NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Members of Hamilton County’s state legislative delegation say they’re mulling a request from county commissioners to allow local whiskey distilling.
State Rep. JoAnne Favors, a Democrat from Chattanooga, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/11FVoPn ) she believes at least five members of the seven-member delegation will support including the county in a recently-passed statute. State Rep. Richard Floyd, a Chattanooga Republican, said last week he remains adamantly opposed.
The brand Chattanooga Whiskey is currently distilled under contract in Indiana because Hamilton County requested to not be included when the statute passed in 2009.
Delegation chairman Rep. Bo Watson, a Republican, said he wants any inclusion limited to areas where voters have already approved liquor by the drink and package sales referendums.
Democrat Frank Eaton, who faces state Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, in the upcoming election, says he supports allowing businesses in Hamilton County to distill liquor, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “We can already legally sell and responsibly drink a product with Chattanooga’s name on it right here in Hamilton County. ‘Chattanooga Whiskey’ should be made in Chattanooga,” the 27th Legislative District candidate said in a news release.
A 2009 state law lets county commissions approve distillation of spirits in counties where referendums have been approved allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales and package-store sales.
Hamilton County currently is excluded from the law.
The owners of Chattanooga Whiskey have said they want to produce their whiskey in Chattanooga instead of having it made in Indiana, where it’s now produced.
Citing his convictions and concerns about the impact of alcohol on driving, Floyd has said he opposes local whiskey manufacturing.
“I tell you alcohol kills more people every year than all illegal drugs put together,” Floyd has said. “People who make it [alcohol], people who sell it and people who buy it, they have a share of responsibility [in such deaths.]”
“By my faith, I vote against every alcohol bill,” he said.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects the question of using taxpayer dollars to fund private school vouchers will be a major issue in the General Assembly come January, reports Andy Sher. But the horses already are out of the barn in several Southeast Tennessee legislative races where a full-fledged debate over vouchers is under way.
Some Republicans argue vouchers are necessary to advance school-choice initiatives already under way with public charter schools.
Democrats counter that any redirection of funding undermines support of public education, which they say is already too little.
Republican Rep. Richard Floyd, whose District 27 includes Red Bank and Signal Mountain, fully supports vouchers.
“Anything that we can do to give these kids a better shot at getting a better education we need to try,” Floyd said. “It may not work. If it doesn’t, we can come back and reinvent the wheel.”
Frank Eaton, Floyd’s Democratic opponent, has serious reservations about vouchers.
“I don’t think they’re in general a great idea,” Eaton said. “If our public schools were properly funded, we wouldn’t be faced with so many failing schools. We need to focus on making sure there’s a good public school available for every child.”
…House District 30, Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, said the state “should explore some ways to include some vouchers and hopefully do so without making a large impact on the school systems.”
It would be “far better to have a pilot project than to go statewide with it right off the bat,” said Dean. State officials could use a pilot program to evaluate vouchers’ effectiveness.
His Democratic opponent, Sandy Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, said a voucher program is “taking more money away from public education.”
…Fault lines on vouchers often cut along partisan lines. But a number of Republicans in rural areas are lukewarm on the issue.
In the seven-county Senate District 16 contest, which includes Marion, Sequatchie and Coffee counties, Democrat Jim Lewis, of Kimball, is staunchly anti-voucher. Vouchers and any number of education initiatives passed or proposed by the Republican-led General Assembly amount to “outright theft from public schools,” he said.
“We haven’t funded public schools adequately in the first place, and if your design is to destroy public schools, then you find a way to suck more money out of them,” said Lewis, a former state senator.
Republican Janice Bowling, his opponent, is a former teacher who home-schooled one of her children for several years. Vouchers and other education initiatives often spring from “perfectly noble ideas and hopes,” she said, but end up as “kind of knee-jerk, ‘we’ll do this and this to fix it,'” responses, Bowling said.
“I haven’t had the opportunity [to look into vouchers] to see what the unintended consequences might be or what the benefits would be. I can see both sides.”
From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: So how do you fend off an election challenge from a candidate like Basil Marceaux, whose last political venture and unconventional views on issues such as “gold fringe” flags and illegal police traffic stops left national comedians, radio talk shows and Internet bloggers marveling?
