Blog Entries

Harwell seeks comptroller review of TNReady contract vendor Questar

Press release from House Republican Caucus

(NASHVILLE) — Under the direction of House Speaker Beth Harwell (R–Nashville), State Representative Jeremy Faison (R–Cosby) has officially requested a review by the Tennessee Comptroller related to recent testing issues of the TNReady school assessments.

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VP Pence again declares support for Blackburn

Vice President Mike Pence, who had already donated to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn through his political action committee last year, on Monday sent out a tweet declaring he supports her bid for a U.S. Senate seat. The Blackburn campaign produced a press release and the Times Free Press says Pence effectively “doubled down” on backing Blackburn.

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Whiskey barrel tax exemption bill goes to the governor

The House voted 78-12 Monday to exempt Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels and those of smaller Tennessee distillers from paying property taxes. An attorney general’s opinion says they are subject to being taxed and Moore County – home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg – wants to do so. Taxing the barrels as personal property would mean more than $2 million in new revenue for the county.

The Senate had approved the bill (SB2076) earlier on a 30-0 vote, so it goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his presumed signature — or maybe without his signature as a bow to the AG opinion.  The bill was pushed by lobbyists for the distilleries — Jack Daniel’s and others — and opposed by local government lobbying groups including the Tennessee Municipal League and the Tennessee County Services Association contending the tax break amounted to special treatment for one group in violation of the state constitution. Proponents of the bill sharply disputed the AG opinion.

Previous post HERE.

Bredesen: Corker ‘feels the same way I do’ — and Trump campaigning for Blackburn won’t hurt him much

In Chattanooga Monday, former Gov. Phil Bredesen said “it’s odd and very telling to the nation’s political climate” that Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is being criticized by some fellow Republicans for “being friends and working closely with someone from the opposite party,” according to WDEF TV. The Democratic candidate to succeed Corker in the Senate, of course, is speaking of himself as the person Corker has worked with. He told another station that his campaign won’t be harmed significantly if President Trump campaigns within the state for Republican nominee-apparent Marsha Blackburn.

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Legislature mandates that state health insurance cover experimental cancer treatment

An experimental cancer treatment has won a rare endorsement from the Tennessee legislature despite some criticism, reports WPLN. The measure requires insurance coverage of proton therapy, which benefits a Knoxville-based company that is building a treatment center in Franklin.

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McCormick lets the gavel crash in Budget Sub

As chairman of the House Finance Subcommittee, the “Black Hole” of legislative legend, Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) can make or break the funding dreams of rank-and-file members. Even when he’s had to crush those hopes, he’s tried to do so with a gentle touch. But not on Monday, when Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) tried to pull what McCormick saw as an end-around on the budget process.

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Haslam’s ‘Complete College TN Act’ flops on House floor — a second setback for governor’s higher ed agenda?

A bill cutting state-funded scholarships of college students who complete less than 30 hours of course work per year – part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative package for the year – got more negative votes than positive votes on the House floor Monday.

The “Complete College Tennessee Act” (HB2114) has been promoted by the governor as a means of improving college graduation rates, now reported at 26 percent in two-year colleges and technical institutes and at 57 percent in four-year universities. But some legislators contend it would unfairly penalize students who are working while going to school, who are sidelined by illness for a semester or otherwise have valid reasons for completing 30 hours of credits in three semesters, as the bill requires.

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Senate votes to urge — rather than require — erection of a TN ‘monument to the unborn’

A House-approved bill mandating erection of a monument to unborn children on the Tennessee state Capitol grounds was amended in the Senate Monday to instead just voice support for the idea. After the revision, the measure was approved 23-3 and sent back to the House.

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Takeaways from the GOP gubernatorial debate in Memphis

The Memphis event was billed in advance (and again from the stage) as not being yet another meaningless gubernatorial forum in which everybody would end up restating the same platitudes, but a bona fide battle royale, a “debate.” It wasn’t.

There was little overt disagreement and minimal effort to create it. The Republican participants  — Diane Black, Randy Boyd, and Bill Lee (Harwell begged off because of legislative responsibilities) — became a virtual amen chorus to the idea that Memphis has been shafted by the state relative to other sections of Tennessee.

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TN tax take in March: Complicated but basically about what was expected

Press release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin (Friday) announced that Tennessee tax revenue fell short of budgeted estimates in March. Overall March revenues totaled $1.1 billion, which is $84.1 million more than the state collected in March of 2017, but $2 million less than the budgeted estimate for the month.

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