Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis)

NASHVILLE — Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) issued a statement today applauding a vote to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Tennessee’s Capitol Building.

Sen. Akbari’s full statement:

From the Fort Pillow massacre to roving lynch mobs, from Jim Crow to the assassination of MLK, Jr., it’s time for us, as one people, to heal the wounds of the past.

Much like this bust symbolizes the pain and suffering of slavery and ​terror, removing the likeness of Nathan Bedford Forrest from a place of honor in Tennessee’s Capitol is a symbol of much needed reconciliation.

No doubt we have…

‘Insane,’ ‘disappointing,’ Democratic leaders say

NASHVILLE — The ouster of Tennessee’s top vaccination official will put more lives at risk, Democratic senators say, as new cases of Covid-19 are ticking up in the state.

On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration fired Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health. The administration’s termination letter provides no explanation or cause for firing her.

Left to right: Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis); Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville); Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville)

But in recent weeks, anti-vaccine lawmakers from the controlling party targeted Fiscus for sending a letter to healthcare providers outlining the circumstances in which they could provide a Covid-19 vaccine to teenagers.

Dr. Fiscus…

Yearlong removal process concluded today, but the bronze figure remains in the Tennessee Capitol

NASHVILLE — Exactly one year after a state commission that oversees the Tennessee Capitol voted to remove the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the building’s second floor, Democrats in the Senate are urging state officials to finish the job.

Sen. Raumesh Akbari and Sen. Brenda Gilmore

“Our state Capitol should be a place that celebrates the values and causes that unite us as Tennesseans,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). “It was never a place for Nathan Bedford Forrest and now the day has come for us to finally remove his bust from these hallowed halls — and it should be done without delay.”

The Capitol Commission…

Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to send tax dollars out of state after rejecting aid for out-of-work Tennesseans draws fire

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to launch a state-funded program that gives people who live out-of-state a $250 airline voucher to travel to Tennessee is drawing criticism from Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) who says the administration hasn’t focused enough on families still trying to recover from the pandemic’s economic downturn.

After cutting support for out-of-work Tennesseans, Gov. Lee announced this week he is now offering state-paid airfare vouchers to tourists flying to Tennessee. …

NASHVILLE — The 2021 legislative session of the 112th General Assembly was amongst the most contentious in our state’s modern history.

Left to right, top to bottom: Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville); Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis); Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville); Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis); Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis); and Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville)

The session will be largely remembered for the controlling party’s obsession with nationally-driven culture war politics, extreme measures that threaten Tennessee’s long-term success and politics that almost always favored wealthy special interests over people who work for a living.

Read our review of the worst bills to become law here.

Still, the Senate Democratic Caucus found success passing 35 pieces of substantive legislation, in addition to cosponsoring laws, on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to expanding STEM education…

NASHVILLE — The first year of the 112th General Assembly will be remembered for the controlling party’s obsession with nationally-driven culture war politics, extreme measures that threaten Tennessee’s long-term success and politics that almost always favored wealthy special interests over people who work for a living.

With a budget surplus in the billions and billions of federal aid, the General Assembly had an opportunity to make a big difference on a variety of issues that hold our families back.

The legislature could have aggressively shutdown the coronavirus to protect our health and keep businesses open, but instead advanced legislation that…

Analysis: Only 3% of job listings pay above family poverty line, people out of work drastically outnumber recent job postings

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Lee continues to mislead Tennesseans on the number of current job openings and the quality of those positions—peddling anecdotes rather than evidence — in defense of his decision to end federal unemployment enhancements for people who lost a job through no fault of their own.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress in 2020, provided $300 a week to Americans who were laid off or lost work throughout the pandemic, but, in May, Gov. Lee announced he is ending Tennessee’s involvement with the federal unemployment program early July.

His decision will eliminate unemployment benefits entirely for nearly…

WASHINGTON — A new congressional report shows Tennessee’s economy will lose $486 million due to Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to cancel enhanced unemployment benefits for out-of-work Tennesseans.

The study, produced by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, says the enhanced unemployment insurance has played a key role in the economic recovery by stabilizing consumption and ensuring workers have their basic needs met (e.g. rent, food, medications) while they continue their job hunt to find work that matches their skills, experience and family demands.

“By ending these programs early, states are refusing billions of already appropriated federal dollars that could be…

Sen. Heidi Campbell calls decision ‘an immoral double standard’

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to distribute $44 million worth of new federal assistance to business owners employs an “immoral double standard” between companies and people who were laid off during the pandemic, says Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville).

The cash windfall for these businesses comes just weeks after Lee said he was opting the state out of federal assistance for Tennesseans who qualified for unemployment after being laid off.

On Wednesday, Gov. Lee announced a state proposal to increase federal assistance to businesses by $44 million. By Lee’s numbers, the average payment to business owners will be $39,111.


Sen. Akbari marks Pride Month after Republican lawmakers launched unprecedented attack on equal rights

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

NASHVILLE — Pride Month this year comes as equality is under attack in Tennessee and across the country. A record five anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted in Tennessee’s 2021 legislative session as national anti-equality groups pushed copy-and-paste bills targeting LGTBQ people in state legislatures throughout the nation.

Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly

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