Tag Archives: McNally

Ceremony Marks End to Coal Creek War of 1892

A peace treaty formally ending the infamous Coal Creek War of 1892, whick left 27 coal miners killed and more than 500 under arrest, was signed Friday in a ceremony on Vowell Mountain overlooking Lake City.
From the News Sentinel report:
The ceremony also recognized the site as the location of Fort Anderson, where Tennessee National Guardsmen fought a pitched battle with striking coal miners upset that the state had brought in convicts to work in their mines.
Trenches dug by guardsmen as battlements and protections from attacking coal miners are the only visible remnants of the fort.
The location, featuring nine markers describing that bloody chapter of Anderson County’s past, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Barry Thacker, president of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.
The nonprofit organization for 13 years has been working to improve the environment, living conditions and the education of residents of the isolated mountainous area, pockmarked by abandoned coal mines.
And Friday’s ceremony was another bid to acquaint students of tiny Briceville School with their area’s colorful past.
Thacker said the Coal Creek War was never officially ended, prompting Friday’s event.
“This is a really great way to involve young people in history,” said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “We don’t spend enough time learning it and teaching it to young people.”
McNally, like other participants, wore a green bandana knotted around his neck in recognition of the occasion.
Striking miners wore such bandannas as a way to identify fellow members of their ragtag insurrection

Senator’s Concerns Helped Sink UT’s Plan for $98M Investment

The University of Tennessee may have abandoned tens of millions of dollars over the next decade from a proposed partnership that it is no longer pursuing with a proton therapy center in West Knoxville because of legislative and financial challenges associated with it, reports the News Sentinel.
The proposal, which was strongly backed by key university officials, called for using the additional revenues generated to fund new academic and research programs and facilities that were considered a step toward becoming a top 25 public research institution, according to documents obtained by the News Sentinel through a public records request.
The university dropped its legislative efforts in March, a month after a bill was filed by Sens. Randy McNally and Doug Overbey, ending a two-year effort to affiliate itself with Provision Center for Proton Therapy, much like how the University of Florida has partnered with a proton therapy center in Jacksonville, Fla. (Note: The legislature’s website shows Overbey as prime sponsor of the bill, SB1194, with Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, as House sponsor. It has not been withdrawn, the website shows, but was never moved in the Senate and taken off notice in the House.)
… While the university was projected to receive a minimum total financial benefit of $80 million in 2023 that could reach more than $180 million, questions were raised about the financial risk to the university, and ultimately to the state of Tennessee, as well as uncertainty about lower reimbursement rates and effectiveness of the treatment.
Among those with concerns were McNally — chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee — and local health care officials.
“Even if it benefited the university, there were philosophical differences,” UT President Joe DiPietro said in an interview, noting that various people were sympathetic to McNally’s concern about using taxpayer dollars to benefit a private enterprise.
McNally worried the public-private partnership would put the university and state at too great of a risk and potentially compete with local health care providers. It also would set a precedent for other schools, while allowing the center to cherry pick the best patients with private insurance.
“I might be pessimistic when it comes to those projects, but the state would have taken a lot of risk through the university. We found that out with Hemlock. It has not performed like it had promised,” McNally said in an interview, referring to Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville that received some $130 million in state and local incentives and announced last month plans to lay off 300 of its 400 workers and shut down its facility.
“I can’t say that I’m right on this, but I felt it was a risk to the state that it didn’t need to be taking,” he added. “I couldn’t tell you with everything the return would justify the risk. It was something new the state hadn’t gotten into and would open itself up for others.”
Proton therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses a beam of protons to more precisely irradiate tumors without harming surrounding tissue and reducing treatment-related side effects. Local businessman Terry Douglass has spearheaded the development of the proton therapy center currently under construction in Dowell Springs as part of a comprehensive clinical outpatient health care center.
… DiPietro said in the interview that McNally wasn’t the only person to express concern over the proposal, though he declined to say who the others were.
Douglass conveyed his frustration over the lack of progress to university officials in December, questioning why McNally’s “nonissues” took precedence over the benefits of the legislation.
“Why is it that one or two individuals can defeat something that is potentially so good for UT, our community and our state?” Douglass wrote in an email to DiPietro, Executive Vice President David Millhorn, lobbyist Anthony Haynes and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. “I have been around long enough to know that when one door closes a better one opens. I just hate to see this door close for UT.”
… McNally brushed off any notion that he was the reason behind the university’s decision.
“It did concern me, but I’m one of 33 senators. I wouldn’t think that it was anything that I had to do with. I think it was a decision made by the university,” said McNally, who last year sponsored the original bill, which didn’t move forward.
McNally said he didn’t discuss the latest bill with its sponsors or any of his legislative peers, though he did talk with local health care officials, who questioned the university’s role in a business that also provided traditional radiation therapy services.
Covenant Health has been in a dispute with Provision over its radiation therapy center, which received a Certificate of Need in December 2011. Covenant declined to comment for this story, citing its ongoing appeal.
McNally works for Cardinal Health, which runs the pharmacy program at Methodist Medical Center, a Covenant Health hospital. McNally’s wife, Jan, retired as a Covenant executive in December.

