legislators

Nashville ‘sanctuary city’ ordinance shelved amid new legal opinion, Republican howls of protest

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry urged city council members Tuesday to reconsider their support for an ordinance that critics – including most of the state’s Republican politicians, it seems – contend would make the state’s capitol a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

The council members sponsoring the ordinance, meanwhile, announced they are scrapping plans for a final vote on the proposal July 6. They didn’t say when, or if, it will be rescheduled.

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UT chancellor plans to bring back a director for LGBT Pride Center

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport is making plans to bring back a director for its LGBT pride center, reports the News Sentinel.

For the last year, the job has been unfilled after the Tennessee legislature decided to redirect funds from the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the part-time position was eliminated, forcing students to run the center on their own with some administrative oversight from the dean of students.

Student and faculty groups such as the Pride Center Working Group have for the last several months called for UT and Davenport to hire a pride center director and put in place other initiatives aimed at promoting and preserving diversity on campus.

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Theft charge dismissed against former state Rep. Curry Todd in campaign sign theft

A theft charge against former state Rep. Curry Todd, who last year allegedly stole former state Rep. Mark Lovell’s campaign signs, was dismissed in Shelby County General Sessions Court on Friday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Lovell’s failure to attend the hearing was cited as a reason for the dismissal. Todd was on hand, but declined comment.

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Complaint filed with FEC contends campaign finance law violated by Kelsey congressional campaign

News release from Campaign Legal Center

WASHINGTON –  Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 (D21) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and will file with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former Congressional candidate Brian Kelsey and others, including the American Conservative Union (ACU), for their part in a scheme to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure laws by illegally funneling funds from Kelsey’s state account through intermediaries to secretly support Kelsey’s run for U.S. Congress in 2016.

“In order to disguise the illegal transfer of prohibited state money into his federal race, it appears that Kelsey concocted a scheme to pass the money through a dark money daisy chain and straw donor reimbursement plot,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “Kelsey appears to have stacked legal violation on top of legal violation, and we anticipate that the FEC and DOJ will take this very seriously.”

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Assault charge against Rep. Daniel to be dismissed under deal with prosecutor

An assault charge filed against state Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, after he shoved an opponent during a broadcast forum last summer will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for six months, reports the News Sentinel.

In an agreement with special prosecutor Jason Lawson of Wilson County brokered by defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs, Daniel will not admit guilt and the assault charge against him will be dismissed after six months of good behavior.

The agreement was announced in a brief hearing Friday before Union County General Sessions Judge Darryl Edmondson, who was tapped to hear the case after Knox County’s judges recused themselves.

“The assault that never was will be dismissed,” Isaacs said after the hearing. “There was no entry of a plea by Rep. Daniel. Rep. Daniel is glad the taxpayers will not be spending any additional money on this unfortunate situation.”

Daniel was slapped with an assault charge after he and then-challenger Steve Hall, a former Knoxville city councilman (and former state representative), got into a shoving match in July 2016 during a live radio forum. Hall pressed the charge, not the Knoxville Police Department.

Note: A post at the time: HERE.

Rep. Judd Matheny: I’ll run for Diane Black’s congressional seat if she runs for governor

State Rep. Judd Matheny tells Tennessee Star that he’s “100 percent in the race for Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District” – if incumbent Republican Diane Black runs for governor instead of seeking reelection.

Black (R-TN), who currently represents the 6th Congressional District, is considered likely to enter the race for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Rumors abound as to when that might happen, but the consensus is that if she decides to run, she will need to make the announcement some time between July and September.

… “If Diane Black does not run for governor, I will not run for the 6th Congressional district seat, and will instead for re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives,” Matheny said.

First elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2002, Matheny has long been a champion of conservative causes in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Matheny was one of 35 Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted against Governor’ Haslam’s gas tax increase in the critical House vote in April where the bill passed by a 60 to 37 margin.

Note: State Sen. Mark Green, who has bowed out of the governor’s race saying he’s inclined toward seeking a position in Washington, is another potential candidate for the 6th District seat (Previous post HERE). As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Black is currently trying to come up with a federal budget plan — and having lots of problems because of Republican infighting, according to a review of the situation today in Politico.  As previously noted, she apparently will have to resign as a committee chairman once she announces as a candidate for governor.

Developer suspends $100M Cumberland County wind turbine project (‘Welcome news,’ says Alexander)

Apex Clean Energy Inc. has suspended plans for developing a controversial wind turbine project in eastern Cumberland County, reports the Crossville Chronicle. The move comes three months after the legislature declared a moratorium until July, 2018 on such projects while a study committee meets to consider drafting state regulations for electricity-generating wind turbines. has been suspended by the developer.

“Based on current market conditions and the project’s fundamental qualities, we have decided not to make this significant investment at this time,” Harry Snyder, development manager, wrote. “Our work on the Crab Orchard Wind project will be therefore suspended until market conditions change to make the project more competitive.”

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Yager withdraws as candidate for nomination to TVA board

In a letter to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, state Sen. Ken Yager has withdrawn from consideration for nomination to the TVA Board of Directors by President Trump.

There had been some question raised as to whether a state senator could legally sit on the TVA board without resigning as a legislator. Yager doesn’t address that specifically in his letter, but says he has decided that “priority attention” should go to his legislative duties, which include chairing both the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the joint House-Senate Fiscal Review Committee.

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TN Senate majority leader vetted for appointment as federal judge

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is being vetted for potential appointment as a federal judge, reports the Times Free Press, citing two “Republican sources” at the state capitol who were contacted by the FBI as part of the customary background check that proceeds such by appointments. Besides that, two “law enforcement chiefs” who know Norris  have apparently been contacted by agents as well.

There’s previously been talk that Norris might be nominated by President Donald Trump for one of two current vacancies on the U.S. District Court bench in West Tennessee – those vacated by Judge Hardy Mays in 2015 and by Judge Daniel  Green earlier this year. They retired – or “took senior status,” as the judicial saying goes.

Norris has for months been saying he’s interested joining the field of candidates running for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination. But he’s made no announcement – and the TFP says he did not return phone calls asking about his vetting for a federal judgeship.

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Andy Holt eyes challenge to Corker

State Rep. Andy Holt tells The Tennessean he’s considering a 2018 run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Bob Corker.

The legislator from Dresden cited a poll commissioned by Tennessee Star as indicating Corker has waning support from Republican primary voters. (Note: It found 41 percent support for Corker and about the same percentage favoring “someone else.” See previous post HERE.)

“I’ve had countless people contact me. People I respect. People with resources,” Holt said.

…”I owe it to the people who have given me support over the years to consider it, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Holt said.

Holt said he has not set a timeline for his decision, saying it is “too early in the process for that.”