Tag Archives: regulation

Haslam Bill to Help For-Profit Utilities Gets Final Approval

A Haslam administration initiative that could result in annual rate increases for local customers of for-profit utilities like Tennessee American Water and Chattanooga Gas is on its way to the governor, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Senators gave final approval to the bill Monday on a 29-1 vote. The House passed the bill last month.
….Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, called Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s utility bill (SB197) a “continuing part of the administration’s top-to-bottom reforms.”
The legislation has drawn concerns from State Attorney General Bob Cooper’s office that the Tennessee Regulatory Authority would no longer effectively protect consumers from monopolies.
Among other things, the bill would allow the TRA to approve “trackers” for companies that allow them to pass along some costs, such as fuel, automatically on to consumers.
The bill also authorizes the TRA to approve “alternative methods” for utility rate reviews and cost recoveries instead of full-blown rate cases.
In a rate case, cities, businesses or the attorney general’s Consumer Advocate Division can intervene if they believe the hikes go beyond a utility’s legal ability to earn a reasonable profit.
Cooper’s office said in a memo that utilities had overstated their rate requests by as much as 60 percent over the past 10 years. The office said the rate cases protect consumers against unwarranted increases.
“What this does in our opinion is make it more likely that rates will increase for business and households,” Assistant Attorney General Vance Broemel told a House panel last month.

An Opinion: Haslam Weakens Regulations, Attacks Transparency

With two legislative sessions under his belt, we have learned that when you elect Bill Haslam, you elect a coterie of advisors, opines Metro Pulse.
In Knoxville he listened to Bill Lyons and Larry Martin, and got sound advice more often than not. Pilot Oil’s corporate interests had limited overlap with the city’s powers, so greed’s tentacles barely tickled Haslam.
At the state level, they have gotten a grip. In Nashville he listens to different advice and operates with less disclosure.
While Haslam is to be commended for making Amazon collect sales taxes, his overall stance toward corporate interests has been supplication. He has weakened Tennessee’s already laggard regulatory agencies and launched an attack on transparency. At least he is ashamed enough to want to hide the financial interests he and his cronies operate from.
…Haslam has expanded the governor’s power to write “FastTrack” checks with limited disclosure, so financial ties among developers, contractors, local politicians, and administration officials get obscured.
…But erosions in accountability and enforcement do not tell the full story. Bill Haslam can be a passionate regulator when his financial interests allow it. Right now the state website urges Tennesseans to “only use licensed home contractors.” “Always ask for their Tennessee license ID number and verify their status online at verify.tn.gov. Ask for a written contract and proof of insurance.” Good advice. Too bad citizens can’t verify enforcement of water pollution permits in nearby rivers and creeks so easily.

Another House Republican Task Force: This One on Economic Development

News release from House Republican Caucus:
(July 14, 2011, NASHVILLE) – With the 2011 Southern Legislative Conference coming up this weekend in Memphis, giving Tennessee legislators the opportunity to learn about the best practices from other States and share our own, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R–Chattanooga) announced the formation of what is expected to be the final task force of the House Majority.
The Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force will consist of ten Members of the House Majority. In a letter announcing the appointments to the task force, Leader McCormick outlined specific duties for the working group. They include:
Identifying regulations that are impeding job growth in Tennessee’s private sector and developing measures to remove those hurdles;
Ascertain the best practices of other States when it comes to paving the way for job creation by small businesses and companies;
Develop strategies and potential policy initiatives to make Tennessee’s environment better for business expansion and recruitment.

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