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Capitol View commentary: Friday, March 4, 2022

Bill would make it illegal for landlords to rent to undocumented immigrants in Tennessee
Posted at 11:58 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 12:48:48-05



Few American Presidents in modern times have had a more difficult challenge in giving their annual State of the Union address.

That was particularly true for President Joe Biden.

The nation is experiencing the highest rate of inflation in four decades, along with major public fatigue from the fading, but still ongoing virus pandemic. President Biden’s job performance poll numbers are already lower than anyone, except his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Using any speech as a way to pivot or turn things around for this administration looked like an overwhelming challenge, especially for a first State of the Union speech.

And that was all before Russia invaded the Ukraine.

After President Biden’s difficult (many said disastrous) removals of American troops from Afghanistan, the betting line was not favorable he would be up for handling this latest crisis.

But so far that appears to be wrong. The Biden administration seems to have done a masterful job in uniting our allies, indeed almost the entire world, to oppose “Putin’s War.” Both Germany and long-time neutral country Switzerland has modified their policies to oppose the war and Putin.

While Biden’s original sanctions were poo-pooed as ineffective and weak, as such moves have been ratcheted up and expanded, and with businesses around the world joining to end or curtail their involvement with Russia, there are already signs the Russian economy and everyday life there has already been adversely impacted. But these sanctions could also have impacts that inflict economic pain on this country and the world.

With gas in Nashville already at $4 and above. The costs and supply of commodities is likely to either skyrocket or run short (think bread and other wheat products) are Americans ready for more pain in the pocketbook? For now, the President’s speech got a TV rating comparable to President Trump’s last address but lower than the first State of the Union addresses by Trump or former President Barack Obama. The largest amount of viewership Tuesday was also on the Fox News Network. However, at least one poll conducted in the wake of the speech says 80% of its audience approved of what they heard from the President.

While President Biden seems to be getting higher marks than expected so far in handling the Ukraine war crisis, what really seems to be driving the news, and support for Ukraine across the country and around the world, is the dogged and fearless courage to fight, and so far, stymie the Russian invasion by of the leadership and the people of Ukraine.

The support for Ukraine and for peace has been seen here in Nashville with multiple government buildings and bridges lit up in Ukrainian colors; demonstrations of support and for peace being held at the State Capitol and Vanderbilt University and Thursday being designated as a Day of Prayer in the city.

Of course, as the coach (Gene Hackman) said to his basketball team in the sports movie "Hoosiers:" “We are long past big speech time.” One week and one speech into a war are far from enough to dictate how this crisis will play out. The Russians still have many more resources, and under the direction of Putin, have begun a war of terror, bombing and shelling civilian targets. The human toll is already significant and continuing to increase, with over a million refugees and counting displaced, along with a dead and wounded toll in the hundreds — and soon likely in the thousands.

Even if Ukraine’s government falls, it appears the people of Ukraine, who once voted over 90% to be a separate, free country from Russia, will continue to resist being part of a restored Russian empire, no matter what. Trying to conquer, then occupy Ukraine could wind up being Afghanistan 2.0 for Russia. Putin keeps building the fires of opposition to his war, and charges of being a war criminal, by having his troops shell a nuclear power plant. Fortunately, that action appears not to have created any serious health issues that could have been worldwide in scope.

I have one last comment to make about the State of the Union. We’ve long seen the political gamesmanship every year in Congress during the speech. One party stands in applause while the other side sits on their hands in silence. Except, not anymore, as a few members of the opposition party are now heckling the President almost throughout the address. It happened again this year. You shouldn’t have to tell adults such actions are rude, out of order and should stop, although I doubt anything will happen.

As for President Biden, his first effort to pivot back towards the center of politics seemed to work (he never mentioned the words “Build Back Better.”) But what does it portend that progressives in his party felt a need to provide their own response to their own President’s State of the Union?


There seems to be never a dull moment in the still-emerging 5th Congressional District Republican Primary.

A bill that would seek to impose residency requirements on congressional candidates running in the major parties’ primaries passed the State Senate last Monday night and seemed too soon be moving ahead in the House. But not so fast. There is a potential amendment added Wednesday in a subcommittee in the lower chamber. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Dave Wright, R-Knoxville, amended the measure by postponing the bill’s effective date until after the November election. That means anyone who qualifies before the April deadline for the primary election would be eligible for the fall vote, whereas the Senate bill would take effect on passage and the governor’s signature.

