TennCare Drawing Lampooned on Daily Show
Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart has lampooned Tennessee’s “health care lottery,” otherwise know as the TennCare “spend down” drawing wherein 2,500 people with huge medical bills get to apply for TennCare benefits via telephone call. Video HERE. Paul Wants to Raise Kane
Former Congressman Ron Paul has been urging professional wrestler Glenn Jacobs, whose stage name is “Kane,” to run against Lamar Alexander in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary, according to Matt Collins, who was on Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign staff. So reports Reason.com. Dawn in the Legislature
Freshman state Rep. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro, tells the Daily News Journal in a Q-and-A story that she learned a valuable lesson during her first legislative session: How a bill begins is usually not how it finishes. “I always tell people … that how the bill is written (will determine if) I will support it or not, because I learned that one amendment can change the entire face of the bill,” White said Cooper’s PR Person Exits
Katie Hill, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper for the past 18 months, is leaving the Nashville Democrat’s staff to take the same role with Gabby Giffords’ new political action committee. HERE. Lazy Headline Writing Denounced
Frank Cagle’s weekly column begins with this line: It’s not an Internet tax, dammit, no matter how many times lazy headline writers call it that. You Could Say Hill’s Bill Just Hit a Speed Bump
State Rep. Timothy Hill backed off on his bill to prohibit Bluff City from using traffic cameras to ticket speeding motorists during the past session, but says he’ll put the measure on notice for another try in 2014. HERE. Quiz on a State Senator
Robert Houk poses the question: How much do you know about Rusty Crowe? On the UT Fracking Front
The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees has not been involved in plans to drill for oil and gas on UT land in Morgan and Scott counties. The Southern Environmental Law Center thinks they should be. HERE.
Meanwhile,t UT is now taking bids from those interested in drilling on the 8,600 acres. HERE
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Twenty-one leaders of Tennessee’s colleges and universities have sent a letter to the state’s two U.S. senators urging their support for immigration reform that will allow more graduates to remain in the country after they finish their education.
The letter dated Wednesday asks Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to back a bi-partisan plan that would ensure foreign-born students educated in U.S. universities will have a clear path to work in this country after graduation.
The educators say current immigration policy threatens “America’s pre-eminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity” because of its inability to retain skilled foreign-born graduates.
Some members of Congress want a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally, an idea that’s been met with deep skepticism by some lawmakers.
— Note: A list of those signing is below.
While U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has devoted a lot of time and effort to burnishing his partisan Republican credentials in preparation for next year’s re-election run, he has also been deftly including a history lesson from his background on the value of bipartisanship.
That came on Jan. 17, 1979, when Alexander was sworn into office as governor of Tennessee three days ahead of the announced inauguration day. Democratic Gov. Ray Blanton was removed from office ahead of schedule and thus blocked from granting further end-of-term pardons and paroles to imprisoned criminals.
The events of that day, those leading to it and the lay of Tennessee’s political landscape in that bygone era are thoroughly chronicled in “Coup,” a book written by Keel Hunt that is being published this summer by Vanderbilt University Press. It is a recommended read for anyone interested in Tennessee history or politics.
Hunt makes it clear that Alexander, then a 30-something lawyer best known for walking across the state in a red-and-black plaid shirt during his gubernatorial campaign, was reluctant to get involved in Blanton’s early ouster. The scandal-ridden Blanton administration had probably contributed substantially to Alexander’s 1978 campaign win.
Tennessee tea party groups, several state lawmakers and numerous other conservative activists urged U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker in an open letter to oppose a Senate plan to create a 13-year road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reports The Tennessean. Critics say the bill amounts to “amnesty legislation” that “legalizes millions of illegal immigrants.”
“It contains dangerous loopholes that will undermine our national security,” the tea party activists write. “It rewards illegal behavior, punishes those who have followed our rules and undermines our law enforcement.”
The letter, which was signed by 46 activists and lawmakers, asks Tennessee’s Republican senators to speak against the bill, oppose any vote to end debate and “stand up for the rule of law.” The message was the same in a 30-second spot released by NumbersUSA that is airing nine times a day on two Tennessee radio stations, including WLAC in Nashville.
