Randy McNally

Johnson elected Senate majority leader, Yager wins caucus chairmanship

Senate Republicans have elected Jack Johnson of Franklin as majority leader and Ken Yager of Kingston as Republican caucus chairman. Sen. Randy McNally was unopposed for another term as speaker.

Johnson defeated Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville, while Yager won on the first ballot against Sens. Becky Duncan Massey of Knoxville and Brian Kelsey of Germantown.

The majority leader position was vacated by former Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville, who has become a federal judge in Memphis. The caucus chairmanship was open because former Sen. Bill Ketron was elected Rutherford County mayor.

The next scramble will be over who replaces Johnson as chairman of the Commerce Committee and Yager as chairman of the State and Local Government Committee.

Here’s a statement from Speaker McNally:

Jack Johnson will be an outstanding Senate Majority Leader. He has the experience, temperament and policy expertise to lead our caucus and the Senate to new heights. Jack has been intimately involved in the progress we have made as a state. Beginning with his transformation of the Government Operations Committee to his strong leadership on the Commerce Committee, Jack has put conservative ideas into action on behalf of the people of Tennessee. As we embark on a new era in Tennessee state government, Jack’s leadership will be critical. Congratulations, Leader Johnson.

Ken Yager has the depth of skill and breadth of experience to excel as chairman of our Senate Republican Caucus. As a county executive and chairman of the Senate State and Local Committee, he has demonstrated an ability to lead under pressure. Our caucus has achieved much success both in policy and in politics. I expect that success to continue under Ken Yager’s leadership. Congratulations, Chairman Yager.

The Senate is fortunate to have a membership full of capable and talented leaders. I am confident the team we have elected today will work together with Governor Lee and the state House to keep Tennessee the best state in the nation in which to live, work and raise a family.

 

Former state Senate GOP leader Ben Atchley dies

Former state Senate Republican leader Ben Atchley of Knoxville has died, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. He was 88.

A statement from Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge):

Ben Atchley was the very definition of a statesman. He always did what was right and never sought credit for his accomplishments — which were many. He never shied away from hard decisions and his integrity was unquestioned. As Senate Republican Leader for 16 years, his work ensured Republicans had a seat at the table in the minority and laid the groundwork for our eventual majority. Both he and Sue provided the Senate and the Republican Party with so much and yet asked little in return. You can trace the lineage of all our success as a party and as a state back to the leadership he provided. He was a great man and a great senator. My heart goes out to Sue and the entire Atchley family in this time of mourning. Tennessee’s gentle giant has passed. I will miss him.

Late-night calls deemed ‘outrageous’ by legislator, a timing error by sponsor

State Sen. Kerry Roberts and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) are calling for multiple investigations after robocalls from the Tennessee Justice Center criticizing Roberts’ TennCare work requirements legislation went out in the middle of the night Thursday, reports the Nashville Post.

“These robocalls are outrageous and the information disseminated is false and misleading,” said Roberts (R-Springfield). “They were conducted in the middle of night with the call back number, for those who thought that it might be a dire emergency due to the late hour, going to my legislative office which is completely deceptive.”

However, the TJC — a nonprofit that assists state families with TennCare, Medicaid and Medicare eligibility and appeals — insists the error was not malicious.

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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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Speakers retaliate against California: No state-paid travel to NCSL convention

From an AP report, as appearing in a California newspaper:

Tennessee’s Republican House and Senate leaders say the state isn’t paying lawmakers or staffers to attend a California legislative summit.

In a letter Thursday, Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell said the state won’t cover the National Conference of State Legislatures conference trip in Los Angeles because of California’s ban on state-paid trips to Tennessee.

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McNally joins 18 other GOP state senators in blessing Blackburn campaign

Press release from Marsha Blackburn campaign

Brentwood, TN –  Today, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally announced his endorsement of Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate. His endorsement follows a majority of Republican state Senators announcing their support, and it is another clear sign that Tennesseans are rallying behind Blackburn for Senate.

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Speakers quietly drop hand-held sign ban at Cordell Hull

The Tennessee Legislature has quietly revised its “Facility Use Policies” to remove a ban on all signs within the Cordell Hull building. Moving forward, “small letter sized signs that do not obstruct the view of visitors are acceptable,” according to the policy.

Under the previous set of rules, all signs were banned, regardless of whether they were hand-held or mounted to sticks or poles. The fact that this was done in the name of preventing “a serious safety hazard to visors and tenants” was the cause of much mockery because it was imposed alongside a new policy allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed within the building.

House Democrats announced Wednesday that Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) had requested a legal opinion from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery about whether ban on “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” violates the First Amendment. Jones’ letter is dated Jan. 11.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) signed the revised policy on Jan. 3.

Note: This post comes via Erik Schelzig, editor of the Tennessee Journal. Previous post on the policy, HERE.

Haile named state Senate speaker pro tempore; Bowing deputy speaker

Senate GOP leaders hold weekly press gaggle on Jan. 18, 2018. From left are Sens. Mark Norris, Randy McNally, Bo Watson and Ferrell Haile. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal.

Senate GOP leaders hold weekly press gaggle on Jan. 18, 2018. From left are Sens. Mark Norris, Randy McNally, Bo Watson and Ferrell Haile. (Photo credit: Schelzig, Tennessee Journal.)

Press release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally

NASHVILLE — Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today announced the appointment of Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate. Haile replaces Jim Tracy who resigned late last year to accept a presidential appointment.

Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) will replace Haile in the position of Deputy Speaker.

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McNally realigns Senate committees

Press release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally

NASHVILLE — Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today announced state Senate committee assignment changes for the second annual session of the 110th General Assembly. The changes come as a result of the resignation of three Senate members since the legislature adjourned in May. Two of the resigning senators, Doug Overbey and Jim Tracy, accepted presidential appointments.

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Speakers ban protest signs, animals from legislative quarters — guns permitted

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell have approved a new policy that prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the Legislature because they “represent a serious safety hazard,” reports The Tennessean. The speakers had earlier approved a policy change to allow handgun permit holders to bring their weapons to legislative hearings and offices.

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