While disagreeing on many things, Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong and Sen. Stacey Campfield, both Knoxvillians, are united on the matter of manicures for people who can’t leave their homes.
Here’s how Campfield described the SB491 when presenting it on the Senate floor last week:
“This landmark piece of jobs legislation was brought to me by my House sponsor and will help tear off the yoke of oppressive government regulation by allowing mobile manicurists the ability to give manicures and pedicures to caregivers and custodians for those who are disabled or homebound.”
The measure passed the Senate unanimously and appears headed toward the same result in the House with Armstrong as sponsor.
It provides a new exception to state law that requires manicurists to operate out of a fixed location, allowing them to serve those who are unable to leave their homes or those caring for such people.
With the “Tennessee Civil Rights Initiative” and related legislation, Sen. Jim Summerville says he is trying to end the last vestiges of discrimination in state government and public education and put everyone on equal footing insofar as race, gender and ethnicity goes.
Following the “mostly peaceful social revolution during the Dr. Martin Luther King era,” Summerville said in an interview, “there may have been a reason for preferences in hiring, in college admissions, in scholarships.”
But not anymore, said the Republican senator from Dickson, an adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University and author of several books involving history research.
“These laws just aren’t needed anymore,” he said. “It’s time to let it all go. We are at another level now.”
State Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, already has taken the oath of office as president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators although he doesn’t begin duties until Feb. 1, reports Georgiana Vines. The group had its annual conference the first week of December in Washington, D.C., when he was sworn in, Armstrong said.
“It was the same week we met with President (Barack) Obama,” he said on Friday. Caucus representatives, including Armstrong, met with the president on ramifications of the “fiscal cliff.”
Obama was a member of the caucus when he was a state senator in Illinois in 1997-2004 before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Armstrong said there’s a delay in being president until the organization’s financial books close this month and the 401(c)(3) organization is audited in January.
Armstrong said he has been invited in his leadership role to Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21 and plans to attend. He also went in 2009.
News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) will be led by Tennessee’s own Rep. Joe Armstrong (D-Knoxville), who will serve as President of the organization over the next two years.
Joining him in leading the group will be Rep. Karen Camper who will continue to serve as Region IV Chair (KY, TN, VA, and WV), as well as Rep. Brenda Gilmore and Rep. Johnny Shaw who will serve as Executive Committee members at-large. Allyson Sneed, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Shaw, will serve as Chair of the staff organization.
“I am honored to be chosen by my peers to serve as the President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators,” said Rep. Armstrong. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to expand the caucus and find new and better ways to serve our African-American constituencies.”
NBCSL, founded in 1977, is an organization dedicated to developing and promoting educational, research and training programs to help African-American legislators be more effective when considering and introducing legislation that affects their constituents.
“This is a great opportunity for me to be a voice for rural African-Americans within the Black Caucus,” said Rep. Shaw. “I hope to use this opportunity to inform other legislators about the work we’ve done in Tennessee, and to learn from my colleagues how we can be more effective in our state.”
In addition to a newly elected board, NBCSL has for the first time allocated funds to the regional chairs for the purpose of promoting policy engagement between the states.
“I am grateful to be chosen by my peers to once again serve as Regional Chair,” said Rep. Camper. “I am excited about the opportunity to use these new resources to work with other states in our area so that we can learn from each other about the best ways to help improve the lives of our constituents.”
“Too often the needs of African-Americans are neglected by state legislatures,” said Rep. Gilmore. “By amplifying our voices through NBCSL, we can ensure that important issues and programs are not forgotten as we work to make our states better places for all.”
The new NBCSL Executive Committee will take effect on February 1, 2013.
Knoxville’s state Reps. Joe Armstrong and Bill Dunn drew no opponents to their re-election this year when the normal qualifying deadline passed for legislative candidates in April, but both could now wind up with challengers from the Green Party.
The Green Party of Tennessee last month nominated candidates for several offices in accord with a federal judge’s decision in February – including Calvin Cassady of Knoxville as an opponent to Democrat Armstrong in state House District 15 and Bryan Moneyhun as an opponent to Republican Dunn in House District 16.
U.S. District Court Judge William Joseph Haynes ruled that several aspects of state law dealing with third party candidates are unconstitutional, including provisions that have generally kept party names – other than Republican and Democrat – from being printed with candidate names on the ballot.
