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GOP's War Against Tampons

GOP Tennessee State Senator Joey Hensley— A Leader of “Team Red’s” War Against Women’s Hygiene Products February 23, 2020

Demagogue Donald continues to get further and further unhinged after his GOP-controlled Senate let him off the impeachment hook. He has now pardoned a “rogue’s gallery” of characters, including “Junk Bond King” Mike Milken and corrupt Giuliani buddy Bernie Kerik. He also commuted the prison sentence of former Illinois Dem. Gov. Governor Rod Blagojevich for pay-to-play corruption charges. After all, Gov. “Blago” had previously appeared on Trump’s NBC “Celebrity Apprentice” show. Blagojevich had also been prosecuted by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a close friend of ex-FBI Director James Comey. Comey, remember, was fired by Trump for investigating his 2016 Russia connections (See cnn.com, Liptak & Collins, 2018). Demagogue/Tyrant Donald remains obsessed with getting revenge on his “enemies.” And although he said he won’t do it right now, bet on Donald to eventually pardon his friend GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone. On 2/20/2020, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in Trump’s 2016 campaign and its ties to Russia that then special counsel Robert Mueller had been investigating (See cnn.com, 2/20/20, Vazquez, Zeleny, & Hoffman).

However, let’s not forget that national GOPers are not the only wacko members of that party. Plenty of state and local “Team Red” members fall into that same category. They too back the extremist plus line on women, the poor, and racial and sexual minorities. Let’s look at the antics of GOPers in the State of TN. Led by GOP State Senator Joey Hensley from Hohenwald, TN, they have taken the war against women to new levels. TN, formerly a “moderate” Southern state has now become a key linchpin in the “Deep Red” GOP gang. It has a Republican legislative trifecta, with Gov. Bill Lee and its state legislative chambers solidly in the “Red” camp. The Volunteer State Senate has a 26R v 5 D lineup and its State House is 73R v 26D (CQ 116th Cong. At Your Fingertips, “The Hill,” Klar, 2/12/20).

And you think the GOP attacks on women only concern Planned Parenthood and abortion restrictions? Think again. In TN, GOP lawmakers have, according to the Associated Press, raised objections to a proposal that would add feminine hygiene products to a list that can be purchased during that state’s annual sales-tax holiday. That tax holiday lasts only one weekend, three days, starting on the last Friday of July (AP, americanindependent.com, Singer, 2/11/20, “The Hill,”Klar, 2/12/20). In a 2/11/2020 debate in the TN State Senate, GOP State Senator Joey Hensley stated, “I would think since it’s a sales tax holiday, there’s really no limit on the number of items anyone can purchase. I don’t know how you would limit the number of items anybody can purchase.” Hensley’s legislative assistant stated that his concern was “directed toward that cost and the plans to fund the legislation. Hensley was concerned that the possibility of people purchasing large quantities had not been factored in when determining the cost of this legislation.” Other TN GOPers argued that if not given a limit, women could purchase too many sanitary products (“The Hill,” Klar, 2/12/20). Wow! As if all TN women would buy nothing else but tampons and sanitary napkins during this brief period (no pun intended). In fact, the estimated cost to TN of these sanitary products is about $132,700 per year, a small sum (Kos, Einenkel, 2/13/20). Advocates for including women’s sanitary products in the tax holiday legislation argue that feminine hygiene products are a basic necessity. They should be added to the list of necessities that aren’t subject to taxes such as groceries and medicine. According to Project Equity, a group fighting to eliminate the tampon tax, feminine hygiene products are taxed in 31 states, including TN. A report from “Obstetrics & Gynecology” notes more than 1 in 5 women say they can’t afford to buy such products every month. The average woman can expect to spend over $1,000 on menstrual products over the course of a lifetime (AP, americanindependent.com, Singer, 2/11/20). Groups like the American Medical Association (AMA) have lobbied for state legislatures to eliminate taxes on feminine hygiene products. GA has recently decided to provide financial assistance to low-income women in need of personal hygiene products. Nevada became the 10th state to eliminate taxes on hygiene products (Kos, Einenkel, 2/13/20).

