum legal amount to Tracy’s campaign just 2 months before this email went out.”

Senator Tracy’s FEC Filings Showing Donations From Ayers Family


As the 2014 school year came to a close, thousands of report cards never showed up. Parents were left scratching their heads. Where are the missing report cards? Well, they couldn’t be assigned without the TCAP scores, and the TCAP scores were being purposefully withheld by Huffman himself.

Instead of having student assessment scores reported, Huffman simply decided to assign thousands of students a waiver this year. However, by withholding the TCAP scores, Huffman knowingly violated Senate Bill 3427 (SB3427), a state law that requires a student’s final grades be composed in a manner that includes 15-25% of their TCAP scores.

Huffman and the Haslam administration now point to a separate new bill (SB2392), which was introduced in January and became law just as students sat for the TCAPs, as warrant for Huffman throwing out the scores. According to the Haslam administration, Huffman had the power to waive the scores. However, the law explicitly prohibits the commissioner from waiving all state and federal assessments.

SB2392 reads in part:

“However, the commissioner may not waive regulatory or statutory requirements related to: –Federal and state student assessment and accountability.”

State law (SB3427) requires a student’s final grades be composed in a manner, which includes 15-25% of their assessment scores, and Huffman has no legal jurisdiction to issue waivers by citing SB2392 because it explicitly prohibits the waiver of Federal and state assessments. Therefore, by not including assessment scores in final grades and issuing waivers to do so, Huffman technically broke both state laws.

Goins has charged that Huffman lacks the respect to lead, and the TCAP debacle is proof of this ineptitude.

State Senator Mae Beavers (R- Mt. Juliet) requested the state attorney general provide an opinion on the matter. “The attorney general simply replied, ‘Huffman said he can do it, so he can.’,” said Beavers. However, the attorney general’s job is not to ask the administration what they are and are not allowed to do. The AG’s job is to read the law as it is written and deliver the assessment. Simply asking the administration whether or not they could withhold the scores has many state legislators upset.

According to a former 17-year Davidson County Metropolitan teacher with close ties to those still inside, many of the scores have now been released, but they are attached with a large grading curve in order to bump the scores up. Still, other scores have seemingly vanished all together. State insiders have accused Haslam of embargoing the scores.

Leadership has now been accused by more than a dozen state legislators of purposefully withholding the Common Core aligned TCAP scores in order to save face. After all, Alexander, Bush and Haslam just told a room full of national education reporters that Tennessee was the gold standard for Common Core.

The scandal has prompted sixteen state legislators to formally demand Huffman’s resignation. In the letter below, these legislators order Huffman to resign. Beavers is composing her own separate letter to request Huffman’s resignation.

“In the past three years we have required compliance, transparency and excellence from our teachers and school systems. We expect our government officials to set the example and be held to the same level of accountability. We are Tennessee, not Washington DC. Commissioner Huffman has lost the integrity to be able to lead education efforts in our state,” says Representative Sheila Butt (R- Columbia).

Haslam is publicly dismissing the calls for Huffman’s resignation by calling them a “political stunt”.

“To say that this is a ‘political stunt’ is a perfect example of the dismissive response that many legislators have experienced when expressing the concerns of our constituents,” says Butt. “Four years ago the General Assembly tied an educator’s tenure to performance. The same should hold true for the Commissioner of Education. Tennesseans can implement higher standards and work toward excellence together. We have too many ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ people in Washington and this Commissioner is currently setting a similar precedent in Tennessee. This behavior is not at all representative of our Tennessee values.”


In Knox County alone, the cover-up has cost local schools more than $25k. Where does that money come from? Taxpayers.

“The issue for my constituents who serve in the education field is the complete failure to communicate motives combined with a complete lack of respect and decorum,” said Rep. Goins.

Knox County schools demand answers from Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Huffman and request to be paid for more than $25k in
Knox County schools demand answers from Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Huffman and request to be paid for more than $25k costs associated with the Common Core TCAP cover-up. The letter mentions that the waiver provided by Huffman kept schools from violating state law. However, by providing such waivers, Huffman himself violated state law.


Obama sneaks 760 illegal immigrants into Tennessee: “It’s unacceptable. No one was told,” says Governor

NASHVILLE, July 25, 2014– On Friday, the Obama administration quietly sneaked more than 760 illegal immigrants into the state. State Rep. Sheila Butt (R- Columbia) says she has requested more information about the illegal immigrants from Governor Bill Haslam (R), House Speaker Harwell (R), and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R).

