Tag Archives: rich

Tea Party-backed ‘Solicitor General’ Bill Dies in House Sub

A bill stripping the state attorney general of most responsibilities and giving them to a “solicitor general” was killed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday.
The new office of solicitor general, under HB1072, would have been filled by appointment of the state House and Senate, meeting in joint session. Tennessee’s attorney general is now appointed by the state Supreme Court under a provision of the state constitution.
House sponsor Rep. Barrett Rich, R-Somerville, said the bill had been brought to him by the Fayette County Tea party and was priority legislation for tea party members statewide. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, sponsored the measure in the Senate.
Many tea party members were upset when Attorney General Bob Cooper last year failed to file a lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, as did attorneys general in other states.
“If we determine, as a Legislature, that we should file an injunction (against a federal law considered unconstitutional), the attorney general would not have to pursue that,” Rich said.
With enactment of the bill, the solicitor general would be obliged to file such a lawsuit to “fend off the federal government,” Rich said.
Rich said the creation of a solicitor general position is permissible under the state Constitution because, while granting the Supreme Court authority to name the attorney general, the document gives the position no duties other than reporting decisions of the Supreme Court. Thus, he said current attorney general duties such as representing the state in lawsuits and issuing legal opinions can be assigned by statute to a solicitor general.
But other legislators questioned that contention. They included Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, also an attorney, and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ootelwah, a former judge.
Carter said he “understands the frustration behind this,” but believes that the bill might lead to a lawsuit rather than correcting the problem and to situations of “the state of Tennessee suing the state of Tennessee.” Appropriately addressing the situation, Carter said, “may require a constitutional amendment, to be honest with you.”
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, asked how members of the judiciary felt about the bill. Rich said he did not know, but conceded “they probably wouldn’t like it.”
The bill was killed on a voice vote. Only one member of the eight-member subcommittee, Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah, had himself recorded as supporting the measure.

Beer Lobby Backs Wine-in-Groceries (if high-alcohol beer sold, too)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The beer industry has swung its support behind a bill to allow Tennessee supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine as long as the measure also allows places to sell strong beer.
Tennessee Malt Beverage Association President Rich Foge confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that his board decided to drop its long opposition to changing the law. In return, the beer makers want a provision allowing grocery stores to sell high-gravity beer, which has higher alcohol content and is currently only allowed to be sold in liquor stores.
“If the marketplace is going to change where regular beer and wine are sold side-by-side on a grocery store shelf, high-gravity beer should be, too,” Foge said.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, have made it a priority to pass the bill seeking to allow cities and counties that already allow liquor sales to hold referendums on whether to allow supermarket wine sales.
Foge said the speakers’ strong support for the measure played into his association’s decision to change course on the bill.
“We had a long discussion about it and one of things that got serious consideration is that the speakers of both chambers urged the parties to come to the table,” he said. “And we’re heeding that advice.”
The bill opposed by liquor wholesalers and the association representing package store owners has cleared its first legislative committees in both chambers. The Senate Finance Committee was scheduled to take up the measure on Tuesday.

Lawmaker Calls Parole System ‘a Failed Experiment’

In a Sunday review of the state parole practices, The Tennessean provides examples of violent offenders going pretty much unsupervised and committing crimes while parole officials were supposedly “supervising” dead offenders.
And some legislators are quoted as saying it’s time for a shakeup.
State Rep. Barrett Rich, R-Somerville, who chairs a legislative committee that oversees parole and probation issues…has tried unsuccessfully in the past to abolish parole in Tennessee and said the current state of supervision proves his point.
“I don’t think it’s currently doing what it’s supposed to be doing, what it’s designed to do,” Rich said. “I think it’s a failed experiment.”
An audit released this month accused the Tennessee Board of Parole of not only keeping dead felons under active supervision, but of also falling far short of state guidelines on supervising live felons and failing to adequately punish people who rack up numerous violations.
…House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said Tennessee taxpayers expect better from the state.
“Certainly this is not something that we can tolerate, and it’s not something the taxpayers should tolerate,” Harwell said Friday. “We will expect changes to be made.”
…The Board of Parole blamed the continued supervision failures on increasing caseloads.
“From a historical perspective, the board continued to move forward in addressing supervisory issues in its audits,” said Melissa McDonald, spokeswoman for the Board of Parole. “The board has consistently experienced increases in caseloads as the population served continues to grow.”
She said the number of felons under supervision has increased by 6.1 percent annually for the past 10 years.
It’s a familiar refrain. In 2001, after an audit showed the agency wasn’t fulfilling its supervision duties, it responded by complaining that caseloads had become untenable at 96 felons per parole officer. In 2006, it complained when they reached 100. In 2012, caseloads had grown to 113 for some parole officers.
Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, said the state legislature deserves some of the blame for not funding more parole officers to address caseloads in the past.
“The parole people kept saying, ‘We’re getting too high of a ratio, too high of a ratio, too high of a ratio,’ and never got the funding that they’ve needed,” he said. “The legislature has to be upset with itself, too.”
Rich laid some of the blame at the feet of Board of Parole Chairman Charles Traughber, who has held the position since 1988 with on-and-off stints at the agency going back to 1972.
“I don’t think that Mr. Traughber specifically is the cause, but I believe that, in and of itself, I would be embarrassed to know that under my watch that this has happened,” he said.

Traughber responded only by saying, “I have the utmost respect for Representative Rich.”

Cooper Among Congressmen With Misreported Wealth

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper is not among the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans, as had been reported in an analysis by USA TODAY that was published in The Tennessean on Wednesday, the Tennessean reported a day later.
The information about Cooper was based on faulty data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, which estimated members’ worth within a range reported on financial disclosure forms by members of Congress. The correct midpoint of that range for Cooper, D-Nashville, was $7.5 million, which places him outside the top 1 percent.
Note: There were other foul-ups in the CRP report. A corrected version of the national news release his HERE.

Duncan: ‘Biggest Lie in American Politics’ is that Republicans Favor the Rich

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan bashs Democrats/Liberals and defends the Republican party in a columnized conversation with Greg Johnson. Some snippets:
When I asked U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, about the latest class warfare, (claims that Republicans represent the rich) he chuckled. “I call it the biggest lie in American politics,” Duncan said. He cited his family’s modest East Tennessee roots, telling how his grandparents had 10 kids, an outhouse and a long history of Republicanism. “My grandfather said you could make it to heaven if you weren’t a Presbyterian and a Republican, but it was a whole lot harder.”
“The Republican Party is very much a middle-income party,” Duncan said. “The people in our party who have money are people who started with nothing and made something.” Duncan noted how prominent Tennessee Republican Jim Haslam, founder of Pilot Corp., started with one gas station. “In the Democratic Party, the people in Washington have hardly ever run a business or met a payroll,” Duncan said.
…”Liberalism is a philosophy of arrogance or elitism,” Duncan said. “Liberals say, ‘We can spend your money for you better than you can.’ Conservatives think of people as individuals. Leftists think of people as masses. If I had to use one word to describe conservatism I’d say, ‘Freedom.’ If had to use more than one word, I’d say, ‘Freedom of the individual.'”
The House budget builds on the core conservative concept that the majority of Americans are entirely capable of managing their own affairs. “The Ryan budget is trying to empower the individual,” Duncan said. “It gives people control of own money, even control over their own health care.”
Duncan took on the idea that Republicans are the party of big business. “Liberals are the best friends big business ever had,” Duncan said. “When government gets bigger, red tape increases and small businesses are squeezed out. In every heavily regulated industry, the business ends up in a few big hands (due to onerous compliance costs).”