A Chattanooga businesswoman has been named by House Speaker Beth Harwell to fill a vacant director position on the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Robin Bennett currently serves as a vice president and financial center manager for First Tennessee and, according to Harwell, brings to the agency experience in customer relations, business management and federal and regulatory compliance.
Bennett replaces Sara Kyle, who resigned from the TRA in March. The agency regulates investor-owned water and electric utilities, as well as some telephone services.
The mission of the TRA is to promote the public interest by balancing the interests of consumers and monopoly utilities.
William Logan “Dick” Barry, who served as speaker of the state House of Representatives in the 1960s and then executive assistant to Gov. Buford Ellington, has died in a Lexington nursing home at age 89, according to friends.
“Dick Barry’s death marks the end of an era,” said former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, who served in the state House while Barry was top aide to Ellington.
“He was a solid rock of integrity and a real historian,” said Ashe Thursday “State government was made better by his participation and leadership.”
State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, said Barry died Wednesday evening at a Lexington nursing home, where he had resided in recent weeks after hospital treatment for an illness.
Barry, a lawyer who once served as publisher of the Lexington Progress newspaper, was elected to the state House in 1954 and became floor leader in 1958 and then in 1963 and with the support of Gov. Frank Clement was elected speaker. He served as speaker until 1967, when joined the Ellington administration and served until Democrat Ellington left office in January, 1971, with the inauguration of Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn.
House-Senate hostility is nothing new in Legislatorland, but the basis of tensions that led to the flare-up in the waning days of the first Republican supermajority session just might be more fundamental — and thus more enduring — than the squabbles in bygone days among Democratic leaders.
For one big thing, both House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey would like to be governor.
Ramsey, who already has the title of lieutenant governor, tried to scratch the “lieutenant” part in 2010 but lost in the Republican primary to Bill Haslam. Today he says he “can’t imagine” putting himself through that “grueling” experience again and suspects a successful candidate would have to be rich enough to self-finance. But he doesn’t rule it out.
Harwell hasn’t tried before and is quite coy in talking publicly about it, but friends say that her long-term goal is to follow up on becoming Tennessee’s first woman speaker by becoming Tennessee’s first woman governor.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Lois DeBerry is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of pancreatic cancer.
The Memphis Democrat was first elected in 1972 and is the longest-serving current member of the House of Representatives and second-longest in the entire Legislature. The 67-year-old is also the first female speaker pro tempore in the House.
DeBerry was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after suffering from stomach pain.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/10Kli31 ) reports that earlier this week House Speaker Beth Harwell appointed Democratic Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis to temporarily replace DeBerry on the House Finance Committee and its finance subcommittee.
DeBerry was excused from floor sessions on Monday and three days last week
After a Union County Republican event, Betty Bean reports that driving Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey around is more expensive than driving House Speaker Beth Harwell around. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security provides security to both the Senate and the House speakers. Ramsey’s driver, Bill Taliaferro, is paid $38.71 per hour, while House Speaker Beth Harwell’s driver makes $26.65 an hour. Both drivers are eligible for overtime and retirement benefits.
Both speakers have 2011 Suburbans, but Nashville resident Harwell’s expenses are considerably less than Ramsey’s – $3,392 in gas and maintenance so far this year to Harwell’s $1,249 – because of his long commute.
“The Lieutenant Governor and Speaker retain their responsibilities and title throughout the year and each is assigned security (state trooper) for protective services,” said Department of Safety spokesperson Kevin Crawford. The troopers are paid per diem rates for lodging and meals when overnighting away from home.
…The most common justification for such practices involves pointing out that it’s nothing new. But Republicans used to rail against Democrats’ profligate spending when they were running the show in Nashville, so more than a touch of irony sets in at the sight of members of the tough-talking, budget-slashing new majority happily settled into the practices that they once deplored.
And the sight of state employees driving state vehicles to tote politicians like Mr. Speaker around the state to purely partisan events is almost as disconcerting as realizing that they don’t give a damn what we think.
In something of a protest, Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Nashville voted for a Republican as Speaker of the House Thursday, but not John Boehner. He supported Colin Powell.
From WPLN: In a written statement after the vote, Cooper points out that the speaker does not have to be a member of the House. He says the Republican and former Secretary of State has a “proven ability to work across the aisle and has supported President Obama.”
Cooper was the only Colin Powell supporter, however there were more than a dozen other protest votes. Cooper himself received two votes for speaker. Also an outgoing congressman and a former comptroller were named along the way.
