Beth Harwell

McCormick drops ‘bathroom bill’ after talk with AG and Harwell

State Rep. Gerald McCormick says he is withdrawing his controversial school “bathroom bill” after assurances from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that he already can and will step in with legal aid to smaller systems facing lawsuits over LGBT access policies, reports the Times Free Press.

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Speakers quietly drop hand-held sign ban at Cordell Hull

The Tennessee Legislature has quietly revised its “Facility Use Policies” to remove a ban on all signs within the Cordell Hull building. Moving forward, “small letter sized signs that do not obstruct the view of visitors are acceptable,” according to the policy.

Under the previous set of rules, all signs were banned, regardless of whether they were hand-held or mounted to sticks or poles. The fact that this was done in the name of preventing “a serious safety hazard to visors and tenants” was the cause of much mockery because it was imposed alongside a new policy allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed within the building.

House Democrats announced Wednesday that Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) had requested a legal opinion from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery about whether ban on “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” violates the First Amendment. Jones’ letter is dated Jan. 11.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) signed the revised policy on Jan. 3.

Note: This post comes via Erik Schelzig, editor of the Tennessee Journal. Previous post on the policy, HERE.

Trump traveling to TN with Corker, Black, Blackburn and Roe

U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, both campaigning for statewide office, and retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will join President Trump in flying to Nashville for a Monday afternoon speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, reports The Tennessean. So will U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who hasn’t officially said whether he’ll run for another term.

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Leslie Hafner leaves Harwell’s office

Press release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell today announced that Leslie Hafner, Senior Advisor to the Speaker, will be leaving the House of Representatives to return to the private sector.

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Speakers ban protest signs, animals from legislative quarters — guns permitted

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell have approved a new policy that prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the Legislature because they “represent a serious safety hazard,” reports The Tennessean. The speakers had earlier approved a policy change to allow handgun permit holders to bring their weapons to legislative hearings and offices.

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Comptroller finds fault with TennCare paperwork pile

The state Comptroller’s Office says TennCare’s 98-page renewal form is making it harder than necessary for low-income Tennesseans to maintain their subsidized government health coverage, reports WPLN.

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Black, Harwell and Fitzhugh release income tax info; other gubernatorial candidates refuse

Four of the seven major candidates for Tennessee governor have turned down a Tennessean request to make public details of their federal income tax returns.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black and fellow Republican state House Speaker Beth Harwell provided financial summaries. Of the other Republican candidates Mae Beavers, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee declined – though Boyd indicated he may reconsider in the future.

On the Democrat side, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh released a copy of his 2016 return and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean declined the request, though indicating he may reconsider later.

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Harwell orders ‘active shooter’ training for House staff

House Speaker Beth Harwell has directed House staffers to attend mandatory classes on how to survive an “active shooter” incident and how not to commit sexual harassment, reports the Times Free Press.

The active-shooter training comes as legislative workers prepare to settle into their new Cordell Hull Building home, where handgun-carry permit holders will be allowed to go armed.

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Harwell: Serving as House speaker while running for governor ‘will work out well’

Citing a comment by Gov. Bill Haslam that he found serving as mayor of Knoxville a distraction when he ran for governor in 2010, the Kingsport Times News asked House Speaker Beth Harwell whether her legislative leadership role would be a distraction while she runs for governor.

“I don’t think so. We’re not in session right now. Actually this would be a good opportunity to talk about the state’s issues. I think the difference was the governor was a local official trying to get about the state. I’m a state official involved in state politics.”

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Democrat joins two Republicans in campaigning to succeed House Speaker Beth Harwell in House District 56

Bob Freeman, a Nashville real estate professional and son of prominent Tennessee Democratic donor Bill Freeman, announced his candidacy for the House District 56 seat now held by House Speaker Beth Harwell at a rally and fundraiser hosted by the Davidson County Democratic Party on Saturday night, reports The Tennessean.

Two Republicans are already running. He’s the first Democrat.

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