Beth Harwell

Takeaways from the GOP gubernatorial debate in Memphis

The Memphis event was billed in advance (and again from the stage) as not being yet another meaningless gubernatorial forum in which everybody would end up restating the same platitudes, but a bona fide battle royale, a “debate.” It wasn’t.

There was little overt disagreement and minimal effort to create it. The Republican participants  — Diane Black, Randy Boyd, and Bill Lee (Harwell begged off because of legislative responsibilities) — became a virtual amen chorus to the idea that Memphis has been shafted by the state relative to other sections of Tennessee.

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Bill requiring some to work for TennCare coverage gets final legislative approval

The Republican-led Tennessee Legislature on Thursday passed a controversial bill aimed at imposing work requirements on people receiving Medicaid benefits through the TennCare system, reports the Associated Press. Gov. Bill Haslam has backed the measure.

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House’s $250K Memphis money cut becomes GOP debate topic, inspires fundraising drive

In a debate Wednesday, three Republican candidates for governor said they disagreed with a House vote to cut $250,000 in funding for Memphis because of the city’s removal of Confederate monuments from former city parks. But Diane Black, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee also said they opposed the city’s action, reports the Memphis Daily News. House Speaker Beth Harwell, who missed the debate while presiding over the House in Nashville, voted for the Memphis funding cut.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been started on Facebook to raise funds to make up the money lost through the House vote, according to a separate News report. As of Thursday morning, $44,765 had been raised toward the $250,000 goal.

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Guber campaign money: Boyd sets new record for self-financing (Lee and Black close behind)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd has set a new record for self-financing in a Tennessee political campaign, a review of financial disclosures filed this week shows. Williamson County businessman Bill Lee has also clearly passed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s old record and Diane Black has roughly matched it.

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Byrd running for re-election despite sexual misconduct scandal

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) has announced he will seek re-election despite allegations of sexual misconduct with three of his teenage basketball players when he was their 28-year-old high school basketball coach.

Byrd spent much of Thursday’s floor session wandering around House chamber trying to drum up support among fellow lawmakers, embracing some of them and exchanging cell phone numbers. Byrd, who incorporates his nickname “Coach” and the outline of a basketball in his logo, may well benefit from this week’s candidate filing deadline to avoid serious opposition in this year’s election.

But Republicans worried about tighter-than-usual races in other districts likely won’t welcome having to defend inevitable political attacks based on Byrd’s candidacy.

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Byrd denies wrongdoing as lawmaker, ‘disappointed’ in Harwell

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) attends a House committee meeting on March 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Statement from State Representative David Byrd (R–Waynesboro):

“First, let me say that I have done nothing wrong or inappropriate during my term as state representative for the 71st District, which I proudly serve. I am disappointed that Speaker Harwell so quickly publicly turned her back on me but understand her political posture.

Second, these recent allegations of inappropriate contact, never before made, date back over three decades ago and are disheartening to me, and my family. One must question the motives of these three former students out of the hundreds of students I have coached.

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Rep. David Byrd accused of sexual misconduct; Harwell says he should resign

State Rep. David  Byrd has been accused by three women of having inappropriate sexual contact with them while he was a high school basketball coach and they were teenagers, according to WSMV. House Speaker Beth Harwell promptly called for the Waynesboro Republican to resign from his House seat after being provided a secretly-recorded tape of Byrd apologizing to one of the women. Continue reading

McNally blocks Senate vote on Harwell’s work-for-Medicaid bill

House Speaker Beth Harwell was caught “completely off guard” Thursday when Senate Speaker Randy McNally stopped a scheduled floor vote on her House-approved bill that imposes work requirements on some able-bodied adult Medicaid enrollees, reports the Times Free Press.

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House votes (along party lines) to require work for some on TennCare

The state House voted 72-23 Monday night to direct the Haslam administration to seek a waiver of federal Medicaid rules to develop a plan imposing a work requirement on some able-bodied TennCare enrollees, reports the Times Free Press.

The vote on HB1551) sponsored by House Speaker Beth Harwell and presented by Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown)  was along party lines – Republicans yes and Democrats no (with the exception of Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston). There was spirited debate.

The measure now awaits a Senate floor vote.  Gov. Bill Haslam has said he sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

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Democratic leader: Harwell’s TennCare work bill is a ‘political stunt’ using financial gimmicks

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart says House Speaker Beth Harwell’s bill to impose work requirements on some people enrolled in the state’s TennCare program is “a political stunt to get votes in the governor’s race” and relies on “fairy tale” financial gimmicks to cover projected costs, reports the Times Free Press.

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