Legislature

Overbey sworn in as U.S. attorney, resigns state Senate seat

Former state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, resigned his Senate seat effective 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Nov. 21, and was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee at 3:30 p.m., reports the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times.

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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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Haslam sticks to his guns in banning firearms at Capitol

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he has no intention of changing his administration’s stance on barring handgun-carry permit holders from bringing their weapons into Tennessee’s state Capitol even though they will be allowed in the Cordell Hull Building where state legislators have offices and hold hearings, reports the Times Free Press.

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Tracy resigns, triggering special election in Senate District 14

News release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s office

NASHVILLE — Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) today announced he has resigned as Senator of the 14th District and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate effective immediately. President Donald Trump appointed Tracy to the position of Tennessee State Director for Rural Development late Friday. Tracy has accepted the appointment and under the Tennessee Constitution is required to relinquish his Senate seat.

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Jim Tracy becomes third TN senator to get new job through Trump administration requiring resignation from legislature

State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Tracy of Shelbyville has been named Tennessee state director of rural development by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, an appointment that will require the Republican lawmaker to step down from his Senate District 14 seat that covers Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties, along with part  of Rutherford County.

Perdue filled state director rural development positions in all 50 states with Trump administration appointees in an announcement Friday. He also named state directors of USDA’s Farm Services Agency, a position held in Tennessee during the Obama administration by former Democratic state Rep. Gene Davidson of Adams. The FSA Tennessee post now goes to Dennis Beavers, apparently the same Dennis Beavers who headed the Trump campaign in Alabama last year and who is identified in some media reports as a native of McMinn County, Tennessee.

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Speakers OK guns at the legislature — after move to Cordell Hull quarters

Handgun permit holders were prohibited from bringing their weapons into the Legislative Plaza, but when the General Assembly relocates to the remodeled Cordell Hull building, permit holders will be able to keep their guns when visiting lawmakers or attending committee meetings.

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally announced the new policy in a joint statement to media:

“Carry permit holders will be allowed to carry their firearms into the Cordell Hull Building, the new home of the Tennessee General Assembly. Tennessee carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographics in our state. To receive a permit, a citizen must be fingerprinted, submit to a background check and receive firearm training. Permit holders wishing to carry their firearms into Cordell Hull will be required to present their permit at security. A thorough screening process will determine the validity of the permit. Once that validity is established, a permit holder will be allowed exercise their Second Amendment while visiting their state government.”

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Education lobbyist group rates legislators — seven get ‘A+,’ two graded ‘F’

In its first rating of state legislators, Tennesseans for Student Success today gave “A+” scores to seven members of the General Assembly while only two got ‘F’ grades and eight got ‘D’ grades.

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Legislators bypass Jones Lang LaSalle, chose Siemens Corp., for services at Cordell Hull building

Legislative leaders have chosen Siemens Corp. to provide building management services at the just-renovated Cordell Hull State Office Building over Chicago-based real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle, reports the Times Free Press.

While JLL now manages operations at the existing Legislative Plaza and War Memorial Building, home since 1973 for lawmakers’ offices and committee hearing rooms. Those buildings will be vacated starting next week as legislators move to Cordell Hull.

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Harwell, Casada reject Democrats’ call for special session

In a perhaps unusual move, House Republican leaders have responded to Thursday’s House Democrats holding a news conference and issuing a press release urging a special legislative session on Medicaid expansion.  (Usually such Democrat doings are ignored.) They spurned the idea.

House Speaker Beth Harwell: “As Speaker of the House, I believe that instead of calling for a wasteful special session to expand a program that is failing, we as State Representatives and Senators should instead call on Congress to return healthcare back to the states without strings attached so we can begin to develop a better, more affordable program for Tennesseans.”

House Majority Leader Glen Casada“As Republican leaders of our state, we want to get rid of the disaster of Obamacare, not support a broken healthcare system that has become a drain on Tennessee families and backed insurance providers into a corner. 

Republicans want real solutions, not political promises that would result in more bureaucracy, higher costs, and drive a bigger wedge between patients and doctors. Obamacare has caused insurance rates to skyrocket to a point where the middle class can no longer afford coverage. 

Medicaid expansion has been an abysmal failure for those states that have participated. Here in Tennessee, we are committed to improving the health and quality of life for all Tennesseans through free market principles that demonstrate real results.

Note: The House Democratic Caucus press release is posted HERE.