In a speech to the Republican Statesman’s Dinner fundraiser last weekend, Gov. Bill Haslam declared that Tennesseans have “elected the best legislature that we have in the country.”
From TNReport, which has a video of the governor’s remarks: “Those supermajorities (in both the House and Senate) help make the governor a lot smarter,” he said.
Haslam added, “One of the things I am most proud of with this Legislature is that we are all about producing results. Tennessee in the last year has led the Southeast in job-creation and is fourth in the nation.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Presidential elections are usually serious business, but President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney are taking a little time for laughs during the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday.
Obama and Romney have taped video segments that will appear as part of the country music award show’s opening segment. CMT President Brian Philips said in a statement that each is “in on the joke.”
“They’re each great sports,” he said.
The fun kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on CMT with hosts Toby Keith and Kristen Bell. A host of celebrities from across the entertainment dial are scheduled to appear as well, but they’ll be battling for attention with the focus on Obama and Romney.
Gov. Bill Haslam tells Andrea Zelinski that he signed the state’s $31.5 billion spending plan Tuesday, putting into action a state budget that is $627 million less than this year’s. In an interview with TNReport Tuesday afternoon, Haslam said he’s proud of the budget plan, which spends about $400 million more than he originally pitched to lawmakers and the public back in January.
“The ultimate budget had a lot of the things that we added back in when the revenue numbers improved,” Haslam said. The state spending plan runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
“I am somebody who believes in smaller government. I also think though, there’s critical services that we provide,” he said. “While we want to be really tough on how we spend taxpayers dollars, we also want to make certain we’re taking care of people we’re supposed to.”
…The governor’s budget includes spending on projects and programs lawmakers at one point flagged as pork barrel spending, including a $500,000 for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Va., across the street from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s Republican district Bristol in Tennessee.
“It’s kind of an easy target to say, oh that’s in Virginia. Why are we funding it when it’s yards from Tennessee?” he said. “It’s not like we funded something that’s in northwest Virginia.”
When asked if he was “comfortable” funding the museum, he said “I think I am… it’s a little different situation because of the way the city of Bristol is laid out.”
Blountville Republican Ron Ramsey said he couldn’t pull the trigger on targeting funding for major regional projects when he first became Tennessee’s lieutenant governor in 2007, according to the Kingsport Times-News. “I wasn’t about to ask for things in my area when we were cutting in other areas, but state revenues have turned around some. … When that came, I thought it was fair we get some projects on this end of the state,” Ramsey said Wednesday.
His fingerprints were all over two major economic development projects included in the $31.5 billion budget passed this week by the GOP-controlled legislature. Ramsey steered a $500,000 state appropriation toward a planned multimillion-dollar Bristol Cultural Heritage Center just across State Street in Bristol, Va., and an $8.8 million appropriation to acquire Doe Mountain in Johnson County.
That Doe Mountain appropriation, plus a legislature-approved bill to create a governing authority for the property, is expected to lead to development of a multi-use park for all-terrain vehicles, bike riding and hiking.
“This is the biggest thing that has happened to Johnson County in a long time,” Ramsey said. “Not only will it promote their natural beauty, it will be a huge economic boon to them. We’ve studied what other places have done for ATV parks and bike paths and walking paths. When we get this structure put together, it will provide a lot of jobs for Johnson County.”
Democrats made a provision to give $500,000 for construction of a museum in Virginia the focus of last-minute criticism of a $31 billion state budget Monday as their attempts to make alterations were voted down.
After heated debate, the final, Republican-drafted version of the budget was approved 63-27. The Senate followed later with approval of the spending plan, mostly prepared by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, on a 31-2 vote with virtually no discussion.
Hopes for adjourning the legislative session Monday were dashed by long debate on other issues. The House and Senate will meet again Tuesday to deal with them.
Money intended for the Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center was added to the budget at the urging of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who said the proposed building site is on the Virginia side of the state border that runs through Bristol.
A federal judicial panel’s decision to reprimand a Nashville judge for belonging to Belle Meade Country Club has forced others in the legal profession to question their continued membership at an institution that includes no black or female members who are eligible to vote or hold office, reports the Tennessean. Multiple members said the club is preparing to take steps to address the panel’s conclusion that Belle Meade engages in “invidious discrimination” in hopes of preventing an exodus of members worried about the ethical or political fallout of a continued affiliation with the club.
Gilbert S. Merritt, a Nashville-based senior judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Belle Meade club member, said he has received indications from confidential sources that “people who are associated with the Belle Meade Country Club who have significant influence in rectifying the situation” plan to do so in the coming weeks.
Merritt — who said he feels bound by the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability’s decision to publicly reprimand George C. Paine II, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nashville — said he will be forced to leave the club in coming months “unless there is a correction of the problem of no resident African-American members and a correction of the problem or confusion or whatever it may be on women members.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of federal judges said Thursday that a bankruptcy judge’s membership in a Nashville, Tenn., country club that has no women or blacks as full-fledged members violates the judiciary’s code of ethics.
But the panel said it will not take any disciplinary action against Judge George Paine II because he is planning to retire next month. Paine is the chief bankruptcy judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, which includes Nashville and nearly three dozen counties.
He has belonged to the Belle Meade Country Club since 1978. The club has never had a woman or a black with membership privileges that include voting and holding office.