Americans for Prosperity’s Tennessee chapter has completed its rating of state legislators, placing a majority of both the House and Senate members — 19 senators and 54 representatives, all Republicans — in top category, deeming them “taxpayer heroes.” House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey both are on that list.
Twenty-eight legislators — four senators, 24 representatives — are declared “taxpayer zeros,” the lowest ranking. All but one — Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville — are Democrats.
The AFP system gives or subtracts points based on votes with extra points given for sponsoring bills the group likes. Scores are on a numerical system, top rating being a score of 93 or above; lowest a score of 65 or below.
Top ratings — 105 points with bonuses for sponsorship — went to Republican Sens. Mark Green of Clarksville and Delores Gresham of Somerville along with Republican Reps. Mike Carter of Ootelwah, Martin Daniel of Knoxville and Debra Moody of Covington.
Lowest ratings — 23 points — went to House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville.
Highest ranking Democrats were Rep. John DeBerry and Sen. Reginald Tate, both of Memphis. Lowest-ranking Republican in the House was Rep. Kent Calfee of Kingston at 66. Overbey had a 54, the lowest GOP score.
The scorecard is HERE.
News release is below. Continue reading
While the American Conservative Union has ranked Tennessee’s legislature the most conservative in the nation, others have given it a lower ranking in comparison with other states. The difference, reports Michael Collins, is all about who is doing the ranking and how they’re keeping score.
Tennessee failed to grab the top stop in a different rating system by Boris Shor, a visiting government professor at Georgetown University in Washington. On his most recent scorecard, Shor listed the Tennessee legislature as the nation’s fourth most conservative.
So how did the two scoring systems come up with different scores?
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
(July 22, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and Senate Finance Chairman Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today announced that Fitch Ratings officially declared Tennessee the lowest indebted state in the union. Fitch Ratings issued the finding in a special report on state pensions last week. The ranking is based on Tennessee’s net tax-supported debt and unfunded pension obligations as a percentage of personal income.
“This news proves once again that Tennessee can outperform any state in the union — even in the Obama economy,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “While the federal government and other states are taxing, spending and leaving their grandchildren the bill, Tennessee continues to balance budgets and pay what we owe. I’m proud of our legislature, our Governor and our constitutional officers for their commitment to a lean and efficient state government that provides necessary services at minimal cost to taxpayers. It is that commitment that continues to attract businesses and families to our great state.”
Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally concurred in celebrating the news.
“I’m grateful to Fitch Ratings for recognizing Tennessee’s commitment to fiscal discipline,” said Sen. McNally. “We work hard as a state government to live within our means and pay our debts promptly. I look forward every day to participating in Tennessee’s economic success story.”
Fitch Ratings State Pension Update special report published July 16, 2013 revealed that the median level for states’ combined net tax-supported debt plus unfunded pension liabilities measures 7.0 percent of 2012 personal income. Tennessee’s was lowest at 1.8 percent. The nation’s highest percentage was Illinois at 24.8 percent.
Fitch Ratings is a leading global rating agency which provides the world’s credit markets with independent credit opinions. Fitch, together with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, are the three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Family Action of Tennessee, a conservative Christian organization, today declared 16 state senators and 37 state representatives — all of them Republicans — as “Champions of the Family.” That means they had a record of voting the way the organization wanted 100 percent of the time.
The most notable absence from the list, perhaps, is House Speaker Beth Harwell. A check of her voting record by FAT standards shows her with a 92 percent rating; she was absent when one of the votes in question was taken.
The group’s voting record report on all legislators is HERE. The list of ‘champions’ with 100 percent records is HERE.
Here’s the news release:
David Fowler, President of Family Action of Tennessee, Inc., today announced the names of those state legislators designated by the organization as Champions of the Family. Champions of the Family are those state legislators who had a 100% voting record on various pieces of state legislation followed by Family Action during the 2011-2012 General Assembly.
“Those legislators who have received our highest designation as a Champion of the Family are those whose votes have shown that they understand the critical importance of marriage, family, life, and religious liberty to the future well-being of our state. We heartily applaud their unwavering stand on behalf of the families of Tennessee,” said Mr. Fowler.