Part of ruling allowed the Green Party and the Constitution Party, which filed the legal challenge, to nominate candidates later than the regular qualifying deadline – April 5 this year – and have their names appear on the ballot with the party label.
The state, however, has appealed the judge’s ruling. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for July 25 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will decide whether the candidates will be on the ballot or not.
U.S. Senate candidate Park Overall, an actress from Greeneville, was among the speakers at an East Tennessee’ Democratic rally in Knoxville Friday night, reports Matt Lakin. “They are scared of you guys,” state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, told a crowd of about 100 people outside the Knox County Democratic Party headquarters on Morgan Street. “We used to call them RATs — Republicans against teachers. This year we call them RAWs — Republicans against women. The Democratic Party is back, and we’re back strong.”
Armstrong and others said they expect a backlash at the ballot box this year against such state Republican initiatives as the weakening of teacher tenure, attempts to increase class sizes and proposed restrictions on abortion rights.
Greeneville native and actress Park Overall, who’s running for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Bob Corker of Chattanooga, said the divisive political climate inspired her to seek office. Overall, best known for her role on the NBC sitcom “Empty Nest” in the 1980s and 1990s, accused Corker of favoring corporations and the rich over working families.
“I’m sure he’s a lovely man, but he has voted for things I’m profoundly against and profoundly shocked by,” she said. “He votes with corporations all the time. I’m looking for union donors. I’m not looking for corporate donors. I’m not buyable, and I can’t be held accountable by a corporation.”
Overall also criticized Republicans in the state Legislature for such recent proposals as state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill.
“The problem with the Democrats is we’re honest, we’re kind, and we’re all-inclusive,” she told the crowd. “If you’re a really conservative person, you do not want to vote for me because I’m for transgenders, I’m for gay marriage, I’m for (the) poor, I’m for black(s), I’m for Asian(s), I’m for the disenfranchised, and my household always was.”
Republicans have traditionally dominated politics in East Tennessee since the Civil War, but some of the candidates said they think that’s open to change.
“This is a moderate district,” said Bill Taylor of Chattanooga, who’s running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah. “People vote for the person more than for the party.”
A former Tennessee governor and the state’s current comptroller are among public figures with ties to an East Tennessee bank whose closure by regulators was one of the state’s first bank failures in nearly a decade, reports The Tennessean. Former Gov. Don Sundquist sat on the Knoxville-based BankEast’s board. He and Comptroller Justin Wilson owned shares in its holding company.
After the bank’s failure last month, and the purchase of much of its assets by U.S. Bank, their BankEast stock is considered worthless.
State Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, also served on BankEast’s board and listed the bank as a source of income in a filing with the Tennessee Ethics Commission. He received a business loan from the bank.
BankEast failed after real estate, construction and other loans went sour amid the economic downturn. The bank’s 10 branches now fly the corporate flag of U.S. Bank. The Minneapolis-based company bought much of the failed bank’s assets, including $272 million of loans, and assumed $268 million of deposits
BankEast’s holding company, in which Sundquist, Wilson and others owned stock, wasn’t part of the U.S. Bank purchase. Typically, shareholders of a failed bank lose their money because they fall behind depositors and holders of unsecured and subordinated debt on a list of priority of creditors’ claims.
…Sundquist held 2 percent of voting shares in BankEast’s holding company at year-end 2010, according to BankEast Corp.’s most recent annual report filing with a regulator.
The ex-governor declined to comment on his ties to the bank, whose lead founder and chairman, Fred Lawson, was banking commissioner during the Sundquist administration. Sundquist was governor from 1995 to 2003 and was a congressman for a dozen years before that.
The new state Senate redistricting plan, which likely will be enacted into law on Friday, divides the city of Knoxville among three senators in a move some Democratic legislators say will dilute city influence.
That criticism is disputed by Republicans and, along with other complaints, was been set aside as GOP majorities in House and Senate committees approved the bills drawing new lines for Senate, House and congressional districts statewide.
The House has a final floor vote scheduled for today on all three redistricting bills with the Senate planning to give its approval on Friday. That would send the measures to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature just over a week after they were made public.
Late Wednesday, Democrats were meeting behind closed doors with Republican leadership about redistricting, several lawmakers said. The apparent topic was to have Democrats drop parliamentary maneuvering that could stall the final vote in exchange for some minor adjustments to the plans in specific House and Senate districts.
Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, noted that the Senate plan will bring Sen. Randy McNally’s district from suburban and rural areas adjoining Anderson County into the downtown area for the first time. He joked that districts of McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and fellow Republican Sens. Stacey Campfield and Becky Duncan Massey “will intersect on Gay Street.”
Tentative plans for redrawing Knox County state House districts put state Rep. Frank Niceley outside the county, give Democratic Rep. Harry Tindell more Republican voters and create a new district without an incumbent.
The broad outline of the plan is dictated, in substantial part, by population figures and legal requirements, according to legislators involved in the process. Plans have not been made public and specific details on exactly where the lines are drawn within the county are a subject of continuing debate behind closed doors.
“Everything that has been worked out is preliminary,” said Rep. Ryan Haynes, a Knoxville Republican who chairs the Knox County legislative delegation. He said the delegation will meet “in a couple of weeks” for a general discussion of the plan.
Legislative leaders say statewide plans will not be made public until late this year, or possibly not until January. But the Knox County alignment has been widely discussed and the general dynamics within the county are fairly certain.
Based on the statewide population distribution as found by the 2010 U.S. Census, the ideal state House district should have a population of 64,102. Courts have held there can be no more than 10 percent population variance from the highest population district in the state to the lowest population district in legislative districts.
That means Knox County’s population, reported at 432,226 in the most current count, is appropriate for seven House districts that would be well within the required population variances.
The county now effectively has about six and a half House districts, with Niceley’s District 17 accounting for the half. The 17th District also currently includes a portion of Jefferson County.
Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said in an interview that legislative leaders have told him the numbers involved virtually assure that he will no longer be representing any portion of Knox County after redistricting. Instead, his redrawn district will be extended from Jefferson County into a portion of Sevier County, which had a 2010 population of almost 90,000. The remainder of Sevier County would stay in District 12, now held by Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville.
“I hate to lose Knox County,” said Niceley, who said his roots in the county go back to his elementary school days. “If I thought somebody was doing that to me intentionally (for political reasons), I’d be mad about it. But because of the numbers, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, so you just take it and go on.”
Niceley said he intends to seek reelection to a new term from his revised district, though he will be a new face to most voters in the Sevier County portion of the new district.
Shuffling Democrats, Republicans.
Satirist Scott McNutt says Rep. Joe Armstrong has only a “no commint” to the notoriety he has achieved by urging the UT bookstore to stop selling “DisappointMints,” a candy-breath mint bearing President Obama’s likeness. But “mindful of the old saw that there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” he satirically declares other politicians to be seeking alignmint with mints in their likeness.
For Gov. Bill Haslam: Haslam Family Extra-Potent Endorsemints.
For Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: Persuasively Strong, Yet Bashful Acknowldgmints.
For Sen. Stacey Campfield: Sen-Sen’s Unsubtle, Sensationalizing Self-Aggrandizemint
(Offhandedly, I’d suggest Haslam warramts a Predicamint, ‘Give Washington the Boot’ Ramsey an Anti-Governmint and Campfield an Anti-Establishmint.)
Down in Chattanooga, Steve Barrett lays down the sarcasm in what he characterizes as the UT bookstore’s “craven surrender to a crybaby.” He has taken a look through UT class descriptions- sociology, one suspects – and found some to lampoon. (I)f the representative is worried about government funding political speech, he must not have sat in on a college lecture in the past four decades. A quick scan of UT’s website finds a course whose focus is a “model of multicultural and gender-sensitive constructive thinking; confronting power and addressing educational implications.”
I can decipher enough of that gobbledygook to assume that the works of Phyllis Schlafly and Thomas Sowell won’t figure prominently in the syllabus.
Another class entails “Theoretical research currently presented by feminist scholars questioning traditional (male) theories; application of these feminist theories to current feminist work in education.”
….In short, students in the state’s flagship university are assaulted daily with political activism underwritten by taxpayers. In many cases, students have to endure sheer classroom nuttiness to earn a degree, then spend years in the real world painfully unlearning the warped perceptions imparted by such courses.
None of that apparently troubles Armstrong. He didn’t take his bold stand for taxpayers until there was the threat of students being allowed to make a free-will choice to buy candy that tepidly lampoons a horrendous president — who, by pure coincidence, shares Armstrong’s party affiliation.