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House GOP retaliation for Confederate monument removal: A scripted political show?

Some Republicans familiar with the discussions leading up to Tuesday’s state House vote cut $250,000 in funding for Memphis in retaliation for the city removing Confederate statues say the money was put into the state budget on the front end only so that it could be later taken away as  part of an effort send a message to Memphis, reports the Commercial Appeal. Others deny that was the case.

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House sub sinks bill expanding legal handgun carry locations; OKs other gun bills

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee Wednesday unanimously voted down a bill by Rep. Judd Matheny to repeal many current restrictions on places where those holding handgun carry permits can take their weapons. HB884 was one of several measures on gun laws before the panel.

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Lenoir holds money lead in Shelby County mayor race

David Lenoir, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Shelby County mayor, raised $232,740 over the past six months to keep his financial lead in what will likely be a costly political slugfest, reports The Commercial Appeal.

Lenoir, who currently serves as the county trustee, had $345,438 tucked away in his campaign treasury as of Jan. 15, according to his campaign finance disclosure. Behind him, Republican Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos raised $125,558 and loaned herself another $115,000 as she tried to close the gap ahead of the May 1 primary election.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, the third candidate hoping to win the Republican primary, raised $32,165 and spent $24,900, leaving him with $16,319.

On the Democratic side of the race, Sen. Lee Harris reported a balance of $92,259 after raising $108,486 and spending $16,227, blowing past primary opponent Sidney Chism, who raised $10,550 and spent $2,442 to end the period at $8,107.

Bank of Bartlett President Harold Byrd, whose disclosure shows only $750 in contributions, confirmed Thursday that he will not enter the Democratic primary after flirting with the idea for months.

Haslam: “The message is that we can’t stop now.”

Gov. Bill Haslam gives a preview of his State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 29, 2018. (Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam gives a preview of his State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 29, 2018. (Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has given this preview of his final State of the State address in a meeting with reporters at the state Capitol on Monday:


I thought I’d give a quick preview of tonight’s State of the State address. As you know it’s my last – eighth and final. I will spend some time looking back over the past seven years.

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Legislative candidate contends TBI raid on residence was politically motivated

Jeremy Hayes, a candidate for the Republican nomination in House District 57, says a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation raid on a residence where he is selling was aimed at sabotaging his race against incumbent Republican Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet). The TBI says it was investigating allegations that Hayes lives in Davidson County but has voted in Wilson County, which is also home to House District 57.

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‘Christian conservative’ former judge joins GOP race in 6th Congressional District

Former Rutherford County Chancellor Robert “Bob” Corlew, who retired as a judge in 2014, has become the third Republican to announce as a candidate in for the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Diane Black, who is running for governor.

Corlew describes himself as a Christian conservative who will work for President Donald Trump if elected. He joins former state Agriculture Commissioner John Rose and state Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma in the contest. Corlew’s website is HERE.

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Democrats introduce Tenneseee Net Neutrality bill

Democrats introduce their Net Neutrality bill at a press conference in Nashville on Jan. 23, 2018. From right are Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, and Rep. Dwayne Thompson. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democrats introduce their Net Neutrality bill at a press conference in Nashville on Jan. 23, 2018. From right are Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, and Rep. Dwayne Thompson. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Press release from legislative Democrats on HB1755:

NASHVILLE, TN – In the wake of the FCC’s recent vote to repeal net neutrality regulations, State Representative John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) and State Senator Lee Harris (D-Memphis) have introduced the “Tennessee Net Neutrality and Internet Consumer Protection Act” to enact and enforce net neutrality rules at the state level.

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At guber forum, Democrats call for Medicaid expansion; Republicans don’t

A health care forum Friday in Nashville illustrated the partisan split in the Tennessee governor’s race over Medicaid expansion, with Democrats ranking it their top priority and Republicans opposing it or espousing other priorities, reports the Associated Press.

The Democrats, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, called for expansion of Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare, to 280,000 more low-income patients. The Republican-led General Assembly killed the plan in 2015.

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ACU legislator ratings: TN Senate more conservative than House

The American Conservative Union Foundation has produced its rating of Tennessee legislators for 2017, giving the state Senate an overall average score of 86 and the House an average of 70 percent in voting the way the group wanted on selected issues.

The average for Republicans in the Senate was 91 percent; for Democrats 57 percent. In the House, Republicans averaged 82 percent; Democrats 34 percent. One could thus draw the not-too-surprising inference that the Senate is notably more divided on a partisan basis than the House — and overall more conservative.

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ECD deemed winner of Beacon’s TN 2017 ‘Pork of the Year’ award

Press release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

In the 12th annual Tennessee Pork Report, the Beacon Center revealed that state and local government officials wasted more than $400 million of taxpayer money this past year.

The Pork Report highlights a combination of government mismanagement, incompetence, and outright fraud. The Beacon Center allowed Tennesseans to choose the infamous “Pork of the Year” award, and it really came down to the wire. After nearly 400 votes were cast, the “winner” of the award was the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development for their Industrial Machinery Tax Credit. The department took 34% of the vote in the public poll.

In one of the most inefficient instances of corporate welfare in recent years, Tennessee taxpayers paid a whopping $67 million annually for a mere 55 jobs per year from 2011-2014, which adds up to $1.2 million per job. Even if the program’s main goal isn’t to create jobs, it is not the government’s role to help buy equipment for some private companies on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers. The $14 million of tax dollars given to the Opryland Hotel to build a waterpark (that residents are not even allowed to use) came in a close second with nearly 32% of the vote. Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold and the state Jobs4TN Program came in the 3rd and 4th with 19% and 15%, respectively.

The Beacon Center prints the Pork Report every year to make sure state and local governments are held accountable for how ineffectively they spend our tax dollars. The wasteful spending in this report should make Tennesseans’ blood boil. We hope that government officials will use this report to slash wasteful spending in 2018.

The 2017 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars.

Note: The full 2017 “Pork Report” is HERE. Excerpt of some highlighted stuff as ‘nominated’ for Pork of the Year:

Jobs4TN: This state-based program has been taking millions of taxpayer dollars for years, spending more than $60 million in 2016- 2017 alone. This money then goes to a select few fortunate companies for their hiring and professional development needs, empowering government to pick winners and losers, and leaving left-out employers across the state to compete with these subsidized businesses.

Opryland Waterpark: The city of Nashville decided to give $14 million to Gaylord Opryland Hotel to construct a waterpark, and while taxpayers are footing the bill, the waterpark is open only to those staying at the hotel.

• Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD): ECD’s Industrial Machinery Tax Credit has doled out an astonishing $1.2 million in taxpayer money…per job. The tax credit has created just 55 total jobs at a cost of nearly $67 million.

• A Sheriff’s E-Cigarette Inmate Scheme: Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold profiteered off a captive audience of local inmates who were sold e-cigarettes from Arnold’s company—earning him and his wife nearly $75,000 over the course of their scheme, which was later exposed by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

Note: Arnold pleaded guilty to corruption charges and was sentenced to four years in prison. Randy Boyd, who resigned as ECD commissioner earlier this year, is running for governor.