Blog Entries

Comptroller questions TBI spending over budget, using reserves

Press release from state Comptroller’s Office:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a special report examining several aspects of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s fiscal operations, including an analysis of TBI’s budget, the procurement of its Pilatus airplane, staffing, and grants and contracts.

The special report was initiated after Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) called for an examination of TBI’s budgeting and accounting practices. The General Assembly included language within the 2017 Appropriations Act requiring the review to be complete by January 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office found TBI’s expenditures have exceeded its budgeted estimates since 2014, and TBI has relied on its various reserve funds for its continued operations. These accounts have been greatly diminished as TBI has used these funds. The Comptroller’s Office concluded that TBI and the Department of Finance and Administration should commit to improve communication during the budget process.

Continue reading

DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

Even some conservatives – including Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — seem open to return to earmarks since President Trump floated the idea, reports The Hill.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

…But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.”

If earmarks were restored, “I can be more of a spokesman for the people in Tennessee who need it,” DesJarlais continued. “There is an overpass in Rutherford County that we need to get funding for. We’ve got things up in Nashville, the Percy Priest Reservoir … so yeah, I would like to have a better voice.

“I don’t know if earmarks is the answer. I’ve never had them, so I don’t know if it’s good or not.”

Other conservatives also expressed openness to allowing earmarks or something similar, saying that ensuring money for specific projects would give the legislative branch more power.

… Trump said at a White House meeting with roughly two dozen lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should consider allowing earmarks again.

He suggested that doing so would allow Congress to function better, lamenting that the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control.”

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump said. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” Trump added.

Newbern mayor backs out of challenging Rep. Sanderson in House District 77

Newbern Mayor Justin Wright, who last summer announced he would challenge state Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton in the 2018 Republican primary for House District 77, has changed his mind and withdrawn from the race, reports the Dyersburg State Gazette.

Continue reading

There’s now a ‘Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition’

Press release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Today, Williamson County businessman and farmer Bill Lee announced over 100 business leaders from across Tennessee have joined to form the Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition. The group, encompassing every corner of the state, will serve in an advisory role to Lee on business and economic development issues and help spread Bill’s ideas within their professional and local communities.

Continue reading

Karl Dean: Bredesen’s run for Senate a ‘confidence booster’ for TN Democrats

Tennessee gets a mention in a Politico review of 2018 gubernatorial races around the nation under the headline, “The next GOP panic: Governors’ races” with Gov. Bill Haslam and Democratic candidate Karl Dean quoted. A Tennessee-oriented excerpt:

Continue reading

Legal actions launched against removal of Confederate statutes in Memphis

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and descendants of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest have filed two legal actions against the City of Memphis over removal of Confederate statutes from two former city parks last month, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Continue reading

Haslam closes state offices in West and Middle TN

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Due to hazardous weather and travel conditions, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has closed state offices on Friday, January 12, 2018 in West and Middle Tennessee, to include the following counties:

Continue reading

Charges against Bradley County sheriff dropped

A special prosecutor has dismissed all 12 felony counts against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson, who was facing trial Jan. 22 on charges of forging automobile titles, reports the Times Free Press.

Continue reading

TDOT says it’s ready to deal with winter storm

Press release from state Department of Transportation

NASHVILLEThe Tennessee Department of Transportation can assure motorists it is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow. In preparation for the winter season, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks.

Continue reading

Matlock push to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood bashed by Democrats

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, a candidate for the Republican nomination to the 2nd Congressional District seat, has announced a push for passage of legislation to totally “defund” Planned Parenthood in Tennessee, contending there is currently a “false narrative” that no taxpayer dollars support the organization.

Legislative Democrats held a news conference Wednesday to denounce the bill, reports the News Sentinel (with Tennessean input), and a Planned Parenthood spokesperson said the proposal would have a “devastating impact” on preventive care services for women such as birth control and cancer screenings.

Continue reading