- … Against racism
- … Against Trump
- … Against the extreme Republican Supermajority
- … For expanding Medicaid under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act
- … Against corporate polluters
- … To protect the rights of LGBT citizens
- … Against laws that promote hatred and division
- … For criminal justice reform and prison oversight
- … For sensible gun laws
- … For women
- … For veterans
- … For workers’ rights
- … To help those laid off because of the coronavirus
- … In support of public schools and public school teachers
- … Against payday lenders
- … To prevent animal cruelty
- … To regulate the financial industry after the Great Recession
Strong Democratic Leadership against racism:
- When then-Speaker Glen Casada and his staff were found to be sharing openly racist texts, including texts using the N-word, Mike called an immediate press conference demanding for a full investigation and resignation of those responsible; within weeks, after multiple revelations, Casada was forced to resign as House Speaker.
- When racist skinheads and KKK members held a “White Lives Matter” rally in Tennessee, Mike traveled to the rally to confront them face to face.
- Mike introduced the first legislation to get rid of the state holiday for Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate General and founder of the Ku Klux Klan, stating “[w]e do not need a special day to remember that Forrest commanded the forces who massacred soldiers at Fort Pillow after they had surrendered and laid down their arms.”
- Stewart challenged a Republican Bill designed to keep the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust in the State Capitol, arguing “[t]he whole purpose is to gum up the works and make it virtually certain that a small minority of people can make it impossible to decide whether we should have a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.”
Strong Democratic Leadership against Trump:
- In 2016, when many still treated Trump as a joke, Mike Stewart issued a call to action at the Democratic Convention. Noting that “[w]e are facing a potential national catastrophe,” Stewart warned that “we have to understand there’s not going to be a magic moment when we can all take a break and watch Hillary just win.” Stewart called on the Tennessee Delegation of Democrats to get in the fight, stating “[w]e all have to double the sacrifice. It’s a national emergency. Let’s rise to it.” (Joel Ebert, “Nashville Rep. Mike Stewart calls Donald Trump’s rise a ‘national emergency,’” (USA Today, July 26, 2016).
- When Trump came to Nashville in March, 2017, Stewart called him out in an official letter demanding that he answer for his effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act, his Education Secretary’s attacks on public schools and his hiring of multiple Goldman Sachs investment bankers for key positions after claiming to want to drain the swamp. Katie Grunik, Nashville Rep. sends letter to President Trump before rally, Fox17News (March 14, 2017).
Strong Democratic Leadership against the extreme Republican Supermajority:
- Mike called out Republican leadership for seeking millions in taxpayer dollars to give away in high salaries and other perks to Republican legislative staff. “It sounds like fiscal conservatism means about as much with Tennessee Republicans as it does with the Republicans up in Washington,” Stewart observed. Joel Ebert, “With Casada, cost of running House rises,” Tennessean (March 11, 2019).
- Mike questioned the creating of a “slush fund” of undefined grant money, questioning whether it was connected to Speaker Glen Casada’s efforts to pass school vouchers.
- Mike has repeatedly rebuked the Republicans for their misguided priorities. For example, Mike summed up one legislative session by noting that “[w]hile the Democrats were working to pass Insure Tennessee, Republicans were focused on naming the state book and naming the state sniper rifle.” Dave Boucher, “Haslam describes session as success,” (April 25, 2015).
Strong Democratic Leadership for expanding Medicaid under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act:
- Mike has been a tireless advocate for expanding healthcare under the historic Affordable Care Act. He has sponsored legislation for expansion, called out President Trump for undermining expanded healthcare, and held countless press conferences and other events to highlight the pressing need for expansion.
- Mike recently called on Governor Lee to expand Medicaid in response to the pandemic: “Fully expand healthcare so we can bring every possible resource to bear to fight this coronavirus crisis.”
- Mike slammed Republicans for taking health insurance while killing expanded healthcare legislation, stating ‘It is the ultimate hypocrisy. To refuse to provide for the working poor of Tennessee, while trying to keep the insurance benefits they receive a secret illustrates their contempt for Tennesseans.” Holly Fletcher and Tom Wilemon, “State pays $5.85M for insurance,” Tennessean (May 5, 2015).
- Mike has slammed bogus Republican “plans” rolled out to create the impression they were taking action on healthcare. Addressing the Republican “Cares” plan of 2019, Mike observed: “Even by the standards of the Republicans in the Tennessee legislature, the current health care proposal rolled out by members of the House today is remarkable for its dishonesty and its complete unwillingness to do anything about the healthcare that Tennesseans need.” Andy Sher, “As Tennessee House GOP pushes new health plan, Democrats denounce as ‘remarkable for its dishonesty,’” Chattanooga Times Free Press (February 21, 2019).
