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Jean-Marie Lawrence

House District26

Incumbent or New


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Would you support or oppose legislation that would prohibit abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother?


Would you support or oppose legislation that would make either sexual orientation or gender identity/expression a new protected class under Tennessee’s civil rights laws?


Would you support or oppose a bill to amend Tennessee’s marriage statute to expressly authorize the issuance of marriage licenses to two people of the same sex?


Would you support or oppose legislation that would establish a $15 per hour minimum wage in Tennessee?


Would you support or oppose legislation to allow the state to defend public K-12 schools that are sued because they designate the use of locker rooms and bathrooms on the basis of biological sex instead of the gender by which a student identifies?


Do you support or oppose the proposition, advanced by a certain business coalition, that the bill described in question 5 is “discriminatory” and “would harm our economy and damage our state’s reputation”?


Currently, a majority of the Justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court select the state’s Attorney General and Reporter. Would you support or oppose an amendment to the state Constitution that allows the Legislature to elect the Attorney General and Reporter in the same manner that it elects the Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer?


Would you support or oppose an amendment to the state Constitution that allows the Governor to appoint the state’s Attorney General and Reporter subject to confirmation by the Legislature, as now happens with the appointment of the state’s Supreme Court Justices?


Would you support or oppose legislation, like Insure Tennessee proposed by Governor Haslam in 2015, that would expand Medicaid coverage in Tennessee beyond the Medicaid-eligible population?


Do you support or oppose the decision by the state’s Department of Health to disregard the state’s current adoption laws and allow a child’s original birth certificate to show that the child has two mothers simply because one of the women is married to the child’s biological mother?


Would you support or oppose a bill that would prohibit the state or local governmental entities from either giving preference to or discriminating against a business entity in awarding of grants or contracts based on whether the business has made sexual orientation or gender identity a protected status under its personnel policies, assuming that either of such statuses is not otherwise required by federal law?


Would you support or oppose legislation to award all of Tennessee’s Electors in a presidential election to the Party of the candidate who wins the national popular vote?


Do you support or oppose legalizing horse racing tracks in Tennessee at which bets can be placed on races?


There is a school of thought that the Constitution is a “living” document, meaning its various provisions are evolving and should be interpreted in the context of contemporary societal mores. Would you support or oppose a nominee to the Tennessee Supreme Court if there is credible evidence that the nominee believes the state or federal Constitution should be viewed or interpreted as a “living” document?


Would you support or oppose legislation to ensure that an adoption agency with a sincerely held belief that marriage is only one man and one woman would not lose its state license to make adoption placements if it only placed children in homes into which the marriage was of one man and one woman?



Explain your view of state government’s role in relation to economic growth and/or job creation.

State government has the responsibility to ensure both economic growth and opportunity. To that end, we must ensure that local communities have the ability to thrive, and to make choices that benefit community members.

At the state level, we should be supporting initiatives that increase opportunity for local employment, not preventing them. And the habit of state-level preemption of progressive local initiatives has got to be stopped. We cannot make progress as a state if our municipal level efforts are continually smothered by an overwhelmingly reactionary state government. The same people who would fight against federal encroachment on state sovereignty have absolutely no problem smothering progressive city-level initiatives from the statehouse. I am running to fight against this from state government.

What are your thoughts about a parent of a child in a low performing public school being provided a voucher equal to the amount of the state’s per-student expenditure that would be applied toward the child’s private school tuition?

Our public schools need work, there is no doubt in my mind. But voucher programs are not the answer. In fact, they create more of a problem. They divert public money to private schools, taking away from schools already struggling and costing them more in the long run. School vouchers do not provide appropriately for students with disabilities. Private schools are not bound by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the same way public schools are, leaving students with disabilities to fend for themselves. In all reality, research shows vouchers do not actually improve a student’s academic performance. Voucher programs are designed to help the middle and upper middle class families at the expense of the low income family. They perpetuate the economic, religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural separation of our communities. We need to keep the focus on helping the students, teachers, and schools who are struggling through proven research-based policies, not create new threats for under-performance.

What is one of the most satisfying things you have ever done or accomplished and what made it so satisfying to you?

I’ve achieved a lot that I am proud of, but I think the thing I am most proud of is winning the primary elections and being on the general election ballot in November. Serving in public office has been a dream of mine since college. Knowing that I have the possibility of serving my community and helping to bring real positive changes to Tennessee is such a blessing.

What personal qualities or experiences do you think will best serve you in your role as a state legislator?

I have experienced a lot in my life that I think uniquely qualifies me for this role. I was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy when I was seven. I talk about it a lot, but it really has helped shape me into the woman I am today. Growing up with a progressive disability teaches patience, perseverance, and problem solving skills I might not otherwise have. It’s also taught me the value of interdependence and what working with others (sometimes with vastly different views than myself) can accomplish.

What bill that passed in the last General Assembly would you have voted against and why, or what bill that was not passed in the last General Assembly do you wish had passed and why?

I would have voted against SB1729/HB1551 Medicaid Work Requirements, which directs commissioner to submit waiver to impose reasonable work requirements upon able-bodied working age adult enrollees without dependent children under the age of six.

This legislation is unnecessary, confusing, and harmful to Tennesseans. It fails to provide adequate information about who would be exempted from the requirements, leaving out such groups as parents of disabled children. In reality, many individuals who are able to work do. Medicaid actually makes it easier to work because people are more likely to seek employment once they are getting the medical care they need. It is a health insurance program for low income and disabled Tennesseans, not a welfare program. There are no monetary benefits to Medicaid, and it’s illogical to think taking healthcare away will encourage someone to seek employment.