The Tennessee Journal has put out its first list rating 2012 Republican-versus-Democratic races for the state House and Senate and, no surprise, it looks grim for Democrats.
In the Senate, there are 11 incumbent Republicans who aren’t up for reelection this year and six of those who are up have no Democratic opponent. Ergo, the GOP is already assured of holding the 17 seats needed for a majority for the 108th General Assembly, which will convene in January. The question is whether they can go from the current 20 Republican seats to 22, which would be the two-thirds majority needed to make Democrats pretty much irrelevant.
The subscription-only Journal has three Senate seats rated as partisan toss-up contests – District 20, now held by Democratic Sen. Joe Haynes of Nashville; District 24, now held by Democratic Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden; and District 28, the new open seat in Southern Middle Tennessee. Herron and Haynes are both retiring. District 28 is, in effect, the seat moved from Shelby County by redistricting – a shift that left Democratic Sens. Jim Kyle and Beverly Marrero to run against one another in the primary.
The next most competitive category is “leaning.”
District 10, now held by retiring Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga, is rated as “leaning Republican.” District 16, now held by retiring Democratic Sen. Eric Stewart of Belvidere, and District 22, held by Democratic Sen. Tim Barnes of Clarksville, are rated as “leaning Democratic.”
Thus, Democrats would have to sweep all six of the most competitive races just to maintain their status quo of 13 seats (versus 20 for Republicans now).
In the House, Journal Editor Ed Cromer has nine “toss-up” races.
They are seats now held by Republican Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville (District 5), Democratic Rep. Harry Tindell of Knoxville (who is retiring in District 13), Republican Rep. John Ragan of Oak Ridge (District 33), Republican Rep. David Alexander of Winchester (District 39), Democratic Rep. Gary Moore of Nashville (also retiring, District 50), Republican Rep. Jim Gotto of Nashville (District 60), Republican Rep. Tim Wirgau of Paris (District 75), Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden (District 76) and the new, open-seat District 92, which covers all of Marshall County and parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion counties.
There’s one “leaning Democrat” seat (open seat District 53 in Nashville) and seven “leaning Republican.” Four of the latter are held by incumbent Republicans – Reps. Julia Hurley of Lenoir City, Kelly Keisling of Byrdstown, Shelia Butt of Columbia, Bill Sanderson of Kenton.
From the Journal story:
The Tennessee Journal’s initial breakdown shows 25 (House) seats in the safe, probable, or leaning Democratic categories. Democrats would have to win all nine toss-up races simply to get back to where they started — at 34 seats — and this is unlikely. Republicans need only a net gain of two seats to have a two-thirds majority.
News release from Beacon Center:
NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s free market think tank, today announced the results of its annual ranking of the state’s 50 most populous cities. Founded as the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the Beacon Center analyzes cities’ friendliness to business each year based on a number of factors.
This year’s Most Business-Friendly City is the East Tennessee town of Farragut. The city is the first to receive the distinction twice, having first been awarded the title in the Beacon Center’s inaugural rankings in 2006. Later this month, the Center will present Farragut officials with a plaque commemorating the honor.
The study, titled How Business-Friendly are Tennessee’s Cities?, scores each city in three categories that reflect a commitment to encouraging business success and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit. Those categories are Economic Vitality, Business Tax Burden, and Community Allure.
Farragut has consistently ranked toward the top, finishing first in 2006 and second in last year’s rankings. In 2011, its job performance and low tax burden give it the state’s most business-friendly climate.
“Farragut has maintained a solid commitment to low taxes and an inviting economic policy,” said the Beacon Center’s President & CEO Justin Owen. “The city’s dedication to business growth has paid off, leading it to the top of the business-friendly rankings in 2011.”
The city lacks a property tax, has a low crime rate, and has witnessed strong job growth compared to other cities. It finished first in the Business Tax Burden category with a perfect score, third in Economic Vitality, and eighth in the less-weighted category of Community Allure, pulling well ahead of the second ranked city of Brentwood. Franklin, Mt. Juliet, and Spring Hill round out the top five.
