I was the subject of a number of columns written by Dan Jackson during the 2018 election cycle.
I joined the ranks of President Donald Trump and a litany of other Republicans who became the subject of his factually unsupported attacks, and I refrained from responding.
However, it is important for you to have accurate information about issues that affect our community and this district. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to provide such.
Did I recommend my wife to the governor for the position of chancellor? Absolutely.
I cannot think of any husband I know who would not recommend his wife for a position for which she is exceptionally qualified.
My wife graduated in the top of her law school class, was the longest-practicing attorney who applied, was the only AV-rated attorney who applied;
Was the first and only woman who made partner in the top regional law firm for which she had previously worked in Memphis and Tampa, had the greatest diversity of practice experience, and had the greatest number of publications and awards, including the 2017 Tennessee Impact Award from the Department of Human Services, among other things.
Was I willing to compromise my district or the will of my constituents in exchange for the governor appointing my wife to a judicial position? Absolutely not.
If I was at all willing, I’d have voted in favor of the governor’s key piece of legislation on April 23 – the controversial school voucher (ESA) bill.
However, I voted against it despite significant pressure to support it by the governor’s administration and despite the fact the judicial position, for which my wife remains the best qualified candidate of those who applied, was open at the time of my vote.
Did I negotiate a position for my wife in exchange for my vote? Absolutely not. Those who know me are aware that I did not and would never do so. My obligation as an attorney is to my client. Similarly, my obligation as your state representative is to you, my constituents.
The overwhelming majority of my constituents opposed the ESA bill, so I voted the will of my constituents.
I am no puppet. I don’t follow the principle of “go along to get along.” I did not go to Nashville for the goal or purpose of being best friends with the governor or popular with my fellow legislators or lobbyists.
I went to Nashville to try to make a difference and a positive change for my district.
I campaigned on bringing industry back to our district, and I am sponsoring legislation to reverse the flow of economic development monies in Tennessee from the metro areas to the rural districts.
I also formed the Rural Caucus at the legislature in order to have a voting bloc to pass the legislation.
I am working on forming a Regional Industrial Authority for manufacturing recruitment and earmarking surplus tax dollars to assist.
I co-sponsored the GIVE Act to invest more state dollars in technical training to ensure we have a skilled workforce to recruit manufacturers.
I campaigned on reform of animal welfare laws to increase penalties for animal cruelty and abuse, and I drafted and sponsored the PAWS Act.
I campaigned on Pro-Life principles and I served as a co-sponsor of the Fetal Heartbeat bill and helped get it passed out of the House. I also co-sponsored the “Human Life Protection Act.”
I campaigned on Second Amendment issues, and I sponsored the “Stand Your Ground Law” supported by the NRA and the TFA to provide stronger immunity to individuals who use a gun in defense of person or property.
I co-sponsored the elimination of the special privilege tax on ammunition. I am sponsoring a “Constitutional Carry” bill next session.
I campaigned on supporting our veterans, and I asked many of the veterans organizations in our district how I could best help them. The consistently vocalized No. 1 desire was to legalize bingo so they could raise money to assist veterans.
So, I sponsored a bill to do just that, and it turns out it was a desire of not only veterans organizations, but also volunteer fire departments, animal rescue groups and other non-profits across the district.
I also co-sponsored a bill to give children of active military in-state tuition and I co-sponsored a bill to award special bachelor degrees to veterans with 20 years of service.
I campaigned on deterring illegal immigration to Tennessee, and I followed through with my campaign promise by sponsoring a series of bills to do just that.
For example, I sponsored a bill to expand E-verify to protect jobs and wages for hard-working Tennesseans.
Does anyone really believe increased illegal immigration will improve hourly wage rates for Tennesseans at the bottom of the economic scale?
Is it fair for some businesses to hire illegals and compete with others who employ strictly Tennessee citizens?
I also sponsored a bill to require a criminal defendant’s illegal status to be a factor of consideration in setting a bond and to require communication with ICE and cooperation with holds placed by ICE on criminal defendants illegally present in Tennesee.
