State Rep. Glen Casada and state Sen. Jack Johnson, both Franklin Republicans, have filed a bill that would create an Office of the Repealer, whose job would be to identify potentially unnecessary rules and regulations to be repealed, reports The Tennessean. The repealer would offer recommendations to the governor, the state legislature and the secretary of state.
“We’re using bureaucracy to cut bureaucracy,” Casada said. “We’re using government against itself.”
House Bill 500, filed Thursday, calls for adding the repealer’s position to the secretary of state’s office. If the bill were to pass the legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, the repealer would be asked to find state law and rules that are “unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, contradictory or unnecessary.”
The repealer would make nonbinding recommendations to the secretary of state and the legislature every three months and to the governor once a year.
More than 30 lawmakers, including House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory, have signed on as co-sponsors of the measure.
— Note: The news release is below.
While leaders of the House Republican Caucus contend the group can continue holding meetings behind closed doors, Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris said Wednesday that he believes the Senate Republican Caucus is obliged to meet in public.
Norris said he would be willing to support an amendment to Senate rules that would “clarify” that GOP caucus meetings are open, though he believes they already are. His comments came during debate before the Senate Rules Committee on a proposal by Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, to make the Senate subject to the state’s “open meetings law,” which now exempts the Legislature while applying to city and county government meetings.
Norris said the Senate in May of 2011 voted unanimously to incorporate a 2006 statute that says meetings of a quorum of the House and Senate must be open to the public except when considering impeachments of matters of state and national security. And to close meeting in such cases, there must be a two-thirds vote of the House or Senate, the statute says.
A quorum of the Senate is 22 members. This year there are 26 Republicans in the Senate Republican Caucus – up six from last session. That, said Norris, means the Senate Republican Caucus must follow the rules and have open meetings.
House rules, on the other hand, do not incorporate a reference to the 2006 statute and, therefore, the old statute does not apply. The law itself, enacted as part of a special session on ethics in 2006, says that it can not impact future legislative session but declares future sessions are “strongly encouraged” to bind themselves by incorporating the statue.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada said in an interview that he the issue of opening caucus meetings has been discussed and there was an general agreement that, this year, the meetings would be open is legislative matters were discussed but close when “personal matters” are discussed. He conceded that what is covered by personal matters can be “deep and wide.”
In the last legislative session, House Republican Caucus meetings were routinely and regularly closed to the media and public.
Last session, the House Republican Caucus had 64 members, two shy of a quorum of the full House. This year, the Caucus has 70 members, well over a quorum.
Casada said he had not considered the suggestion made by Norris that, since the Republican caucuses now constitute a quorum of the full Legislature, they should have open meetings. He said the issue would be discussed in future House Republican Caucus meetings, including the possibility of incorporating the 2006 statute into House rules.
Norris suggested that Kyle’s push for a floor debate on adopting the open meetings law “would be a show” and that open meetings are already assured in the Senate. Kyle said he believes the current setup is not working and openness and transparency would be enhanced with legislators following the same law that applies to cities and counties.
Kyle put of a vote of the Rules Committee on his proposal.
The panel did approve six minor changes to Senate rules. One of them would change the titiles of committee officers from chairman, vice chairman and secretary to chairman, first vice chairman and second vice chairman. The panel was told that Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey believes the term “secretary” is “antiquated.”
Perhaps on a bipartisan basis, state legislators are moving toward repealing Tennessee’s limits on political campaign contributions while requiring more rapid and complete disclosure.
Rep. Glen Casada, elected House Republican Caucus chairman last week, said Friday that concept is at the core of a “comprehensive” revision of state campaign finance law that he and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron hope to introduce in the 108th General Assembly that convenes Jan. 8.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions, along with the ever-increasing expense of campaigns, mean that contribution limits are no longer needed or desirable, said Casada.
“A campaign is, in essence, getting your message out,” he said. “That is free speech and free speech costs money.”
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, who was reelected to his post last week, told reporters that he has decided the time has come to “re-think” past support of campaign contribution limits because they are no longer effective.
“I’m coming around to that (repeal of limits),” Kyle said. “What we’ve found is that Republicans are so good at circumventing the law, why go through the effort?”
Rep. Glen Casada talks with Andrea Zelinski about his anticipated return to the role of House Republican Caucus Chairman, succeeding the defeated Debra Maggart. Casada is generally regarded as more in tune with House conservatives than Speaker Beth Harwell, who edged out Casada to win the gavel two years ago. Harwell typically works hand-in-glove with Gov. Bill Haslam, both of whom are centrists who’ve been criticized at times by party conservatives for being more attentive to big business interests than grassroots concerns.
However, Casada is himself loathe to criticize Harwell. The chief reason he’s uninterested in trying to make a grab at the speaker’s gavel again this year is that “Beth has done a good job,” he said.
“Things are well. We’re cutting taxes. Government’s small. Things are going well in the state of Tennessee so I see no reason to switch at this stage,” Casada said.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, on the other hand, isn’t so happy with the status quo. The conservative Tullahoma Republican is mulling a run for speaker. Matheney told The Associated Press earlier this month that as a result of his conservative politics he feels he’s “purposefully been put in a box” by the caucus higher-ups.
