A nearly three-month-old Internet blog posting taking Tennessee GOP state Reps. Tony Shipley and Jon Lundberg to task for passing legislation outlawing synthetic drugs and shutting down area head shops has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into, Shipley tells the Kin sport Times-News. “I got a call this morning that someone said something was out there, looking like it was a life threat, and it was forwarded to TBI, and they do whatever it is they do,” Shipley said. “The information was sent to Nashville by county officials who saw it today.”
The blog, called ablogination.tn420.org, said of Shipley: “We’re coming for you. The businesses you sought to destroy have more money than you do and far more resolve.”
The blog, dated May 15, included a computer-altered image of the so-called “Blackbird Mailer” used by the Tennessee Republican Party in the 2008 campaign between Shipley and former state Rep. Nathan Vaughn, Northeast Tennessee’s first African-American state lawmaker. Shipley narrowly won that election.
In the TRP mailer, the heads of Vaughn, former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama were pasted on blackbirds and described as “Part of the Big Government Flock.” In the blog, Shipley’s and Lundberg’s heads are pasted on the blackbirds and described as “Part of the Fascist Big Government Flock.”
See also WJHL-TV’s reporting, which includes this: A T.B.I. spokesperson said State Senator Mae Beavers contacted the agency with concerns about the blog post.
A T.B.I. agent met with Sen. Beavers, the spokesperson said.
…Shipley told 11 Connects News that Speaker of the House Beth Harwell has directed the T.H.P. (Tennessee Highway Patrol) Office of Executive Protection to evaluate the threat and take steps necessary to protect him and his family.
Here’s a portion of the blog post.
“We’re coming for you (Shipley). The businesses you sought to destroy have more money than you do and far more resolve….You attacked our livelihood, which means you attacked our families and their well-being. I am your enemy, Tony.”
State Representative Jon Lundberg told 11 Connects’ Josh Smith he doesn’t consider the blog to represent an “imminent threat.”
Tennessee Right To Life’s political action committee gave incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley a 100 percent grade on its 2012 scorecard but did not endorse him in his 2nd House District re-election bid. Further from Hank Hayes:
TRL’s PAC, the pro-life group’s political action arm, endorsed no one in the Aug. 2 Republican primary race between GOP challenger Ben Mallicote and Shipley, R-Kingsport.
In an e-mail, TRL President Brian Harris said the lack of an endorsement should not be interpreted as opposing Shipley’s re-election but simply a position of neutrality.
Harris explained by pointing out a strategic priority for Planned Parenthood nationally has been mainstreaming the practice of dispensing RU-486 pills via telemedicine.
“Planned Parenthood’s intent is to make chemical abortions more available, especially in ‘underserved’ rural communities,” Harris said.
Last year, Shipley introduced a House resolution promoting the use of telemedicine in Tennessee. TRL, said Harris, expressed “profound concern” at the possibility Planned Parenthood would seize the opportunity to expand the prescription of RU-486 in rural areas of Tennessee.
State Rep. Tony Shipley kicked off his re-election bid for a third term in office Thursday night with testimonials from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, other state lawmakers and local officials. Hank Hayes was on the scene: Shipley, R-Kingsport, is again seeking the 2nd House District seat in the GOP primary and faces a challenge from former Kingsport Alderman Ben Mallicote.
Neither Shipley, nor the elected officials endorsing him, publicly mentioned Mallicote at the downtown event held inside Korner-Copia.
“My opponent is certainly entitled to hold a rally, but the voters of the 2nd District are also entitled to hear the candidates engage in a substantive debate about the issues,” Mallicote said in response to Shipley’s event.
“Representative Shipley has ignored invitations to debate from the Chamber, Kiwanis, Rotary and WKPT, retreating instead into a small group of his supporters. It’s a shame he no longer feels he needs to earn our citizens’ votes.”
Ramsey, R-Blountville, told the small crowd that he has known Shipley since both went to Sullivan Central High School.
“He has not changed one bit,” Ramsey said of Shipley. “People ask me all the time: ‘Are you behaving in Nashville?’ I say ‘No. You don’t want me to behave. You want somebody who keeps it stirring, keeps it going, changing the direction of the country and the state, and Tony is one doing that.'”
State Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, pointed out Shipley understands he answers to the electorate.
“You can find someone who wants to keep a seat warm in Nashville, or you can find someone who will get in the mud and fight … (and) maybe he’s a little rough around the edges,” Faison said of Shipley.
State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, told Shipley he was a “brash and blunt” lawmaker starting out four years ago.
