Tag Archives: Ron Ramsey

AP story on Ramsey’s retirement (& hometown paper excerpt)

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, a leading figure in the Republican takeover of all three branches of Tennessee state government, announced Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election.

The Blountville auctioneer became the first Republican speaker of the Senate since Reconstruction in 2007. He said in an emotional speech from the well of the Senate chamber that he wants to spend more time with his family and young grandchildren.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve here. We have accomplished great things together. We have left Tennessee better than we found it,” Ramsey said. “But lately, it seems like life is flying by.”

“After a lot of prayer and many sleepless nights, I have determined that I simply cannot commit to another four years in office,” he said.

Ramsey has made a career out of bouncing back from political defeats.
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Ramsey retirement reaction

Here are some press release statements from Tennessee politicians and organizations reacting to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s announcement that he will not seek another term in the state legislature:

Gov. Bill Haslam
“Lieutenant Governor Ramsey has been an outstanding leader for Tennessee, and I will truly miss working with him on a daily basis. Ron is smart and effective, and he has been passionate about serving Tennessee and his district. I appreciate his 24 years of service in the General Assembly, and I will miss him.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell
“I have served alongside Ron Ramsey for many years, and I have the utmost respect for him. He dedicated his time in public service to making Tennessee a great state. He often says that it matters who governs, and indeed it does—Tennessee has had a great leader in Ron Ramsey. I know he will enjoy being able to spend more time with Sindy and with his precious grandchildren. I wish him the very best.”

Senate Democratic Caucus leaders
News release from Senate Democratic Caucus
NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic Leaders released the following statements on the announcement by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that he will not seek a new term to the state Senate:

“Ron Ramsey is a true statesman and, really, a role model on authenticity in public life,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “He demonstrated that again today in how he announced his retirement. He set out a list of priorities and we would be lucky to be as smart, self-aware, authentic, and courageous enough to be able to do the same someday. We would all also be lucky to have even a portion of the blessings that Ramsey has had. He deserves a long-round of congratulations.”

“Ron Ramsey went from being a junior member of the minority party in the House to leader of a supermajority in the state Senate in his 20 years in the General Assembly,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro said. “That’s a testament to how strong a leader he has been. During my time in the legislature, we’ve had a strong and open relationship. Even when we’ve disagreed, we’ve done so as colleagues and as friends. And while it might surprise some folks to hear it, I’m going to miss him. Tyler and I wish him, Sindy, and his entire family all the best in the years to come.”
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Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey won’t seek reelection

News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
NASHVILLE — Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced his decision not to seek re-election to another four-year term in the state Senate this November. Lt. Governor Ramsey’s term as Speaker of the Senate will expire on the second Tuesday in January 2017.

Ramsey made the following remarks from the Senate floor regarding his decision this morning:
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TN legislative leaders honor open records request

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While Tennessee lawmakers do not fall under the state’s open records law, the General Assembly’s policy is to make what officials call a good faith effort to comply with requests from the public.

Under those rules, lawmakers are asked to search their own correspondence and emails for records they consider to be responsive to the request. That’s not good enough for one senior Democrat, who argues that it shouldn’t be up to each of the 132 lawmakers to decide which documents to release.

“To trust the members I don’t think is fully responsive,” said Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris. “The state owns these email accounts, and they should make sure they’re being fully responsive.”

A recent Associated Press request for a week’s worth of emails and daily schedules from legislative leaders in all 50 states was met with as many denials as approvals. In Tennessee, the top two Democrats and top two Republicans complied with the request.
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Ramsey pans ban on cell phones while driving

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says he opposes an effort to make it a crime to speak on handheld phones while driving in Tennessee.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. of Elizabethton would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine to use a mobile phone while driving. Drivers would still be able to use hands-free devices to make calls.

Ramsey said the state’s ban on texting while driving goes far enough. He said distracted driving is already a traffic offense in Tennessee.

The House version of the bill advanced out of the Transportation Committee on Tuesday after a contentious debate. It would have to clear the House Criminal Justice Committee before heading for the floor.

The Senate Transpiration Committee takes up the bill next week.

Note: The bill is HB1566, sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in the Senate.

No more ID scanning for Legislative Plaza visitors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A major bottleneck at the entrances to Tennessee’s legislative office complex is being eliminated this week.

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters on Thursday that state troopers have been instructed to stop scanning IDs and printing out temporary nametags for visitors.

Visitors will still have to pass through a metal detector, but Ramsey said ID scanning was taking too long and not serving much purpose because the names aren’t run through criminal databases.

Lines can often stretch around the block when advocacy groups hold their days on the hill or when contentious legislation is being heard in committee.

Ramsey said he’s also asked his staff to look into purchasing more metal detectors so visitors can be screened more quickly.

Further from Richard Locker, who notes that House Speaker Beth Harwell joined Ramsey in making the change.
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Prison assaults rise with new definitions

Since Jan. 11, there have been 70 assaults with a weapon against Tennessee correctional officers and 49 assaults that didn’t involve a weapon, reports The Tennessean.