“This award is a reflection of Farragut’s commitment to creating a business-friendly climate free of stifling taxes and restrictive regulatory burdens,” Owen said. “We applaud the local elected officials and business leaders for earning the distinction as Tennessee’s Most Business-Friendly City for the second time in just six years.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Memphis, Brownsville, Martin, Dyersburg, and Tullahoma rank in the bottom five for business-friendliness in 2011.
The full report, along with the ranking of each of Tennessee’s 50 most populous cities, can be found at www.BeaconTN.org.
While Tennessee’s scores on what is known as the Nation’s Report Card in education remained the same, the City Paper notes the performance of other states improved, dropping the volunteer state’s national ranking.
The Tennessee Department of Education on Tuesday released its results in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, showing no statistical change in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores.
The state dropped from 45th to 46th in the nation in fourth-grade math; from 39th to 41st in fourth-grade reading; from 43rd to 45th in eighth-grade math; and from 34th to 41st in eighth-grade reading. Also according to the results, 26 percent of fourth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 30 percent are proficient in math. Twenty-seven percent of eighth-grade students are proficient in reading, while 24 percent are proficient in math.
Note: News release below
Even as a large segment of the population moves into its later years of life and might require nursing home care, Tennessee is moving toward lighter regulation of nursing homes, fewer state investigations and laws that make it more difficult to bring potentially costly lawsuits against operators, according to The Tennessean.
Many nursing homes in Tennessee also now require patients or their families to sign agreements waiving their rights to a trial before admission.
A measure passed earlier this year by the legislature places strict new limits on the rights of nursing home patients and their families to sue nursing homes for poor care. That law, which caps the amount a jury can award, goes into effect this week.
This comes just a couple of years after the legislature in 2009 vastly reduced oversight of the 325 nursing homes in the state by eliminating regulations mandating that nursing home operators file detailed reports on adverse events affecting patients. Also eliminated were requirements that the state investigate those incidents. Officials said the change was needed so they could spend their time investigating more serious complaints.
Tennessee has not fared well compared with other states in some key quality measures of nursing homes. And federal officials have said the state has failed in its regulation of such homes. A report issued this year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office gave the state Health Department failing scores for its performance in investigating serious complaints against nursing homes. It said there was a backlog of cases that had gone uninvestigated, and it cited a staff shortage as a factor.
…Data compiled by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show Tennessee ranks fourth out of 50 from the bottom in the number of hours per patient per day provided by certified nurse assistants. It ranks seventh from the bottom in registered nurse hours per patient per day, according to the CMS data.
The latest data show Tennessee nursing homes provide an average of 0.62 hours of registered nursing care per patient per day. Assistant Health Commissioner Christy Allen said that was comparable to other states in the region. Neighboring Kentucky provides 0.8 hours, while Florida provides 0.64. The states that provide the most hours are generally lower-population states: Hawaii nursing homes average 1.36 hours, Delaware provides 1.22 hours and Alaska 1.86 hours.
According to state health officials, current law and regulations require licensed nursing personnel to provide only 0.4 hours of direct care per patient each day.
Heritage Action for America, a quite conservative group, has done its scorecard on Congress.
In Tennessee, astonishingly, Republicans get good grades and Democrats get bad grades. Topping the Tennessee list, at 80 percent, is Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The lowest ranking Republican is Rep. Stephen Fincher at 61 percent.
Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen was at the bottom of the rankings at 18 percent, closely followed by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper at 20 percent.
Bill Theobold raises the question, citing a National Journal analysis of 2019 U.S. Senate votes that found Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are not among the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate.
So what, you may ask? Well, the finding shows what may be vulnerability for the two as Alexander seeks to advance in Republican leadership in the Senate and Corker looks to win a second six-year term in 2012.
Alexander ranked 30th most conservative in the 40-member GOP delegation last year, while Corker ranked 27th.
What makes those numbers stand out more is what happened to half of the 10 GOP senators to Alexander’s left, so to speak. Four have left the Senate: Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, George Voinovich of Ohio, Robert Bennett of Utah and Kit Bond of Missouri. Bennett was defeated in the Republican primary for not being conservative enough, in part because of his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which helped several large financial firms and automakers GM and Chrysler.