In the below to President Obama, Haslam appears displeased that the state was not informed of the arrival.

July 25, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:
I write to you to express my concern about the number of unaccompanied immigrant children entering this country and the failure of the federal government to notify states in which children are being released.

On July 13, the nation’s governors met with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell during the annual National Governors Association meeting, which I hosted in Nashville this year. We spent a significant amount of time in that meeting discussing the issue of unaccompanied immigrant children. Although this is a complex issue and one that ultimately must be solved at the federal government level, governors are rightly concerned about the impact on states. We emphasized to Secretary Burwell the need to be informed of any children being relocated to our states.

It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge. Not only was our state not informed prior to any of the children being brought here, I still have not been contacted and have no information about these individuals or their sponsors other than what was posted on the HHS website and subsequently reported by media.

Although solving the border crisis is a federal responsibility, this influx of immigrant children could have a significant impact on state and local governments. Therefore, we strongly believe that the state needs to be informed prior to any additional unaccompanied immigrant children being released in Tennessee, and we also need immediate answers to the following questions:

1. What was the process for determining that these children should be released to sponsors in Tennessee?
2. How did you locate and evaluate the fitness of their sponsors?
3. What medical screenings were the children given prior to their release in Tennessee?
4. What is the official immigration status of these children and their sponsors?
5. In what localities are these children now residing?
6. What are the legal requirements concerning the provision of services for these children while
they are in the state?
7. What additional information is available on these children, such as age and health status?
8. How long will these children be in Tennessee?

Tennessee is a diverse and welcoming state, and we also understand that this is a complicated issue. However, an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children to the state, with little information being made available to the public or to state leaders, creates confusion and could be very problematic. The start of school is approaching for many districts across the state, and the federal government’s actions have caused great uncertainty around this issue.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to receiving a response to these urgent questions.

Bill Haslam
cc: The Honorable Sylvia Burwell, Secretary, HHS

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Mayor Has Senior Citizen Arrested for Asking Officials to Speak Up

Last Friday, a contentious meeting of the Greene County, Tennessee Industrial Development Board ended in outrage as 76-year-old veteran Eddie Overholt was arrested for asking officials, who were speaking quietly among themselves rather than using the room’s public address system, to speak louder. Overholt was worried that seniors in the back of the room were unable to hear the discussion, which concerned a controversial plan to allow US Nitrogen to build a pipeline into the Nolichucky River.

The meeting drew a large crowd of locals who feared that the Industrial Development Board’s plan to request that the state allow US Nitrogen to install wastewater pipes into the Nolichucky river would have an impact on their property and way of life. Overholt told WATE-TV“Eventually whatever they put in the river, we’re going to get in our wells. Knowing it’s a chemical company and a fertilizer company, we know what they put in the river.”

The officials running the packed meeting refused to use the room’s public address system, spoke quietly, and some even had their backs to the audience. According to a CNN i-report, as a result of their efforts to complicate citizens’ ability to hear discussion on the issue, Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles and other members of the Industrial Development Board are facing a lawsuit for violating the open meetings law. Also, one of the members of the board, J.W. Douthat, allegedly plans to sell some of his property to US Nitrogen, which locals feel to be a conflict of interests.

The room was tense, as the crowd expected that citizens would have an opportunity to comment publicly on the issue. Locals were not allowed to express themselves on the matter, however, and Mayor Broyles warned that any outbursts of any kind would result in expulsion from the meeting. Overholt told WJHL-TV what happened next, “When the board was speaking most of the people were standing so far back that they couldn’t hear what the board was saying. To prevent any further outburst I simply asked him could you all speak up so we can hear you.” Matters then escalated as Mayor Broyles ordered police to throw Overholt out of the meeting. Eddie Overholt was arrested on charges of disrupting a public meeting.

Overholt was then forced to walk to the jail, and, when he stopped to rest for a moment, was charged with resisting arrest. His bond was set at $2,000. Local residents have created a crowdfunding campaign to help him deal with resulting legal expenses.

Another local resident, Gary Susong, told WJHL-TV, “If there’s older folks there that can’t hardly hear too good you know and they’re hard of hearing or something it seems like the committee had something hide.” The community reacted strongly to Overholt’s arrest, issuing 42 complaints to the Tennessee Open Records Counsel as of Tuesday.

Back in January of this year, Green County Mayor Alan Broyles announced that he would not seek re-election.

