Report examines organized retail crime and its link to the opioid crisis


 NASHVILLE -- State Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) is featured in an investigative report posted on CNBC today which examines organized retail crime and its link to the opioid crisis.  In addition to an interview with Briggs, the report also takes a firsthand look at the problem with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Area Law Enforcement and Retailers Team (A.L.E.R.T).

The report, “Gift Card Crime Fueling Opioid Addiction across the U.S.,” follows the passage of a new law sponsored by Briggs and approved by the General Assembly this year defining organized retail crime and creating two new theft offenses to prosecute individuals who return stolen merchandise to receive money, gift cards or store credit.

Retail theft is prevalent in Tennessee, with Knoxville ranking first in the nation per capita for card abuse and theft.

“We have a crisis in Tennessee where goods are stolen and then returned to retailers for credit on a gift card,” said Senator Briggs.  “The cards are sold for cash, which in turn, is fueling the illegal drug market.”

While the bill was going through the legislative process, expert testimony by law enforcement revealed that there were 19 overdoses due to opioids during one month in Knox County in which 16 had sold gift cards on the resale market for cash.  Reports from law enforcement and others, like CNBC, continue to lend validity to the connection of the use of gift cards obtained through retail theft and illegal drugs.

The new law allows local law enforcement to track gift card purchases and their resale when the card was obtained fraudulently and establishes a reporting requirement that allows authorities to collect the needed data to demonstrate the fiscal impact of the crime.

Briggs plans to introduce legislation when the 110th General Assembly reconvenes in January to enhance the reporting requirements and strengthen penalties against retail theft offenders.  He believes the proposal will dovetail with legislative efforts to address the state’s opioid epidemic.

Briggs added, “If you look at the entire impact of Tennessee, it’s higher prices for consumers; we are not collecting taxes that we are supposed to; but its funding the drug trade, which is without question one of the largest crises in our state.”

It is estimated that in 2015 Tennessee lost over $14 million in sales tax dollars and retailers lost over $200 million related to return fraud.

Other states are already looking at the new Tennessee law as model legislation.

The CNBC report is posted at: and features National Emmy-Award winning journalist Contessa Brewer.   Segments of the report are expected to be shown on the network throughout the day.




NASHVILLE, Tenn. –   Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) praised the work of state auditors today as the Comptroller of the Treasury released its 500th Sunset Performance Audit, calling them “guardians of public trust.”

The milestone audit was performed on TRICOR, a state agency that provides occupational and life skills training for Tennessee’s incarcerated population.  A 2015 performance audit showing financial mismanagement prompted the General Assembly to demand changes to make the agency more accountable and transparent.  The agency has since taken proactive steps to address and correct several of the serious problems with more changes expected in the future.

“Audits are a vital part of our sunset review process,” said Chairman Bell, whose committee reviews 270 state government agencies at least once every eight years to determine whether an entity should be abolished, restructured, or continued.  “The public’s trust rests on government being openly accountable for its decisions, actions and mistakes.  That is what this process is about and, as such, our auditors are guardians of the public trust.”

Performance audit reports were first put into place in 1977 as part of the Tennessee Governmental Entity Review Law, commonly known as the Sunset Law, to ensure departments and agencies of state government are carrying out the programs for which they are responsible and that controls are in place to protect taxpayer money from misappropriation and misuse.   In addition to performance audits, the Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of State Audit conducts financial and compliance audits, information systems audits, attestation engagements, investigations, and special studies to provide the General Assembly, the Governor, and the citizens of Tennessee with objective information about the state’s financial condition and the performance of the state’s many agencies and programs.

“The Tennessee General Assembly and the Government Operations Committees have played a critical role in holding government entities accountable,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Tennessee government is stronger today thanks to the Sunset process and the work of the General Assembly.”



Sen. Johnson to Attend White House Tax-Reform Meeting

(Nashville) – Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) will attend a “State and Local Government Tax-Reform and Economic Competitiveness Discussion” on Thursday, November 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST) at the White House in Washington D.C.  The invitation was extended to Johnson by The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA).

“Federal tax reform not only affects individuals and businesses, but also has a significant effect on how state and local governments operate,” said Senator Johnson.  “This meeting is an important opportunity to bring state and local representatives together with federal officials to discuss the tax reform efforts under consideration in Washington and their impact on Tennessee’s citizens and communities.  I look forward to discussing how we can ensure fairness for our citizens and appreciate the White House for inviting us to weigh in on this important issue.”