Those 119 assaults put the Tennessee Department of Correction on pace to more than double the number of assaults on staff recorded in 2015, according to figures obtained from the department through a request by The Tennessean.

The seemingly drastic increase comes after Tennessee prison officials changed the definitions of assault on officers and inmates amid continued scrutiny from officers, inmates and the organization the department relies on to inspect its facilities and policies.

…Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals didn’t comment on whether the new data accurately reflect the level of violence in Tennessee prisons.

“The (ACA) report also made a recommendation, and the department reviewed it, implementing a new policy. It’s not appropriate to compare numbers from two different policies,” Donnals said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

…Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, has been critical of Schofield and the way the department has handled issues pertaining to safety, scheduling and pay. In a statement Wednesday, he says the new data validate the concerns about violence in the prison system.

“When issues at the Department of Correction first arose last year, our Senate State and Local Corrections Subcommittee conducted exhaustive hearings resulting in important changes like these definition adjustments. This new data reveals that the concerns expressed were, in fact, real,” Ramsey said in an emailed statement.

…Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, also has criticized the department’s previous approach to how it tracks violence and assaults in state prisons. He echoed Ramsey’s statement Wednesday, saying the “spike” in assaults reflected in the new data shows assaults in the past have been “misclassified and underreported.”

Harwell, Ramsey would back Trump as GOP nominee

House Speaker Beth Harwell has joined Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey in declaring a willingness to support Donald Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination, according to The Tennessean.

“It was obvious that Donald Trump hit a nerve with people and they related to him, and if he’s our nominee I will support him,” Harwell said Thursday morning.

“I’d support him 100 percent if he’s the Republican candidate,” Ramsey said, adding that although he doesn’t know whom he wants to be president, he knows whom he doesn’t want to win, alluding to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

…(N)either Ramsey nor Harwell would say which of the five Republicans on the ballot they supported before Tuesday’s election.

…The speaker’s comments come one day after Haslam told The Associated Press that Trump would need to make major policy changes before he could consider supporting the real estate mogul. (Previous post: HERE.)

Harris, Yarbro ask Ramsey for seats at Finance table

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey bypassed the state’s two top-ranking Democratic senators in handing out seats on the powerful Finance Committee last year and now they’re asking him to reconsider, reports Nashville Post Politics.

That would likely mean downgrading the status of the two Democrats who got the seats, Sens. Reginald Tate of Memphis and Thelma Harper of Nashville.

“Look, I’m not making any promises but things are different maybe next year than they were last year,” Ramsey recalled telling the two lawmakers, Sens. Lee Harris of Memphis and Jeff Yarbro of Nashville, when they came by his office for an impromptu meeting Wednesday morning. “You aren’t freshmen any longer, but obviously Thelma and Reggie are still good friends of mine. We’ll see what we can work out.

“That’s all I said,” he told the Nashville Post.

Harper and Tate have 36 years in the legislature between them — although most of that comes from Harper — and both sit on the finance committee this year. Tate has been instrumental to Ramsey on legislation at times, and Harper rarely gets in the lieutenant governor’s way.

…Although Ramsey said his reasoning was based on the fact that that two leaders were freshmen lawmakers at the time, he is unsure whether he’ll promote them to the powerful budget committee next year when the two Democrats begin their third year.

“I understand their concern. It was unprecedented, but it was unprecedented times,” said Ramsey. “I mean, how many times — probably, maybe the first time in history, too — that a freshman got elected majority leader and caucus chairman. So that did make perfectly good sense.”

Yarbro said their absence from the committee limits how much either of them can participate in conversations about policy and the state budget, a realization made after a breakfast meeting hosted by the governor with leaders from all parties invited.

“We had had a meeting this morning that was about the budget and it was a reminder that neither of us are actually on Finance, which actually complicates certain discussions because we don’t have the background,” Yarbro said Wednesday.

Speakers disagree, so no guns at Capitol

Plans to let state handgun-carry permit holders carry their weapons in the Tennessee Capitol complex misfired Wednesday amid apparent disagreement between Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell over how to proceed, reports the Times Free Press.

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials wanted the two top officials to be in agreement before they would consider proceeding, according to Ramsey spokesman Adam Kleinheider.

“They did not agree,” said Kleinheider, who wouldn’t elaborate.

Harwell’s spokeswoman, Kara Owen, said that from Harwell’s “point of view, it’s simply an issue of saving taxpayer dollars as the modifications to the building would have a cost associated with them.”

Owen noted Harwell realizes “we’re not going to be in this building [Legislative Plaza] much longer” with the General Assembly planning on moving in a few years from Legislative Plaza and the adjacent War Memorial Building to the now-vacant Cordell Hull State Office Building.

Because there were expected costs for “things that had to be done” in order to make Legislative Plaza and the Capitol physically capable of handling the situation, Owen said the speaker thought it best to wait until lawmakers are ensconced in Cordell Hull.

Haslam and Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who oversees the THP which provides security at Legislative Plaza, War Memorial and the state Capitol building, have been opposed to allowing permit holders to bring their weapons into the complex.

Note: Previous post HERE.