Historic Battle of Athens Sheriff’s Department Gets Military Makeover

The above video, created by TheBlazeTV, provides some context into a lesser-known Tennessee historical event in which, back in 1946, returning World War II vets, having defeated Hitler’s tyranny, found themselves facing corruption and abuse from local law enforcement in Athens, TN, located in McMinn County. The local political bosses, State Senator Paul Cantrell and Sheriff Pat Mansfield, made piles of money on corrupt dealings, engaged in voter fraud, had innocent citizens arrested for profit, and allowed deputies to abuse vets and local women. A group of World War II veterans, led by Sheriff candidate Knox Henry, created their own political party and ran a slate of candidates against the local political machine.

On election day, an African American voter and unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, Tom Gillespie, attended the polls to vote for the slate of veterans. Upon his arrival, one of Mansfield’s deputies ordered him to leave without voting. Gillespie refused and was shot. Deputies then shut down the polls and took the ballot boxes to a private location, intending to commit voter fraud once again.

Fed up, the townsfolk took to the local armory, gathered rifles, and took back the ballot boxes by force. When the votes were counted, the World War II veterans had won by a significant margin. History remembers the “Battle of Athens” as an example of the Second Amendment being used to combat tyranny. In the end, the armed uprising was ruled lawful, as the Sheriff’s seizing of the ballot boxes constituted a coup against the government.

Fast forwarding to the present day, Nashville’s News Channel 5 is reporting that police militarization has erupted into a full-blown scandal in Tennessee. Under the Department of Defense’s surplus weapons program, Tennessee police departments have received an unusually huge order of military weapons including grenade launchers, M-16s, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. As an example, the rural McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, once coincidentally the focus of the historic Battle of Athens, was mistakenly given over five military weapons per person, despite only having 31 officers. Said McMinn County Sheriff Guy of the shipment, “Well, we don’t need this many. There was a little error in the order… They’re here as our department grows. We’ll have additional firearms for future officers.” It’s worth noting that DOD rules require police departments to return unnecessary surplus weapons. Due to this mistake, it is likely that the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department is now one of the most militarized sheriff’s departments in the United States.

However, the scandal goes much deeper than that. Tennessee police departments have received so much surplus military weaponry that they have lost control of their inventories. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, two M-14s went missing last year. An M-16 was stolen from a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer’s car. In the ultra-rural town of Bean Station, the son of the local police chief was arrested for impersonating an officer after stealing an M-16 acquired from the surplus weapons program.

Following News Channel 5‘s report, Tennessee’s Department of General Services responded by placing Elbert Baker, the state’s coordinator of its Law Enforcement Support Office, on paid suspension while it investigates a possible “record-keeping deficiency.”

Twelve brutally honest lessons I would tell my high school self a decade ago

NASHVILLE, June 14, 2014– Every now and then I like to share my thoughts. I know, it’s not news, and you didn’t ask. This isn’t one of those “bait and click” articles. To try and keep it genuine, I’m using real names and real life experiences. In my opinion, painting inspiration for teenagers in a cliche five word catch-phrased meme doesn’t actually drive a point home. So, if you’ll excuse me, I think having a platform is a gift, and it should be used as such.

I’m probably not telling anyone that is aged millennial or older anything you don’t already know, but this isn’t for you.

This is for the freaks and geeks making out underneath the football bleachers while the Friday night lights illuminate their smiles. This is for all you dreamers- you future leaders. It’s for the 14-year-old still living in all of us. Are you guys even on Facebook anymore? I guess we’ll find out.

If I could travel back tens years ago and find myself in the halls of Greenbrier High School to deliver twelve lessons, these would be those lessons:

  • 1.) The ugly girls you pick on in 10th grade English will be competing to become Miss Tennessee after you graduate college. Yeah, they’re beauty queens now. Oh, and the junior prom queen you swooned over in the hallways after English class is actually pregnant. She won’t finish the semester. One of those nerds you make fun of just signed a $250k/yr. contract with Google at age 26. By the way, the kid with Trisomy-21 syndrome that you and your friends pick on will pass away before you all graduate. You will always remember the time he made you smile on the bus. On the day you find out he passed away, you will beg for God’s forgiveness in tears. In fact, more than 20 people you went to high school with have died since then. The point? Choose your words and friends carefully.
  • 2.) You’ll get in trouble for vandalism today. Dad will sit you on the porch for ‘a talk’, and you’ll write a letter promising him that you will behave more appropriately. He’ll go on to tell you, “Son, I gave up everything to come to this country so that whenever I had kids their futures would only be limited by their dreams. One day, you could become the president.” You won’t believe him, but ten years later you’ll be invited to give a major speech on the steps of the South Carolina State House in front of hundreds of people. In fact, you’ll travel the country giving similar speeches all before you’re 25th birthday. Dad will then show you the letter you wrote to him ten years ago. He still has it? Of course. Mom and dad are definitely right- always…
  • 3.) …Well, almost always. You’re parents are not perfect, and that’s okay. Even heroes need a day off. And even though they are today’s villain for not letting you go to Kaitlyn George’s Halloween party (she happens to be your girl-next-door crush), you will grow to speak of them as heroes. Even if it takes a decade.
  • 4.) Oh, look… You got in trouble again. So much for that letter to dad. This time you upset mom and dad so much that they will not talk to you for a week. Seriously… They will ignore you for the entire week. In fact, every time mom happens to cross your path in the hallway, she will begin to cry in disappointment. Making your parents cry is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences you will ever face. When your actions have reduced your heroes to tears, you finally learn what it feels like to be a villain, and it will break your heart.
  • 5.) Kaitlyn George who? She was so two years ago. Now you’re with your first love- Claudia. After you two break-up, ending a four year relationship, you both will have grown into a totally different people. It will break your heart (God, will it ever heal!?!). You will spend two weeks on the couch. Mom will call you a pitiful slob. Then, six years later, yet again, you are a totally different person. You look back and cherish the lessons you learned from your relationship with Claudia and laugh about being paralyzed on the couch. PS… Your heart will go on. Just ask Rose Dawson.
  • 6.) Despite what anyone tells you, you are not too young to start. Start what?  Start a business– writing, singing, speaking, creating, believing, campaigning, learning, investing… Just start. If you don’t, someone else will.
  • 7.) Quit talking about about yourself. Talk about the other guy. Lift him up. While you’re at it, humble yourself. You arrogant punk.
  • 8.) You will make life altering mistakes. It’s okay. You’ll soon find out that everyone else will too.
  • 9.) Do not hide from those mistakes. If you do, people will use them against you. Instead, embrace them by marketing them to your advantage.
  • 10.) Nana will try to teach you to play the piano. Do it. Not just to learn the piano, but for the time and memories with one of your greatest fans. In ten years, you’ll regret that you didn’t. Not just for the time and memories but also because chicks dig piano players.
  • 11.) You don’t ‘have to’ go to college. Although beneficial, opting out is no deal-breaker. You’ll spend $100,000 to study at Belmont University. However, while doing something completely unrelated to your chosen major, you will end up making more money than you could in your field of study before you graduate. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice your craft, become an educated individual and take big, although calculated, risks. Vision, drive and dedication are the keys to success. Not a piece of paper.
  • 12.) You’ll abandon religion because you think you’re too smart for God. You’re not too smart for God. God is too smart for you. When you are ready, he will prove this to you inside of a Walmart at 2:00 AM. Why Walmart? Because this is God’s country. Also known as, the South.
  • Bonus.) Just as I never listened to lessons from mom and dad, you probably won’t listen to any of this.  That’s completely fine. Trial and error will show you the way. Just keep in mind, I’m not old enough to be your mom or dad, but I am old enough to tell you this… In ten years, when you find yourself laughing for any given reason, you’ll notice you sound just like your mom or dad, and then it will hit you like a ton of bricks: “My God, they were right.” Just giving you a heads up.

Follow Michael Lotfi On Facebook & Twitter.

Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Authorizing Hemp Cultivation

NASHVILLE, May 15, 2014– Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed a bill which some supporters consider the strongest pro-hemp legislation in the country. House Bill 2445 (HB2445), introduced by Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) mandates that the state authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within Tennessee.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 and the House by a vote of 88-5. It reads, in part:

“The department shall issue licenses to persons who apply to the department for a license to grow industrial hemp.”

Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, noted that one word strengthened the bill considerably. “By including the word ‘shall’ in this legislation, it has a great deal of impact,” he said. “This means that rather than keeping it open-ended like other states have done, hemp farming will be able to move forward in Tennessee whether the regulatory bureaucrats there want it to or not.”

‘Shall’ is a legal term which creates a specific requirement far stronger than a word like ‘will.’ The former is more closely interchangeable with the word “must,” while the latter allows leeway for the object of the term to delay. In this case, the bill states that the Tennessee department of agriculture will have a mandate to license farmers for growing hemp.

