Gov. Bill Lee

COMMENTARY
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Commentary: Four ways Tennessee’s new trust regulations benefit individuals and families

BY: and - July 30, 2021

Tennessee’s national reputation as a leading state to establish and administer a trust took another step forward with the passage of several new regulations on May 12. The new laws – when combined with the repeal of Tennessee’s tax on passive investment income (the Hall Income Tax) on January 1 – further solidifies the Volunteer […]

Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, has called Gov. Bill Lee's cancellation of unemployment benefits while giving money to businesses an "immoral double standard."(Photo: John Partipilo)

Senator renews questions about failed state COVID testing contract

BY: - July 29, 2021

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is urging state auditors to complete an investigation into no-bid contracts awarded by Gov. Bill Lee’s administration since the COVID-19 pandemic started, pinpointing a botched contract with Nomi Health last year that cost the state nearly $6 million. A member of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, Campbell raised questions Wednesday about […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus prepares for an interview in her Williamson County home. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers split over Fiscus firing

BY: - July 23, 2021

The group of anti-vax legislators whose complaints about the Department of Health vaccine campaign led to the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus won’t say much about her termination. But there is a clear break between that group and others who think the state made the wrong move. The topic is so sensitive that most lawmakers […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State lawmakers urge against push to vaccinate children

BY: - July 21, 2021

Two Tennessee lawmakers who chair the Joint Government Operations Committee warned schools Wednesday not to “bully,” “cajole” or “coerce” students to be vaccinated. In a rare crowded gathering for the panel, Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, co-chairman of the committee, sought to head off upheaval over the recent firing of the state’s chief immunization officer Dr. […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: The curious case of Dr. Fiscus

BY: - July 16, 2021

We began the week in the soap opera that is Tennessee with the firing of the Tennessee Department of Health’s chief immunization director.  Dr. Michelle “Shelley” Fiscus, a pediatrician by training, was unceremoniously sacked on Monday after four years of service with the state. Fiscus said her termination letter gave no reason for her firing […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: State spent millions on vaccine campaign that helped cost Fiscus her job

BY: - July 16, 2021

Tennessee spent $11.4 million on public service campaigns designed to battle COVID-19. The only thing it cost the state to fire its chief immunologist was a lot of embarrassment. Using coronavirus relief funds, the state paid Designsensory $8.9 million for messaging to encourage mask wearing and social distancing early in the pandemic. Once vaccines were […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle "Shelley" Fiscus, photographed in her home on July 15, 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fired immunization director never saw letter recommending termination

BY: - July 15, 2021

The Department of Health fired its director of the immunization program for several reasons, including failure to consult superiors on the state’s vaccine program, according to a letter placed in her personnel file. But Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was terminated Monday, says she didn’t know about the letter written by Dr. Tim Jones on July […]

Members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Jeff Yarbro, left, and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, next to him, slammed Gov. Bill Lee for the political firing of a leading health official. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Democrats slam governor over firing of immunology chief

BY: - July 14, 2021

Two days after Tennessee’s chief immunologist was fired under pressure from anti-vax lawmakers, Democratic leaders blasted the governor for failing to take responsibility for the state’s vaccination policy. “I think it’s an abdication of leadership,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said during an online press conference. Democrats expressed shock that the Department of Health and Lee […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor’s administration made state medical director scapegoat for anti-vaxxers

BY: - July 13, 2021

One of Tennessee’s leading medical experts was fired this week, taking the fall for Gov. Bill Lee, when his administration caved in to ultra-conservative lawmakers upset with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine messaging toward teens. The department fired Dr. Shelley Fiscus, state director for vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases, even though she had been working at the […]

Gov. Bill Lee addressing members of the Tennessee National Guard. (Photo: tn.gov)

After National Guard trip, governor says nation needs new Southern border strategy

BY: - July 12, 2021

Shrugging off the notion that the Southern border “crisis” is a political attack, Gov. Bill Lee says the nation should develop a new strategy to stop a surge in illegal crossings and activity from Mexico. After a two-day trip to review 300 Tennessee National Guard soldiers serving on a year-long mission for border patrol support, […]

COMMENTARY
Man at Nashville rally, June 4. (Photo: Alex Kent)

Commentary: Educators will continue to teach the truth of America’s racial history

BY: - July 12, 2021

As a West Tennessee public school teacher of 18 years, my life has taken on a rhythmic pattern – pedal to the floor, hair on fire for ten months and then two months of rest during the summer.  The same process year in and year out.  June and July have always afforded me a time […]

COMMENTARY
A pickup truck emblazoned with the Jack Daniel's Distillery logo parked in front of the Cordell Hull Legislative Office Building Wednesday. Inside the building, officials with company gave one-fith bottles of Jack to legislators. (Photo: Sam Stockard)

Stockard on the Stump: Jack in the bag sparks new look at gifts

BY: - July 9, 2021

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman didn’t violate any rules on gifts to lawmakers when it handed out bottles of sipping whiskey to lawmakers in February. But the gift bags are causing the Tennessee Ethics Commission to take a new look at the guidelines for giveaways. The Ethics Commission voted recently to have staff review a 2008 […]