Tag Archives: other states

AR lawmakers oppose OK-to-Memphis power line

GUYMON, Okla. (AP) — Officials with Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners say construction could begin in 2017 on a planned 700-mile transmission line to carry wind-generated electricity across Oklahoma and Arkansas into Tennessee.

The planned Plains & Eastern Clean Line would carry the wind power from as-yet undeveloped wind farms in the Oklahoma Panhandle to Memphis, Tennessee, where it would connect to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Mario Hurtado, Clean Line vice president for development, told The Journal Record that he expects the project, announced in 2010, to be operating by 2020.

“It takes a lot of time to put together an infrastructure project like this,” Hurtado said.

However, opposition has surfaced in Arkansas, where the state’s six-member congressional delegation has objected to the federal government possibly using eminent domain to take land for the project. The federal lawmakers say eminent domain should be decided at the state and local level.

“We continue to have serious concerns that this project erodes the rights of local communities and the state of Arkansas to have a seat at the table in the decision-making process,” according to a statement from Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Reps. Steve Womack, French Hill, Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman following a Dec. 10 meeting with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

All of the six lawmakers are Republicans.

Clean Line officials say about $7 billion will be invested in the project, boosting economies in both Oklahoma and Arkansas.

“Several hundred permanent, quality wind tech and support jobs will be created to operate and maintain the line and wind farms,” said Vicki Ayres-Portman, Clean Line outreach manager based in Guymon.

“Millions of dollars annually will go to counties, schools and landowners,” Ayres-Portman said. “It is a great way for our farmers and ranchers to diversify their income as well.”

In November, researchers from the center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas published a study that estimated the construction of operation of the transmission project will add more than $660 million to the economy in Arkansas.

Haslam backs Vitter in Louisiana governor’s race

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Bill Haslam has endorsed U.S. Sen. David Vitter for governor of Louisiana after he finished ahead of two Republican rivals in Saturday voting despite a combative campaign that included explicit references to his 2007 prostitution scandal. Vitter now goes into a runoff election next month against Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards.

From a Politico story on the Louisiana gubernatorial campaign:

Among those Edwards still needs to convince of his viability is the Democratic Governors’ Association, which has yet to spend money on television ads in the contest and isn’t committing to do so during the run-off. The DGA is sending Scott Arcenaux, a Louisiana native who was previously executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, to assist Edwards’ campaign.

“John Bel Edwards has proudly served our nation and the state of Louisiana with integrity,” DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said, adding: “The primary results were a clear repudiation of David Vitter’s tired Washington politics. Louisiana voters know that they just can’t trust David Vitter. That’s why more than 70 percent of them rejected his campaign today.”

…Polls have shown Vitter’s image rating tanking among the state’s voters, compared to the popular Edwards. But while Vitter had focused his primary campaign on his GOP rivals, the Republican Governors Association revved up its attacks on Edwards, spending $1 million in the final weeks on TV ads that call Edwards an “Obama liberal” and features audio of Edwards saying “I supported the president” four different times.

The RGA formally endorsed Vitter on Saturday night.

“As a dedicated leader for Louisiana, David Vitter has been committed to making government work better for the people by cutting wasteful spending and fighting back against President Obama’s executive overreach,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the RGA chairman, said in a statement. “His record of reform shows that he knows what it takes to solve Louisiana’s most pressing issues.”

Edwards’ ads rarely mention his party affiliation and instead emphasize his most conservative policy positions. One ad features Edwards and his wife discussing their decision to keep her pregnancy after a diagnosis of spinal bfida in the womb. Their daughter, Samantha, is now in graduate school and engaged, the ad says.

Harwell hosts National Speakers Conference

News release from House Speaker’s office:
NASHVILLE – Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today welcomed the attendees of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation’s annual National Speakers Conference (NSC). The NSC is an affiliate of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, which seeks to educate, inspire, and inform the nation’s state legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle. Speaker Harwell was selected as President of the National Speakers Conference for 2015, bringing the annual event to Nashville.

“I am looking forward to showcasing Nashville and our great state to my colleagues from across the country,” said Speaker Harwell. “I expect we will have very informative meetings and programs, as we discuss how we are addressing the challenges states face. With gridlock in Washington, D.C., it is up to the states to continue working on policies that ensure prosperity for this nation.”

