Tag Archives: jeanne

Farewell ‘Junket’ Cost to Taxpayers: $13,388

As a parting gift before leaving the state Legislature, five outgoing lawmakers spent more than $13,000 of taxpayer money to go on a four-day junket to Chicago, according a TNReport review of state records.
Taxpayers are covering the costs for everything from airfare and mileage to staying in $227-a-night hotels and taking $40 taxi cab rides during the trip. The registration fees were as high as $615 per person for the National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit in August. Some of the lawmakers, who had been defeated at the ballot box or announced their retirement, claimed five and six days’ per diem at $173 per day.
For lawmakers who knew at the time they would leave office after the November election, those bills amount to a taxpayer-funded “retirement party,” one critic said.
“People who serve in the Legislature for long periods of time tend to get a sense of entitlement about what the taxpayers owe them,” said Ben Cunningham, spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt, a taxpayer advocacy group.
What’s worse, he said, is that the speakers of both chambers signed off on the $13,388 worth of expense reports.
,,,The outgoing lawmakers are House Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, and Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, who lost their primaries on Aug. 2, four days before the conference, and retiring lawmakers Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill; Rep. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap; and Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington.


Note: The article referenced above is, I think, the last story filed by Andrea Zelinski for TNReport. She’s moving to The City Paper, where she will continue to report on state government and political stuff, after a week or so vacation with her husband. The move has inspired some commentary — HERE, for Betsy Phillips, who is glad there’s a woman around among the dwindling Tennessee Capitol Hill Press Corps. I’m glad she’ll be around, too — not because she’s female, but because she’s a relatively fresh face compared to us old coots and is cool, competent and professional while actually paying a lot of attention to the ongoing process.

On the Incumbent-versus-Incumbent House Races in Memphis

Shelby County’s loss of two seats in the state House this year means four incumbent Memphis Democrats are squaring off in two separate Midtown-centered districts this summer. Richard Locker has a rundown on the races today.
In Memphis’ House District 90, Rep. John DeBerry and Rep. Jeanne Richardson are running, along with community activist Ian Richardson. In House District 93, Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Rep. Mike Kernell are running for the same seat.
Both districts are heavily Democratic and have no Republican candidates in the general election. The two districts border each other and comprise most of Midtown and Poplar-Highland areas, with extensions into South and North Memphis and up to Frayser.
…In both races, the opposing incumbents differ in legislative styles and political philosophies.
Hardaway is one of the most vocal Democrats in floor debates, while Kernell prefers a lower-key approach that — with Republicans now in control of the statehouse — he says allows him to build bridges to get things done.
And both DeBerry and Richardson agree that DeBerry is among the most conservative Democrats on social issues while Richardson is among the most progressive. She’s for abortion rights, for example, and DeBerry is not.
As a minister at Coleman Avenue Church of Christ, DeBerry spoke out during debate or voted in favor of three controversial bills sponsored by Republicans that prompted criticism by some Democratic colleagues: an abstinence-only sex education bill, a bill that would have forbidden school counselors and teachers from discussing homosexuality and a bill that protected teachers who discuss alternatives to evolution
…Richardson, who spent most of her career in social work and mental health, said the issues she advocates and has sponsored include strong public schools, protecting working people from predatory lending, equal pay for women, extending benefits for children in foster care from age 18 to 21, and for treatment for the mentally ill to keep them out of jails, which won approval as a pilot project in East Tennessee this year. Her bill to protect the old growth forest in Overton Park also passed.
And she said she’s a strong supporter of rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
…In District 93, Hardaway and Kernell are emphasizing their constituent service work: helping citizens cut through the red tape of government — and their different styles.
Kernell sponsored the state’s consumer protection law, the workplace environmental hazard act, and designating Shelby Farms Forest a protected natural area.
He was sponsor of the state lottery and scholarship program.
Kernell said he believes he’s better able to represent the district in a time of GOP dominance because of his approach. “I believe I have the experience and the ability to work in this new environment of a two-to-one Republican majority in order to get things done for the good of the district and the rest of the state.”
Hardaway emphasizes his community meetings in the district, including housing and jobs conferences in which he invites officials to meet with constituents in need of assistance. “My job is a facilitator if they need help with state government,” he said.
Hardaway is known for his frequent floor speeches. He attacked last year’s “Norris-Todd” act that delayed the merger of the city and county schools, and this year the bills expediting municipal school districts in the suburbs.
“I probably speak out on more issues than most. There are times we have to get things on the record. And when I’m asking questions, I want sponsors to clarify what bills do.”

Medical Marijuana Bill Dies for the Year (again)

Legislation to legalize marijuana in Tennessee for medial purposes died for another year on Wednesday, but supporters say they’ll be trying again next year.
The bill (HB294) was the subject of a limited hearing Wednesday in the Senate Government Operations Committee, which cannot kill legislation but gave the measure by Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, a negative recommendation.
From there, the bill goes to the Senate Health Committee. But that panel has closed for the 2012 session. That means the measure is dead, but House Health Committee Chairman Glen Casada, R-College Grove, nonetheless allowed a discussion of the bill in his committee later in the day. The House sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jeanne Richardson of Memphis, then took the bill “off notice,” also meaning she’s abandoned the effort for this year.
Richardson, who because of redistricting faces a tough challenge to reelection, said she was confident the medical marijuana bill would be back next year with a better-than-ever chance – with or without her as a sponsor.