Tag Archives: mike turner

Turner bashes Haslam (again) over Medicaid non-expansion

News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In 28 days, Tennessee’s Republican leadership is poised to make the greatest fiscal, economic and moral blunder in decades. According to reports in the Tennessean, the Governor’s decision to put politics above policy is already resulting in layoffs and hiring freezes in hospitals across the state – a trend that will only worsen as the full impact of Governor Haslam’s decision goes into effect on January 1, 2014.

“The indifference shown by Governor Haslam and Tennessee’s Republican leaders is truly remarkable given the stakes,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “There has never been an easier way for the state of Tennessee to improve the lives of its citizens without having to spend a single dime in state funds for years to come.”
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Turner to resign as chairman of House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Mike Turner says he will step down in January as the House Democratic Caucus chairman.

Turner, who has served in the role for five years, cited philosophical differences with the state’s Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron.

Turner told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/18VSoQ3) that he and Herron are friends, but suggested they have very different visions for the political party.

“This is not anything personal against him, but my approach to what the party needs and where it needs to go is way different than his,” Turner, who lives in Old Hickory, said Monday. “I want a more progressive and aggressive party that more reflects probably the national trend and where Democrats are having some success in other areas.

“I think Roy has got a more traditional conservative approach. The caucus chairman and the party chairman need to work together.”

Herron said he holds Turner in high regard and doesn’t think he was a major influence on his decision.

“I’ve been talking with a number of legislators, including Rep. Turner, and most of them feel strongly that the party should be spending less on overhead and more on campaigns,” Herron said. “If that’s conservative, then I think a lot of elected Democrats feel that’s the direction we ought to go.”

Turner’s move is the latest sign of disagreement in the state’s Democratic Party. Several staff members have stepped down in recent months.

Nashville Democratic State Rep. Brenda Gilmore said she didn’t know about the philosophical disagreements between Turner and Herron, but noted that Turner “served well” in the caucus chairman’s role.

“It’s admirable when you serve, you do a good job and then you allow some new leadership and new ideas and fresh perspectives to have an opportunity,” Gilmore said, adding that she’s not interested in the position.

UPDATE Note: The subscription-only Tennessee Journal provides some context:
When the state Democratic Executive Committee meeting began last Saturday, Rep. Mike Turner…was prepared to make a speech calling on Chairman Roy Herron to resign. He ended up announcing his own resignation, effective in January, as House Democratic Caucus chairman.

…An anti-Herron faction of the executive committee apparently believed until Saturday it could muster a majority. Under party bylaws, a chairman can be removed only for malfeasance or incapacity — and no one accuses Herron of either — but the group hoped to pass a resolution calling for his resignation, which in essence would have been a no-confidence vote.

After Herron’s backers handily won two test votes concerning personnel and finance issues, the scheme fell apart, and Turner made a different speech.

See also, Post Politics.

“This is what it is: Roy is my friend and Roy is a good man. And I hope he’s successful. And he needs a caucus chairman that can work with him,” he said.

…“With the short time I’ve got left up here, I don’t need to be butting heads with the party,” he said. “Look, if I was 25 years old — Hell, if I was 45 years old — I would keep fighting and try to get the party to go my way. But I’m not going to be here that much longer. I’ve got about two more terms in me, that’s about it.”

Note: This updates, expands and replaces earlier post.

Turner on THDA award of tax credits: either fraud or incompetence

A leading Democratic legislator says either fraud or incompetence was involved in awarding millions of dollars worth of tax credits for development of two low-income housing projects in East Tennessee — one to a company where a top aide to Gov. Bill Haslam once worked.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner outlined concerns about the projects in Anderson and Sullivan counties at a hearing on Tennessee Housing Development Agency last week and urged colleagues on a joint House-Senate panel to delay giving THDA a new lease on life pending a full investigation of “potentially illegal activities going on.”

“We have a system that encourages people, if not to cheat, to at least push the envelope to the very edge,” said Turner.

Republican members of the Government Operations Joint Subcommittee unanimously voted down the request, though Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, pledged to hold a hearing on the issue if Turner’s concerns are not resolved by his planned followup meetings with THDA officials.