For state Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, who faces Marceaux in the Aug. 2 Republican primary for House District 27, the answer is very, very diplomatically.
“His positions, whether you agree or disagree, you can’t fault his enthusiasm in discussing his issues or promoting them,” said Floyd, who is seeking a third term. “I think we’re going to be all right in this race, especially the primary.”
But, Floyd quickly added, “you never take any opponent for granted.
…Now Marceaux’s back. But his campaign on Monday took yet another detour through Hamilton County Criminal Court, where Judge Rebecca Stern dismissed Marceaux’s efforts to block his trial for a January traffic violation. He contends his trial is unconstitutional.
Marceaux claims that, under the 1865 Freedmen’s Bureau Act, which was intended to help former slaves, his status as a former U.S. Marine gives him higher authority than a judge.
“I’m taking the opportunity to show that all of this is unlawful,” he said Monday after the hearing.
Marceaux has been slapped with numerous traffic violations in the past.
His last appearance before Stern in the current case, which involves charges for failing to maintain lanes and have proof of insurance, resulted in a 10-day jail stint for contempt after Marceaux told the judge that she was “out of order.” Marceaux also told her that, when he wins an election, the court “is going down.”
He said Monday that, besides his crusades over traffic stops, he wants to “fight for the veterans.”
He said he also intends to block the flying of Tennessee and American flags featuring “gold fringe,” arguing that the fringe means martial law has been declared and so it’s illegal.
Floyd, meanwhile, said he is focused on “economic expansion and jobs. That’s a top one for all of us.”
Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, on Thursday withdrew the Senate version of a controversial House measure requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms and dressing rooms that match their birth gender, reports Andy Sher. Watson, who is chairman of the Hamilton County legislative delegation, said he sponsored the bill as a standard courtesy to local House members. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga.
“I understand Rep. Floyd’s passion about the issue, but we have more pressing issues before us that we need to focus our attention on and we don’t need to get sidetracked,” Watson said.
Floyd said earlier Thursday he introduced the bill after reading a news story about a Texas woman who said she was fired from Macy’s after stopping a male teen dressed as a woman from using a dressing room.
“It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.
“Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk,” he said. “We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”
The bill would charge violators with a misdemeanor carrying a $50 fine. Note: Previous post HERE.
A Chattanooga lawmaker says he makes no apologies for his bill that prohibits transgender people from using use public bathrooms and dressing rooms that don’t match the gender listed on their birth certificates, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, said today he introduced the bill after reading a news article about a Texas woman who said she was fired from Macy’s after blocking a male teen dressed as a woman from using a dressing room.
“It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.”
Floyd’s bill, sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, in the Senate, makes such acts a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine.
The legislation is already triggering condemnation in the gay and liberal blogosphere.
Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project, dubbed it the “Police the Potty” bill, noting state law already prohibits anyone born in the state from amending their gender of birth certificates. Note: A news release on the matter from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition is below.
Gov. Bill Haslam is finding support among Chattanooga area lawmakers for his argument that Amazon’s voluntary agreement with the state to collect sales taxes doesn’t constitute a tax increase on the company’s Tennessee customers, according to Andy Sher. Of course, supporting a tax increase would violate multiple anti-tax promises by legislators. In announcing last week’s renegotiated deal with the online retail giant, Haslam declared “this isn’t a new tax; this tax was already due. This was just a question of Amazon collecting it themselves.”
…”There’s no question the tax is due,” said Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga. “The question is, whose duty it is to pay it?”
Berke said most of his constituents “are concerned with jobs walking out of our state. I think they will understand that, if Amazon feels comfortable with this deal and it secures 3,500 jobs, it is something we should do.”
“I’m sure there’ll be some people that will say it is a new tax — you’re going to be paying taxes on something you didn’t have to before,” said Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. “But, the sales tax is the way we generate revenue to run state government, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we don’t have a [general] state income tax. And we’ll certainly never have one on my vote.”
Under the agreement Haslam cut, Amazon, which already has plans to open an additional distribution center employing 300-500 people in Lebanon, Tenn., has agreed to open two more facilities employing another 1,500 full-time workers.