McCormick: Abolishing Correction Oversight Committee was a mistake

State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick says he made a “mistake” in 2012 by sponsoring a bill that abolished most legislative oversight panels, including the General’s Assembly’s Corrections Oversight Committee.

With concerns now erupting over Tennessee prison overtime policy changes and the impact on staffing and safety, McCormick said the controversy underscores the need to restore some oversight panels, including the corrections oversight.

“I think we do need to reinstitute some of the oversight committees, including corrections,” said the Chattanooga Republican. “It was a mistake for me to carry that bill in the first place. Should never have done it.”

McCormick said his views began shifting last legislative session when he threw his support behind an ultimately unsuccessful effort seeking to restore two oversight panels, although neither one involved corrections.

It failed to gain traction in the Senate.

“The Legislature has an oversight responsibility and to have the oversight committee in place and meeting on a regular basis rather than waiting until something goes wrong and then reacting to a situation and holding hearings,” McCormick said.

Last week, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, announced their chambers’ respective State and Local Government Committees, both standing committees, have scheduled hearings on the current controversy.

…Neither Harwell nor Ramsey responded specifically to questions from the Times Free Press about reinstating the Corrections Oversight Committee. Abolishing various oversight panels in 2012 was trumpeted at the time by Ramsey as saving the state taxpayers more than $700,000.