Speaking at the event will be Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue and Administrator of the Small Business Association, Linda McMahon. These leaders, as well as Senior White House Staff from the National Economic Council, will discuss tax-reform and engage in dialogue with local elected stakeholders, according to the IGA.


Sen. Watson to head General Assembly’s Wellness Caucus

(NASHVILLE) – Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson), Chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee, has been named Co-Chair of the new Wellness Caucus created by members of the Tennessee General Assembly in conjunction with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.

“From my career in the healthcare industry to serving on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, I witness firsthand the effects of adverse health conditions and chronic illnesses have on Tennesseans,” said Senator Watson. “We all have a role in improving the health of our state. I look forward to Co-Chairing the Wellness Caucus and collaborating with other members of the General Assembly and communities across the state to find solutions for a healthier Tennessee.”

Although Nashville’s economy may be dominated by health care, Tennessee continues to fall among the nation’s ten worst states in overall health rankings. In Tennessee, one in four adults smokes, and one in five high school students uses tobacco. The rate of obesity has risen to almost 34 percent from only 10 percent in 1988. Type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are at epidemic levels.

The caucus consists of 39 members from both the Senate and House who will be focused on studying and developing solutions to the health and wellness issues facing Tennesseans.

For more information about the Governor’s Foundation for Health & Wellness, please visit:


Senator Bell Elected to National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council

(NASHVILLE) – State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Co-Chairman of the Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, has been elected to serve as a member of the Executive Council for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC). The announcement was made last week at the 14th Annual NASC Legislator Summit in Acme, Michigan, following a ballot vote among states in attendance.

“As an avid sportsman, I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve as the Co-Chairman of the Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus,” said Senator Bell, who has introduced and passed comprehensive legislation that creates a legacy for future sportsmen.  “I look forward to bringing my experience as a legislator and a sportsman to the Council.”

The National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses works to create a nationwide network of legislators to shape a wide range of policies that address issues facing hunters and anglers in America.  This includes recruitment, retention and reactivation, as well as protecting waterways from invasive species, increasing access and opportunity, and many other issues. The goal is to share best practices for conservation-policy and growth for sportsmen.

“It is important to adopt good legislation that continues the strong sportsmen’s-heritage in Tennessee,” added Sen. Bell. “Hunters and anglers bring in significant revenue to Tennessee, so our continued partnership with my fellow legislators across the nation in protecting and advancing the rights of outdoorsmen and women is essential.”

The latest numbers show Tennessee boasts over 1 million hunters and anglers that spend over $1.8 billion annually and support over 26,390 jobs.

Members of the NASC Executive Council serve two-year terms and assist with policy development, sportsmen’s community engagement, and work to highlight the role that hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping play in supporting conservation policies that also benefit the nation’s social and economic wellbeing.

NASC was launched by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation in 2004, and currently includes 48 state legislative sportsmen's caucuses (over 2,000 state legislators) united under the NASC umbrella. This network facilitates the interaction and idea exchange among state caucus leaders and the outdoor community.

Bell is Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee and represents Senate District 9 which includes Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe and Polk counties.  He was recently awarded the 2016 National Legislator of the Year Award by Safari Club International for advancing legislation to promote hunting.



NASHVILLE – State Senator Jack Johnson  (R-Franklin) and Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) presented country music legend Kenny Rogers with a Senate Proclamation on Wednesday evening to recognize the singer for his many contributions to country music and Tennessee.  The presentation occurred at the All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

The concert, which honored Rogers’ historic 60-year career, featured the final performance together by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, one of popular music’s most beloved duets of all time. Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, The Flaming Lips, Idina Menzel, Jamey Johnson, Elle King also headlined the star-studded event.

“It was an incredible opportunity to honor Kenny Rogers at his final performance and recognize him for his musical talents that have inspired generations of country music artists,” said Senator Johnson. “Though Kenny Rogers’ fans all across the world are sad to see him retire, we are grateful for six decades of his great music which will continue to enrich our lives for years to come.”