While Jackson may deem this an unworthy bill worth laughing at, I personally, as a former prosecutor, have experience with illegal criminal defendants right here in our district and don’t believe it is a laughing matter.
Ignoring ICE detainers and skirting U.S. immigration law has deadly consequences, as almost everyone must recognize now, due to criminal aliens being released back into our communities to commit rapes, murders and other horrific crimes.
In my mind, if Tennessee does not pass legislation to require every judge to verify if a criminal defendant is an illegal alien wanted by ICE, and if just one of those illegal alien criminals gets out and kills someone’s daughter, son, husband or wife, the death of that loved one will be on the hands of the legislature and our governor.
By the way, I happen to personally like Gov. Bill Lee. I believe he is a genuine human being who wants to improve the lives of Tennesseans.
Did I threaten the governor? I certainly don’t think so, and I would never presume that would be my place to do so.
Did I try to alert the governor that appointing a person to a judicial position in our judicial district who was not qualified to run as a GOP candidate according to Tennessee GOP Bylaws (which I didn’t create) could result in loss of GOP voter support for him? Yes.
Jackson asks, “What about getting our lake/fishing/tourism-driven communities help with the Asian Carp problem?”
I have been working tirelessly on this issue. I have been assisting local commercial fishermen with economic development grants to allow them to expand their fishing of carp out of our waterways.
I have had ongoing communications with U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn in order to have federal dollars earmarked to address the problem.
I have had communications and meetings with the governor’s administration and the former and current speaker of the house and fellow legislators to re-activate the Asian Carp Task Force and allocate additional state dollars to address the problem.
I have had ongoing communications with the TWRA to lessen regulations on commercial fishermen to allow them to harvest more Asian Carp, which was successfully accomplished within the last two weeks.
I have had ongoing communications with third-party business consultants regarding establishing a local processing facility and expanding market-based solutions.
I’ve also regularly participated in meetings and conference calls with both a grassroots and professional organization in the Southeast region to address Asian Carp, just to name a few things I’ve done in this area.
Jackson also asks what I have been doing to get help for our local meth/opioid addicted populations. I have supported legislation directed to this issue and will continue to do so.
For example, I sponsored a welfare reform bill to require mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients and rehab for those who test positive.
I also supported formation of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, inasmuch as I’ve been a steadfast believer that faith-based rehabilitation programs offer a substantially greater likelihood of success.
Jackson asks what I have done to make sure our local agencies, like our sheriff’s departments, get the support they need from Nashville.
I am in regular communication with the sheriffs in the district to get their input on assistance they need and how bills will impact them.
Every sheriff has my cell phone number and we all text-message each other regarding any issue of consequence. I co-sponsored a number of bills to strengthen penalties against criminals who need to be punished.
I co-sponsored a bill which enables law enforcement officers and firefighters to be eligible for service retirement after 25 years of service.
I will be bringing back my bill to impose a fee on foreign money transfers by illegals from Tennessee and have earmarked the estimated half billion dollars in revenue to go towards increasing pay for law enforcement officers as well as teachers.
Jackson also asks, “What about making sure the road projects, funded by TDOT, don’t get kicked eight years down the road?”
Fortunately, I’m vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and I have had numerous ongoing meetings, emails and telephone communications with TDOT and local officials to try to solve issues left in my lap from before I was elected.
The thing to do now is to try to fix the problem, which I am doing. I am working together with County Mayor Brent Greer, Paris Mayor Carlton Gerrell, TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright and USDOT officials to get this project completed as soon as possible.
I ran for office to be an honest, zealous advocate for my constituents, and that is what I have done. In fact, I did just that when I advocated for a caucus to select the Republican nominee for chancellor.
I did it to protect the interests of Henry Countians in my district. If a primary, as advocated by King was held, both Henry and Hardin counties would have been entirely excluded from having any voice whatsoever in the process, due to a notification deadline to local election administrators that was regrettably missed.
I felt my constituents would prefer having some voice over no voice at all, and I advocated for a voice for my constituents.
BRUCE GRIFFEY, R-Paris, represents the 75th District, which includes Henry County, in the Tennessee House of Representatives. His email is email@example.com.