Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee sat down with Ben Shapiro on this week’s episode of “The Sunday Special” to discuss why American businesses and citizens across the United States have relocated to the southern state.
Lee, who operated a family-owned business for 25 years before becoming governor, said creating a business-friendly environment ranked as one of his top priorities before entering office in 2019. Since he was sworn in, the state has garnered 272 project commitments to create almost 40,000 jobs and $12.9 billion in capital investments, according to the state website.
“Americans right now look around the country, and they see things that are worrisome,” Lee told Shapiro. “They want to be reminded that America is the greatest nation in the world, they want to see places that remind them that America hadn’t lost their way, and I think when they look at Tennessee — they see that and a whole lot of them have decided they want to be there.”
According to a report by the Hoover Institution, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas have attracted California businesses — like The Daily Wire — and others from predominantly blue states. States like Tennessee, which offer fewer regulations, taxes, and workforce development strategies for business owners, help create jobs and opportunities for its residents.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank focusing on state and national tax policies, ranks Tennessee 3rd for quality state business climates.
“Tennessee is a place that values opportunity and security and freedom,” Lee said. “And those things are things that Americans are looking for.”
But it’s not just the state’s business environment driving new residents and companies into Tennessee. The governor has been fighting against the federal government’s COVID policies since the early days of the pandemic.
Shapiro said the COVID response from individual states opened a wide gap between areas with strict protocols and those more focused on freedom. While legacy media praised states like California and New York for shutting down businesses and schools early and mandating face coverings, states like Tennessee “didn’t get enough credit.”
Lee said his background as a business owner in the private sector helped navigate his decisions to keep the state open as much as possible, despite the massive pushback he received from the media and the federal government.
“At the end of the day, I decided we can trust Tennesseans more than we can trust anybody else, frankly, because they know best,” he said.
Lee said the philosophy that people should be given the freedom to make their own decisions also extends to parents making choices about their children’s education and health care.
As a proponent for funding students over school systems, Lee also discussed how Tennessee became a pro-school choice state for families and why lawmakers are working on legislation for parents to moderate the content taught in the classroom and shared in the libraries.
“The Left says we’re attacking this or attacking that,” Lee said. “What we really are doing . . is we’re just protecting and preserving.”
Lee commended Daily Wire host Matt Walsh for his exposé on Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s transgender treatment of minors, which led to lawmakers demanding an investigation into the Nashville pediatric gender clinic.
“Whenever we can expose and make transparent things that are going on that people don’t know about — that’s a good thing,” he said, adding adults should not allow children to make life-altering decisions for themselves.
“It’s sad, and it shouldn’t happen.” Lee said. “It’s wrong on every level.”
Lee’s office also said he would contact state lawmakers about legislation regarding transgender care for minors after shocking videos showed a Vanderbilt doctor calling certain transgender surgeries “huge money makers.”
Gov. Lee also shared his optimism for the country’s trajectory ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, believing Americans “tend to stay on track when the country gets too far” on either side of the political spectrum.
With many Americans worried the country could fall apart without any uniting principle, Lee said Americans recourse to stand together rather than rely on the federal government.
“We make a course adjustment,” he said. “We’ve done it for 300 years . . . and we find ourselves moving down the path of a more perfect union. And every time we make that adjustment, we become a little bit more of a perfect union.”