“The music of Kenny Rogers has graced the airwaves for more than sixty years,” said Sen. Crowe.  “His music has endeared fans and touched our lives.  Songs like "The Gambler" and "Through the Years" have not only been very much a part of our lives but have touched the lives of millions all over the world.  I was proud to honor him as he announced his retirement and performed his final concert here in Nashville.”



(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, today congratulated students, parents and staff at Jacks Creek Elementary School and Chester County High School for being named “Reward Schools” for 2017 by the Tennessee Department of Education.  Jacks Creek Elementary School is ranked in the top five percent of schools in Tennessee for academic achievement and Chester County High School is ranked in the top five percent for student growth.

“This honor reflects the good work of our hard-working students, caring parents, inspiring teachers and great administrators,” said Senator Gresham. “I congratulate them all for a job well done.”

Of the 2017 Reward schools, 59 are being recognized for performance, 85 are recognized for progress, and 25 schools are Reward schools both for performance and progress, according to a press release issued by the Department of Education. The complete list of Reward schools can be found posted on the department’s website.

“I am so pleased to see the significant progress schools are making statewide, and I am especially proud of the progress made right here at home.” added Senator Gresham. “I encourage these students, parents and educators to continue to strive for academic excellence.”

In addition to the Reward schools in Gresham’s district, additional schools are showing significant improvements. This past year, Middleton High School has exited the Focus school list, and Decatur County Middle School and Haywood High School are among the 20 schools on the Focus Improving list.


Senator Haile receives prestigious award for his efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children

NASHVILLEState Senator Ferrell Haile (R- Gallatin) has been named “Legislator of the Year” in Tennessee for his efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children.  The award from Tennessee Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association was presented to Haile on Tuesday in Nashville.

“As an adoptive parent, Senator Haile understands the needs of children and how important families are for children’s ability to thrive and grow,” said Lynne Farrar, Executive Director of Tennessee CASA Association.  “Because of this, Senator Haile has kept the needs of children and families in the forefront of issues facing the Tennessee General Assembly.  We salute Senator Haile for his thoughtful, innovative and courageous legislation on behalf of children.”

TN CASA provides training and technical assistance to 29 CASA programs serving 52 counties.  CASA volunteers are Court Appointed Special Advocates for children.  They are trained community volunteers appointed by a judge to speak for abused and neglected children in court.  The goal is to expedite the process through which these abused and neglected children are found permanent, safe homes.

Among the key reasons Haile was honored by CASA was his passage of a new law during the 2017 legislative session to help children from troubled homes avoid chronic Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  The law established the “Zero to Three Initiative Courts” to reduce time of permanency of children in at-risk environments by surrounding families of children age 36 months or younger with support services, whether it is returning them to parents, living with relatives or getting them ready for adoption.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Senator Haile.  “CASA has been a vital link for abused and neglected children to receive the help they need for a better life.  I appreciate this recognition and am pleased to partner with CASA to push for better services for these vulnerable children.”


Date is set for Sen. Yager’s 24th annual Chili Supper

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  A date has been set for the 24th annual Chili Supper and Silent Auction sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston).  The district-wide event is scheduled for Friday, November 17, at Roane State Community College Harriman from 5 to 7 p.m. EST.

“I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at the chili supper.  It is a family event which has grown over the last 24 years to a major event.  I invite all my constituents to attend to have a good time while we raise money for a good cause.  The proceeds will be donated to a local non-profit.”

Tickets are $5 at the door.  Preschool age children are admitted free of charge.  Celebrity servers will ladle the “world famous” chili.

“This year I am inviting my colleagues from the House of Representatives to serve as well as members of the Senate,” Yager added. “As always, the same rules will apply: serve good chili and make no speeches.”


TDMHSAS Presents Major Pre-Arrest Diversion Infrastructure Grant to Madison County

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) today joined Madison County Sheriff John Mehr and Representative Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson) as Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (TDMHSAS) Commissioner Marie Williams awarded a major mental illness grant to the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex.  The $3.1 million grant will go towards creating a behavioral health jail diversion program for those struggling with behavioral health needs.

Senator Jackson is Chairman of the Senate Corrections Subcommittee which oversees legislation regarding all local jails in Tennessee as well as 15 prisons which house state inmates.

