Tag Archives: Haslam

Haslam: No anti-union litmus test

WASHINGTON — Just a week after a union defeat at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Gov. Bill Haslam suggested Thursday his administration is open to recruiting automakers and other manufacturers whose workers are unionized, reports Michael Collins.

“It’s not like we have a litmus test saying we’re not going to work with any industry that’s unionized,” he said.

Haslam, speaking in Washington about the state’s efforts to recruit high-tech industries, said he spoke out against the United Auto Workers’ campaign to unionize workers in Chattanooga because unionization would have made it harder to attract auto suppliers to Tennessee.

But Haslam said he doesn’t think stopping unionization is essential to attracting or growing high-tech industries in the state.

Volkswagen was a unique case, he said, because the German automaker is planning to build a new seven-passenger SUV in either Chattanooga or a plant in Mexico.

In its discussions with Tennessee, Volkswagen stressed that for Chattanooga to win production of the new model, more suppliers would be needed near the plant and the state would have to show that it could shrink the gap in the cost of manufacturing a car in Tennessee or Mexico.

Haslam told Volkswagen, “that is going to be a lot harder, in my opinion, if UAW comes in,” he said during Thursday’s event at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

“It’s not just my opinion,” he said. “I had suppliers telling us that — that if they come, we won’t come. There was a direct link, in this case.”

In the face of strong criticism from Haslam, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and other Republicans in the state, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga voted 712-626 last week against unionizing.

Rule Freeze Followed by Thaw, Repeals and New Legislative Scrutiny

NASHVILLE — Since beginning his term as governor by ordering a 45-day freeze on implementation of any new state government rules and facing questions about one frozen proposal, Gov. Bill Haslam has used less direct means of impacting the bureaucratic regulatory process.

In the state Legislature, which under state law must give its approval to all new rules, an effort is afoot among members of the Republican supermajority to end the practice of rubber-stamping the plans promulgated by state departments, boards and commissions, says Sen. Mike Bell, who chairs a committee reviewing all rules.

Tennessee’s bureaucracy has continued to generate scores of new rules since Haslam’s freeze ended, but there have been 33 rules repealed — recent examples include the Department of Agriculture’s elimination of requirements that makers of milk and ice cream keep extensive records of the prices they charge and a whole system for certifying tomato, broccoli, cabbage and pepper plants.

Also eliminated — with approval of a legislative committee last week — were rules dealing with strawberry plants, Irish potatoes and a quarantine on bringing camellia flowers into Tennessee from some areas.

Full story HERE.

 

Tributes to Lois DeBerry

Here are some comments on the passing of state Rep. Lois DeBerry:

From House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh:

“I have known Lois DeBerry since 1974 when I was first elected to the House of Representatives. She had been elected just two years earlier and we were best friends from the very beginning. 

“Lois is a true Tennessee stateswoman. In the Legislature she led the way on a number of issues important to all Tennesseans including healthcare, education, corrections oversight, and economic development. The Lois DeBerry Center in Nashville, named after her, revolutionized the way we dealt with our incarcerated population and she deserves much of the credit for bringing our prison system out from under federal oversight and into the 21st century.  

She served with, worked with and provided advice not only to legislators but also to seven Tennessee Governors including Governors Haslam, Bredesen, Sundquist, McWherter, Alexander, Blanton and Dunn.  They all respected her opinion and listened closely to her advice.   

During my 18 years as Speaker of the House, Lois served as Speaker Pro Tempore–the first African American woman to fill this role. She was my constant helpmate and someone I could count on during those difficult days in the legislature. In 2000, the National Conference of State Legislators recognized Lois with the William Bulger Award for Legislative Leadership. This prestigious prize is given to one legislator each year who promotes the good of legislative institutions by displaying real leadership qualities, including honesty, integrity and hard work. That was the Lois we all knew. 

 Lois loved this state. She loved the people of this state.  She was the voice for people all across this state, who could not speak out for themselves in our governmental process; the poor, the oppressed, the proverbial people standing in the shadows of life.   She rebuffed repeated calls to run for higher office. In 1994 she even turned down a prestigious federal appointment from President Clinton, telling him that her work in Tennessee was simply not finished. 

