Silicon Ranch — the company with ties to former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration — has applied for a solar tax break that is sure to fan the flames of debate over the economic development incentive’s future, reports the Nashville Business Journal.
The company’s founders include Bredesen and major economic development players from his administration, Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr. They spearheaded the passage of the tax break in 2010 aimed at encouraging the fledgling solar industry.
In the 2012 Tennessee General Assembly, some Republicans had planned to alter the tax arrangement in part because they were suspicious after those who put it in place started a solar company. Since then, Silicon Ranch has made eight applications for green energy certification, a stamp necessary to receive the tax break, according to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation records.
…Kisber and Farr said the company had not planned previously to apply for the tax credit — or any other incentive they had advocated — unless a new legislature and administration affirmed the legitimacy of a Bredesen-era policy. Farr, who served as Bredesen’s revenue commissioner, said the Republicans’ ultimate decision not to alter the policy “reaffirmed” it and led the company to consider applying.
The state comptroller’s office says a current tax arrangement on solar energy is unconstitutional, upping the pressure on legislators to cast the policy aside as a fight over its purpose escalates, reports the Nashville Business Journal. A bill in the Tennessee General Assembly would change the tax treatment of solar companies, and various segments of the industry have spoken up, decrying it as a massive tax increase in place of an incentive they’d been anticipating.
Jason Mumpower, executive assistant to state Comptroller of the Treasury Justin Wilson, today cited a 1986 attorney general opinion, saying that a justification used for the treatment of solar installations is not constitutional.
He argued the current statute — passed in 2010 under the administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat — is open to challenge, and that therefore the comptroller is making tax law sound and preserving some incentive for solar companies.
“What we’re looking to do is correct a technical matter in the tax code,” Mumpower said. “What we’re doing is trying to help them.”
….Both McNally and Mumpower stopped short of accusing the Bredesen administration of passing a law to benefit a future business venture. But they said there could be the appearance of a conflict, with Farr pushing the law and then being part of the future company.
Farr called it “politics by a very political comptroller” for Republicans to be pushing the law change and making such suggestions. He said Silicon Ranch does not plan to apply for the tax benefit or other Bredesen initiatives. The company may consider future programs passed or reapproved by the legislature, based on circumstances at that time, he said.
Mumpower said the comptroller’s office is not seeking political gain against Farr or Democrats supportive of solar. Asked why the comptroller’s office doesn’t denounce suggestions about Farr, Mumpower said the comptroller’s motivation is only to fix the law, not engage in politics.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – Early Monday morning vandals spray painted a Hitler style mustache on the face of a Ronald Reagan mural in Cookeville. The mural, valued at $5,000, is painted on the side of the Putnam County GOP headquarters. TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney has released the following statement regarding the incident:
“There is no room in our political process for acts of vandalism and the defacing of private property. What happened in Cookeville Sunday night to the County GOP Headquarters is unacceptable. Our country is facing serious issues regarding fiscal and economic stability, and it is time to have an adult discussion across the country and across the aisle.
“This act does nothing but draw lines in the sand that do not need to be drawn. As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.’ The Republican Party will not tolerate the deplorable actions of a few to distract us from our goal of a fiscally responsible government and the creation of good-paying jobs for all Americans.”
Here’s a picture of the mural and Putnam County Republican Party Chairman Curtis Shinsky, which appeared in the Cookeville Herald-Citizen:
By Jim Kuhnhenn
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Eisenhower got along better with Sam Rayburn than with leaders of his own party. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan would bury political differences after 6 p.m. Newt Gingrich felt snubbed by Bill Clinton on Air Force One.
Presidents and House speakers have a history of complicated relationships. President Barack Obama and Rep. John Boehner are adding their own chapter on the golf links Saturday, political opposites each trying to put a ball in the same hole.
Boehner, R-Ohio, and the president have a courteous, but not a social relationship. Their interactions are so businesslike that their decision to play golf together has been given significance far greater than it probably deserves.
While the president’s frequent golf outings occur outside the prying eyes of the press, journalists were promised at least a glimpse, and a chance to photograph, Obama and Boehner with their game faces on.
Past president-speaker relationships have been defined by specific moments.
O’Neill, D-Mass., and Reagan shared evening martinis at the White House and exchanged Irish tales. Rayburn, D-Texas, gave Eisenhower a heifer for the president’s Pennsylvania farm. Gingrich, R-Ga., complained that Clinton forced him to exit through the rear entrance of Air Force One during their 1995 trip to Israel for the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The state House of Representatives has turned down a resolution honoring Ronald Reagan, reports WPLN’s Joe White. Republicans refused to vote on the measure, which honored Reagan’s support of labor unions. It was obviously a set-up – Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner sponsoring a bill to honor the Republican president who turned the Silent Majority into a GOP juggernaut.
Turner, a member of the Nashville Firefighter’s Union, reminded lawmakers that Reagan first entered politics as a member of a union.
“This man went on to lead the Screen Actors Guild, and led them in to their first strike, when the big Hollywood studios were trying to limit collective bargaining there.”
Turner also pointed out that Reagan defended the fledgling Polish trade union movement when the Soviets tried to crack down on the organization.
Unimpressed, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said he wouldn’t be voting on the measure, and only three Republicans bothered to put a vote on the board. With only a third of the House voting aye, the measure failed.
Republicans later called the resolution an attempt to get them to vote in favor of collective bargaining. The General Assembly is considering a bill to take away collective bargaining from teachers.
Text of HJR225 is HERE.