During TN’s holiday, goods ranging from clothing for $100 or less to computers for $1,500 or less can be purchased tax-free. Dem. State Senator Brenda Gilmore stated some girls can not afford feminine hygiene products. In her words, “It’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have, there are some young girls who use rags and cloths because they can’t afford these products and we should not allow our young girls to be submitted to this humiliation (AP, “The Hill,” Klar2/12/20).” Yes, Tennesseans can purchase a computer tax-free during this holiday to spew out anti-feminist blogs or listen to the likes of misogynistic Rush Limbaugh, but women in that state can’t buy sanitary products tax-free. Who is this State Sen. Joey Hensley leading the GOP pushback against feminine hygiene products?

Hohenwald, TN native Joey Hensley (64) currently represents District 28 in the TN Senate. The TN 28th SD (Senate District) is located in that state’s middle and southern central area. Besides Hohenwald, it takes in the towns of Lawrenceburg, Waynesboro, Linden, Pulaski, and Columbia. It contains the counties of Giles, Lewis, Lawrence, and Wayne (statisticalatlas.com/state/TN/State District 28). The TN 28th SD is part of the U.S. Congressional 4th and 7th Districts (statisticalatlas.com). The 28th SD is 86% white with only 7.8% African Americans in it (statisticalatalas.com). Politically, this area was formerly part of the Democratic stronghold of Middle TN, settled by Scots-Irish Protestants, proud of their militant and Jacksonian Democratic heritage. However, it was always a conservative social and religious area located in the fundamentalist Bible Belt. It was not a region pushing racial equality. Pulaski, TN was where the original Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded after the Civil War to terrorize blacks from voting and asserting other basic rights. The 4th Congressional District which covers part of the 28th SD is represented by hard- line Freedom Caucus member GOPer Scott DesJarlais. The 7th Cong. District, which also takes in part of the 28th SD is represented by equally hard-right winger Dr. Mark Green. The 4th and 7th Cong. Districts both have Cook Partisan Voting “Royal Red Scores” of R+20. Demagogue Donald carried the 4th Cong. District by 41 points and the 7th Cong. District by a “mere” 39 points. The 28th TN Senate District has joined the Southern march to the GOP that has now made TN one of the most solid Republican states in the country. In 2016, Trump carried TN by 26 points (Cohen & Cook Political Almanac 2020).

After attending Columbia State Community College, Hensley received his BS from the University of Memphis and his MD from the University of Tennessee. He became a member of the TN House of Representatives in 1/2003. He served there until 1/08/2013. In 11/2012, Hensley won election to the TN State. He was re-elected to a second State Senate term in 2016 (See capitol.tn. gov/senate/members).

State Sen. Hensley’s attack on women’s hygiene products is just the latest in a line of controversial extremist actions he has taken. In both 2012 and 2013, Hensley introduced a bill nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay.” This legislation would have banned schools from discussing LGBT issues. This bill failed to pass (outandaboutnashville.com, Roth, 2/28/13). For several years, Hensley co-sponsored a bill allowing counselors and therapists “to refuse to counsel a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist,” such as LGBT clients. This bill was passed and signed into law on 4/27/2016 (Meyer, 9/27/16). In 2/2017, Sen. Hensley introduced a bill that would classify children born through artificial insemination as illegitimate, even if both parents are married and consent to the insemination (wmcactionnews5.com/story). It is hard to believe that artificial insemination was a controversial issue on anyone’s radar.

“Family values” Hensley has been married four times and is divorced from his fourth wife. He has three children (votesmart.org, Wade, nashvillescene.com, 3/08/17). In 2015, Hensley introduced a bill to change the distribution of property in divorce cases. He stated he was prompted to do that because of his own divorce proceedings (Finley, 3/03/15, wsmv.com). According to sworn family court testimony, Sen. Hensley carried on an affair with a part-time nurse in his medical practice who was also his second cousin. Hensley allegedly illegally prescribed opioids for her (nashvillescene.com). Sen. Hensley is, IMHO, just another bona fide member of the GHP, G rand H ypocrisy P arty.

If Sen. Hensley was a Democrat, his constituents would have quickly run him out of office. However, TN GOPer Hensley can probably keep getting re-elected as long as he wants screaming about tax-free tampon distribution to the poor and supporting other misogynistic and anti-LGBT bills. However, in “Blue” and swing states, Democrats must come out in droves plus on 11/03/2020 and defeat as many GOPers as they can at both the state and national level. State Sen. Hensley may not understand this, but most Americans believe they live in the 21st Century, not the 17th.