I will miss Lois DeBerry. I will miss sitting with her on the floor of the House Chamber. I will miss her laughter and her great sense of humor that I saw so often in our daily discussions. I will miss her example and her leadership for our state. But most of all, I will miss my best friend.”

From House Speaker Beth Harwell:

“Lois DeBerry dedicated her life to service. From the Civil Rights Movement, to becoming the first female African-American Speaker Pro Tempore, Lois always made public service a priority. The impact she has had on this great state, the lives of countless Tennesseans, and people all across the country is astounding. She certainly made her mark on history, and it was an honor to know her and serve alongside her in Tennessee General Assembly. I valued our friendship, and will deeply miss her sage advice, and her remarkable sprit and smile. Her dedication to children’s issues, women’s issues, and criminal justice reform have resulted in a better Tennessee. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

From House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh:

“Lois DeBerry was my friend and my mentor. From my first day on the hill in 1994, she was someone I could turn to in every situation. She taught me the importance of working across party lines to get things done for the state, but also to never be afraid to stand up for a cause–even if sometimes you stand alone. Lois was a fighter. She always fought and fought hardest for children. She fought for those on the margins of society and for the city of Memphis which she loved so dearly. Most recently she waged a courageous battle against cancer, inspiring everyone with her upbeat attitude and her determination to survive. I loved Lois DeBerry. Her absence will leave a hole in the House that no one can fill; we are a better state for the service she provided. God rest her soul and be with her family during this difficult time.”

From Gov. Bill Haslam:

Coming in as a new governor, Lois quickly became one of my favorite people on Capitol Hill because of her wit, charm and dedication to her constituents. Lois was a history maker, a wonderful woman, a great legislator and a true friend. I will miss her.”

From Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron:

“Speaker Lois DeBerry was one of America’s Heroes and one of God’s Saints. “So many of us owe her so much. Speaker DeBerry led, she inspired, she witnessed with a spirit filled with The Spirit.
“Much will be said in the days ahead. Not enough can be said. We mourn her passing and celebrate her life.”
From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:
“Lois DeBerry will be remembered as a tireless advocate for her community, and as one of the longest-serving women lawmakers in the nation and the first African-American female speaker pro tempore in the House, Lois’ legacy will be remembered in Memphis and across our state for generations to come,” said Corker. “I appreciate her many years of public service and her friendship and kindness. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time.”
From Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle:
“Lois DeBerry was a peerless leader for her community, her city and for all women. It’s a uniquely American story – a woman who became frustrated with the conditions in her community and dedicated her life to making it better, rising to heights that no African American woman had seen before in Tennessee. We are deeply saddened by her passing.”
From Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney:
“Before I ever ran for office, I was motivated and inspired by the leadership of Lois DeBerry. She intentionally focused on tough issues, daring others to join her, and by her words could inspire people to take action and get involved. Tennessee has lost a great leader today.”
From House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Speaker Pro Tempore Emeritus Lois DeBerry, a legendary figure in Tennessee political history. I had the distinct privilege to serve with Lois in the House of Representatives for 9 years and I enjoyed our friendship. Her knowledge, experience and delightful personality will surely be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (via CA story, HERE)
“Forget Democrat. Forget African-American. Forget state legislator. Lois is one of the individuals I trust the most for her counsel and advice,”
 

Kyle More Interested in Running for Judge Than for Governor

Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle joined his House counterpart Wednesday in declaring disinterest in running for governor, even though he waged a brief campaign for the office in 2010.
“I haven’t thought about it,” said Kyle, D-Memphis, adding that he had hoped House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley would run. As for himself, Kyle said he is not really interested, though stopping short of absolutely ruling it out.
“I’ve thought more about ‘do I want to leave the Senate and become a judge or do I want to stay in the Senate.’ That is the decision I’ve got to make between now and the end of the year,” he said. “That’s what I’ve focused all of my energy on.”
Fitzhugh, who has toyed with the idea of running for governor since December, said earlier this week that he has decided to instead seek re-election to his West Tennessee House seat and another term as head of House Democrats.
Kyle ran briefly for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2012, then withdrew — along with three other Democrats who initially declared themselves candidates, including the party’s current chairman, former state Sen. Roy Herron. Dresden businessman Mike McWherter won the nomination, then lost to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

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No Charges in Cleveland Sign-Ripping Case