Convicted Judge Seeks Reinstatement of State Pension

Just before the anniversary of one of Knoxville’s most horrific crimes, the judge who threw the case into legal chaos is now appealing the state’s move to rescind his pension, reports The News Sentinel.
“It burns me up, especially this coming upon the anniversary” of the Jan. 7, 2007, torture-slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, said state Sena. Randy McNally, a Republican whose district includes parts of Knox County as well as Anderson, Loudon and Monroe counties.
Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner lost his pension after a jury in U.S. District Court convicted him in October of felony charges of misprision of a felony for his role in covering up a prescription painkiller conspiracy of which his mistress was a part.
His pension had been spared when, in March 2011, he pleaded guilty to a state charge of official misconduct for buying pills from a felon on probation in his court. He was granted a diversionary sentence that kept the charge off his record.
The entire case against him stemmed from a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe that showed Baumgartner had been committing a slew of crimes, including doctor shopping and using a graduate of the Drug Court program he helped found as his mistress and pill supplier, while presiding over trials including those of the four defendants in the Christian/Newsom case.
Revelations of those allegations and additional ones unearthed by a News Sentinel probe ultimately led to the granting of new trials for those four defendants. One, Vanessa Coleman, has already been retried. A judge is set to decide later this month if the remaining three suspects should be afforded new trials.

McNally: GOP Push for Repeal of Solar Tax Break May Be Renewed

A top state legislator in the solar tax debate tells the Nashville Business Journal that he’s awaiting an attorney general’s opinion on the matter, but acknowledged that Silicon Ranch’s application for state tax breaks “very well could” whet Republicans’ appetite for repeal.
On Thursday, the Nashville Business Journal reported that the company — run by top aides to former Gov. Phil Bredesen who helped pass the tax break — had applied for it in relation to eight projects.
State Sen. Randy McNally, the Oak Ridge Republican who last spring carried a bill to change the tax arrangement, said today the bill could come back to an invigorated debate in the 2013 legislative session. He made clear that his primary interest is whether Attorney General Bob Cooper will reaffirm a 1986 opinion that the state’s use of “pollution control” for taxation issues was unconstitutional.
“I think we’ll continue to look at that, and if it does come back that it’s constitutionally suspect or unconstitutional, consider bringing the legislation again to try and correct the problems,” he said.
In addition to the constitutional issues — raised by the office of Comptroller Justin Wilson — Republicans last year were eager to repeal the tax break. Some, including McNally, questioned whether solar investments deserved the tax break, and there was also suspicion that Matt Kisber, Bredesen’s economic development commissioner, and Reagan Farr, his revenue commissioner, had pushed the original tax break to later take advantage of it. They deny doing so, saying they were seeking to encourage an industry they believed key for the state

Pension Bills Delayed in Committee

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Proposals to change the retirement system for public employees in Tennessee stalled Monday in the Legislature when a joint panel of lawmakers decided they need more study of the issue.
One measure before the Joint Council on Pensions and Insurance expands the statute denying retirement benefits to state employees and officials who are convicted of a felony while in office. Under the proposal, benefits would end if there’s a guilty plea.
The state treasurer’s office had some concerns with the legislation. It said the measure could be unconstitutional on the grounds that there’s no language in the proposal to address restoration of benefits if a court later finds a person is innocent.
Senate sponsor Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican and chairman of the joint committee, delayed the proposal for two weeks to address the concerns.

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Haslam-Ramsey Differences ‘Benefical’

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally quoted on disputes between Gov. Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey in a News Sentinel story on a legislator gathering in Knoxville:
“Well I’d rather Gov. Haslam be the governor and Speaker Ramsey be the speaker,” said Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “That’s part of the legislative process. They’re not always going to have the exact same ideas and the exact same implementations on various things. It’s up to the Legislature, both the House and the Senate, to make a decision on that. I’m very comfortable with them having different views — it’s beneficial to us.”

