lobbyists

Claude Ramsey — former deputy governor, mayor and legislator — dies aged 75

Claude Ramsey, who rose from third-generation Hamilton County strawberry farmer to deputy governor of Tennessee, died Monday at the age of 75, reports the Times Free Press.

In more than 40 years of public service, he was elected five times as county mayor, four times as assessor of property, twice to the Tennessee General Assembly and once as county commissioner. Ramsey never lost an election.

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TennCare backs off initiative aimed at making doctors more cost conscious

After months of resisting pressure from doctors, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, known as TennCare, is slowing down an initiative meant to make physicians more cost conscious, reports WPLN. The Tennessee Medical Association has complained about the so-called “episodes of care” payment model since its inception, though doctors initially cooperated with state officials in designing the program.

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Black takes campaign trip on jet linked to company she helped in Congress and that helped her in fundraising

On a day of campaigning for governor last month, U.S. Rep. Diane Black flew from Chattanooga to Paris, Tenn., and back on a plane linked to Fitzgerald Glider Kits, reports The Tennessean. That’s the Crossville  company that received some media attention in February after getting an exemption with Black’s help from federal vehicle emission standards for the truck engines it makes —  and which has bundled $225,000 in donations to her gubernatorial campaign.

A Black spokesman says there’s nothing improper there; that she paid for the flight and it will be duly reported on her next campaign financial disclosure. The story says Black flew on the 2017 Embraer Phenom 300 twin-jet airplane from Chattanooga to West Tennessee on the morning of April 27 to attend the Paris Fish Fry, then used it to fly back to Chattanooga that evening to attend the Hamilton County Lincoln Day Dinner where she met with, among others, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

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Haslam signs compromise short-term rental bill

Legislation setting statewide rules for short-term rental of residential property has been signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam without public comment. Similar bills have been the subject over lobbying wars for years over how much regulatory authority should remain with local government and the final version passed by the legislature was something of a compromise, worked out in a House-Senate conference committee.

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Washington lobbyist, Sprint chairman host Blackburn fundraiser

Burb from Politico Influence, a daily Politico feature on lobbying in Washington:

The lobbyist David Carmen and Elizabeth Carmen will host a fundraiser for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who’s running for Senate, at their home in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington on Tuesday evening, according to an invitation obtained by PI. The twist: One of the co-hosts is Marcelo Claure, the new executive chairman of Sprint and the chief operating officer of SoftBank, which owns most of Sprint.

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Approved bill lets TN corporations avoid increased taxation

A bill that largely spares Tennessee corporations from an increase in state business taxes otherwise triggered by President Donald Trump’s 2017 federal tax overhaul is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature, reports the Times Free Press.

According to a legislative fiscal note, enactment of the bill (SB2119, as amended) means the state will be giving up potential $112 million in foregone state corporate excise tax revenue over a period of several years beginning in fiscal year 2020-2021. And businesses, of course, will be spared paying that much in added taxes.

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Legislators authorize utilities funding chambers of commerce (updated and corrected)

Legislation authorizing natural gas utility companies to provide funding to local chambers of commerce was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The House initially spurned the bill, but then reconsidered and approved it in the waning moments of the 2018 session.

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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.

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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De-annexation bill dead; sponsor blames city lobbyists

An effort to enact legislation allowing disgruntled residents in some areas of Tennessee cities to vote to secede is dead for the year, reports the Times Free Press. The House sponsor, Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) blames lobbyists for municipalities.

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