In addition to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag, an official “Salute to the Tennessee flag” is now part of the state Senate’s opening ceremony at the start of a day’s meeting.
The first recitation came Thursday in compliance with a Senate Rules Committee proposal adopted earlier by the full Senate.
Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, the Legislature’s senior member, had proposed the recitation and led colleagues on the first occasion. The salute goes like this: “Three white stars on a field of blue
God keep them strong and ever true.
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the flag of Tennessee.”
During a committee meeting, Henry acknowledged that some senators were not familiar with the salute yet. He quoted Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, jokingly suggesting a variation: “Three starts upon a field of blue. I don’t know the rest and neither do you.”
In the next session of the state Legislature, there could be three political parties, says Frank Cagle: the Democrats, the traditional Republicans, and a group of ultra-conservative members that can be grouped under the rubric of the Tea Party. This fall, in Tennessee, it won’t get any better for the Democrats.
Republicans are expected to pick up even more House and Senate seats, most likely they will have enough Republicans for a two-thirds majority in the House. That means they wouldn’t even need Democrats for a quorum and they can squelch any parliamentary maneuvers and can ram through any legislation they please.
That may not be a good thing. The new one-party rule of Republicans is unlike the one-party rule enjoyed by the Democrats for decades. The Democrats’ power in the House rested on a coalition between urban blacks and rural West Tennessee whites. In order to keep control, it was necessary for the House Democrats to be a tightly disciplined group. It was also necessary for conservative Democrats to reach out to conservative Republicans at times and form coalitions on a specific bill.
The Republicans, long in the minority and not having the power to govern, have several members who are used to being free agents. They have never had to be a disciplined group. It is also in the nature of conservative Republicans to resist authority. As former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker once observed, it’s like herding cats.
Seven incumbent Republicans were defeated in their primaries. House Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny has said he may challenge Speaker Beth Harwell. There will be a bitter battle to pick a new House Caucus chair, since Debra Maggart was defeated.
Holding together all the different factions within the Republican Party will be a difficult job. In addition to the usual special interests represented by lobbyists, there is now the added pressure of the Tea Party groups who will be demanding ideological purity from House members. The pressures from all sides and the natural inclination of conservative Republicans to go their own way could split the House Republicans.
…When the Democrats practiced one-party rule, the Black Caucus was a reliable voting bloc that negotiated with the rural Democrats in order to get things for their urban districts. We may see the formation of a Tea Party Caucus that sets up as a separate entity in the House and performs a similar role for the Republicans.
But it won’t be about projects and patronage, it will be about ideology.
The state’s business community may grow to miss the Democrats.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam and Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have released a 3-year transportation plan for the state.
The $1.5 billion plan includes improvements to the interstate system, such as truck climbing lanes and interchange reconstruction.
It also funds projects along strategic corridors such as U.S. 27 in Roane, Morgan and Scott counties; U.S. 79 in Carroll and Gibson counties; and U.S. 64 in Middle and West Tennessee.
Other priorities include projects aimed at stimulating economic development, such as the reconstruction of the interchange at I-40 and SR 222 to facilitate access to the West Tennessee Megasite in Haywood and Fayette Counties.
The plan also provides funding for local transit agencies and planning organizations, shortline railways and bridges, and airport improvements.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Caucus:
SMYRNA – House and Senate Democrats continued their statewide jobs tour Wednesday with stops in Columbia and Smyrna, as officials discussed technical jobs training and the expansion of one of Middle Tennessee’s largest employers.
“Today’s events were a great reminder that when different groups within the public and private sector come together, we can put people to work faster and more efficiently,” said State Representative Gary Moore.
The morning began with a roundtable at Columbia State Community College, where former State Rep. Ty Cobb updated everyone with the latest news on the reopening of the General Motors plant in Spring Hill. National labor and management officials with GM have reported they are close to a new contract that would create 600 new jobs next year at the former Saturn plant, and another 1,100 by 2013.
Public officials then met with Marvin Sandrell of Sandrell Heating and Air Conditioning and several members of the Columbia State faculty and staff to discuss how Tennessee educational institutions can best prepare students for the workforce – especially nontraditional students training for a new career.
The tour then traveled to Smyrna to visit the Nissan plant, where the all-electric LEAF is expected to go into mass production next year. Nissan executives and directors told the group that the plant’s expansion is a direct result of Tennessee’s economic incentives and infrastructure support.
“I watched the first Nissans roll off the assembly line in 1983, and since Day One our state government has had a great relationship with Nissan,” said Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. “Our cooperation has benefited not only Middle Tennessee, but the entire state.”
Nissan officials also told the tour of the need for increased emphasis on science and technology education and a recommitment to trade schools that prepare Tennesseans for well-paying manufacturing careers.
The jobs tour continues tomorrow morning in McMinnville before heading to Chattanooga for the East Tennessee portion of the tour.
There’s a new Bill Haslam video experience, reports Mike Morrow, in which the governor reveals the new ‘three Rs’ in education. “They used to say that education was the ‘three R’s’ — reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic,” Haslam says in a video on workforce development. “But now it’s changed.”
Haslam applies three new “R”s.
“It’s about Relevance — making certain what you’re learning really does apply to what you need further in life,” he begins.
“Rigor — raising the standards.
“And Relationships — having the right, caring adults in front of students.”