The rest of Tennessee’s congressional delegation supported their party’s nominee.
House Speaker Beth Harwell has proposed a major overhaul of House rules that includes a limit on the number of bills a lawmaker can file, a move to end “ghost voting” and a realignment of the committee system.
The rule revisions will require approval of the full House on a two-thirds vote after the 108th General Assembly convenes on Jan. 8. They will first be vetted in the House Rules Committee.
Harwell said in a statement that she believes the changes “reflect the will of the body” based on a survey of representatives in the last legislative session.
She said the changes also reflect citizen wishes that state government operate “efficiently and effectively while saving money.”
“While the Congress remains mired in partisan gridlock and continues to waste time, the state Legislture is working toward better government,” Harwell said.
Among the major changes:
–Each representative will be limited to filing 10 bills per year, though with some exceptions. That would be about half the average number of bills filed per representative in the last legislative session, which saw 3,887 House bills filed over the two-year life of the 107th General Assembly.
Not counted toward the 10-bill limit would be legislation filed on behalf of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, so-called “sunset” bills that extend the life of an existing government agency and bills that apply only to one city or county.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE — December 12, 2012 – Tennessee Senate Republicans met Wednesday, December 12 in Nashville to elect leaders for the 108th General Assembly where they voted unanimously to nominate Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey
(R-Blountville) to retain his top leadership post as Lt. Governor and Senate Speaker. The Senate Republican Caucus also voted to re-elect Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) for a 4th term as Senate Majority Leader and chose
Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) for a 2nd term as Republican Caucus Chairman.
The State Senate’s organizational session is set to begin on January 8.
Election of the Lt. Governor is the first order of business after State Senators take the oath of office. Senate Republicans now number 26 of the 33 members of the Tennessee Senate after gaining 6 new seats in the November election.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve as Tennessee’s lieutenant governor,” Lt. Governor Ramsey said. “I am truly humbled to once again be the nominee of my party for Speaker of the Senate. We have welcomed some great new
members to our caucus today and elected a fantastic leadership team. I look forward to getting to work this session continuing to bring Tennesseans what they have asked for: more jobs, less spending and smaller government.”
“I appreciate the confidence of my colleagues and look forward to continuing on the conservative course our constituents deserve,” Leader Norris added.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve again as Senate Republican Caucus Chairman,” said Chairman Ketron “This is a united team that will work together to encourage private sector job growth, strengthen education, follow sound
fiscal budget practices and that will address many other concerns facing Tennesseans.”
Other Caucus members elected to leadership positions were Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) as Treasurer, Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) as Secretary, Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson (R-Hixson) as Majority Whip and Senator
Mark Green (R-Clarksville) as Caucus Chaplain.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Judd Matheny is no longer considering a challenge to fellow Republican Beth Harwell for House speaker next year, he said Thursday.
Matheny, a strict gun rights advocate and a supporter of curbing what he sees as the spread of radical Islam in the state, announced last month that he was looking at a bid for the top post in the 99-member House because he felt marginalized by other Republican leaders.
But Matheny said in an interview in his legislative office on that he will instead seek another term in his current position as House speaker pro tempore. Besides speaker, it is the only post elected by the entire lower chamber of the General Assembly.
“It’s all sort of part of feeling your way into the majority and leadership roles,” he said. “I’ve been here 10 years now, and this has always been typically a sideline role. And I think it can be more, and I’m looking forward to it.”
As entertained as Democrats were watching Republican challengers pick off GOP incumbents in the primary election this month, the minority party says they’re concerned a wave of “extreme” right-leaning legislators would bad for legislative business.
Further from Andrea Zelinski: But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner wouldn’t go as far as to say whether that holds true if Speaker Tempore Judd Matheny chooses to seek the top seat in the House of Representatives.
“Judd’s kind of a mixture of things. He kind of votes for working people a lot, but yet he’s kind of out there on some of the social issues, and some of the gun issues. I don’t think you can stereotype him by any means,” said Turner, D-Old Hickory, in an interview with reporters last week.
..Turner says he calls Matheny a friend, but points out that Democrats have a good working relationship with sitting Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican who aligns herself as a moderate and the governor’s ally.
Turner stopped short of backing either Harwell or Matheny for the gavel.
“I think an endorsement from me for either one of them will probably kill their chances of being speaker, so I’m not going to get involved in their politics,” he laughed.