2011 Legisltive Superlative Awards, Part 2

More superlatives from the 2011 session of the 107th General Assembly:
* Interfaith Dialog Award: To Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Judd Matheney, who brought hundreds of Muslims to the Legislative Plaza – a place most had never been before – to engage in discussion on the merits of their “anti-terrorism” bill, supported by some evangelical Christian activists. The dialog resulted in deletion of a reference to Sharia law in the original version, but still left supporters hailing the measure as passed.
Witness this comment from the Eagle Forum’s Bobbie Patray, perhaps the leading conservative Christian crusader of Legislatorland: “Once more we want to praise God for the multiple times that he intervened on behalf of this legislation and to express our deep appreciation of to Republican Senate Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron and House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny for their courage and tireless efforts to see this important legislation through to victory.”
* Czar With a Gavel Award: Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who chaired the House State and Local Government Committee with aplomb and, sometimes, abruptness and sharp commentary. He was even-handed, slamming down the gavel and dismissing discourses by aggressive freshman Republicans and argumentative Democrats with equal fervor. “An equal opportunity offender,” says one staffer.
* Bystander of the Year: Gov. Bill Haslam. Contrary to his predecessors of decades past, the new governor pointedly declared at the outset that he had a limited agenda in legislation, then proceeded to prove his honesty and foresight. Indeed, if one views the Legislature as a Republican railroad, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey may be seen as the engineer, House Speaker Beth Harwell as the brakeman (or brakewoman?) and Haslam as a fellow sitting in the dining car commenting on the passing scenery.
It appears he will sign every bill legislators send to him, even if with some misgivings as indicated in comments last week on legislation (SB923) that shaves two days off the early voting period in next year’s presidential primary: “My personal feeling is that a little longer early voting periods are good because it does give citizens that flexibility.” In other words, he would have preferred longer – not shorter – early voting periods. But he signed the bill last week.
* Norma Rae Memorial Award: To House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart. For 1979’s “Norma Rae,” Sally Field won Best Actress honors at the Oscars for her portrayal of a union organizer. Maggart performed well in 2011 as a leading union disorganizer, most notably as sponsor of legislation to abolish collective bargaining for teachers. A sample line from Maggart’s performance: “For too long under the old order, selfish political interests, the unions, have been allowed to dominate the discussion when it comes to setting the course of education in our state.”
* Controversy King: He had a lot of competition in his freshman year as a senator, but Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is still the champion of gaining national attention for service on conservatism’s cutting edge. Need we say more than “don’t say gay?” If so, maybe “guns on campus.” Or “nullification committee,” the panel envisioned by the senator to study all federal laws and regulations, then recommend which ones should be nullified by the state Legislature.
* Don’t Get Mad, Get Even Award: Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, for moving to throw three people off the state Board of Regents because they didn’t attend a meeting of her committee when requested. She graciously consented to leave two of them on the board and withdrew the ouster resolution after they publicly apologized in writing and the other agreed to step down.
* Against the Wind Award: To the Republicans voting no on the teacher collective bargaining bill, namely Reps. Scotty Campbell of Mountain City, Jim Coley of Bartlett, Michael Harrison of Rogersville, David Hawk of Greeneville, Dennis Roach of Rutledge and Curry Todd of Collierville, plus Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville. And the Democrat voting yes, Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis.

2 thoughts on “2011 Legisltive Superlative Awards, Part 2

  1. The Sen.

    I don’t know, Bill Dunn may have won the title this year. He has the house version of don’t teach gay, the evolution bill and the collective bargaining amendment.

  2. Donna Locke

    Well, Gov. Haslam and his people were not bystanders on the immigration-enforcement bills. They leaned on the bill sponsors (overcooked noodles) from the outset and, along with the rest of the business lobby, were behind the compromises that destroyed the E-Verify bill, for one.

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