Senate Redistricting Plan Splits Knoxville

The new state Senate redistricting plan, which likely will be enacted into law on Friday, divides the city of Knoxville among three senators in a move some Democratic legislators say will dilute city influence.
That criticism is disputed by Republicans and, along with other complaints, was been set aside as GOP majorities in House and Senate committees approved the bills drawing new lines for Senate, House and congressional districts statewide.
The House has a final floor vote scheduled for today on all three redistricting bills with the Senate planning to give its approval on Friday. That would send the measures to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature just over a week after they were made public.
Late Wednesday, Democrats were meeting behind closed doors with Republican leadership about redistricting, several lawmakers said. The apparent topic was to have Democrats drop parliamentary maneuvering that could stall the final vote in exchange for some minor adjustments to the plans in specific House and Senate districts.
Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, noted that the Senate plan will bring Sen. Randy McNally’s district from suburban and rural areas adjoining Anderson County into the downtown area for the first time. He joked that districts of McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and fellow Republican Sens. Stacey Campfield and Becky Duncan Massey “will intersect on Gay Street.”

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McNally Sees THEC Bond Proposal as ‘Overly Ambitious’

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN) – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said today he has great concern regarding the $2.1 billion recommendation to fund capital improvements and capital maintenance made by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) on Tuesday.
McNally said the recommendation is overly ambitious given Tennessee’s current finances, and that he would be very concerned about some of the alternative financing methods which have been discussed in conjunction with the plan.
“Tennessee must continue to employ the prudent fiscal practices which have helped us remain one of the best financially managed states in the nation,” said McNally. “I am very concerned about any plan that could endanger our bond rating. We have been very careful in the way Tennessee handles debt and the bond rating companies recognize this fact. This is not the time to depart from those conservative financial practices that have helped us navigate through one of the toughest recessions in our nation’s history.”
Tennessee has one of the lowest per capita debts in the country. The THEC proposal could more than double the state’s current debt. Earlier this month, Moody’s Investor Services removed the negative outlook placed earlier this year on Tennessee’s Aaa (Triple-A) General Obligation Bond Rating. Moody’s said the outlook was revised from negative to stable in order to reflect the relatively lower level of risk posed by federal downsizing and U.S. spending cuts in Tennessee.
McNally said he does not favor the state borrowing for capital maintenance, which is normally paid for on a yearly basis. In addition, McNally said he would oppose any plan that finances the bond issuance beyond the customary 20 years, an 11 percent rate generally paid on capital outlay projects, and a level principal amortization.
Payment installments under a level payment amortization plan as opposed to a level principal amortization are apportioned unequally between interest and principal, with the early years going almost entirely towards payment of the interest. It is only in later years, when most of the interest has been paid off, that the principal balance is reduced significantly.
“We have capital project and maintenance needs in our colleges and universities. However, we cannot resort to any financing plan that could endanger our bond rating or our ability to keep the state on good financial footing.”

Legislators Move Against Drugged Judge’s Pension

Two state legislators say former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner exploited a loophole in state law to collect a $58,800 annual pension and they want to close it.
Sen. Randy McNally and Rep. Bill Dunn have also asked officials for investigations into whether Baumgartner should face further charges and into whether the payments he authorized for defense attorneys in the 2007 Channon Christian-Christopher Newsom murder trials are valid.

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McNally Hails Amazon Deal

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, TN), October 7, 2011 – Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said today he is very pleased with the agreement announced yesterday by Governor Bill Haslam, legislative leaders and Amazon officials regarding a sales tax solution. The agreement resulted in Amazon’s commitment to bring 2,000 more full-time jobs than were originally announced, as well as thousands of seasonal jobs.
Under the agreement, which will require legislative action to implement, Amazon will also begin to collect Tennessee sales taxes beginning January 1, 2014 unless a national solution is addressed before that time.
“I am very pleased that a solution has been reached and that Amazon will be home to more than 3,500 employees in Tennessee, which is 2,000 more than originally anticipated,” said Chairman McNally, who could not attend yesterday’s announcement due to a prior commitment. “It is a fair and equitable agreement which I fully support.”
“Having this discussion, we are in a far better position than we were left by the previous administration. Brick and mortar businesses are the backbone of our economy. I applaud Governor Haslam and his team, Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, Amazon officials, and others who worked diligently on this matter. I also appreciate the excellent advice provided by the Attorney General, who spent a lot of time working on this important issue. I look forward to working with all of these parties as we move forward during the upcoming legislative session to pass legislation to implement this agreement into law.”