Three other states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed bills to authorize hemp farming, but only in Colorado has the process started.  A similar bill was passed in South Carolina this week and awaits action by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Farmers in Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and the state began issuing licenses on March 1, 2014.  In Vermont and Oregon, hemp farming was authorized, but no licensing program was mandated, so implementation has been delayed due to regulatory foot-dragging.

With passage of HB2445, Tennessee will most likely become the 2nd state in the country to actively produce hemp. The legislation also ensures that not only will hemp licenses be issued, but the process for doing so will start quickly. It reads:

“The department shall initiate the promulgation of rules … concerning industrial hemp production within one hundred and twenty (120) days of this act becoming law.”

In other words, now that the bill has become law, the process in Tennessee will start no later than November, 2014.

The bill was lobbied for by the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association and the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center.

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BREAKING: Tennessee effectively nullifies federal hemp ban

NASHVILLE, April 17, 2014– Yesterday, the Tennessee General Assembly took the final necessary steps to send legislation to Governor Haslam, which if signed, will nullify the federal ban on hemp.

House Bill 2445 (HB2445), introduced by Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), would mandate that the state authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within Tennessee, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal ban on the same. Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) is the chief Senate sponsor of the legislation.

Local media point to federal law citing hemp production is still banned on the federal level, and that the Tennessee legislation will only set Tennessee up to begin cultivation once the feds change the law. However, the legislation makes no such stipulation with regards to waiting on the feds.

The bill reads, in part:

“The department shall issue licenses to persons who apply to the department for a license to grow industrial hemp.”

Mike Maharrey, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, noted that one word strengthened the bill considerably. “By including the word ‘shall’ in this legislation, it has a great deal of impact,” he said. “This means that rather than keeping it open-ended like other states have done, hemp farming will be able to move forward in Tennessee whether the regulatory bureaucrats there want it to or not.”

‘Shall’ is a legal term which creates a specific requirement far stronger than a word like ‘will.’ The former is more closely interchangeable with the word “must,” while the latter allows leeway for the object of the term to delay. In this case, the bill states that the Tennessee department of agriculture will have a mandate to license farmers for growing hemp.

Three other states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed bills to authorize hemp farming, but only in Colorado has the process begun.  Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013 and the state began issuing licenses on March 1, 2014. The feds haven’t said a word. In Vermont and Oregon, hemp farming was authorized, but no licensing program was mandated, so implementation has been delayed due to regulatory foot-dragging.

With passage of HB2445, Tennessee will most likely become the 2nd state in the country to actively produce hemp. The legislation also ensures that not only will hemp licenses be issued, but the process for doing so will start quickly. It reads:

The department shall initiate the promulgation of rules … concerning industrial hemp production within one hundred and twenty (120) days of this act becoming law…

Federal laws still remain on the books. However, the United States Department of Justice announced that it would no longer presume enforcement of federal hemp and marijuana laws last August. The announcement delivered a return of state police powers with regards to cannabis strains.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tennessee Legislators Kill Pro-Gun Bill, Again.


A bill to let Tennesseans carry guns in the open without a permit was voted down Monday night in committee.

Members of the committee heard arguments against the bill from the governor’s top safety official, and in the end voted 10 to 1 not to let Tennesseans openly carry guns without a permit.

According to Nashville Public Radio, Van Huss (R) who sponsored the bill said that the bill finally got a fair shake before it was voted down, so he won’t force the open carry issue any further this year.

Michael Lotfi reported that Tennessee law makers killed a pro-gun bill last month. A bill that would nullify any federal ban on firearms. See here.

Will Americans ever experience true firearm freedom? Will the 2nd Amendment ever be restored as the founders intended?

South Carolina experienced a blow to 2nd Amendment Rights this year when a Republican majority killed a bill that would allow citizen to carry a firearm without a permit.

In South Carolina, if you feel that someone is stalking you after work, you cannot protect yourself with a firearm. You will first have to get permission from the government, pay for an expensive class, pay for a permit and wait for more than 90 days to get a concealed carry permit.

So if you feel threatened, you cannot defend yourself with a firearm for at least 90 days.

Both South Carolina and Tennessee are violating the 2nd Amendment. They are infringing on our right to defend ourselves – the God-given and natural right to keep and bear arms!

What are your thoughts? Should we have to get the government’s permission to carry firearms?