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TN Rep Kills Own Bill Protecting Conservative Business Owners

An unusual thing happened Tuesday in the Tennessee Legislature when the sponsor of a bill failed to show up to present his bill to the committee to which it had been assigned. Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) had sponsored House Bill 54, which would have protected all businesses from discrimination by city governments in the bidding process for contracts, in regard to access to and the use of city facilities, and in regard to participation of city programs based on whether they did or did not extend special rights to employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity or provide coverage of abortion under employee group health insurance policies.

Even though proponents of the bill had updated Rep. Zachary on the bill’s status and the potential vote count among the committee’s members not less than thirty minutes before the committee convened, he came down to the committee room after it adjourned for the year, which means the bill is dead. Rep. Zachary’s reasons for his disappearance were murky.

Rep. Zachary cancelled a meeting this Wednesday with proponents of the bill desirous of finding out what happened, but it was rescheduled yesterday for next Tuesday.

The bill had passed the state Senate last year 25-5. In the Senate, it was sponsored by Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville).

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Amazon Weighs Headquarters Options as Left Pressures

Amazon is being pressured by gay rights groups to put its new headquarters in an LGBT-friendly state that supposedly does not “discriminate” because it has sexual orientation/gender identity laws.

But FRC explains that those states that are conservative and care about religious liberty, while not having SOGI laws, are actually the best states in which to do business. In fact, of the top 10 states that Forbes identified as the best in which to conduct business, seven of the 10 did not have the policies that the LGBT advocates say should be a prerequisite in determining the location of Amazon’s headquarters.

It remains to be seen whether Amazon will cave into the pressures from the Left or whether politicians in conservative states like Tennessee will sell their souls by passing sexual orientation/gender identity laws to get Amazon’s headquarters.

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Business Protection Act Passes Committee

Senate Bill 127  was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday. The bill protects businesses from discrimination by a state or local official or a local government on the basis of their personnel policies, such as employee benefits, so long as the business’ policies comply with state and federal law. The bill now heads to the Senate floor. Sen. Paul Bailey, Sen. Todd Gardenhire, Sen. Bill Ketron, Sen. Jack Johnson, Sen. Ed Jackson, and Sen. Mark Norris voted for the bill. Sen. Jeff Yarbro voted no, and Sen. Richard Briggs and Sen. Ken Yager chose not to vote.

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Can Washington, D.C., Help ‘Tennessee Thrive’?

The extent to which then-candidate Donald Trump swamped the field of presidential contenders in the Republican Primary and then swamped Hillary Clinton should be an indication that a majority of Tennesseans rejects the liberal political values inside the D.C. Beltway. But some businesses in Tennessee don’t get it. They think we need the values of liberal political groups in D.C. in order for our state to “thrive.”

I’m referring to a new advocacy organization called Tennessee Thrives. It is composed of a number of businesses like First Tennessee; Pinnacle Financial Partners, a banking/investment business primarily in Middle Tennessee but expanding; Regal Entertainment Group, the theater chain; Jack Daniels; Auto Zone; and Saint Thomas Health. The group’s name sounds very pro-Tennessee, but it is actually an arm or an offshoot of an organization based in Washington, D.C., called Freedom for All Americans. Freedom for everybody sounds good. But what you “hear” is not what you get! It’s about less freedom and, ironically, less freedom for businesses.

Tennessee Thrives Is All About the LGBT Agenda

Freedom for All Americans and, consequently, Tennessee Thrives and its business members, are all about making sure the only voice that is heard in Tennessee politics is that of the radical politicos within the LGBT lobby and community. Yes, you heard that right. Your voice doesn’t matter unless you agree with the LGBT agenda. Let me explain.

The website for Tennessee Thrives and its business partners says that “Tennesseans must support policies of inclusivity and nondiscrimination.” That means you and me. And what are these policies?

Again they are very clear—you must support a policy that adds “gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity” to our state laws. Those words are not found in our state’s laws, but we are not alone in that regard. The laws in 31 other states don’t, either.

Yet these businesses now think we must impose on all business owners a requirement that their personnel policies must give special protection to people because of who they want to have sex with and whether their psyche tells them that their biological sex is not their real sex.

They think imposing those laws on all business owners is necessary for our state to thrive, which is ironic since the group’s website touts how Tennessee’s economy has been thriving in recent years without such laws.

Since not having sexual orientation and gender identity laws has not been a problem in relation to our state thriving, what is the real problem?

Show Me the Money

Their leaders have expressly said they don’t want any new laws that would be “harmful to the state’s economy.” So what new law, other than the one they happened to like, would be harmful to the state’s economy?

The answer is found in some of the initial stories heralding the group’s formation. One story noted the boycott in North Carolina over the law to keep men out of bathrooms and locker rooms for women. It said the boycott produced “a series of revenue losses that a group of more than 350 Tennessee businesses don’t want to see their state repeat.” Another story was about the “horrible” law Tennessee passed last year that allowed a professional counselor to make a referral if a client was asking the counselor to provide counsel contrary to their own beliefs as to what was good for the client.

In other words, they don’t want the Legislature to pass any new laws that the LGBT activists don’t like and that might cause them to threaten a boycott of the state.

What This Means and What You Can Do

With that as background, let me interpret for you what I hear these businesses saying to you and me:

We don’t care if LGBT advocates would have judges violate the separation of powers by asking them to reinterpret our laws and Constitution to suit their agenda. We don’t care about the rule of law. We don’t care about religious liberty. And we for sure don’t care like North Carolina did about the safety of women and children when men invade their bathrooms and locker rooms. The voices of all you who care about these things, even though you are the majority in Tennessee, don’t matter to us. We just want to make sure the LGBT community is happy and doesn’t boycott Tennessee, because all we care about is money, period. Yes, our Constitution, the rule of law, religious liberty, and our children’s safety are all for sale to the most organized consumer group.

These short-sighted businesses have essentially told these economic terrorists, “We’ll do whatever you want, just please don’t mention the ‘boycott’ word.” I hope our legislators are not so easily intimidated and their values are not so readily for sale.

Find out who these businesses are and then avoid patronizing them when you can. After all, they don’t think you matter anyway.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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Senate Bill 127 Referred Back to Committee

Senate Bill 127, which had previously been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee by a 9-0 vote, was referred back to the State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. The bill protects business owners from discrimination by rogue mayors or state officials on the basis of their personnel and employee benefit policies.

The bill was sent back to a committee after Democratic leaders Jeff Yarbro and Lee Harris attempted to obfuscate the simple issue – should every city be able to dictate to a business its personnel and employee benefit policies? Republicans sat by and watched and then sent the bill away for more consideration.

These are the senators on that committee who will determine the bill’s outcome:

  • Chairman Ken Yager – (615) 741-1449
  • Senator Richard Briggs – (615) 741-1766
  • Senator Ed Jackson – (615) 741-1810
  • Senator Paul Bailey – (615) 741-3978
  • Senator Todd Gardenhire – (615) 741-6682
  • Senator Jack Johnson – (615) 741-2495
  • Senator Bill Ketron – (615) 741-6853
  • Senator Mark Norris – (615) 741-1967

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