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District 59 Newsletter – June 2024

School is out and Summer is in full swing! I don’t know about you, but I am glad to have the roaring sounds of cicadas disappear in exchange for kids playing at the pool and birds chirping.   While Summer brings a welcome break and chance for respite from the normal daily schedule, things are still very busy. I have been playing catch up post-session and doing lots of tours and follow-up meetings. I am also working on policy research ahead of next session. Here is an update of what I’ve been working on.

In May, I was fortunate to address community leaders at the Housing Matters conference, sponsored by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. During my presentation, I discussed the Affordable Housing crisis in Tennessee and highlighted the progress we’re making at the state level. This year, we’ve made significant strides with state policymakers in emphasizing that the state has a crucial role in developing solutions and supporting local governments. To advance these efforts, Sen. Charlane Oliver and I introduced HB1229, which designates affordable housing as a public purpose. This legislation enables local governments to approve plans for their industrial development boards to issue bonds for affordable housing projects. You can read more about this initiative (here). I’m excited that this legislation will take effect in 2024, and I look forward to seeing how communities across Tennessee utilize these new tools to address affordable housing shortages.

Friday, June 7th was National Gun Violence Awareness Day. This day of recognition is all too real in our community as we faced another senseless and tragic shooting in Bellevue that left one child seriously wounded and claimed the life of 13-year-old Aayden Hayes.   

I joined Rep. Bo Mitchell for a heartbreaking community candlelight vigil at Red Caboose Park.  There have been a series of issues (shootings, suicides, etc.) at James Lawson High School this year, and it has reached a crisis level.

I was able to speak with MNPS leadership, mental health counselors at Lawson, the Commissioner of Mental Health and other local elected leaders to brainstorm and discuss real solutions for the community.   We will continue to meet and work through these very complicated and serious issues. I feel strongly that we can start to heal and be better positioned to have a safe learning environment and community moving forward.  (Story here

Finally, I had to take the unfortunate step of filing an ethics complaint against the Commissioner of Education, Lizzette Reynolds.  I have previously called on Commissioner Reynolds to resign due to her lackluster performance and residency issues (she lived in Texas until the media reported on it).   

A recent investigative report from the Tennessean revealed Commissioner Reynolds attended multiple out-of-state conferences that were paid by her former employer, ExcelinEd, who also hires a lobbyist in Tennessee. State law explicitly prohibits state employees from accepting gifts, including travel from employers of a lobbyist.

I first brought this to the attention of the Governor’s Ethics Officer, who was shockingly dismissive, so I felt I had no other option but to file an official ethics complaint to ensure it is investigated thoroughly and independently. (story here

I hope each of you will take the opportunity during this amazing summer weather to enjoy our district’s parks, greenways, and hiking trails.

As always, please reach out if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Caleb Hemmer 

Political Events
Election season is also in full swing and I am hosting/participating in a few events this month before the 2Q filing deadline at the end of June. I am often asked whom I am supporting, so I wanted to share more details about these candidates and events in hopes you will support them too

June 19th – Jesse Huseth – Jesse is running in Tennessee’s most flippable seat(HD97 in Shelby County).  I have gotten to know Jesse and think the world of him.  He is a hard working family man with the right priorities.  For event details or to donate go HERE.  

June 21st at 530p- Tennessee Freedom Circle event with KY Gov. Andy Beshear  

June 22nd – Luis Mata is running in HD49 in Rutherford County in a top-tier seat to flip. Luis would become the state’s first Hispanic house member.  Luis is one of the hardest working, sharpest, and personable individuals that I have met in elected office.  He will be a great addition to the House and is worthy of your support. Event details or to donate go HERE  

June 24th – Rep. Sam McKenzie – Sam is the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and is a thoughtful and dedicated public servant. He is running in a competitive primary in Knox County, and our state would be at a big loss if we didn’t keep Sam. Please attend the event or donate HERE.   

June 26th – Rep. Bob Freeman– Rep. Freeman is running for re-election and has a primary opponent. In addition to being a great guy and friend, he does so much for our community.  Rep. Freeman is irreplaceable. Vote for Bob and support his reelection HERE 

June 30th – Sen. Heidi Campbell – There are not many elected office holders who work as hard and are as dogged as Sen. Heidi Campbell.  She is always there for our community as the State Senator for the 20th Senate District and I am proudly supporting her-reelection. I’m asking you to do the same. Please attend the event or donate to the campaign HERE

Community Events
Farmers Markets – Don’t forget our community’s great Farmers Markets that have started! 

Crieve Hall – every Thursday 
Belle Meade – every Thursday
Bellevue– Every Thursday 

July 4  10am – Oak Hill 4th of July Parade on Stonewall Drive
June 15 10am-12pm – Mill Creek Clean Up with the Harpeth Conservancy 
June 15 & 16 – Cheekwood Expo. of Elegance: Classic Cars at Cheekwood
June 16-23 8pm – Celebrate Black Music Month with Bridge to Broadway Block Party June 20 – American Eagle Day at the Barbara J. Mapp Aviary Education Center
June 21 6pm-10pm – Full Moon Picking Party at Percy Warner Park
June 22 10am – Nashville Pride Parade and Pride Month Events
June 23  2pm-7pm-  Bellemeade Historic Site & Winery Summer Fest 

What I’ve Been Reading 

Most Americans support giving all kids free breakfast and lunch at school, new poll finds – Chalkbeat 

Vanderbilt Tennessee Poll – Vanderbilt University  

States Should Reverse Course on Defunding Public Education Through Private School Vouchers and Property Tax Cuts – Center on Budget 

Nashville’s prosperity depends on creating inclusive, accessible and affordable housing– Tennessean Nashville parents partnered with public schools, raised $5M to build or upgrade facilities – Tennessean  

Paid for by Friends of Caleb Hemmer, Will Howorth, Treasurer