Four Tennessee mayors are lobbying Congress to pass a federal surface transportation bill, reports The Tennessean.. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Hendersonville Mayor Scott Foster and Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Sr., joined 184 other mayors to urge Congress to act on the matter soon. They signed a letter sent by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to House and Senate leaders seeking a new federal law dealing with roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
But even as the mayors made their request, transportation legislation stalled in the Senate today.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio also has scrapped a House version of the bill after it came under fierce criticism from fellow Republicans and Democrats.
Former Nashville Mayor and Tennessee House Majority Leader Bill Purcell is joining forces with two other attorneys — a Metro councilman and a former state legislative counsel — to start a public policy practice at a Nashville law firm., according to The Tennessean Purcell, the city’s chief executive from 1999 to 2007, and Councilman Jason Holleman will join Jim White, former executive director of the state legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, at Jones Hawkins & Farmer PLC. Purcell and Holleman will start work Monday. White started in October.
Purcell said they’ll focus on providing legal counsel and strategic advice to clients seeking “solutions and strategies” as they work with governments in Tennessee and probably other states. But they don’t plan to lobby.
“My instinct is that we have in this city and in this state quite a number of people who are very effective and successful in that area,” Purcell told The Tennessean. “I don’t see that as an area in which I add the kind of value I might in the others. So I see it in more of the classic law-office role and lawyer’s role of providing advice, both individually and collectively.”
Holleman said he, Purcell and White could help clients navigate public procurement and state regulatory processes, public financing issues, and land-use and zoning decisions. He said the attorneys also could represent municipalities, nonprofits and other organizations seeking policy changes through rule-making, legislation or judicial proceedings.
Holleman said there may be times when the attorneys register as lobbyists “out of an abundance of caution,” but he said he doesn’t envision actually lobbying government officials.
News release from Beacon Center of Tennessee:
NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee (formerly the Tennessee Center for Policy Research) today announced the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee as the recipient of its 2011 Lump of Coal Award.
The Beacon Center awards this dubious distinction annually to the person or group in Tennessee who, more than any other during the past year, acted as a Grinch to Tennesseans by bah-humbugging the principles of liberty and limited government.
For the first time, the 2011 Lump of Coal Award was chosen directly by Tennesseans in an online poll. Respondents chose from a list of five finalists selected by Beacon Center staff. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers received the most votes for the not-so-coveted prize, beating out Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency by a single vote.
Note: A list of other candidates in the voting is HERE.
Tennessee retailers joined in a Washington lobbying excursion Wednesday to promote legislation mandating that Internet retailers collect state and local sales taxes. Several Tennessee newspapers have stories on the expedition today.
From the News-Sentinel: Morgan Hardy watched in frustration as a man walked into his comics and games shop last week, picked out what he wanted to buy, and then used his cell phone to order the merchandise on eBay. By ordering online, the customer was able to avoid paying the 9.25 percent sales tax he would have been charged if he’d bought the goods in Hardy’s store.
“Customers are getting more brazen,” said Hardy, who owns Organized Play in Knoxville’s Old City. “They have to. It’s tough times for everybody.”
Hardy and other small retailers from across the country lobbied Congress on Wednesday to fix what they say is a loophole that gives large online companies a significant price advantage over smaller mom-and-pop businesses. Remote sellers, such as online retailers, are not required under federal law to collect and remit sales taxes on goods sold in a particular state unless they have a physical presence, or nexus, within that state.
From The Tennessean:
Lebanon business owner A.J. McCall traveled to Washington Wednesday to promote a bill that would let states collect sales tax on items sold online.
…”Every year a greater percentage of our business goes to the Internet,” McCall said. “If you can go on one person’s website and buy something without having to pay tax, and then you go (to my store) and you have to pay tax, it’s really a fairness issue.”
McCall is seen as an unlikely spokesman for sales-tax fairness because his company, D.T. McCall & Sons, has been under investigation since last year on allegations it had underreported cash purchases to avoid sales tax.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said Wednesday the case will soon be closed “with no criminal prosecution” at the request of Wilson County District Attorney Tommy Thompson, who took over the probe.
By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE — Business interests used to getting their way with Republicans at the state Capitol have run into an issue they may not be able to lobby away: new restrictions on illegal immigration.
Tennessee lawmakers behind a proposal that would require the state’s employers to prove their employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S. say they are listening to the business concerns, but they aren’t budging from their pursuit of greater accountability for companies.
The measure was among a set of immigration bills that passed the subcommittee on State and Local Government last week.
Another was an Arizona-style enforcement proposal that would allow local law enforcement agents to question suspects about their immigration status, and the other would require agencies to verify that applicants for public benefits are legally eligible for them.
Much of the focus was on the employer-related bill, which representatives of prominent business groups including the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Federation of Independent Business urged committee members to oppose.