At least 18 events held in legislators’ last-minute fundraising rush

At least 18 state legislators, leadership PACs or party caucuses held fundraising events just ahead of today’s 2018 opening session of the General Assembly, reports the Times Free Press, basing the estimate on lobbyists keeping count of invitations received.

When the session begins at noon today, a blackout on fundraising begins that will continue until the end of the session or May 15, whichever comes first (and most think the session will end in April this year).

Partisanship goes by the wayside in the last-minute events. For example, the House Republican Caucus held an event Monday, while Senate Democrats did theirs Monday night. House Democrats have theirs scheduled this morning before session begins.

House Finance Subcommittee Chairman Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, had an event Monday at which invitees could contribute either to his campaign or his leadership political action committee, McCormick PAC… House Majority Glen Casada, R-Franklin, who also is eyeing a speaker’s race, held an event Monday as well.

Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson, held a a funraiser Monday for his leadership PAC, BoW-PAC.

Others with fundraisers include House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, who is running for governor; Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager, R-Kingston; Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston; Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville.

Legislation pending from last year could change the equation for Tennessee lawmakers when it comes to raising campaign cash. Some Republican House members wanted a bill that would allow them to fundraise during a special called session devoted to a specific topic. It passed the GOP-controlled chamber.

But the Republican-run Senate added a provision that would allow its members to double the amount of contributions they could get per cycle. Their argument was that their districts are much larger than those of representatives, and they run every four years compared to the two-year terms for House members.

The House balked. The House’s website listed the conference committee report scheduled to be heard today. But House Republican staff appeared doubtful final action would be taken with a majority of the House still opposed to the Senate’s addition.

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