Rep. John Ragan

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

Griffey stance conflicts with Senate leadership

BY: - July 27, 2021

Rep. Bruce Griffey says he’s not “anti-vax,” yet he is one of a growing number of legislators leery of masks and vaccination campaigns and gaining a bigger voice in the General Assembly. In fact, the Paris Republican believes only a small group of people should take the shots, those over 60 with co-morbidities. That outlook […]

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. […]

A transgender woman hold a transgender pride flag at a rally for LGBTQ rights in New York. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.)

A South African sportswriter’s influence on anti-transgender legislation

BY: - June 23, 2021

In the last six years, Tennessee has passed more than 70 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation. This year the state surpassed nearly every other in the country, becoming the first to require businesses and government buildings to post a sign if they let transgender people use bathrooms. Previous Lookout reporting covered the far-right and conservative groups […]

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed, which is an effort by several U.S. government components and public partnerships to facilitate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

Piercey to face raft of childhood immunization questions

BY: - June 16, 2021

The chairman of the House Government Operations Committee appears ready to grill Tennessee’s Health Department commissioner over childhood immunization policy, potentially to overturn the state’s mature minor doctrine. Rep. John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, sent a list of questions June 12 to the Department of Health requesting that Commissioner Lisa Piercey be prepared to […]

'Bills have consequences,' says a sign held by a Tennessee resident sitting in a Tennessee Senate hearing Tuesday. The hearing focused on a bill giving immunity to drivers hitting protestors and was one of several racially-charged hearings on what could be the final day of the legislative session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House, Senate at odds over bill withholding funds from school districts that teach systemic racism

BY: - May 4, 2021

After a far-flung debate that touched on everything from the Three-Fifths Compromise to the Holocaust, the House passed legislation Tuesday that would allow the state to punish school districts if a teacher delves into systemic racism in America. But the bill is tied up in a disagreement between the House and Senate. In the final […]

Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate committee bucks governor to remake Historical Commission for Forrest vote

BY: - March 17, 2021

A Senate committee gave credence Wednesday to legislation vacating the Tennessee Historical Commission over its vote to relocate the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust, despite opposition from Gov. Bill Lee. In a 5-4 vote, the Senate Government Operations Committee gave a positive recommendation to Senate Bill 600 from Sen. Joey Hensley to remove 29 Historical Commission […]

The controversial bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest perches in the Tennessee Capitol's second floor, between the chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Public officials would be impeached for removing statues

BY: - March 16, 2021

Two lawmakers who want to impeach any public official who removes statues from the Capitol’s second floor are tiptoeing around an amendment that appears to punish the governor for his efforts to relocate the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. Sen. Joey Hensley, a Hohenwald Republican, and Rep. John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, both said Tuesday […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Getty Images)

Stockard on the stump: Kelsey throws down challenge to Shelby County Schools

BY: - February 12, 2021

Retired Capitol Hill reporter Tom Humphrey for years wrote a column called “Humphrey on the Hill.” In his stead, I am taking up the mantle with a new report called “Stockard on the Stump,” a collection of briefs, anecdotes and quotes from the latest week in the Tennessee General Assembly.–SS Pouring gas on an argument […]

Tennessee House of Representatives Chambers (iStock Editorial/Getty Images)

Legislators could undercut governor’s emergency orders

BY: - December 1, 2020

Amid questions about Tennessee’s elongated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators are planning to cut drastically into a future governor’s ability to declare extended states of emergency. “If this state of emergency we’re in right now were a pregnancy, we would be diapering the baby,” state Rep. John Ragan said Tuesday, contending the virus is […]