Democrats Fault GOP for Killing ‘Tennessee First’ Bill

Democratic state legislators criticized Republican colleagues on Thursday for opposing legislation that would give Tennessee companies the first shot at working on state projects. From The Tennessean account:
Four state representatives and two Metro councilmen who hope to join them in the General Assembly held a news conference to promote the Tennessee First Act, which would give preference to Volunteer State firms if their bids for public contracts are within a certain percentage of the lowest bids.
The idea was first introduced by Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, in 2011 as HB 2079 but failed to advance to the floor of either chamber…. A similar measure was introduced as an amendment to another bill earlier this year but was rejected by Republicans, who hold a heavy majority in the House.
Councilman Darren Jernigan, who is running for the District 60 House seat and faces no primary opposition, called out Republican Rep. Jim Gotto, who voted against the amendment and will be Jernigan’s opponent in November.
“I think the people of District 60 would be appalled, especially those who are looking for jobs,” Jernigan said.
While Democratic state Rep. Sherry Jones called the proposal “a no-brainer” to create jobs for Tennesseans, Gotto said it represents a “protectionist” philosophy that he doesn’t accept because it would hinder commerce across state lines.
“The way you create jobs is by removing government regulations to help small businesses get started,” Gotto said. “You create jobs by reducing taxes, which we did.”

Further, from The City Paper:
(Bo) Mitchell, who is running for the open District 50 House seat, recalled his experience working with Gov. Phil Bredesen, a time when he said if an idea “would benefit the people of our state, it didn’t matter if it was a Democratic or Republican idea.” He also touted the two council members’ work on the Music City Center project as an example of ensuring a preference for local workers, before returning to the refrain.
“I want to come to the General Assembly to create jobs, not controversy,” Mitchell said. “If we’re on the headline news, national news at night, I want it to be with how many jobs we’ve created with this program instead of some bill that will not create a single job for a Tennessean or educate a single child in this state.”
Not surprisingly, Towns gave the hard sell.
“Putting people to work — that’s something that all of us should work in tandem to try to accomplish,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to try to do otherwise. Unless you have a death wish for the state, death of the economy of the state. These are just simple things that you don’t have to analyze, you don’t have to fight about, you don’t have to debate about. Just put your back to the plow and push it, so our people can work. Simple as that. This is the cry across the land. To do anything otherwise, I would almost go as far as to call it treason to the people.”

And this statement emailed by Adam Nickas of the state Republican party: “Today’s press conference by Tennessee Democrats is another reminder that they are out of touch, out of ideas, but fortunately for Tennessee voters, they will soon be out of office.”

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