Laura Herzog, a Corker spokeswoman, said he is reviewing the bill.
“Senator Corker is optimistic that we have an opportunity to do something that is productive for our country,” she said, “but the details matter, and we expect there will be a lengthy debate with many amendments when the bill comes to the floor of the Senate.”
Alexander, in a statement, didn’t explicitly support the Senate bill, but he said the current situation is “completely unacceptable.”
“Our borders are not secure,” he said. “Millions illegally here have de facto amnesty. At the same time we are excluding scientists and workers who could help grow our economy. It is the constitutional responsibility of the president and Congress to write the rules for a legal immigration system and then to enforce it. I will be voting to secure our borders, end de facto amnesty, and to establish an immigration system that respects the rule of law.”
The Tennessee State Chamber of Commerce and Industry also took issue with the letter, saying the time is right for comprehensive immigration reform — though it stopped short of an outright endorsement of the Senate plan.
“We would have a hard time understanding why anyone would oppose a bill that both strengthens our borders and strengthens our economy as well,” said Bradley Jackson, vice president for governmental affairs at the chamber. “There has to be a federal solution to this problem.”
A Senate committee voted last week to approve S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” a measure developed and backed by a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, May 21 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the U.S. House of Representatives passed his Senate legislation which includes an immediate two-year ban to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing below dams on the Cumberland River. The president has 10 days from the day he receives the legislation to act upon it, before it becomes law.
“When the president signs this legislation, this will end the discussion,” Alexander said. “Both chambers of the United States Congress have now told the Corps to immediately abandon its unreasonable efforts to restrict fishing and work with state agencies on a sensible policy to address safety concerns, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen.”
The legislation that passed the House today – and received unanimous Senate support on May 16 – would stop the Corps from enacting any existing or new fishing restrictions for the next two years, while also delegating enforcement to state wildlife agencies.
Excerpt from a Politico article on how Republican U.S. senators – Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander being a prime example – are working diligently to assure they don’t face a serious primary challenger in 2014. “I’m running a Colin Powell military operation, which is assemble an overwhelming force, focus on a single target and have the stomach to see it all the way through to the end,” Alexander said in an interview.
The recent Washington controversies are giving the senators a unique opportunity to woo the right — whether it’s McConnell’s rhetoric against the Internal Revenue Service, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) railing at the White House for its handling of the Benghazi attacks or Alexander slamming Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for soliciting private donations to help with the implementation of Obamacare, comparing the situation to the Iran-Contra scandal.
And some of the senators are finding ways to push issues in Washington that resonate back home, including last week, when the Senate passed a McConnell-Alexander plan they called the Freedom to Fish Act targeting federal restrictions along a river their states share.
…Alexander ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1.8 million in cash and has stepped up his fundraising considerably since then. Last month, he pulled in $430,000 at a dinner at the Chattanooga home of his fellow GOP senator, Bob Corker, just days before a Nashville fundraiser pulled in $1 million more. Alexander later secured an additional $530,000 at a dinner on May 2 in Memphis, officials said.
…In this race, Alexander clearly recognized a primary as his biggest threat and wasted no time locking up support within his own ranks. Less than a month after the 2012 elections, Alexander had awarded campaign chairmanships to every Republican in the congressional delegation except Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who was ensnared in a sex scandal. Other big name Republicans in the state who could give him a serious scare in a primary were added as well, including Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Alexander even won the endorsements of the 13 living past GOP party chairs in Tennessee.
“He said if it’s necessary he would get some who were deceased, too,” Corker quipped.
With some charm and back-slapping, Alexander is also trying to ensure no state legislator emerges against him, either. After the state legislative session earlier this year, Alexander hosted a Nashville reception for state GOP lawmakers. And that came after he addressed the GOP-dominated Legislature with a red-meat speech attacking Washington mandates.
News release from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Nashville office was the site for a news conference where U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, and officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, TWRA, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced a new agreement Friday to continue popular trout stocking programs in the Tennessee Valley region.
