(Note: This is a column written for the Knoxville Business Journal.)
Once upon a time, business engagement in campaigns for seats in the state Legislature was often a matter of choosing among self-described “conservative, pro-business Democrats” in primary elections. Then, a few years later, often it was a matter of backing a Republican over a Democrat in general elections.
Today we find the focus on Republican primary elections, as illustrated by the National Federation of Independent Business’ lineup of endorsements in the Aug. 7 election. The list from the group’s political arm also illustrates apparent contentment with the business-friendliness of the reigning GOP supermajority despite internal strife between what may be categorized as the establishment wing and the tea party wing.
In primary races, the NFIB has blessed 18 incumbent Republicans faced with challengers and only one nonincumbent — Ed Jackson, who has primary opposition in a quest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Lowe Finney of Jackson in West Tennessee’s Senate District 27. In November, that’s one of the best chances for Republicans to further diminish the dwindling Democratic ranks in the Senate. Continue reading →
News release from National Federation of Independent Business-Tennessee
NASHVILLE, Jan. 6, 2014–Members of the National Federation of Independent Business in Tennessee overwhelmingly support significant reforms to the Tennessee Human Rights Act according to preliminary results from a recent survey, said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, the state’s leading small-business association.
“NFIB members believe alleged violations of employer discrimination or retaliation should be filed in either state court or federal court, but not simultaneously in both,” said Brown, noting 91 percent favor such changes.
“In addition, state compensatory cap levels should mirror the current federal caps. Our members believe these reforms will ensure greater consistency and fairness in application of the law, while reducing excessive costs for defendants and ensuring plaintiffs continue to receive fair hearings,” he said.
The National Federation of Independent Business has released its list of endorsed candidates in races for state legislative seats — all Republicans with three exceptions.
The exceptions: House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in House District 82, Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta in House District 43; Rep. Joe Pitts of Clarksville in House District 53 and Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis in House District 90. DeBerry and Pitts have no Republican opponents. Curtiss and Fitzhugh do.
Many of the Republicans endorsed also have no opponent in the general election.
The news release follows, with the candidate list below that under ‘continue reading.’ News release from National Federation of Independent Business:
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 10, 2012 – The National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee’s leading small business association, released a list of endorsed candidates, including 29 NFIB members.
The endorsements were made by NFIB/Tennessee SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members. The general election will be held Nov. 6.
“NFIB supports candidates who understand how important it is to reduce burdens on small business,” said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee. “These candidates have consistently supported or pledged to support a lower tax environment and to improve our unemployment and workers’ comp systems.”
Endorsements by Senate and House Districts (NFIB members noted with an asterisk):
The National Federation of Independent Business made endorsements in 25 legislative races last week with 22 going to incumbent Republicans, one to an incumbent Democrat and two to Republicans running in open Senate seats.
The sole Democrat winning an endorsement was Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis.
The two open seat endorsements were in Senate District 18 and Senate District 22, both created without an incumbent by redistricting earlier this year. Both endorsements went to Republicans with a history of being legislators – former Sen. Ferrell Haile of Gallatin in District 18 and state Rep. Joey Hensley oh Hohenwald, who is giving up his House seat to run in Senate District 22.
Incumbent Republicans in East Tennessee receiving NFIB’s blessing include Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville in the Senate and Reps. Tony Shipley of Kingsport, David Hawk of Greeneville, Dale Ford of Jonesborough, Art Swann of Maryville, Don Miller of Morristown, Jefemy Faison of Cosby, Richard Montgomery of Sevierville and Bob Ramsey of Maryville.
News release and full list HERE
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey today announced a series of discussions with business owners called Red Tape Road Trips. From now until Christmas, the Lieutenant Governor will be meeting with Tennessee’s business owners and entrepreneurs to hear concerns and offer help in dealing with state government and remove any and all “red tape” in the way of those putting capital at risk to create jobs.
“If history has proven anything to us it is that government cannot create jobs. It can, however, hasten the shedding of existing jobs and prevent new jobs from being created,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “My primary goal in public service is to make Tennessee the easiest state in which to own and operate a business. These road trips are an opportunity to hear from the job creators themselves to get a clear and concrete picture of the ways government makes life harder for them. I am looking forward to hearing their stories and ideas on what we can do to get out of their way. The ultimate goal here is to make entrepreneurs interactions with state government as painless as possible.”
Partnering with Lt. Governor Ramsey on the road trips is the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). NFIB is the leading small business association representing small and independent businesses.
“This road tour is a great initiative, and NFIB is proud to be part of it,” said NFIB State Director Jim Brown. “Through direct experiences with regulators, small business owners experience the challenges of our current regulatory environment and see the opportunities to fix them. Our members greatly appreciate Lt. Governor Ramsey taking the time to listen to business owners, who simply want a fair shake from their government.”
The Lt. Governor’s first Red Tape Road Trip will be to Clarksville on Oct. 13 where he will attend a roundtable discussion on regulation sponsored by local antique and consignment shops. Following that, Ramsey will visit the Memphis Area Action Council for a luncheon sponsored by NFIB at Regions Bank. Further trips to Knoxville, Nashville, Tri-Cities and Chattanooga are currently being scheduled.
In March 2011, Lt. Governor Ramsey launched TNRedtape.com, a site designed to connect with business owners and potential business owners to ease their interactions with state government. “Red Tape Road Trips” are an extension of TNRedtape.com and Lt. Governor’s long-term commitment to eliminate red tape in state government..
RED TAPE ROAD TRIPS
Thursday, October 13
Better Homes & Garden Real Estate
108 Center Pointe Drive, Clarksville, TN 37040
Wednesday, October 19
11:30 AM CST
Q & A
6200 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38119
Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is at odds with a key business lobby over a legislative effort to make public Department of Revenue rulings on tax issues that have been kept secret since a policy change instituted by former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration in 2008.
The conflict over SB902, pushed by the National Federation of Independent Business, provides at least the third example of how the road to making state government more business-friendly, an oft-stated goal of Haslam and leaders of the Legislature’s Republican majority, is proving not always smooth.
Jim Brown, state director of NFIB, said 180 “letter rulings” by the revenue commissioner have been issued and kept confidential since the policy change instituted under Bredesen. The letters are issued in response to specific taxpayer requests for how the department would interpret the state tax consequences of a given business decision.
A waitress fired after nine customers criticized her on “complaint cards” received unemployment benefits under current law but wouldn’t with passage of a bill pending in the legislature, reports the Tennessean.
As things stand now, the complaint cards could not be admitted as evidence in a hearing on whether the firing was justified because they were “hearsay” unless the actual customer testified. Under the bill, they could be admitted and thus, presumably, the benefits would have been denied. That is just one of several bills that pro-business lobbying interests are bringing before the Republican majorities in the state Senate and House this year, more evidence of a sweeping national movement tipping the workplace scales back in the favor of business owners who argue that unnecessary regulations inflate costs, suck up profits and retard job growth.
Business owners welcome the shift.
“The Tennessee General Assembly has been pro-business in years past,” said Jim Brown, Tennessee director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby. “But, now, it is very pro-business.”
Labor leaders view the proposals, including another bill to make it harder for employees to win workers’ compensation claims, as part of an orchestrated anti-worker agenda, beginning with efforts to strip teachers of their collective bargaining powers.
“It’s just another way to get at the working folks,” said Eddie Bryan, a lobbyist with the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. “I’ve never seen it this bad.”