So which version of the bill will pass?

If the Senate version of the bill passes, it appears the new law might preclude one GOP primary candidate from running, former State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus. That is because she hasn’t lived here three years, as required. Of course, they could be a legal challenge mounted.

It was thought another primary candidate, conservative record producer, Robby Starbuck, might also be ineligible, but he now says he would be qualified, having lived in the state since 2018.

Ortagus has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, which is a major plus since the new 5th District, if it had been a congressional district then, would have been carried handily by the former President in 2020.

The Trump endorsement has been highly controversial within the MAGA Nation in Tennessee. It also appears The Tennessee Star — online publication — may not be thrilled with Ortagus either. There are several articles posted on the Star's website critical of her, including one generated by a radio interview she did, when she agreed to take a quiz about what she knows about the new 5th District. It did not go well. Here is another Star article, labeling Ortagus “a carpetbagger” in the headline. The article seeks comment from Ortagus’ boss, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his endorsement of his former spokesperson. Finally this week, in an already crowded field, yet another potential GOP 5th District candidate seems to be testing the waters about a run. The qualifying deadline is April 7.


As the 112th Tennessee General Assembly begins the third month of work here in Nashville, the focus is on education.

Much of the key legislation comes from the administration of Gov. Bill Lee. The measures include significantly increased funding and a new spending formula for how the state allocates its K-12 funding.

Other bills seek to significantly increase the number of charter schools and to give parents more information, oversight and input on what age-appropriate library books and textbooks are available to students. Another bill seeks to ban “obscene” books from school libraries.

There are also bills that seek to end the teaching of “divisive concepts” in higher education in Tennessee.

Several of these bills are moving towards passage through the legislative process, even as some critics see these proposals as an “assault on public education” in Tennessee.

One of those lawmakers having concerns is Nashville State Sen. Heidi Campbell.

She joins us on INSIDE POLITICS this week.

We welcome the Senator to the program.

INSIDE POLITICS airs several times each weekend on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS.


The news broke Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the Metro Council held its meeting this week.

One of the city’s five At-Large council members announced he was resigning effective immediately. Steve Glover has had serious health issues. His attendance at Council sessions and performing his elected duties have become more difficult.

Glover was different from his colleagues. He was an outspoken conservative in a 40-member body that is overwhelmingly progressive. In fact, this Council is the most progressive I’ve seen in nearly 50 years of covering that body.

Even in the minority, Councilman Glover spoke forthrightly against what he saw as wasteful spending. He opposed the 2020 property tax increase, offering his own lower tax plan. He even supported the petition drive to repeal 34% hike.

But Glover’s opposition was never mean-spirited. Even as he departed, his colleagues praised him. They said while they didn’t always agree with him, they got along and enjoyed working with Councilman Glover. Most importantly they said, Glover loved Nashville, which showed not only in his decade of serving in the Council, as both a district and at-large member but also during his time as an elected member of the Metro School Board.

It is getting harder and harder these days to find this kind of spirit of getting along for the greater good, especially among our elected officials in Washington.

Even as Councilman Glover departs, several members of the body are supporting a local Metro firefighter, comedian and activist over his first amendment rights. Joshua Lipscomb spoke out recently on social media labeling the Council as being a group of white supremacists after its passage of a new law allowing the use of license plate readers.

Lipscomb’s fire department bosses are ready to suspend from his city job. But in a way, much like how they agreed to disagree with Councilman Glover, about a dozen councilmembers said Lipscomb should be allowed to express his freedom of speech rights.

Glover’s at-large seat will remain empty until the next Metro election in August 2023. Metro Charter does provide for special elections to fill vacant district council seats, but not the at-large ones.

Councilman Glover will be missed.

By the way, license plate readers (LPRs) continued to be an issue for the Council to discuss this week. The body approved without dissent a second reading bill that will give the city’s Community Oversight Board full and equal access to the data generated by the license plate readers.

Other bills to exclude that data from being used in immigration enforcement or to protect privacy by better defining “personally identifiable information” were both deferred two meetings for more study.

The Council needs to hold a public hearing to complete action on a bill it passed to allow a six-month pilot program to test license plate readers. I have not heard when that public hearing will take place.