For his part, Casada says House leadership has never made him feel like that. He said he feels he would “add to, not conflict with, the leadership team” of Harwell and GOP Leader Gerald McCormick, who says he expects Casada would fit naturally back into a leadership role, if he pursues the seat.
Rep. Glen Casada today withdrew a bill that would have repealed the aggregate limit on the amount of money state candidates can collect from political action committees and corporations.
The bill (HB3281) passed the Senate last year and Casada won approval Monday from the House State and Local Government Committee, setting the stage for a House floor vote in the waning hours of the session. But today, the Williamson County Republican changed his mind after talking with other legislators.
“It’s the end of the year and members are tired,” he said. “I just think they’re not ready to take on another issue now.”
But he added, “Next year for sure.”
Previous post HERE.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Republican bill to move up the cutoff date to meet kindergarten age requirements passed the House Wednesday over Democrats’ arguments that the measure is aimed at laying off teachers and denying early childhood learning opportunities.
The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin was approved on a 68-30 vote after a spirited debate lasting more than an hour. The companion bill is awaiting a Senate vote.
Currently children must be 5 years old by Sept. 30 to enroll in kindergarten. The measure would move that cutoff date to Aug. 31 in the school year beginning in 2013, and to Aug. 15 the following year.
“There are an element in education that want to get children a universal education from the cradle to the grave,” Casada said. “I strongly disagree with that.
“We want those young people at home with their family for the first several years of their life,” he said. “That’s where the most learning is and that’s where the foundation sits.”
The bill banning local governments from setting employee benefits for city contractors was amended a House subcommittee Wednesday to exempt Memphis – the only city in the state that now has a such a requirement (in the form of a minimum wage).
Sponsor Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, went along with the amendment proposed by Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville.
But other legislators — Rep. Kent Williams and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick — pointed out that a Memphis exemption seemed contrary to Casada’s declaration is needed so businesses “have a uniform set of rules across the state” instead of “a hodgepodge of different rules.”
A final vote in the House State and Local Government Subcommittee was postponed for a week after the amendment was adopted.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — House Speaker Beth Harwell has voiced opposition to efforts to water down Tennessee’s open meetings law and has called on a Republican colleague to drop a bill seeking to make changes to the current rules.
Spokeswoman Kara Owen said in an email Tuesday that Harwell does not support efforts to allow members of local governments to meet behind closed doors as long as a quorum isn’t present.
Owen said Harwell had spoken to Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and that he agreed not to pursue the bill this year.
Casada acknowledged he talked with Harwell and has asked the Tennessee County Commissioners Association to talk with their members and “make sure we’re going down the right path that everybody wants to.”
“So until they all get in agreement, I’m not going to carry something that we’re not all in agreement on,” he said. “We’ll look at it this summer and go from there.”
Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association, said he applauds Casada’s decision.
“The majority of the county commissioners that have considered this proposed change have rejected it and we think that it’s an acknowledgement that the sunshine law has served the citizens of this state well for almost four decades,” Gibson said.
Harwell joins Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in opposing the measure. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville has said he’s against weakening open government laws but agrees with proponents that some of the current open meetings rules are too onerous.
Sen. Ken Yager, the chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, has also been vocal about changing the law, saying it would prevent transparency and undermine the public’s trust in government.
“Citizens need to understand how government decisions are made,” the Harriman Republican said recently. “Lack of transparency prevents the public from actively participating in government and from raising questions or expressing their opinions.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he wants to leave it up to local governments to decide whether to set their own wage requirements for contractors.
The Republican governor told reporters that he’s “not a fan of the living wage,” but that those decisions should be left up to counties and cities.
Haslam’s stance puts him at odds with some fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown are sponsoring legislation seeking to ban higher wage requirements set by local governments and to repeal those standards where they have already been set in place.
“Local governments are unwittingly pricing certain employees out of jobs, especially minority teens, who do not yet have the skill set to demand high-wage, high-benefit jobs,” Kelsey said in a release announcing the bill last month.
State Rep. Brenda Gilmore says she’ll propose legislation to repeal a law enacted during the last legislative session that overrode a Nashville city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses that contract with Nashville city government, reports The Tennessean. The sponsor of the override bill, Rep. Glen Casada, says that’s not going to happen. The Nashville Democrat will join state and local gay rights activists and Metro Council members today to introduce legislation that she hopes will restore local rights to ban discrimination, even if those laws are stricter than the state’s.
Local officials are still fuming over the state legislature’s decision to push through a law that invalidated a local regulation that banned city contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It was Metro Council and Davidson County’s wishes that people who do business with Metro government would have the same values and honor their commitments not to discriminate against anyone, and I think my colleagues should recognize that,” Gilmore said. “And just as they don’t want federal government interfering in state government, we shouldn’t interfere with our local government.”
….It remains to be seen whether Gilmore’s proposal has a chance in a Republican-dominated General Assembly that nullified the Metro law less than six months ago. Casada, at least, thinks not.
“I don’t think they’re going to give that bill a second glance,” he said. “Thousand and thousand and thousands of bills get introduced each legislative session, and I’ll remind you that HB 600 passed on bipartisan support. … (Tennessee lawmakers) understand the importance of having a uniform code of conduct for business in these difficult economic times.”
But the new bill’s supporters hope to at least start a dialogue on the issue of gay rights and local control.