Excerpt from a Bloomberg article on the culture clash between young and older Republicans over same sex marriage: Even in Tennessee, which banned gay marriage by constitutional amendment in 2006 with the support of 81 percent of voters, there are signs of change. Vanderbilt University released a poll May 12 showing 49 percent of those surveyed favored either same-sex marriage or civil unions. Among those under 30, support ran at 69 percent.
“The whole country is moving toward gay rights broadly,” said John Geer, chairman of political science at Vanderbilt, who oversees the poll. “Tennessee is part of that, not in the same place as Massachusetts but moving in the same direction.”
And young adults are driving the change. John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, said surveys of millenials — people born between 1980 and 2000 — showed they either favored recognizing same-sex marriage or said they didn’t care by a ratio of 3-to-1.
“This is saying that 26 percent of young Americans don’t believe it should be recognized,” Della Volpe said. “This demographic group that we are polling is the largest generation in the history of America, larger than Baby Boomers, most are of age and they will continue to become a more important force in elections.”
…(State Sen. Stacey) Campfield, in an e-mail response to questions, said he questioned the premise that attitudes on the issue had shifted.
”When put on the actual ballot, homosexual marriage has seldom passed on its own and I think has only passed by ballot initiative in small-population, liberal states,” he wrote. ”As for youth polling, young people often say and do things completely different when they actually grow up, get a real job, begin paying taxes and start trying to raise a family.”
”If we left all decisions up to youth polling,” he wrote, ”’beer pong’ would be an Olympic sport.”
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey acknowledges the failure of his campaign finance bill in the GOP-run House this year is part of the reason he decided to stop joint fundraising with the other chamber, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Speaking after the legislative session ended April 19, the Blountville lawmaker said while the split had “been in the works for a long time, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“But,” Ramsey added, “I think it would have happened anyway.”
Among other things, the bill would have eliminated a requirement that corporations report political contributions to candidates as well as political parties and legislative caucuses.
Proponents of lifting the reporting requirement argued it wasn’t needed because candidates report their contributions.
Democratic critics charged that canceling the requirement would eliminate an important accounting cross-check and could lead to candidates simply pocketing corporate cash.
Despite the GOP’s 70-member supermajority in the House, the bill received just 48 votes, all from Republicans. That was short of the 50 votes necessary for passage.
Twenty-two Republicans voted no, abstained or didn’t vote. (Harwell didn’t vote.
…”I just, philosophically, just didn’t feel supportive of that measure,” Harwell told reporters last week. “But I have given everyone fair notice that that was my stand.”
Asked to elaborate, Harwell said, “I have trouble with a company being able to give me money and only I am the reporter. So I think there needed to be a proper check that the company would have to report to. … [If] XYZ Company gave me $10,000, I only reported $5,000, where would the [cross] check be?”
She said the bill’s House sponsor, Republican Glen Casada, of Franklin, has indicated he intends to bring it up again next year.
Proponents shrug off concerns about contributions being reported.
But the state’s Registry of Election Finance found legislative candidates failed to report about 2.5 percent of contributions made by political action committees and corporations in 2012.
Candidates are required to correct omissions, on pain of fines. If the correction is timely, and if the omissions don’t exceed two per year and are less than $2,000 collectively, the registry takes no action.
Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, called the 2.5 percent figure for nonreporting low. He attributed discrepancies to honest mistakes by candidates.
“Sometimes candidates make a list of all contributions and one may get left off. Sometimes what happens is that a candidate has lost a deposit slip or something like that so anything that’s on that deposit slip may not have gotten reported,” Rawlins said.
— Note: For related Harwell-Ramsey stuff, see the News Sentinel HERE, and the City Paper’ HERE.
The Commercial Appeal has collected comments from various Tennessee Republicans on the split within party ranks between establishment and tea party types. Some excerpts: So what is the future of this apparently schizophrenic party?
“The bottom line is Republicans should never compromise on what we believe, never waver on our principles, but understand the huge task we have to better communicate with all Americans, not just a select few, our vision for the future generations of this country,” state GOP chairman Chris Devaney wrote a week after the Nov. 6 elections.
Many Tennessee Republicans enlisted to discuss the future of their party rejected the notion that the party is divided between extremist social conservatives and fiscal conservatives who hold moderate social views. It’s a big tent, they say.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a far-right party; I think it’s going to be a mainstream conservative party, which is somewhere between the two,” said East Shelby Republican Club president Arnold Weiner.
…University of Memphis College Republican Club vice president Kristoffer Adams, 30, agrees there are two factions in the Tennessee Republican Party but sees the benefit of such creative friction. “When you argue among yourselves, you make new points. You come up with new ideas.”
A somewhat contrary view is expressed by former governor Winfield Dunn, the first Republican elected to the executive mansion in half a century when he took office in 1971.
“I don’t think we have a divided party or a party separated into factions,” he said. “We have different opinions. We have people from a wide variety of pursuits, all of whom embrace a more conservative approach to government than we witness at the national level …”It behooves every one of us … to be absolutely certain that we avoid, to the degree we can, disagreements that lead to schisms that lead to more ambitious political factions,” Dunn, 85, advised.
Most members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation wanted nothing to do with the tax-cut extension Congress passed Friday, arguing it adds too much to the national debt, reports the Tennessean. But two Tennessee Republicans — Reps. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump and Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah — voted for the bill, which extends the 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut through the end of the year. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, also voted yes.
“To be clear, this is no time to raise taxes,” Fincher said after the vote. “I voted to extend the payroll tax cut and stop a 2 percent tax increase on Americans.”
The tax cut will save around $80 a month for people earning $50,000 a year and will save high-income workers a maximum $2,200 for the year
. It also extends benefits for the long-term unemployed and prevents a large cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. It pays for that so-called “doc fix” in part by cutting $5 billion from a fund created by the 2010 health-care reform law that aims to prevent certain diseases.
Fincher and Fleischmann said they liked that the bill cuts funding for a provision of the health-care reform law.
…”Congress should be shrinking the deficit, not increasing it,” Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville said in explaining his vote against the bill.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker said cutting payroll taxes “will do little to help the economy and make it harder to get spending under control,” and Republican Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin said the bill is an example of “the worst kind of Washington game.”
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood said she supports the spirit of tax relief but added that the bill should have been publicly available 72 hours before Friday’s vote — a rule Republicans set last year in an effort to increase transparency.
“The American people are tired of broken promises,” Blackburn said
A dispute between Cleveland and Bradley County over more than $845,000 in sales tax revenue may be settled, according to the Chattanooga TFP. Lawyers are studying a Chancery Court ruling released Wednesday in which Chancellor Jerri Bryant ruled the city need not share with the county revenue generated by a city sales tax increase between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010.
That money is outside a sales-tax sharing agreement dating to 1967. City and county voters approved separate half-percent sales tax increases in 2009.
“The court holds the city did not have to share any property taxes with the county until such time as the county passed its own referendum,” Bryant’s ruling states.
“At that point in time, pursuant to statute, the city was allowed to collect its own sales tax through that current fiscal year which ended June 30, 2010. After that appointed time and absent any agreement between the parties, the statute sets the basis for which the sales tax is to be divided.”
She noted that the 1967 contract allowed the city and county to equally share sales tax revenue. It was amended in 1972 and 1980 to reflect new sales tax increases, but not to address the 2009 referendum.