TVA will provide more than $900,000 per year over the next three years to support federal fish hatchery operations that provide trout for stocking. The stocking will occur in reservoirs and tailwaters of certain TVA dams in the region. In addition, the agencies also signed an agreement to form a working group with key stakeholders who benefit from the recreation-based trout stocking to identify a long-term funding source.
“The funding of the federal hatchery operations is vital to our agency’s ability to meet the demand for quality trout fishing in Tennessee,” said Ed Carter, TWRA Executive Director. “Their continued operation will help continue providing a tremendous recreational activity to thousands of Tennesseans. An associated but very important side benefit is the significant economic boost to local businesses associated with the fishing and outdoor industry.”
Frank Cagle devotes his weekly column to Tom Ingram, depicted as “the Ghostbuster for millionaire Republicans.” He is being paid by Bill Haslam as a consultant. He is being paid by Pilot Flying J as a consultant. Should Alexander have a tough primary race, Ingram will no doubt be called on again. Last year he was a highly-paid campaign consultant for Corker, who had no credible opposition.
But this time the “fixer” has some liabilities of his own. He has been discovered to be lobbying for a coal company to get access to the state-owned Catoosa Wildlife Management Area while being a consultant to the governor. And he was not registered as a lobbyist with the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. (Hat tip to the News Sentinel and WTVF-TV Nashville.)
Ingram’s overlapping roles over the years as the go-to campaign consultant, Senate staffer, lobbying and public relations group owner, and personal adviser to the Haslams are a tangled web and no one but Ingram knows where all the strands intersect.
To get his clients out of the current mess, Ingram will have to earn his money.
ngram’s relationship with the governor and his seeming indifference to the rules requiring him to report his lobbying activity has a whiff of arrogance his clients don’t need at the present time.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, May 15 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced Senate passage today of a proposal he included in the Water Resources Development Act that would prohibit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing its proposed fishing restrictions below dams on the Cumberland River, and delegate enforcement to state wildlife agencies.
“The U.S. Senate has once again sent a clear message to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this time through legislation that would stop Big Brother in Washington from holding the hands of fishermen in Tennessee and Kentucky,” Alexander said. “We’re moving forward because the Corps continues to relentlessly pursue its unreasonable restrictions, wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected representatives who are fighting to preserve the freedom to fish below publicly owned dams on the Cumberland River.”
Alexander’s proposal would delegate enforcement to state wildlife agencies, and require the Corps to stop taking any further action until it has re-evaluated its plans. Alexander has also said he will restrict the Corps’ ability to transfer new funds to projects if it doesn’t abandon its plans. Alexander said, “Hopefully the Corps will recognize that we have a life jacket problem, not a water problem, and agree to find a reasonable solution to keeping fishermen safe on the Cumberland River.”
Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West on Saturday welcomed news that Congress may investigate the IRS after the agency admitted it targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, reports the Times-Free Press. West said the Chattanooga Tea Party is among the 75 groups the agency admitted last week were victims of deliberate bureaucratic foot-dragging.
“It’s a scandal. It is the heavy-handedness of a bureaucratic government agency that has gone awry,” West said by telephone.
He noted that House Republicans are talking of holding hearings and said people of all political persuasions should support them.
“If they can do it to grass-roots tea party groups one year, they can to it to left-wing Occupy Wall Street people the next year. Either way, it’s wrong,” West said.
“Unless there’s an investigation and heads roll, unless some people lose their jobs over this, then we know this is just political. They got caught; they were going to feign an apology and move on.”
He said the Chattanooga Tea Party filed its application for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status in 2009. He said the IRS “stonewalled and delayed” and asked “inappropriate” questions of the fledgling group. In mid-2011 or early 2012, with no ruling on the application, the agency wrote asking for additional information, West said.
Meanwhile, tea party and patriot groups around the state and nation had begun comparing notes and concluded the foot-dragging was deliberate.
In March 2012, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were among those who signed a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman seeking assurance that patriot and tea party groups were being treated fairly. Note: Press releases from Corker and Alexander are below.