“Presently, there are limited options for handling people with mental health issues who come into custody of law enforcement officers,” said Senator Jackson.   “This proactive approach to help Tennesseans struggling with mental illness or substance abuse disorders will ensure better access to proper treatment and care and keep them out of our jails.  This action, in turn, will make our communities safer and help alleviate overcrowding, saving taxpayer money.  It was great to witness our state and local governments coming together to tackle such an important and complex issue.”

The primary goal of the TDMHSAS Pre-Arrest Diversion Infrastructure Project is to reduce or eliminate the time individuals with mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorder spend incarcerated by redirecting them from the criminal justice system to community-based treatment and supports.  Key Community partners with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department include Pathways Behavioral Health, Aspell Recovery Center, Jackson Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and the local court system.

“I am proud of the efforts our state and local government are making towards creating a safer, healthier, and more prosperous community,” Jackson concluded.



Sen. Bowling announces Listening Meetings October 23-26

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) will hold October town hall Listening Meetings in District 16 on October 23-26. In her monthly meetings, Bowling offers assistance with state services and listens to concerns citizens have for the State Legislature.

“As we get closer to the start of the 2018 legislative session, I want to hear the views of the people of Senate District 16,” said Senator Bowling.  “We are facing many issues this year, including opioid abuse, jobs, healthcare, education and juvenile justice, to name a few.  I am also pleased to help local citizens access state government services.”

The meetings include:


Date County Meeting Location Time
Oct 23 Coffee County Admin Bldg. / Manchester 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Oct 23 Coffee County City Hall / Tullahoma 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Oct 24 Marion County Courthouse / Jasper 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Oct 24 Sequatchie County Courthouse / Dunlap 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Oct 25 Grundy County Courthouse / Altamont 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Oct 25 Franklin County Franklin Co. Annex / Winchester 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Oct 26 Van Buren County Fair Bldg. (Burritt College) / Spencer 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Oct 26 Warren County Warren Co. Admin Bldg. / McMinnville 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Sen. Bowling’s office can be reached year-round at 615-741-6694.


Tennessee Building Commission approves $100,000 for Oliver Springs L&N Depot says Sen. Yager

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), October 12, 2017— State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) said that the Tennessee Building Commission approved the appropriation of $100,000 for the Oliver Springs L&N Depot today at their meeting in Nashville.   The funds were approved after Sen. Yager wrote Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin earlier this year asking for an appropriation for the project, laying out the reasons it should be included in Governor Bill Haslam’s budget.  Governor Haslam then placed the funds in his amended budget which was adopted by the General Assembly in May.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $200,000.

“The Oliver Springs Depot is a priceless landmark in desperate need of repair,” said Sen. Yager.  “Volunteers have made a herculean effort to restore it, but these funds will be crucial to finishing the restoration project. The Depot not only has great potential for tourism, it also preserves our community’s history for generations to come.”

During the State Building Commission meeting, Secretary of State Tre Hargett remarked, “Chairman Yager has been a strong advocate of this project and has worked very hard to see it approved.  My office, along with many others, has supported him during this process.”

The Depot was built in the 1890’s and served as a focal point in the life and commerce of the town.  It currently houses the town’s library and a museum of local history.





NASHVILLE – Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) recently received two major awards for his work to aid victims of crime and for his dedication to children and families in Tennessee.

On Friday, Ketron received the Legislator of the Year award from the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.  The award was presented during their annual Pearl and Pinstripes event in Nashville. Ketron worked with the Coalition to pass legislation in the Senate this year to change the standard for when a court may terminate parental rights to a child who was conceived as the result of rape to help victims.   He also passed legislation to delete a provision in previous law that allowed an alleged offender the right to have notice of and suspend all action concerning their victim’s claim for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.

On Monday, he received an award from the Child Advocacy Centers at their Connecting for Children’s Justice Conference in Murfreesboro recognizing him for “dedication to the children and families of Tennessee connecting for children’s justice.” Ketron has been a strong supporter of child advocacy in the State Senate.  He shared the Child Advocacy Center honors with House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station).

In addition, Ketron was recognized at the End Slavery Voice of Freedom event on Tuesday in Nashville for his efforts to combat human trafficking.  He passed several bills this year aimed at curbing the problem and providing more services for minor victims.