Strong Democratic Leadership against corporate polluters:
- When a Republican claimed he was passing a bill against “flash mobs,” Mike revealed in debate that the legislation was really designed to allow companies to dump hazardous waste, leading to a rare veto by the Governor. Chas Sisk, “Haslam vetoes ‘flash mob’ bill,” Tennessean (May 23, 2014).
Strong Democratic Leadership to protect the rights of LGBT citizens:
- Mike submitted the request to the Attorney General that led to the recognition of hate crimes against transgender Tennesseans.
- Mike led the successful attack against the bogus “bathroom bill,” part of a national Republican effort to promote intolerance. He was one of two legislators who filed a request for the Attorney General to review the bill. The Attorney General found that the bill would put federal funding at risk, effectively leading to its defeat. Andy Sher, “TN Attorney General says transgender bathroom bill risks federal funding for public schools, colleges,” Chattanooga Times Free Press (April 11, 2016).
- Mike fought the Republican bill challenging the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, pointing out that it was meaningless legislation. Joel Ebert, “TN House delivers message to high court,” Tennessean (March 4, 2016).
Strong Democratic Leadership against laws that promote hatred and division:
- When Republicans promoted a “terrorism” bill that would have targeted Nashville’s Muslim community, Mike challenged it in committee, noting that it would give unprecedented powers to restrict citizens rights without a proper hearing or trial.
Strong Democratic Leadership for criminal justice reform and prison oversight:
- Mike introduced legislation to re-establish a prison oversight committee in the wake of violent incidents at multiple Tennessee prisons. Jake Lowery, “Lawmakers call for more oversight after Turney Center prison attack, Tennessean (April 11, 2017). Mike co-sponsored historic legislation that enabled citizens to more easily expunge records of non-violent felonies committed far in the past, allowing working citizens to improve their job prospects and fully re-enter society.
- As Chairman of the House Caucus, Mike promoted a “People’s Bill of Rights” that made criminal justice reform and top Caucus priority. Tennessean (Feb. 27, 2017).
Strong Democratic Leadership for sensible gun laws:
- Mike has repeatedly introduced legislation to require background checks for all persons buying firearms so that violent criminals and terrorists would be denied access to powerful weapons. To demonstrate the dangers of Tennessee’s inadequate gun laws, Mike bought one assault rifle in a parking lot for $700 and took it to a legislative committee. He bought an AK-47 the following year and offered it for sale at a lemonade stand, a completely legal act until Mike’s background-check legislation is passed. Jennifer Sprouse, “Tennessee lawmaker tries to sell a gun at downtown lemonade stand,” WKRN (April 5th, 2017).
- In the wake of multiple mass shootings, Mike led a rally of state legislators from around the nation at the Capitol demanding laws to prevent such tragedies. “All across the country, people are worried. They are worried for the safety of their children,” he observed. Calling for background check requirements and for “red flag” laws that would keep the mentally ill from buying weapons, Stewart rebuked Governor Lee for lack of action, observing “[o]f course we can take steps to solve this problem.” Andy Sher, “Democratic legislators from multiple states rally at Tennessee Capitol for stricter gun laws in wake of Dayton, El Paso shootings, “Chattanooga Times Free Press (August 7, 2019).
Strong Democratic Leadership for women:
- When Representative Jeremy Durham was found to have harassed numerous women working in and in connection with the Legislature, Mike called for his expulsion. Mike questioned Durham extensively on the House Floor, after which the House voted to expel. As observed by one news account, “Durham left the chamber after a series of questions posed by House Democratic Leader Mike Stewart….” Erik Schelzig, “Lawmaker urges Tennessee House members not to expel him,” Associated Press (September 13, 2016).
- Mike fought Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood clinics, noting that it would cause thousands of Tennessee women to lose access to services such as mammograms, prenatal care and birth control. Joel Ebert, Tennessean (March 18, 2018).
- Stewart fought the “trigger bill,” which would bring back pre-1973 laws if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Stewart pointed out that the law could make doctors felons and that it was completely “outdated” and out of step with the views of most Tennesseans. Andy Sher, Tennessee lawmakers turn back ‘fetal heartbeat’ effort, send controversial ‘trigger’ abortion bill to Gov. Lee, Chattanooga Times Free Press (April 22, 2019).
Strong Democratic Leadership for veterans:
- As a veteran, Mike has made it a point to be a strong advocate for veterans, sponsoring and supporting numerous bills to recognize their service. Most recently, Mike was co-prime sponsor of legislation exempting from sales tax and fees cars and trucks sold to veterans with service-related disabilities.
