Tag Archives: todd gardenhire

Gardenhire, Holt had a final day feud over traffic cameras and ‘tuition equality’

From an Andy Sher story:
For most of this year’s legislative session, Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, have worked together on a bill aimed at local governments’ use of automatic traffic cameras.

Consider the partnership severed, thanks to Holt’s work to sabotage Gardenhire’s bill granting in-state tuition rates to some undocumented Tennessee students to attend public colleges.

The tuition equality bill passed the Senate last week but failed by one vote in the House on Wednesday, with Holt voting no. Inside the chamber watching the debate — and Holt — was Gardenhire.

Upset over Holt’s vote, Gardenhire returned to the Senate where he began an effort to recall the traffic camera bill, which had already passed the Senate and was awaiting House action. That drew Holt over to the upper chamber.

“He asked me what was going on and who was trying to kill his bill,” Gardenhire said, adding that he made clear to Holt that the reason was “the vote tally on the in-state tuition.”

Gardenhire said Holt scrambled back to the House and pushed for a vote on the camera bill. In the Senate version, provisions barring all city use of the cameras were scrapped. Instead, it applied only to speed cameras, but exempted Chattanooga’s cameras along the deadly “S” curve section of Hixson Pike and in school zones across Tennessee.

House members had similar amendments, but Gardenhire said Holt was hoping to force the bill to a conference committee, where the original ban on all cameras could be restored.

Instead, Holt accepted the Senate version, which passed.

“Either way, I won,” Gardenhire said.

Note: Action Andy had an earlier story reporting that Holt “falsely claimed in the House Finance Subcommittee Tuesday night that Chattanooga’s speed cameras on Hixson Pike’s infamous “S” curves no longer function and no citations are being issued.” The remark came in debate over the traffic camera bill.

The claim later prompted an email of protest from Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher in which he said he knows for a fact the cameras are operational.

That’s because Fletcher said he himself got a citation for driving too fast through the deadly stretch of roadway not long ago.

When the bill came up later in full committee, Holt wasn’t there and it had a new sponsor, Rep. John Ragen, R-Oak Ridge.

“He says he did make an error,” Ragen told the panel of Holt.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, told the panel that Holt had “apologized” to him. “He said it was an honest mistake and I believe him.”

Bill reducing state college tuition for some illegal immigrant children clears committees

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee residents who are authorized to be in the United States would be eligible for in-state tuition under legislation that advanced Tuesday in the state Legislature.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga was approved 7-3 in the Senate Finance Committee and will be scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor.

The companion bill (HB675) later passed a House education committee on a voice vote.(Note: That was the House Education and Planning Committee, where two members asked to be recorded as voting no; the legislative website indicates it still needs to go through House Government Operations Committee. House sponsor is Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis. It passed with just two panel members asking to be recorded as voting no on the voice vote.)

Under the proposal, students considered lawfully present in the U.S. through a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would qualify for in-state tuition.

Such students now pay nearly three times as much for higher education — the out-of-state rate — even if they’ve lived in Tennessee for most of their lives.

Eben Cathey, spokesman for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, describes individuals in DACA as being in sort of a “limbo stage.”

They can apply for “lawful presence” and receive a work permit if they meet criteria that include having no criminal record; have lived in the U.S. for at least five years continuously; and have graduated from a high school, have received a GED or are currently enrolled in an educational program.

“They’re not on the pathway to citizenship … but they’re lawfully allowed to be here,” Cathey said.

The legislation, which failed last year, gained momentum in the legislative process this year once it was amended to apply to students only in the DACA program.

Before the change, opponents of the measure — mostly Republicans — were concerned such a proposal might encourage illegal immigration.

“I think with that amendment that I can vote for it,” Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told reporters later Tuesday. “Before that amendment went on, I wasn’t real sure.”

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley applauded Republican House sponsor Mark White of Memphis for continuing to push the bill when it looked like it might not pass this session and the bipartisan support for the measure.

“For our colleagues to realize that Tennessee has made an investment in these students … was a very gratifying thing,” Fitzhugh said.

Cathey said the amended legislation reduces eligibility from about 25,000 students to roughly 15,000, but he called the proposal a “tremendous step forward.”

“This is good public policy,” he said. “It’s good for our economy, and it’s good for all the students that are here that need a fair rate for school.”

Ginger Hausser is director of external affairs for the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees six state universities, 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology. She said the board supports the legislation.

“We know that as a state we’re better off when folks get educated,” Hausser said. “This is their opportunity.”

(Note: That was the House Education and Planning Committee, where two members asked to be recorded as voting no; the legislative website indicates it still needs to go through House Government Operations Committee. House sponsor is Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis.)

Vital Concedes to Gardenhire in Senate District 10 GOP Primary

Greg Vital has conceded the District 10 state Senate Republican primary to Todd Gardenhire, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
The decision came after Vital mulled over the possibility of asking for a recount.
“Although it was a very close race, the election is over,” Vital said in a statement.

UPDATE: Tennessee Ticket has posted the full Vital statement, HERE.