The two candidates for the Republican nomination for the Tennessee House from the Eleventh District met Thursday evening for a 90 minute debate. The event was hosted by the Cocke County Republican Party and the Greene County Young Republicans. Four-term incumbent Jeremy Faison will face political newcomer Greg Fodness in the August 2 primary. With regard to medical marijuana, Faison is a strong proponent, but Fodness opposes it's medical use. He sponsored legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana telling the audience " we've been lied to for over 80 years in America about the benefits of that plant. It offers a number of benefits that have been proven scientifically." Faison said he wants sick people to have the benefits of this product that is grown in a safe and controlled environment." The lawmaker said he is opposed to recreational marijuana use or the availability of marijuana that can be smoked. "I have met countless Tennesseans who are alive today because of that plant." "Does that mean we would have growers right her? Absolutely, but that also would mean jobs that start at $25 an hour. And would be regulated by the Departments of Agriculture and Safety." But Fodness argued that the THC level of marijuana cannot be regulated. While he is sympathetic to those who benefit from the use of medical marijuana, the candidate said: "you are going to have grow houses and dispensaries here in Tennessee within 300 feet of a church." And he argued the legalization would slow the growth of the state."You have people moving here because it is old-fashioned, it's family and church. Do we want this place to look like Colorado?" Fodness also argued that marijuana may "be sold out the back door...we can't even control opioids. And he said those who have a card to purchase marijuana legally currently are not allowed to have a gun permit. The two candidates, both small businessmen, agreed on a number of issues. Both said they are supporters of gun rights and support background checks. Fodness said he there should be a "backstop" to prevent those with a mental illness from having a concealed gun. Both also said they oppose a ban on assault rifles. Both candidates also argued against abortion, and both expressed strong stands against illegal immigrants. While Faison said he opposed the Improve Act which hiked the fuel tax to fund road building but Fodness said roads need to be improved to bring in more and better paying jobs. He said improving South Highway 321 to Gatlinburg at one time was "1 on the priority list, it now is ranked #14. Faison said he did vote for the Act after a provision was added to benefit disabled veterans. In a related issue, Faison said unemployment was high eight years ago but now is the lowest in history, with companies struggling to find employees who are educated. Both candidates also argued against in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants. Faison said he also voted against recognizing sanctuary cities, but Fodness said such a move was unnecessary because they already are illegal under federal law. With regard to education, Faison said local school boards can make better decisions than can Nashville or Washington, Fodness pointed to the recent issues with standardized testing in the state saying, it was poorly thought out. Faison said the state should simply use the ACT for testing. Although Faison pointed out that Tennessee education is vastly improved from several years ago, Fodness said the state remains the eighth least educated state in the country. Faison said he doesn't like vouchers which funnel taxpayer money to private schools. Although the Tennessee Promise and Reconnect programs are making education available for virtually everyone in the state. Fodness said he also opposes vouchers, but he doesn't like programs funded with lottery money because the funding is coming from the poorest people of the state. Fodness was critical of Faison who he said took Political Action Committee(PAK money. He argued that Faison accepting such contributions then will be beholden to the contributors. But Faison said the money he accepts comes back to his district. "I vote the way I want to. Noone has ever bought a vote from me." Fodness said he does not take PAC money. Fodness was critical of Faison who tried to help a registered sex offender to keep his job mowing the Union cemetery and around the Newport Community Center. Faison said the offender wore a GPS device and had worked and lived at the cemetery for several years before his probation officer said he could not be there because it was too close to a small city park. Faison said he had a back-and-forth discussion before the state officer said the man could continue to work, but then the state changed its mind and again said he was prohibited from working. "So do we force him to sit at home and collect welfare when he wants to work?," the lawmaker asked. Fodness said Faison should not have used his influence to help a sex offender who was convicted of raping a seven-year-old boy. He also said the offender was mowing grass at the community center where small children are wearing swimming suits. "The question is, why do we have a state representative who is trying to use the muscle of his office to get an exception for a guy who raped a seven year-old boy?"
|I-40 work schedule|
Currently, I-40 in Cocke County is back to having all lanes open and will stay that way for the next two weeks, according to Mark Nagi, TDOT Community Relations Officer. All bridge repair work on I-40 East in Cocke County was completed this evening. Roadway is back to two lanes at MM 443 (8 miles from TN/NC state line). All bridge repair work is done on the eastbound side. That said, bridge repair work on I-40 West resumes with a lane closure after July 4. Resurfacing work in this area is ongoing, and takes place Sunday-Thursday nights.
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced Thursday that Ninety-three of Tennessee’s 95 counties recorded a jobless rate in May that was less than 5 percent. Williamson County had the lowest unemployment in the state with a rate of 2.1 percent, Lauderdale County had the highest unemployment rate of 5.3 percent. Local numbers look like this; Cocke 3.7 percent, Jefferson 3.2 percent, Hamblen 3.2 percent, Greene 3.3 percent and Sevier 2.5 percent. For 11 consecutive months, Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate has been at 3.5 percent or lower.
|Trustee Office transfer clarification|
In a clarification to an earlier news story; The Cocke County Legislative Body meeting earlier this week rejected a transfer of funds to the commission of Trustee Rob Mathis. Apparently, the commission believed the transfer was additional funding to the office based on the additional revenue that was collected. But Mathis in response says reports that his office requested additional funding are inaccurate. He requested a transfer within departmental funds, not additional money. Mathis says what the CLB rejected was an internal bookkeeping issue in the County Mayor's Office and had nothing to do with the Trustee's Office. "My office never requested this money. The transfer in question was an internal bookkeeping issue in the County Mayor's Office and had nothing to do with the Trustee's off8ice," says Mathis. The trustee says not only did his office not request additional funds, "we have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and interest earned from investments to the county general fund." Mathis says "This money, in effect, is extra money for the county. He says the investments have resulted in approximately $600,000 for the county this fiscal year. The trustee stresses that he is always glad to talk with taxpayers who have concerns. His number is 423-623-3037.
Friday, June 22, 2018Faison/Fodness debate
I-40 work schedule
Trustee Office transfer clarification
Thursday, June 21, 2018Celebrating Cosby
July 4 travel to be a record breaker
Keeping families together
Storytelling at Cades Cove
Wednesday, June 20, 2018Trucks in downtown Newport
Murphy is sentenced
Association Health Plans
Corker and Alexander oppose separating families
Roe talks re-election
Tuesday, June 19, 2018Commercial District approved for West Highway 25/70
Mason ordered to serve 12 years
Douglas Lake boating incident
Rausch appointed TBI head
Monday, June 18, 2018FSA Committee
U Haul fire on I-40
Suicide is up in Tennessee
TVA cutting rebates aimed at energy conservation
Gas prices are dropping slowly