- Mike was also recently co-prime sponsor of a law giving hiring preference to qualified veterans for state employment.
Strong Democratic Leadership for workers’ rights:
- Mike took on Republican Governor Haslam when he tried to withhold incentives from Volkswagen to punish the company for agreeing not to oppose union organizing efforts. He publicly criticized the Governor for “holding Volkswagen Hostage.” Mike Parr, “Tennessee Dem Party Chairman calls for Haslam Volkswagen Probe,” Chattanooga Times Free Press (April 26, 2014).
- Mike strongly opposed Republican efforts to outsource state workers at parks and other facilities. He asked this question: “With all we’ve been reading about the collapse of middle class jobs and the middle class economy, why are we all of a sudden thinking about broadly sweeping aside our state employees and turning their jobs over to private contractors? Richard Locker, Vendors eye State Parks to Manage, Memphis Commercial Appeal (August 19, 2015).
- Mike strongly supported the United Campus Workers in their successful effort to stop outsourcing of facilities jobs at UT system campuses. Rachel Ohm, “UT campuses will not outsource facilities jobs,” Tennessean (November 1, 2017).
Strong Democratic Leadership to help those laid off because of the coronavirus:
- Mike has called for the Governor to waive the weekly certification requirement for unemployment, pointing out that “[d]uring this time of crisis, the weekly certification requirement just clogs up our unemployment system and prevents the processing of claims filed by citizens who are out of work through no fault of their own.” Kaylin Jorge, “Tennessee Representative calls for waiver of unemployment certification during COVID-19,” Fox17 News (April 23, 2020).
- At every turn, Mike has demanded the strongest possible effort to get the coronavirus under control and get Tennesseans back to work. As he told television reporter Alex Apple, “We need to fight coronavirus like we fight wars where you put everything on the table.”
- Mike voted for millions in coronavirus response funds, and when testing centers were slow to open because of lack of supplies, Mike immediately demanded that Governor Lee move the funds to the cities to get the testing moving.
- Mike has also demanded that the Governor create jobs and help reopen the economy by hiring laid off workers to be “contact tracers” who track the coronavirus and get it under control. As Mike observed, “This contact tracing is an essential tool we have to use to get everyone back to work” Alex Apple, “Tennessee has just 25 percent of recommended contact tracers,” Fox17 News (May 11, 2020).
Strong Democratic Leadership in support of public schools and public school teachers:
- Mike has repeatedly spoken out against Trump Administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, observing at one protest that [t]here are few people less qualified in our nation of over 900 million people to be secretary of education.” Natalie Allison, “Teachers protest DeVos’ Nashville visit (December 1, 2017).
- Mike has led the fight against school vouchers year after year, most recently demanding that voucher money be removed from the upcoming 2020 budget after a court declared the program unconstitutional.
- Mike has challenged the Achievement School District, the organization used by Republican Administrations to take over public schools, noting that the ASD hasn’t shown it has “its own financial house in order.” Jason Gonzales, “Nashville Democrat urges more oversight of ASD,” Tennessean (March 17, 2015).
- Mike has repeatedly called for the closure of Tennessee Virtual Schools operated by private companies, noting that they drain millions in tax dollars from public school budgets. Lucas Johnson, “Lawmakers to resume education focus in new session,” Associated Press (January 6, 2013).
Strong Democratic Leadership against payday lenders:
- As revealed in a News Channel 5 Special Investigation, Mike was “one of the only lawmakers” to raise questions on the floor of the Legislature about a new payday loan, forcing the sponsor to reveal that it carried an interest rate of 278%. Ben Hall, “Lawmakers Took Payday Money, Asked Few Questions, WTVF (Feb 17, 2016).
Strong Democratic Leadership to prevent animal cruelty:
- When Republicans tried to pass an “Ag-gag” bill that would have prevented activists from investigating and filming the deliberate mutilation of walking horses and other acts of animal cruelty, Mike obtained the attorney general opinion saying it was constitutionally suspect, leading to another rare veto by the Governor. Andy Sher, “Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam keeps vetoes to five during time in office,” Chattanooga Times Free Press (December 26, 2018).
Strong Democratic Leadership to regulate the financial industry after the Great Recession:
- After the Madoff scandal and the stock market collapse of 2008, which devastated the life savings of many Tennesseans, Mike passed legislation making Ponzi Schemes a violation of Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act.
- Mike introduced broad legislation to reduce the power and influence of Wall Street banks, including banning contributions to Tennessee legislators and expanding citizens ability to sue over financial misconduct. Brian Reisinger, “State Legislator targets Wall Street,” Nashville Business Journal (December 22, 2011).