“You want someone like that starting out in Nashville. … You don’t want someone to say ‘I will try to do this or that.’ … Tony, you’ve been consistent for four years,” Lundberg told Shipley.
As part of an in-depth look at drunken driving in Tennessee, Natalie Alund has a review of DUI legislation that passed the General Assembly earlier this year….and more to come next year. This past session, lawmakers continued their efforts to keep serial drunken
drivers from climbing behind the wheel.
Prosecutors say many repeat DUI offenders are such pros, they know that if they violate the implied consent law they can still apply for a restricted license.
So lawmakers passed a bill (HB2749) that empowers judges to order an ignition interlock device on vehicles of people who violate the implied consent law as a condition for issuance of a restricted license.
“Research shows that ignition interlock devices are one of the most effective ways to keep drunken drivers from continuing to drive drunk,” said Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Unfortunately, they’re underused across the state.”
Lawmakers also beefed up a current DUI law that requires people to serve a mandatory 30 days in jail if they drive drunk with a passenger under age 18 in the vehicle. Under HB 2751, the 30 days will be consecutively tacked on to any sentence received for an alcohol-related offense. A judge can’t make the sentences run at the same time.
Another bill, HB2752, authorizes a police officer to get a court order or a search warrant to force a person who has refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.
…And lawmakers say they are the start of many more to come.
“We’re getting the launching pad set for next year,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who sponsored HB2749, HB2751 and HB2752.
Shipley said that in the next legislative session lawmakers will address HB942, which if approved, would make it a DUI for those caught driving with a nonprescription schedule 1 or schedule 2 substance in their blood, regardless of the amount in their system.
“We ran into a few philosophical issues with it this session,” Shipley said. “I took it off notice until we can spend time researching it a little more. It’s better to fold that one up and work on it over the next year to see if we can make it work. Some defense attorneys in the Legislature were concerned the presence of a controlled substance or its metabolites in the blood could not be proven to be the proximate cause of an offense.”
…Another bill Shipley plans to push for next session is HB139. Currently, DUI defendants with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher who apply for a restricted license must have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle if they want a restricted license. Under HB139, Shipley wants to reduce the 0.15 BAC to 0.08 percent.
“You’re going to grab a whole lot more people because more defendants get caught driving with a 0.08 to 0.15 BAC than with a 0.15 and higher,” Shipley said.
Although he has high hopes for the bill, he decided not push for it this past session because of funding.
Shipley, backed by Overbey, also said he’d like Tennessee to join the other 16 states in mandating ignition interlocks on vehicles for all convicted first-time DUI offenders.
— Note: The bill numbers are those for the 107th General Assembly. If re-introduced next year, of course, they’ll likely have different numbers.
Politicians and coal advocates from four states portrayed President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency as a coal job killing machine during an Abingdon, Va., rally attended by more than 1,000 miners and their family members on Saturday.
Tennessee was represented. An excerpt from Hank Hayes’ report: Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told the crowd there’s been a concerted effort by environmentalists over the last five years to shut down coal mining in Tennessee.
Ramsey noted legislation was introduced this year — and then defeated — to eliminate Tennessee’s mountain top mining.
“(Environmentalists) said ‘We’re only going to stop coal mining above 2,000 feet.’ … Well guess where all the coal in the state of Tennessee is? Above 2,000 feet,” said Ramsey, R-Blountville.
Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley, an Air Force veteran, explained the Obama administration’s attack on coal in military terms.
Shipley remembered military strategists telling him that any time 50 percent of a target is destroyed, it’s useless.
“The Obama administration is about to destroy the energy industry in this country. You must … we must remove that man from our White House,” Shipley, R-Kingsport, told the crowd. “How many of you all like to use air conditioning in the middle of the summer? How many of you like to use heat in the middle of the winter? How many of you enjoy non-kerosene lights all the time?
“Ladies and gentlemen, if the Obama administration continues, you will have to discover how you can live on 50 percent of your air conditioning, 50 percent of your heating and 50 percent of your lighting. That is unacceptable.”
Synthetic drug sellers and makers now face felony jail time and fines up to $5,000 following a ceremonial legislation signing by Gov. Bill Haslam in front of Tennessee High School’s student body Monday, reports Hank Hayes. Two bills sponsored by state Reps. Jon Lundberg and Tony Shipley — which address both synthetic marijuana and bath salts similar to controlled substances — are now law. Shipley’s bill took effect Monday, while the effective date of Lundberg’s legislation was April 27.
The law also allows authorities to declare synthetic drug businesses as a public nuisance. Haslam indicated earlier this year he didn’t know that much about synthetic drugs, but then began hearing about student protests outside local head shops.