A Bradley County man’s quest to have the Cleveland city manager and a councilman charged for ripping up his protests signs came to naught Tuesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Dan Rawls said Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph refused to issue criminal summonses for City Manager Janice Casteel or Councilman George Poe on charges of vandalism, criminal trespass and official oppression.
After meeting with the judge to make his request, Rawls said Randolph told him that even if he signed the papers, the prosecutor’s office was likely to dismiss the charges.
The two city officials ripped up protest signs Rawls posted in front of his business, Cleveland Performance Center, when Gov. Bill Haslam was appearing across the street on July 11. Rawls said the hand-painted sign saying, “Haslam, shame on u,” was to protest the governor’s support for Common Core educational standards.
Poe said afterward that the signs were an embarrassment to the city and that they were on city right of way.
Photos showed them near a stop sign and a utility pole, but it’s hard to determine whether they are within the 6-foot right of way

Haslam on Constantly Upgrading the TN Business Climate

Gov. Bill Haslam has written a piece for CNBC on Tennessee and its business climate — bragging a bit, naturally. An excerpt:
Tennessee is the best state for business because we pair our business community’s proven track record of scaled growth and innovation with an approach by the public sector to constantly upgrade our business climate.
Full article HERE.

Ingram Getting $5,000 Per Month From Haslam Campaign

Veteran lobbyist and political consultant Tom Ingram is being paid $5,000 per month by Gov. Bill Haslam’s re-election campaign, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
David Smith said the monthly payments began on July 1. Before that, Haslam had been paying Ingram with personal funds and had refused to disclose the amount of his personal payments.
Asked if the $5,000 monthly campaign payments are the same as the undisclosed personal payments that proceeded, Smith declined to comment.
The campaign payments would eventually have become public, but disclosure would not be required until Jan. 31, 2014, the next date for filing a campaign disclosure in a non-election year.
The $5,000 payments will be at a considerably lower level than payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group, a consulting and lobbying firm he founded, during the intense 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Total payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group by the 2010 Haslam campaign totaled more than $600,000, according to a review of Registry of Election Finance records, starting with a $20,000 payment to Ingram on June 2, 2009, and ending with a payment of $20,834 to the Ingram Group on Jan. 27, 2011.
Smith said the payments by the 2014 campaign will be made to the Ingram Group.

On a sorta related note, see Gail Kerr’s column, which heaps praise upon Ingram while giving him a bit of a lecture, too, for failure to register as a lobbyist. An excerpt:
Ingram’s a pro. These are dumb, little mistakes he shouldn’t have made. Whether he’s playing small ball with the council or long ball with the big boys, he needs to play by the rules.
Tom Ingram knows better

Fitzhugh Won’t Run for Governor

The lone Democrat to voice interest in running against Gov. Bill Haslam for governor said he’ll stick to running for re-election to his West Tennessee House district instead, reports The City Paper.
“I’m committed to continuing as leader and trying to run for my representative position again. That’s what I’m going to do, I believe,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh told The City Paper.
“I certainly hope that we can find somebody who will step forward because I do think some of the things that are happening in our state are not going the way that they could,” he said.

Fitzhugh first raised the possibility of a run for governor in December. (Previous post HERE)
See also, The Tennessean story.

Sunday column: Louie Lobbyist’s Privatization Plan

Louie Lobbyist came by the cubicle the other day and, after making a couple of insulting remarks about the clutter, asked if we could speak privately for a moment. Sure, I said, and we walked across the hall to an empty legislative committee room.
“What’s the governor paying Tom Ingram?” he asked as we settled into the staff seats in the center of the room.
An undisclosed sum, I replied. How should I know? Tom was paid out of the governor’s own pocket until July 1, when he went on campaign payroll. That will be reported next Jan. 31 or so. But the governor tells us media types none-ya (none of your business) when his own money is involved.
“Yeah,” Louie said, “but you looked at those campaign reports back in 2010. So what was he paid then? I figure Haslam would pay about the same thing now as he did then.”
Well, not necessarily. The governor has explained that he speaks with Tom about governmental matters mostly — “organizational” was one of his words — and political stuff comes up only on the periphery, and so it would be very difficult for him to parse that out and report it as a political expenditure.

Haslam: TN Has ‘best legislature in the country’

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.”