Beacon Center of Tennessee

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Beacon Center of Tennessee
Logo Beacon Center of Tennessee.svg
Founder(s)Drew Johnson
FocusPublic policy in Tennessee
PresidentJustin Owen
ChairmanJohn Cerasuolo
BudgetRevenue: $1,448,443
Expenses: $989,162
(FYE December 2015)[1]
Slogan"Changing lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government."
Formerly calledTennessee Center for Policy Research
Coordinates36°09′50″N 86°46′46″W / 36.1639°N 86.7794°W / 36.1639; -86.7794Coordinates: 36°09′50″N 86°46′46″W / 36.1639°N 86.7794°W / 36.1639; -86.7794
Address201 4th Ave N, S-1820
Nashville, TN 37219
WebsiteOfficial website

The Beacon Center of Tennessee, formerly the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), is a non-profit free-market[2] think tank based in Nashville, Tennessee.[3][4] The organization's stated mission is to "empower Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream."[5] The Center's research areas include tax and economic policy, education policy, and healthcare policy. The organization is a member of the State Policy Network.[6]

In 2007 TCPR issued a report asserting that Al Gore's residence in Belle Meade, Tennessee, used more than 20 times the energy of a typical home in the United States.[7][8] It supported the repeal of Tennessee's estate tax and has advocated for tort reform and school choice and against civil forfeiture.[9]

History and overview[edit]

TCPR was founded in 2004 by Drew Johnson.[6][10] Johnson left TCPR at the end of 2009.[11] Justin Owen became president in August 2010.[12]

TCPR estimated that its 2008 income would total about $400,000 for the year, roughly double its previous year's finances. The increase from 2007 to 2008 was attributed to publicity from its 2007 report on Al Gore's energy use.[6] The organization received $481,000 in donations in 2012, with contributions totaling $1.2 million in 2013. The Beacon Center receives 54 percent of its funding from foundations, 43 percent from individual donors, 1.5 percent from corporate donations and 1.5 percent from other sources.[9]

In September 2011, the organization announced that it had changed its name to "Beacon Center of Tennessee." In a message to supporters, president Justin Owen indicated that the new name would represent the organization's new mission, "to light the way for freedom and prosperity" in the state.[13]

The Beacon Center is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a U.S. network of state-specific free-market oriented think tanks.[14] SPN provides funding, training and other support for its member groups.[6]

Activities and positions[edit]

The Beacon Center publicizes its views through publications, press releases, media interviews, and guest columns. Its publications include the annual "Tennessee Pork Report" (co-published with Citizens Against Government Waste)[15] and a Legislators’ Guide to the Issues.[16][17]

Fiscal issues[edit]

Beacon supports reductions in state government spending and the elimination or reduction of several Tennessee state taxes.

The organization supports an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution to ban a state income tax in order to "quash...attempts to pass such a tax once and for all."[17] In 2014, Tennessee citizens voted for a constitutional amendment to ban a state income tax.[18] In 2012, the Beacon Center was involved in repealing Tennessee's estate tax.[9]

Beacon has advocated reducing or eliminating Tennessee's sales taxes on groceries, cigarettes, and gasoline.[19][17]

In 2011, Beacon opposed a proposal to extend unemployment insurance benefits from a maximum of 79 weeks to a maximum of 99 weeks.[20]

The Beacon Center and the Tennessee branch of the American Civil Liberties Union have worked together to try to end civil forfeiture in Tennessee.[9]

Health care[edit]

In January 2015, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam called a special session in order to expand Medicaid in Tennessee under the Affordable Care Act.[21] The Beacon Center testified before Senate and House committees[22] and took credit for defeating the bill.[23]

Following the defeat of the Medicaid expansion, the Beacon Center advocated for direct primary care, a program in which patients could avoid purchasing health insurance and contract directly with their primary care physicians.[24]


In 2008, the organization accounted for 16 percent of all open records requests to the Tennessee executive branch.[6] On one occasion, TCPR sued the state Department of Finance and Administration over delayed response to an open records request.[25] In 2008, state officials responded to a TCPR open-records request for email messages from the Tennessee Department of Revenue by telling TCPR that it would have to pay $3,201 for each day of email messages it sought.[26]