“I don’t believe anything illegal is going on with the low-income tax credit program,” THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey told the legislators, though he acknowledged developers strive to manipulate the complicated system to their advantage in an “intensely competitive” effort to win limited tax credits each year. There are sometimes “judgment calls” made that are subject to dispute, he said.

Perrey said he believes complaints coming to Turner are the result of developers who “have an ax to grind” because they failed to get credits for their projects.
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Turner: Haslam ‘almost’ trying to ‘bribe’ Volkswagen with anti-union incentives?

A top House Democrat says he has learned Gov. Bill Haslam may have offered additional incentives to Volkswagen officials in an effort to head off unionization efforts at VW’s Chattanooga assembly plant, reports Andy Sher. He’s filed an open records request for opies of correspondence between Volkswagen and Haslam.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he’s “concerned” Haslam is “possibly interfering with [Volkswagen’s] internal decisions.”

If true, Turner said, “it’s almost like he’s trying to bribe them if they don’t bring the union in.”
“We’re asking for all correspondence where [Haslam] may have offered some type of incentive if Volkswagen does not do a works council,” the Nashville Democrat said.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the administration has Turner’s requests and is “working on them.” He also said “we don’t talk about projects before they’re announced.”

The Chattanooga plant is competing with Puebla, Mexico, for a sport utility vehicle line.
Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said, “We don’t comment on unannounced projects.”

VW officials also declined comment.

Registry Fines Turner $250; Sets October hearings for Haslam, Campfield, Maggart

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner was fined $250 for failing to report 22 campaign contributions from political action committees last year by the Registry of Election Finance, reports The Tennessean.

Turner was given a light penalty despite a lengthy list of campaign violations.

The Nashville lawmaker told the registry he was embarrassed by the mistakes, which he ascribed to a busy schedule running his own campaign and those of Democratic candidates across the state.

“If I ever do anything like this again, I won’t run again,” Turner said. “I deserve to be fined. I’m OK with that.”

The registry also agreed to add a complaint filed against (Gov. Bill) Haslam by Chip Forrester, the former chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, to the agenda of its next meeting in October.

Forrester claims that Haslam violated campaign finance laws by failing to report payments made to adviser Tom Ingram between his inauguration in January 2011 and Ingram’s hiring by his re-election campaign last month.

In other actions taken Wednesday, former Rep. Debra Maggart, a Hendersonville lawmaker who once chaired the House Republican Caucus, was asked to come before the registry in October to explain a contribution made last fall by her political action committee, Maintaining Our Majority PAC, to Hendersonville Alderman Paul Goode.

…At that meeting, the panel also will take up an alleged violation by state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

Campfield faces a fine for listing a $1,000 “in-kind” contribution from former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale on his most recent disclosure. Ragsdale does not support Campfield, but the firebrand Republican senator claims Ragdale’s $100 donation to Richard Briggs is worth 10 times as much to his re-election bid. Registry members were not amused. They voted unanimously to make Campfield appear before them.

“That lets him know that it ain’t funny,” Chairman Henry Fincher said. “It may be calculated, and he may want some publicity. Well, OK, come on.”

Reps. ‘Reckoning’ Turner & ‘Bullying’ Hawk

Relations between majority Republicans and minority Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives are a little on edge these days, observes Andy Sher.
The latest example came Thursday when House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of Nashville, took aim at Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, and one of a series of Casada bills targeting the Tennessee Education Association.
Complaining about what he called anti-union legislation, Turner vowed that “one day there will be a day of reckoning.”
That later drew a rebuke from Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, who complained such “bullying” did not belong in House debates.
Later, both men headed out of the chamber for some heated discussion, but tempers eventually settled down.
Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who has had his own moments with Turner, took it in stride…. said Democrats are “very frustrated” from their November losses.
“They’re not used to having to actually consult with us, and they’re certainly not used to being outvoted,” McCormick said.
“Those tensions are flying pretty high right now, and it’s understandable, but I think they’ll get used to it,” he said.

Note: There was another rhetorical flare-up in the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee last week, perhaps highlighted by Rep. Gary Moore, D-Nashville, declaring that he did not want to serve on a committee where Republican-sponsored bills were being “railroaded.” The dispute revolved around a Casada bill, which could make it easier to deny unemployment benefits to fired workers, and the parliamentary procedure used in approving it. It passed on a party-line vote.