House Speakers from almost 40 states will be in Nashville this week, one of the largest gatherings of state legislative leaders. Over the four day conference, Speakers and their Chiefs of Staff will hear from special guests, hold meetings, and participate in discussion panels.

The National Speakers Conference is being held at the Hilton in downtown Nashville from September 9-12th. For more information, please visit www.sllf.org.

AP report: Other states ahead of TN on raising fuel taxes

By David Lieb, Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — While Congress remains stalled on a long-term plan for funding highways, state lawmakers and governors aren’t waiting around.

Nearly one-third of the states have approved measures this year that could collectively raise billions of dollars through higher fuel taxes, vehicle fees and bonds to repair old bridges and roads and relieve traffic congestion, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

The surge of activity means at least half of the states — from coast to coast, in both Republican and Democratic areas — now have passed transportation funding measures since 2013.

And the movement may not be done yet.

Tennessee’s governor is in the midst of a 15-city tour highlighting the state’s transportation needs. North Carolina lawmakers are debating a road-bonding proposal. And legislators are returning to work this week in California and Michigan with transportation funding on the agenda.
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No Haslam decision on Guardsmen bringing guns to work

While the state’s handgun-carry permitting process is being accelerated for Tennessee National Guardsmen, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office acknowledges the directive does not yet address whether Guard personnel can bring their firearms to work.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

“It’s an issue still being worked on at this point,” Haslam spokeswoman Laura Herzog said Thursday in an email.

Haslam on Wednesday announced he had moved the state’s seven storefront recruiting centers to more secure facilities in National Guard armories.

But because at least some are co-located with federal military installations or on federally owned property, there are legal issues involved. The U.S. military does not allow firearms except for designated personnel, administration officials have previously said.

The Tennessee Firearms Association said the governor’s plans say “nothing about arming the Tennessee military facilities to repel future terrorist attacks on those facilities. It does not indicate any plans to prepare the Tennessee military to respond to possible terrorist attacks at non-military civilian targets” and eliminate what the group calls “gun-free zones” vulnerable to “terrorist attacks.”

Note: Scott Walker, governor of Arizona and a Republican presidential candidate, has issued an executive order declaring National Guardsmen can take guns to work. Similar actions have been taken by some other governors, including those in Arizona and Texas.

…A day after the Chattanooga shooting, a Navy recruiter in Gainesville, Ga., accidentally shot himself in the leg at a recruiting center, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

The Tennessee Firearms Association press release is below:
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Some governors — not yet Haslam — move to arm National Guardsmen

While governors in six states have now ordered state National Guardsman to be armed or recruitment personnel located to more secure locations after five U.S. service members were killed in a gunman’s attacks on two U.S. military facilities in Chattanooga on Thursday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has not.

Further from Andy Sher:
In response to questions posed by the Times Free Press on Saturday, Haslam Press Secretary David Smith said in an email “the governor has reached out to [Tennessee Adjutant] Gen. Haston, and we’re looking at appropriate next steps.”

Haston has been out of the country, judging by a Facebook entry he posted Thursday, and it was unclear when any action, if any, would be taken.

…Joe Carr, a former GOP state lawmaker from Murfreesboro, is blistering Haslam, a fellow Republican, over having “been as silent on the issue of acting in pursuant to his oath of office and his responsibilities as Commander and Chief of the Tennessee National Guard.”

“Gov. Haslam: The people are waiting for you to step forward and provide the leadership that five other governors have provided to their states,” Carr said. “The time for dithering is over.

Note: A story on actions in other states is below.
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‘Dangerous political operative’ gets 2 years in prison

A nationally prominent political operative whose abrasive, anything-to-win style frequently landed him in trouble in Knoxville a decade ago is going to prison for two years for breaking federal campaign laws, reports Michael Collins.

Tyler Harber, who worked as an aide to former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale but now lives in northern Virginia, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady in Alexandria, Va.

“I’m guilty — I knew it was wrong when I did it,” Harber told the judge shortly before he was sentenced.

Harber said he let his competitive nature get the best of him but that he was driven not by power but by his desire to win a political race.

Harber said he also was motivated in part because he had seen other political operatives commit the same offenses without being caught and prosecuted.

“I didn’t think clearly,” he said.

Harber, 34, pleaded guilty in February to illegally coordinating campaign spending between a political-action committee he had helped create and a Virginia congressional campaign he was managing in 2012. He also pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents investigating his activities.