“All of these groups are phenomenal partners in working to make Tennessee a stronger place for families and children,” said Sen. Ketron.  “I am humbled to receive these two awards and appreciate all the good work that these organizations do to make Tennessee a safer and better place to live.




NASHVILLE -- The Senate Health and Welfare Committee tackled the problem of preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) during their recent fall meeting in Nashville, calling for more coordination to ensure at-risk children are being served.  Lawmakers on the committee heard from the state’s foremost experts representing various departments and agencies of state government and the Tennessee Academy of Pediatrics regarding actions being taken to prevent ACEs and its wide-ranging impact on Tennesseans.

ACEs are stressful or traumatic experiences that range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or the incarceration of a parent or guardian. Decades of research has shown these experiences increase the risk for many negative health and well-being outcomes later in life, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, obesity, suicide, violent behavior, cancers and early death.  Studies also show a link between such childhood trauma and offenders entering the criminal justice system.

“Many of the problems we are trying to solve with our adult populations could be solved earlier if we can get to them when they are young enough to make a difference,” said Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City).  “We want to ensure that Tennessee is doing everything we can with our resources to prevent such experiences from occurring at the earliest age possible.”

Approximately 34.8 million children in the U.S. are impacted by ACEs, with Tennessee having a significantly higher rate than other states.  A 2016 study showed 61% of Tennesseans had at least one adverse childhood experience, while 27% had three or more.  Research shows a $7 return for each $1 spent on programs targeting the earliest years of development.

“If we can break the cycle, that needs to be done early,” added Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), who successfully passed legislation this year to enhance the state’s ACEs prevention efforts.  “We wanted to try to facilitate some discussion concerning how different agencies could work across sectors in an effective partnership to attack this problem from a holistic perspective, rather than in isolation.  The bottom line is how many lives we can change and how many we can save.”

Early detection and prompt intervention is key to preventing ACEs.  The state’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program supports evidenced-based home visiting services to at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children.  The voluntary program, which provided 19,961 home visits to 3,235 parents and children in 1,656 families in 2016, individually-tailors support services to prevent traumatic experiences as early as possible.  The state leverages federal funds to implement such high-performing models as the Health Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers and Nurses for Newborns, which provide a wide range of services to Tennesseans in need.

The state also has the Help Us Grow Successfully (HUGS) Program which is a targeted home-based case management program coordinated by local health department staffs through TennCare.  In addition, the Department of Education’s Building Strong Brains:  Strategies for Educators is a free training program offered to empower school leaders and teachers to address chronic childhood trauma in the school and classroom.

“This was a very important meeting,” added Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), who has also spearheaded legislative efforts to prevent ACEs.  Overbey is a member of the Juvenile Justice Task Force, which is also studying preventative measures that can be incorporated into the criminal justice system utilizing ACEs studies.  “The takeaway from this meeting is that the legislature is very much interested in what we are doing to serve the children and youth of our state, especially in making sure we get services to those who have unfortunately had adverse childhood experiences.  Let’s lower the walls of the silo so we communicate and talk with each other to the benefit of all the people of the state,” he concluded.




Pledges donation equaling cost of his season tickets to local organizations honoring those who protect and defend this nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) today responded to numerous media inquiries regarding his social media posts expressing disappointment and opposition to numerous NFL football players’ #TakeAKnee protests. Over the weekend, Sen. Bailey posted on both Twitter and Facebook his disappointment in opposition to players not taking the field and standing for our National Anthem prior to kickoff. Bailey posted on Facebook, “I will not lend support for those who would disrespect America, by refusing to pause and stand in honor of our National Anthem.”

Sen. Bailey said today he would make good on his promise to leave his premium season ticket seats empty, saying, “I won’t witness the hijacking of pre-game ceremonies that disrespect our flag and challenge the honor of any of the men or women who have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms to enjoy these leisure-time activities.”

For the remainder of the season, Sen. Bailey said, he will leave his five 50-yard line seats vacant and donate an amount equal to the tickets value, split between two worthy organizations. The two organizations are C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors), an organization which provides assistance to the families of fallen law enforcement officers, and the Upper Cumberland Honor Guard, which provides a proper military burial for veterans.

Sen. Bailey added, “My donation to these two organizations is meant to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our communities, as well as veterans no longer among us to stand in respect to our flag. I encourage others to do the same.”

