2021 - Never a Dull Moment
December 15, 2021
As my first year of service to District 20 draws to a close and I reflect upon the past year the phrase “never a dull moment” certainly comes to mind. 2021 brought out the best and the worst in us, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work for positive change at such a challenging time in our district and our state. Below you will find my December newsletter. I don't want to clog your inbox so if you would like to receive future newsletters, please click here to sign up.
It's been a crazy year but I love representing my District 20 constituents. Campaign season never truly ends, so if you are able to support me in my efforts, I would appreciate a financial contribution- you can donate here.
No matter what happens we know that districts will all be changing significantly. Tennessee grew by 8.9% over the past decade to 6.9M. Davidson County grew by 14.2%, and so this means that geographically all of our districts will get smaller and that we’ll have ~3.4 Senate seats. As Democrats we submitted a proposal, but this is really performative. We have no input in the process, but we should be seeing the new maps soon. This map, submitted by the Attorney General’s office, looks like the most likely scenario thus far for the state senate. But of course that could change.
IN THE NEWS
In case you missed it, last Tuesday, the hideous Nathan Bedford Forrest statue on I-65 finally came down. As the Mayor of Oak Hill (the city in which this monstrosity resided) I implored the state to stop mowing in front of it so that it would be obscured from the road. The removal of the statue made international news. In fact, Rachel Maddow even covered the story in her opening segment and quoted me.
Last week, I sent a letter to the Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk asking him to look into the alarming number of no-bid contracts the state entered into during the pandemic. Within days, General Funk responded that he will investigate and make the results of his investigation public.
From March 2020 through May 2021, the Lee Administration spent more than $742 million on business related to COVID-19. Most of the contracts were sole-source and made without going through the state’s procurement system. Several were with out-of-state companies, and one contract for hospital gowns was with a sitting legislator’s furniture company.
Questions about the process have been raised by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the last year. I have been calling for a full review since July. Even The Beacon Center, a conservative government watchdog organization, is sounding the alarm about the lack of transparency surrounding the process, especially the $50M contact tracing contract extension with Xtend Healthcare, a medical billing company with no epidemiological experience whose own employees described extensive issues in their notification process following a COVID exposure. To date, neither lawmakers nor watchdog groups have received answers. The taxpayers of this state deserve better. My office has compiled a detailed list of all the contracts.
LEGISLATION AND ISSUES
We have a strong roster of bills heading into session in January. Education, business, the environment, public safety, voting rights, paid family leave, marijuana legalization, suicide prevention, domestic violence, and foster care are just some of the issues of focus. We’re particularly excited about a voting rights package that’s being put together by a group of high-school students.
MY PERSON OF THE YEAR!
With annual person-of-the-year publications coming out, I have one of my own (my husband, kids, and family are the people of every year for me). My best childhood friend, Howie Liebengood, was a capitol police officer who died as a result of the January 6th insurrection violence. Howie was a professional race-car driver, a brave and loyal American, and a kind and gentle soul. He died in the line of duty to our country. The events of that day should be a wakeup call to all of us that our democracy is only as strong as the people who fight for it.
DAVIDSON COUNTY DELEGATION
As Chair of the Davidson County Delegation and the only member not running for office this coming year, we thought it would be nice to highlight each of the members over the 12 days of Christmas. We have such an amazing team of Democrats representing Davidson County. Keep an eye out on social media for daily posts beginning on Christmas day.
SCHEDULE YOUR COVID BOOSTER!
If you have not yet received your COVID-19 booster, now is a good time to schedule your appointment! Click here to schedule yours.
TORNADOES IN TENNESSEE
Finally, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound after the terrible weather over the weekend. We lost power for a few days, but nothing compared to the devastation so many of our neighbors, especially those in Kentucky, suffered. If you would like to help fellow Tennesseans impacted by the tornadoes, there are many ways to do so:
Volunteers who would like to help can connect with Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at www.tnvoad.org/donate/
The American Red Cross continues to serve those affected by the recent severe weather. Emergency assistance is available to individuals whose homes were destroyed or majorly impacted. For more information or to donate, please contact the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Support small businesses this holiday season! Parnassus Book Store, Levy’s, Thistle Farms, Fanny’s House of Music, Hatch Show Print, The Shoppes on Fatherland, and Christina Cohn Ceramics are a few of my favorites.