“The defendant’s criminal conduct was not borne of ignorance, naiveté or mistake,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle wrote in a pre-sentencing memo filed with the court. “Rather, the conduct engaged in here was undertaken by an intelligent and careful man with significant experience in politics and campaign finance. He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly the best way to conceal it from his party and from law enforcement.”

“He is, in short,” Lytle said, “the most dangerous sort of political operative by virtue of his knowledge and experience.”

Harold Ford III’ s dad mentioned as New York City mayor prospect

Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr., who followed his father in a Memphis-based U.S. House seat and lost to Republican Bob Corker in the 2006 Tennessee U.S. Senate race, is being mentioned as a possible future candidate for New York City mayor, according to Bloomberg News.

Ford is currently a senior client relationship manager at Morgan Stanley. Asked about the possibility of a run for mayor, Ford dodged, saying he’s focused on being a father. His second child, son Harold Eugene Ford III, was born May 17. The report, more or less a society column story, is focused on a Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts event. Excerpt:

Ford, a member of the Lincoln Center board since October 2010, helped the performing arts center in New York raise $1.6 million.

… At Morgan Stanley, Ford said he spends half of his time on the institutional side, half on wealth management. He coordinates between the investment bank and the private bank.

“In this new world we live in, in which government has placed a big number of regulations on banks, we have to be sure to deliver every part of our services to every client we have,” Ford said.

John Mack, former chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, said he’d just spent a full day with Ford in Denver, where they conducted a fireside chat for private wealth clients.

“As we start into the political season, I think everyone wants to have kind of an insider’s view and he clearly has that,” Mack said. “And what I like about him is, he’s so balanced, he’s not far right or far left. I would love for him to run. I won’t tell you what I’d like him to run for.”

Mayor was on the lips of some guests, though not Ford’s. Asked about his interest in leading the city, Ford, who once considered a run for a U.S. Senate seat from New York and has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, said “I’m a new father for the second time, that’s what I’m focused on.”

Hat tip: Kyle Veazey.

TN business sale entangled in Atlantic City legal melee

By Josh Cornfield, Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — When Jim Thigpen first met with an investor in early 2012 to discuss selling control of the Tennessee financial firm he had run for more than 20 years, he said W. Wesley Drummon boasted of a business plan that involved $2 billion from the Bank of China. Nothing was said about running a loan program for Atlantic City.

But as Drummon negotiated with Thigpen to purchase the Tennessee Business and Industrial Development Corp., Drummon was working with former Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford to get $3 million from the city to launch a community loan program.

Most of that money — not cash from China — was used to purchase the finance firm in 2013, a review by The Associated Press found. None of it has been used to make loans in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City is suing to get the $3 million back, alleging in a federal lawsuit that Drummon, of New York, and his company ZeMurray Street Capital, misrepresented themselves, failed to deliver promised services and didn’t honor requests to return the money. The city had planned to give the company up to $40 million to make loans, but so far none have been made.

Felix Gonzalez, the lawyer for the company and Drummon, denies the city’s claims. He said in a filing this week that Atlantic City had lawyers review the loan program agreement and that the city is not a victim. Attorneys for the city and Drummon are due Friday in federal court in Camden for a hearing after ZeMurray did not meet deadlines for handing over documents.

Gonzalez said that he was told by an attorney for the city that the U.S. attorney’s office has launched a criminal investigation. City attorneys did not return calls seeking comment, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said it does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Thigpen said. “To give 20 years of your life to a company and its reputation and in a period of just months the reputation of the company is shot and the company you built is probably on the verge of collapse.”
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Alabama joins TN, 3 others in 2016 ‘SEC primary’

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers have voted to join the “SEC primary” as southern states band together to try to get more attention from 2016 presidential hopefuls.

Alabama legislators on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would move the state’s 2016 primary elections to March 1, 2016. Some Southern states are trying to build a regional super primary. The SEC primary nickname is a reference to the Southeastern Conference in college athletics.

Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, said it has been difficult for small Southern states to garner much attention from presidential candidates.

“We’ll be on the map,” Ross said.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he is excited about what the super primary could mean for the state.

“The primary thing is to improve traffic flow of candidates through our state,” Merrill said.

The House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 99-0. The legislation now goes to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

The legislation had bipartisan support in the Alabama Legislature. But the idea of an SEC super primary has been particularly pushed by Southern Republicans who hope to have more of a say in their party’s nominating process.

Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are already part of the March 1 regional primary. Merrill says he believes additional states will join.