Pipeline debate inspires preservation measures for Memphis Sand aquifer, the source of drinking water for 1 million people

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A “great lake” underground: The city of Memphis sits above a geologic formation called the Memphis Sand, a massive mix of sand, clay and silt. With the Mississippi River flowing above, this sand formation becomes saturated — acting as both an underwater reservoir called an aquifer and as a natural water filter. For generations, the Memphis Sand aquifer has provided some of the world’s best drinking water to Memphians.

MEMPHIS — Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) will soon introduce legislation to protect the health of the Memphis Sand aquifer — the source of clean drinking water for more than a million people.

“No matter where you live, we want our families to have clean drinking water and, right now, Memphis has one of the best public water supplies in the nation thanks to the Memphis Sand aquifer,” Sen. Akbari says. …

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NASHVILLE — Sen. Brenda Gilmore is hosting a community meeting with state Rep. Jason Potts to provide an update on legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly. The event will take place virtually on Zoom.

Members of the community can join the conversation at 6 p.m.

Meeting ID: 874 6787 8782
Passcode: 852223

Sen. Raumesh Akbari votes against bill targeting trans student athletes

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NASHVILLE — Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) cast the lone no vote against a Republican bill targeting trans student athletes in middle and high school.

Senate Bill 228 would require students to participate in sports based on the gender listed on their birth certificate.

When asked directly, the GOP bill sponsor could not identify a single instance in Tennessee involving a trans student athlete.

Sen. Akbari said this legislation, if approved, will draw the state into another losing lawsuit for a culture war while major challenges go unaddressed.

“This bill invites problems for the state instead of solving them. To me…

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The ETSU men’s basketball team kneeled during the national anthem this month.

NASHVILLE—Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus released a joint statement in support of students who are protesting peacefully at Tennessee colleges.

“Our public colleges and universities should be a safe place for students to express themselves and advocate peacefully for change in our country without interference from the legislature or university administrators. In fact, student organizing on college campuses is a perfect reflection of the American values embedded in our First Amendment. …

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NASHVILLE — Sen. Brenda Gilmore will commemorate the life of Debra K. Johnson on Sunday, Feb. 21 with a drive down a Middle Tennessee parkway that will now bear her name.

Ms. Johnson, a longtime corrections official who was killed in the line of duty in 2019, will now have her name placed in honor on Interstate 440 as the Debra K. Johnson Memorial Parkway.

Sen. Gilmore is organizing a car parade for friends, family and community members who want to mark the event. Ms. Johnson’s adult children Mr. Mychal Austin and Dr. Shernaye Johnson will be in attendance.


Lawmakers aim to improve Tennessee’s 46th in the nation rank for student funding

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NASHVILLE — Public schools would see a significant investment in student funding under a slate of Democratic education bills.

The measures, if approved, would boost the state’s share of teacher salaries, reduce class sizes in high-need elementary schools, increase the number of specialists to work with struggling students, and add more counselors, social workers and nurses in every school district.

Watch the full press conference

Democrats are pushing this education package to address chronic underfunding at schools. According to research compiled by the National Education Association, Tennessee ranks 46th in the nation for funding per student.

The primary reason Tennessee…

February is American Heart Month

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Left to right: Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Sen. Heidi Campbell, Sen. Becky Massey, Sen. Katrina Robinson, Sen. Dawn White, Sen. Janice Bowling, Sen. Brenda Gilmore, and Sen. Sara Kyle

NASHVILLE — Senators wore red this week to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women.

Cardiovascular disease kills one-third of women, according the American Heart Association.

February is American Heart Month and to help raise awareness, the American Heart Association encourages people to “go red.”

Sen. Brenda Gilmore, a longtime advocate for heart health, has organized National Wear Red Day at the legislature for many years.

“By wearing red on National Wear Red Day and encouraging others to do so as well, we send a clear message to the women of Tennessee that protecting their heart health is important to them, their families and their communities,” Sen. Gilmore said.

Gov. Lee’s comment in support of the measure was ‘hurtful,’ senator says

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NASHVILLE — Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) called a bill targeting trans students who want to participate in sports “hate legislation.”

As most of the nation is focused on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control, members of Tennessee’s controlling party are advancing legislation aimed at the rights of trans students who want to play sports.

And today, Gov. Bill Lee announced his support of the measure saying, “transgenders participating in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports.”

Sen. Campbell dismissed the governor’s transphobic hyperbole immediately.

“What a hurtful thing for a leader to say. There have been zero incidents of this…

Lawmakers will also push reforms addressing racial justice, fair elections

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MEMPHIS — Sen. Raumesh Akbari, the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, outlined policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session in an address on Friday.

Her speech—which focused on Covid-19, pro-family policy, school funding, racial justice reforms and fair elections—urged Gov. Bill Lee and the controlling party to support proposals that address the big challenges Tennesseans are facing.

Sen. Akbari’s remarks, as prepared, for her Prebuttal to the State of the State are included below:

Good afternoon, Tennessee.

On Monday, Governor Bill Lee will address members of the General Assembly for his third State of the State. …

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Left to right: Sen. Heidi Campbell; Sen. Brenda Gilmore; Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; Rep. Jason Potts

NASHVILLE — Members of the Davidson County Legislative Delegation offered condolences Thursday to the family of Congressman Jim Cooper after learning of the passing of his wife Martha Cooper.

Mrs. Cooper, a familiar and beloved presence in Middle Tennessee and Nashville’s political community, died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

Sen. Heidi Campbell, chairwoman of the Davidson County Legislative Delegation: “I was heartbroken to learn of Martha Cooper’s passing this morning. My thoughts are with Congressman Cooper, his children, and extended family during this time. Martha was a good woman and a generous soul. She will be missed.”

Sen. Brenda…

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