Tag Archives: end

More Session Sizeups: Delight on the Right, Lamenting on the Left

‘Radical Extreme Stuff
Andy Sher reports Republican and Democratic legislators’ perspectives on the session recently concluded. For the GOP view, he relies largely on Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s open letter to Tennesseans (posted earlier HERE).
For the Democrats, he talked with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, who lamented “a bunch of the radical extreme stuff” pushed by Republicans.
An excerpt:
“I think it will hurt business,” Turner said. “It’s embarrassing for me to talk to people in other parts of the country. I think it could hurt our image down here. We had an image of everybody here being barefoot and bucktoothed with cowlicks on both sides of their head. … We came a long way [in recent years] to try to diminish some of that.”
Along the same lines, see also TNReport. which has some of the same comments plus this from House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh:
“We were at the table, but we certainly didn’t get the same portion as everybody else,” Fitzhugh said to TNReport on the last day of the legislative session. “We stayed at the table for a while, then we were pretty much locked out,” particularly when it came to the collective bargaining debate, which became the Legislature’s capstone bill this year.
But while Fitzhugh, too, characterized some of the Republican legislation as “extreme,” he said Democrats can’t be satisfied with watching the GOP-led action from the cheap seats assuming that come November 2012, their two-year nightmare will come to a merciful end.
“We don’t have much control over what (Republicans) put out. We have to do our best to defeat legislation we don’t think is in the best interest for the state or make it better,” the Ripley Democrat said
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Haslam’s Run to the Right
Pam Strickland quotes a friend who once thought Bill Haslam a reasonable guy – until the legislative session. Now, “I am most displeased.”
.I would take it even further. Haslam and the Republican-majority Legislature may have enacted some much needed measures in the just-concluded General Assembly session, but what this year is going to be known for is what the lawmakers were against: teachers, LGBT, Islam, equal protection and anything that made a modicum of sense. OK, so I made up that last one. But it’s not far from the truth.
Historic Conservative Consequences
Greg Johnson goes through some of the conservative triumphs in the Legislative session in his most recent column.
One snippet for a sample:
The legislative arm of the Tennessee Education Association – aka House and Senate Democrats – had long been able to bottle up education reform and, of course, hid behind teachers’ skirts and little kiddies when Republicans proposed change, proving they’re on the wrong side of history. Again
Ultra-Conservatives Failed, Too
Frank Cagle observes that a lot of the supposed conservative agenda failed during the legislative session, raising the question of whether the triumph of the right was really as significant as some claimed.
By and large, the perceived conservative agenda didn’t happen.
State Sen. Bill Ketron had a bill to outlaw Sharia Law, labeled as anti-Muslim, but it evolved into a bill that designates local district attorneys as the agency to identify groups that constitute a threat to national security with no mention of religion.
A Senate bill outlawed collective bargaining by teachers, but the final version was watered down by the House and a conference committee, to something called “collaborative conferencing,” which is what many systems do now.
The ridiculous “Don’t Say Gay” bill was changed to merely require that science curricula teach “natural human reproduction.” Is there any other kind?
A bill to allow large school systems to set up a voucher system, allowing parents to opt for private schools with public money for the tuition, did not pass.
A proposal for elected school superintendents did not pass.
A bill to allow faculty and staff permit holders to carry guns on college campuses did not pass.
A move to prevent the extension of unemployment benefits to 28,000 unemployed Tennesseans was squelched and the funding will be forthcoming.
An Arizona type immigration bill to allow law enforcement to demand papers from “suspicious” persons failed. A move to require employers to use the e-verify system to check the immigration status of new hires failed. A requirement that drivers license tests only be offered in English failed.
A proposal to require the election of state Supreme Court Justices failed
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Session Ends With Budget Bipartisanship, Disputes Elsewhere

The 2011 session of the Tennessee General Assembly ended Saturday with bipartisan collaboration on a $30.8 billion state budget that includes money for jobless workers and flood victims but with partisan fighting on other fronts.
The Republican majority won the last-day fights – as true in almost all situations this year – by approving bills to allow private corporations to donate to political campaigns and to operate “virtual schools” in Tennessee.
Those wins came on top of a Friday night GOP victory in passage of legislation to abolish collective bargaining between school boards and teacher unions, perhaps the most contentious issue of the session. The final version calls for “collaborative conferencing,” which Republicans called a compromise though labeled by one Democrat as “collaborative begging.”
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey gaveled the House and Senate sessions to a close at 10:02 p.m. CDT Saturday after a marathon day of lawmaking. It was the earliest end to a legislative session since May 1, 1998, and five weeks earlier than the 2010 session ended.

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An Early End to Legislative Session?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP — If lawmakers can really wrap up their business by Thursday it would be the earliest date the Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned in 18 years.
But to conclude the session, lawmakers will have to clear a host of bills off their docket, not least of which is Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s $30 billion annual spending plan. The budget proposal has been met with little dissent, but the final version is a complicated document that must incorporate funding for bills that may not have passed yet.
Haslam has two other major initiatives pending. The House would need to agree with the Senate’s technical changes to a bill to place caps on payouts from successful lawsuits against doctors and other businesses before it could head for the governor’s signature.
And Haslam’s proposal to lift a cap on charter schools is scheduled for votes in both chambers’ finance committees later this week.

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End of Legislative Session Next Week? (don’t count on it)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — House Republicans are hoping to wrap up this year’s legislative session as early as next week.
House Clerk Joe McCord tells members of the lower chamber that the “most optimistic” timetable could see the state’s annual spending plan come up for a vote on Thursday. He also asked lawmakers to bring extra clothes in case they need to work through the weekend.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville said he considers that timetable “unrealistic,” given a series of major bills still awaiting consideration.
Turner added that Democrats have a major party event in Jackson scheduled for next Saturday, so they won’t want to go into session that day.