Senator Bailey said his actions are not done in his role as an elected official, but as a Titan fan and season ticket holder.

“As Americans, we respect everyone’s right to protest, but dissent is a two-way street. My actions are to voice displeasure and disappointment at the current NFL teams’ behavior, which I believe disrespects those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, as well as law enforcement officers killed in their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities,” he continued.

Bailey concluded by encouraging all Titan fans to remember the words of the NFL commissioner Elmer Layden who introduced the National Anthem to pre-game activities during the turmoil and sacrifice of World War II, “The playing of the National Anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kickoff. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.”

The Upper Cumberland Honor Guard can be reached at 370 S. Lowe Ave., PMB 212, Cookeville, TN 38501-4730 or [email protected].  C.O.P.S. can be reached at by contacting Trish Mundy at (615)364-9094.




Sen. Bowling announces September Listening Meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) announced the schedule for her town hall Listening Meetings in District 16 today. In her monthly meetings, Bowling offers assistance with state services and listens to concerns citizens have for the State Legislature.


"I look forward to talking with area citizens about how we can make our state a better place to work and live,” said Senator Bowling.  “I want to be open and available to hear from the people of District 16 about the issues we face, as well as offer any assistance with state government agencies.”


The September meetings include:


Date County Meeting Location Time
Sept 25 Coffee County Admin Bldg. / Manchester 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Sept 25 Coffee County City Hall / Tullahoma 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Sept 26 Marion County Courthouse / Jasper 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Sept 26 Sequatchie County Courthouse / Dunlap 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Sept 27 Grundy County Courthouse / Altamont 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Sept 27 Franklin County Franklin Co. Annex / Winchester 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Sept 28 Van Buren County Fair Bldg. (Burritt College) / Spencer 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Sept 28 Warren County Warren Co. Admin Bldg. / McMinnville 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Sen. Bowling’s office can be reached year-round at 615-741-6694.


National conservative organizations spotlight Sen. Jackson as their “Legislator of the Week”

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) –  The American Legislative Exchange Council, America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators, and Freedom Works, a national organization which promotes free markets and individual liberty, has named Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) their State Legislator of the Week.  Each week, ALEC and Freedom Works showcase one lawmaker nationwide who embodies the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism.


In their article spotlighting Jackson the groups interviewed him on the most challenging issues facing Tennessee.  Jackson listed healthcare and drug addiction as top issues for 2018.


“Over one-third of our state’s budget is all areas of healthcare,” said Sen. Jackson.  “Our state has huge challenges with everything from general health, mental health, health care costs, drug addiction, availability of healthcare in rural areas, the developmentally disabled, and shortages of health care workers. I sit on the Health Committee in the Senate and we have a great and challenging agenda before us in 2018.”


Jackson said he is most proud of his work as Chairman of the Corrections Subcommittee.  He said the position of chairman also presents one of his biggest challenges as a state lawmaker.  Tennessee has 15 state prisons located across the state. Eleven of those facilities are operated by the Department of Corrections and four are privately managed.  The committee oversees the budget and legislation regarding them as well as local jails.


“We have a great deal of work and improvements that need to take place in our state,” added Jackson.  “The corrections budget is the fifth largest line item in our budget at one billion dollars. We are looking at what other states are doing to make improvements and are meeting regularly with corrections, judicial and law enforcement to see what is working best across our state.”




(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) praised action taken by Governor Bill Haslam today to reinstate federal work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that were  waived in during the 2008 economic recession.   Tracy also applauded the governor’s efforts to strengthen the program’s integrity and encourage self-sufficiency through legislation to be proposed in the 2018 session of the Tennessee General Assembly.


The move comes after last week’s announcement that unemployment in Tennessee fell to an all-time low of 3.3 percent.  It also follows legislation sponsored by Sen. Tracy earlier this year to reinstate work requirements waived in 2008.  Tracy deferred action on the bill after the Department of Human Services assured him they were looking to eliminate the work waivers as unemployment rates in Tennessee decrease.


“The unemployment rate is at a record low,” said Sen. Tracy, “We need to make sure that recipients who are able to work are looking for employment, attending a job training program or fulfilling the other requirements in order to receive SNAP benefits.”


“We certainly want to take care of those who are in need,” he added.  “Taxpayers, however, should not foot the bill for able-bodied recipients who are not trying to gain employment which undermines the integrity and stability of the program.”