TCPR operated a website entitled "Carnival of Climate Change" which was skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change. TCPR was one of the most significant organizations and individuals spreading climate disinformation, according to a 2009 report in Mother Jones magazine.[27]

Report on Al Gore's house[edit]

In 2007 TCPR issued a report asserting that Al Gore's residence in the Nashville area used more than 20 times the energy of a typical home in the United States.[7][8] Reporters who followed up on the allegations found that Gore's house did use more electricity than a typical home, but they also found that it was about 12 times the average for Nashville (not 20 times, as reported by TCPR), pointed out that the building functioned both as a residence and a business office for both Al and Tipper Gore, it was much larger than a typical home, and that Gore made substantial improvements to the home during 2007 that reduced its electricity consumption.[8] Drew Johnson, TCPR's president at that time, later said that the widespread attention to its report resulted in TCPR's receiving death threats.[28]


  1. ^ "Beacon Center of Tennessee" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  2. ^ Flessner, Dave (July 14, 2015). "High fiber debate: City officials, taxpayers group clash on EPB telecom expansion". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  3. ^ Chas Sisk, Beacon Center claims support for school vouchers, The Tennessean, June 5, 2012
  4. ^ Michael Cass, Day 2 of Metro tax increase poll data leads to questions about the questions, The Tennessean, June 13, 2012
  5. ^ "About". Beacon Center. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e Jeff Woods, The Great Gadfly: How a baby-faced kid became the governor's No. 1 nemesis, Nashville Scene, September 11, 2008
  7. ^ a b Washington Post: War on Warming Begins at (Al Gore's) Home. March 1, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c Al Gore's Energy Use,, last updated 28 September 2009
  9. ^ a b c d Boucher, Dave (May 24, 2015). "Beacon Center grows, helps defeat Insure TN". The Tennessean. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  10. ^ Drew Johnson - President, Tennessee Center for Policy Research website, archived at on August 14, 2007.
  11. ^ Clint Brewer Now Top Dog At TCPR, Nashville Post, October 29, 2009
  12. ^ Justin Owen named TCPR president, Tennessee Center for Policy Research press release, August 27, 2010
  13. ^ TCPR becomes the Beacon Center of Tennessee, Beacon Center of Tennessee website, September 21, 2011
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2014-04-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Clint Brewer, Justin Owen, and Daryl Luna (2010), 2010 Tennessee Pork Report, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Nashville, and Citizens Against Government Waste, Washington, DC. Page 5.
  16. ^ Drew Johnson, Shaka Mitchell, and Justin Owen (2009), 106th Tennessee General Assembly Legislator's Guide to the Issues, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Nashville.
  17. ^ a b c Justin Owen, Allyn Milojevich, and Jourdon Causseaux (2011), 107th Tennessee General Assembly Legislator's Guide to the Issues, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Nashville.
  18. ^ "Tennessee Income Tax Prohibition, Amendment 3 (2014) - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  19. ^ Flory, Josh (April 17, 2011). "Tennessee's levy burden well below other states". Knoxville News Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012.
  20. ^ TCPR opposes unemployment benefits extension, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, press release, May 18, 2011
  21. ^ "Two more reasons to leave Insure Tennessee in the dust -". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  22. ^ "Beacon Center grows, helps defeat Insure TN". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  23. ^ Sisk, Blake Farmer, Chas. "First Vote Kills Insure Tennessee Medicaid Expansion". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  24. ^ "Justin Owen: Direct Primary Care better than health insurance". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  25. ^ Jayme Siemer , TN Leg: Transparency is great… for someone else Archived August 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Sunshine Review Blog, June 4, 2008
  26. ^ Matt Wilson, Tennessee: $3,200 for a day’s worth of e-mails? Archived March 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Chattanooga Times Free Press, May 27, 2008
  27. ^ Harkinson, Josh (December 4, 2009). "The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial, No. 10: Tennessee Center for Policy Research (A.K.A. Carnival of Climate Change)". Mother Jones. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  28. ^ Drew Johnson, Climate Change “Cures” are Worse than the Illness Archived July 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Tennessean, December 13, 2009; archived on TCPR website.

External links[edit]