“I think one of the things that affected our thinking … was this is a big issue,” Haslam told reporters following the legislation signing at Viking Hall. “We had a student death up here, and we heard repeated tales from the emergency rooms here about how many patients they were seeing from bath salts or synthetic drugs. It really was something becoming way too commonplace. This place was the epicenter of it.”
Shipley, R-Kingsport, asked THS students: “How many of you know someone who’s taken bath salts or know where they’ve bought bath salts?”
Many hands went up.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the reason we passed this law. This was an epidemic attacking our community,” Shipley declared.
…Haslam’s administration included more than $300,000 in the recently passed state budget to pay for incarceration expenses in the law. Those expenses were based on more than 60 people going into the Department of Corrections for a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance offense in each of the past 10 years.
The new laws and increased public focus on synthetic drugs, Lundberg said, apparently have scared off synthetic drug sellers. He added synthetic drug cases in local emergency rooms have dropped dramatically.
“I think it’s had an impact that people know it’s illegal. … It hit us the worst,” Lundberg observed
…For more information go to www.capitol.tn.gov. Shipley’s bill was HB 3175. Lundberg’s bill was HB 2286.
The success of Virginia’s laws against synthetic drugs is partly to blame for the synthetic drug problem in East Tennessee, reports the Bristol Herald-Courier. “We’re somewhat a victim of the success of the Virginia law,” Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said earlier this week at a news conference about the drugs. “It effectively drove them [sellers of synthetic drugs] to Tennessee.”
He also said that the east part of the state seems hit the hardest by synthetic drugs, and is worried that, if left unchecked by legislature, the problem will grow throughout the state.
Tennessee has a synthetic drug law, but it contains only a short list of banned chemicals – and omits a number of other compounds that have the same or similar effects. Tennessee lawmakers are looking to change that, and are looking at Virginia’s law as an example, Staubus said. Virginia’s law classifies synthetic drugs based on their effects – in that they mimic controlled substances – and then treats synthetics like the controlled substance it is intended to mimic.
Three bills currently before the Tennessee General Assembly aim to do that; two are sponsored by local representatives Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, and Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.
An excerpt from a lengthy Tennessean report on debate over whether the Legislature should grant state recognition to some groups as American Indians (HB2284): There are 20,000 Tennesseans who identify themselves as American Indians, according to the 2010 census, but there are no state- or federally recognized tribes here. Cherokees and other Southeastern tribes thrived in Tennessee until President Andrew Jackson banished them to Oklahoma in 1838.
Alice Gwin Henry, 70, of Memphis said she wants one thing before she dies: acknowledgment that she’s related to Cherokee Chief Oconostota, whom she grew up knowing as her great-great-great-great-grandfather.
Henry, who claims membership in the Tanasi group, says she has approached investors about building family theme parks in East and West Tennessee featuring replica Indian villages. They’re contingent upon state recognition, she said, but she refused to reveal names of potential investors.
“I won’t ever divulge that, but many would be shocked in the state if they knew who these investors were; … these are some of the largest companies in America,” Henry said.
An all-encompassing legislative amendment containing elements of three anti-synthetic drug bills has been drafted and is moving forward, state Rep. Tony Shipley tells the Kingsport Times-News. Shipley, R-Kingsport, said the amendment has been tacked on to his anti-synthetic drugs bill and will become the “coordinated legislative package” attacking sellers, distributors and users. Shipley’s legislation with the new amendment advanced out of a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday.
“It’s now a completely deconflicted and coordinated bill,” Shipley said of the amendment with merged pieces of two other bills, including one filed by state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol.
Both Shipley and Lundberg have called attention to synthetic drug deaths and increased hospital emergency room visits while touting their bills. During the subcommittee meeting,
Shipley placed over the podium a black T-shirt showing a bath salts container and the words: “Death Sentence. Save Our Community.”
The lengthy legislative amendment that advanced creates new felonies for manufacturing, selling and distributing synthetic drugs
A renewed effort to grant state recognition to Indian tribes in Tennessee has won approval of a House subcommittee.
The measure proposed by Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, grants recognition to three tribes – the Remnant Yuchi Nation, the Tanasi Council and the United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfeld – and allows other groups to apply with the Tennessee Native American Council for recognized status.
The council is to evaluate other groups, using criteria set forth in the bill (HB2284) and make recommendations to future General Assemblies..
Similar legislation has failed in the past and in 2010 the now-defunct Tennessee Indian Affairs Commission tried to grant recognition to six tribe. The commission’s action was declared void, however, in a lawsuit brought by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. (Note: Post from back then is HERE.)