Presently, 85 of the 95 counties in Tennessee offer waivers exempting citizens from fulfilling certain requirements necessary to receive SNAP benefits. These requirements include working 20 hours per week, volunteering for an approved charitable organization for 20 hours per week, or attending a school or job training program.  Under the governor’s plan, the state will reestablish work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) receiving SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) in 70 counties beginning February 1, 2018.  The waiver will remain in 16 counties designated as distressed.


Other reforms announced by Governor Haslam that will be proposed in the 2018 legislative session include:

  • Seeking approval to join a multi-state cooperative to identify dual participation in programs;
  • Strengthening investigations of multiple EBT card replacements;
  • Increasing the ability to investigate fraud with additional tools;
  • Reducing the fiscal cliff for families meeting the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF or Families First) work requirements by providing a work incentive transitional benefit;
  • Encouraging family stabilization by linking the TANF maximum benefit to the current standard of need.





Senator Jackson to attend national summit on public safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) will attend a summit hosted by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators in Washington, D.C., in November. The two-day summit will gather leaders from all 50 states to build a better understanding of the crime, arrest and correctional system trends in their jurisdictions.

“When working with the corrections system, the biggest challenge is not a shortage of ideas, but sifting through the massive amounts of data and information presented by many different stakeholders,” said Jackson. “This summit gives us the opportunity to join other states in studying the national landscape of crime, corrections and behavioral health trends. Through this summit, we will study the highs and lows of the national trends and get a better understanding of what can best serve Tennessee.”

In preparation for the summit, data will be collected on crime, arrests, recidivism, correctional populations and other criminal justice system metrics for all 50 states. The data will then be analyzed and used as examples of lessons learned, case studies and research-based principles at the summit.

Each state team will include the state director of the department of corrections, a key state lawmaker, a person who channels the perspective of local law enforcement and a state- or local-level behavioral health official.

“Through our focus and collaboration, we can work towards developing the most effective solutions to the difficulties Tennessee’s correctional system faces and create new improvements to keep Tennessee safe for generations to come,” added Jackson.


Three Stars of Tennessee Award honors five Tennessee heroes

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), September 11, 2017 -- State Senator Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville) joined Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey and other state officials on Monday to present the state’s Three Stars of Tennessee Award. The awards honor five Tennessee heroes who dedicated their lives for the safety and security of their fellow citizens.
The awards were presented posthumously to the families of Putnam County EMS Paramedic Carmen Burnette, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent De’Greaun Frazier, Metro Nashville Police Officer Eric Mumaw, Tennessee Department of Transportation HELP truck operator James “J.R.” Rogers, Jr. and Maryville Police Department Officer Kenneth Moats.
The event, which is held on September 11 each year, took place in Conservation Hall at the Executive Residence in Nashville.
Senator Massey spearheaded legislation in 2014 to recognize law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders who exhibit brave and heroic sacrifices in the line of duty. This is the fourth presentation of the annual awards since passage of that act.
“Every day in Tennessee brave men and women put on their uniforms and report for duty with the knowledge that they may pay the ultimate price for the job that they do,” said Senator Massey. “It is very appropriate that we honor the sacrifices made by Tennessee heroes like these who have demonstrated nobility through their selfless actions. No words seem adequate to express our gratitude and admiration for the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to selflessly serving others.”
In addition, First Responder Recipient awards were given to 34 first responder agencies from state and local governments in Tennessee.
“The tragedy of 9/11 serves as a reminder each year of the sacrifices made by our first responders,” added Sen. Massey. “These awards are a small token of our appreciation for the jobs they do every day for our citizens.”

• Ms. Burnette died during surgery for a condition suffered while rendering emergency care for a patient
• Agent Frazier was killed while operating an undercover drug operation
• Officer Mumaw drowned in the Cumberland River while trying to prevent a woman from committing suicide.
• Mr. Rogers was struck while assisting a stranded motorist on I-40 in Nashville
• Officer Moats was shot while responding to a disturbance call
Photo: R. Senator Massey; Maryville Police Department Officer Donnie Carroll; Lisa Burns, mother of officer Kenneth Moats; Maryville Police Department Captain David Graves and Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey.