Saturday, March 31, 2007

The new plan

I sure you have been hearing about the governors new willingness to deal on his tax increase. The governor is having some problems passing his big new tax increase with our $500 Million dollar surplus so he is now willing to accept less and is up to negotiate for about anything just so he can get a tax increase.

Folks, I think this was the plan all along. Almost as an employee goes to the boss and says they want a twenty thousand dollar a year raise or they are going to walk. They then negotiate and settle for ten thousand, they really wanted three thousand but facts say they probably deserved a pay cut if not to be fired.

The tried and true cry has gone out "Its for the kids!" If we ever pass a tax increase, I think we should pass a tax on that statement. It has been used to death. Every tax increase starts with that statement, but most of the time only a small part of the money raised ends up going to schools or to the kids. In time the money that does go "for the kids" gets picked off and gets sent to other pork projects. The money "for the kids" gets smaller and smaller and then as you can imagine the call starts growing anew.

If it ever truly is for the kids you will see two things first. The education budget separated from the rest of the budget and the tax dedicated to "the kids". If you don't see both those things, forget it. It is a ruse to take money off the back side or it won't last for long.

$500 million in surplus (minimum) two years in a row and the only way to get funds into education is with a tax increase sounds like The education LAST plan is in full effect.

A deal is cut

As I mentioned last week the Dems have been trying to pull some power plays by killing off Republican illegal immigration bills in the house. Well the Republicans have swung back and a deal has been cut. I doubt it will be the last. I heard a lot of reasonable talk on the house floor Thursday about treating others with respect and that it is time to stop killing bills on a partisan basis from Democrat Mike Turner (who despite our political differences has always been fair to me and other Republicans even when he did not have to be) Could this be the start of a true bipartisan legislature? We will see. I know Mike took a lot of heat from the higher ups for saying what he did, but I offer him kudos for his stand. I hope it made a difference and will open a few eyes.

Tennessean on the Jones loophole

The Tennesseans Jessica Fender has a great article on the Ulysses Jones loophole.

The bill by Rep. Ulysses Jones, D-Memphis, would open a loophole allowing lawmakers who knowingly lie on their disclosure forms, or try to hide large donations, to escape punishment.......It could create a situation where someone intentionally left off 30 or 40 donations and the Registry couldn't do anything about it," said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry of Election Finance.

During the 2005 Tennessee Waltz federal bribery sting, Jones accepted money from FBI front company E-Cycle Management Services. He said then that the $1,000 was a campaign contribution, and he was not indicted.



I have spoken with the senate sponsor and he has said the bill will now be receiving major amendments if not killed outright. Good to hear.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Iraq latest

As you may have noticed on this blog I stick mostly with Tennessee state politics, but occasionally, if something jumps out at me I will mix in some national issues.
In the past I have printed some E mails from a good friend of mine who has been serving in Iraq to hopefully give my readers a more clear idea of how a national issue is moving from the front lines.

Below is the latest update from my friend who has asked that his name be omitted.




Stacey,

Just got back from another fun filled trip to Iraq. Fortunately this was a short one (about 3 weeks total). From my foxhole (North East Baghdad) the surge seems to be making a positive difference. Granted it is a slow process, but if we stay the course I believe it will work out in the end. I got the artice below from a friend of mine, thought it was a pretty good snapshot of things going on. I'm planning on headed up to Knoxville some time in April.


Hope all is well,

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: FW: EARLY--Iraq Surge Indicators (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

In case you have not seen or heard about this in the mainstream media. Good read...

Subject: THE IRAQ SURGE--
WHY IT'S WORKING ... By GORDON CUCULLU
Petraeus: "People realize they're not going to just leave them like we did in the past."
March 20, 2007 -- 'I WALKED down the streets of Ramadi a few days ago, in a soft cap eating an ice cream with the mayor on one side of me and the police chief on the other, having a conversation." This simple act, Gen. David Petraeus told me, would have been "unthinkable" just a few months ago. "And nobody shot at us," he added.
Petraeus, the new commander managing the "surge" of troops in Iraq, will be the first to caution realism. "Sure we see improvements
- major improvements," he said in our interview, "but we still have a long way to go."
What tactics are working? "We got down at the people level and are staying," he said flatly. "Once the people know we are going to be around, then all kinds of things start to happen."
More intelligence, for example. Where once tactical units were "scraping" for intelligence information, they now have "information overload," the general said. "After our guys are in the neighborhood for four or five days, the people realize they're not going to just leave them like we did in the past. Then they begin to come in with so much information on the enemy that we can't process it fast enough."
In intelligence work - the key to fighting irregular wars - commanders love excess.
And the tribal leaders in Sunni al Anbar Province, the general reports, "have had enough." Not only are the al Qaeda fighters causing civil disruption by fomenting sectarian violence and killing civilians, but on a more prosaic but practical side, al Qaeda is bad for business. "All of the sheiks up there are businessmen," Petraeus said. "They are entrepreneurial and involved in scores of different businesses. The presence of the foreign fighters is hitting them hard in the pocketbook and they are tired of it."
A large hospital project - meant to be one of the largest in the Sunni Triangle - had been put on hold by terrorist attacks when al Qaeda had control of the area. Now it's back on track. So are similar infrastructure projects.
The sheiks have seen that the al Qaeda delivers only violence and misery. They are throwing their lot in with the new government - for example, encouraging their young men to join the Iraqi police force and army. (They are responding in droves.)
Petraeus has his troops applying a similar formula in Baghdad's Sadr City: "We're clearing it neighborhood by neighborhood." Troops move in - mainly U.S. soldiers and Marines supported by Iraqi forces, although that ratio is reversed in some areas - and stay. They are not transiting back to large, remote bases but are now living with the people they have come to protect. The results, Petraeus says, have been "dramatic."
"We're using 'soft knock' clearing procedures and bringing the locals in on our side," he notes. By being in the neighborhoods, getting to know the people and winning their trust, the soldiers have allowed the people to turn against the al Qaeda terrorists, whom they fear and loathe. Petraeus says his goal is to pull al Qaeda out "by its roots, wherever it tries to take hold."
Another change: an emphasis on protecting of gathering places like mosques and marketplaces. "We initiated Operation Safe Markets,"
Petraeus said, "and have placed ordinary concrete highway barriers around the vulnerable targets." Car bombings have dropped precipitately - the limited access thwarts them.
As a result, "The marketplaces, including the book market that was targeted for an especially vicious attack, are rebuilding and doing great business. It is helping the local economy enormously to have this kind of protection in place." With jobs plentiful and demand growing, the appeal of militia armies declines proportionally.
Nor is the Iraqi government simply standing aside and allowing U.S. and Coalition forces to do their work. The Shia prime minister walked the Sunni streets of Ramadi recently, meeting and greeting the people - "acting like a politician," Petraeus said, without malice. "He is making the point with them that he intends to represent all sectors of Iraqi society, not just his sectarian roots."
Rules of engagement (ROE), highly criticized as being too restrictive and sometimes endangering our troops, have been "clarified."
"There were unintended consequences with ROE for too long," Petraeus acknowledged. Because of what junior leaders perceived as too harsh punishment meted out to troops acting in the heat of battle, the ROE issued from the top commanders were second-guessed and made more restrictive by some on the ground. The end result was unnecessary - even harmful - restrictions placed on the troops in contact with the enemy.
"I've made two things clear," Petraeus emphasized: "My ROE may not be modified with supplemental guidance lower down. And I've written a letter to all Coalition forces saying 'your chain-of-command will stay with you.' I think that solved the issue."
Are the policies paying off? "King David" as Petraeus is known from his previous tour of duty up near the Syrian border, is cautiously optimistic.
"Less than half the al Qaeda leaders who were in Baghdad when this [surge] campaign began are still in the city," he said. "They have fled or are being killed or captured. We are attriting them at a fearsome rate."
Virtually everyone who knows him says that David Petraeus is one of the brightest, most capable officers in today's Army. "He is the perfect person for the job," retired Major Gen. Paul Vallely noted.
Early signs are positive; early indicators say that we're winning. As Petraeus cautiously concluded, "We'll be able to evaluate the situation for sure by late summer." That's his job. Our job? We need to give him the time and space needed to win this war.
Gordon Cucullu is a retired U.S. Army officer and a member of Benador Associates. His book on Guantanamo is due out this fall.

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
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Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Porn tax

All the latest info and amendments are in and the Porn tax swap is ready to move forward.

This bill will tax porn and porn items (things you have to be over 18 years old to view or purchase),strip clubs and escort services. The tax would raise 50 million dollars and would be dedicated to allow the state to drop the sales tax on whole foods (Foods that are more healthy, fruits, vegetables, non processed meats and non processed canned goods,ect.) down to one percent in year one and down to zero in year two. The estimated drop in porn sales is only 3%.

The senate version is up in its first committee next week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Knox News Sentinel on the Ulysses Jones loophole

Tom Humphreys did a good article on the Ulysses Jones loophole and had input from the people at the registry of election finance.

Registry Chairman William Long said the measure appears to create "a truck-size loophole" that is unnecessary

You can read the entire thing here

Terry Frank also has a good post on the issue.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Softball game

Tonight we had the legislator and staff v. Intern softball game. This is part one of an up to three part series. Part two is a basketball game and part three (If necessary)is a flag football game.

In the game we kept score on the legislators DOMINATED the lowly interns. We heard their tears raining down and the crying nashing of teeth after their dismal showing and felt sorry for them. We decided to give them some extra batting and fielding practice for next year as well as give them some good tips on how to improve their game. Most of our players in the field just thought we were returning the ball to the pitcher to give them more practice but the interns said later that they were keeping score??? and that they won??? I don't know what that was all about.

Next up is basketball. Our dead eye top shooter Rep. John Tidwell and some new blood will have to put on a scoring clinic early or we may have to put in all 5 players this year;-)

Blogger day on the hill

Blogger day on the hill started today. Dave Oatney got there first as he rode up with Frank Nicley. He was able to go to bill review and sit on the house floor for session. Sort of a do nothing day. Not much of debate on any of the bills. Committee tomorrow should be much more fun for the blogers then the floor was today.

Dinner at Logans was fun and I think many of the bloggers had a good chance to talk to the legislators I will let them fill you in on who they got to talk to and what they talked about.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Knox News sentinel article

I did an article for the Knoxville News sentinel Perspectives section on my death certificates for aborted babies bill. I (obviously) did the pro side viewable here.

You can also check the con side viewable here.

Jackson Sun on the Ulysses Jones loop hole

The Jackson Sun saw the huge loop hole presented in the Ulysses Jones bill and did a great editorial on it. You can check it out here

Friday, March 23, 2007

Power play

The fighting is starting to gear up. What you see here is a classic shake down. In the house we see several local bills (a bill that only effects one county) a day. Most are non controversial. They do things like changing election dates, change the name of county mayor to county executive, ect. These non controversial bills usually pass by unanimous vote and are about 95% of all local bills.

Some local bills are more controversial. They are for things like local tax increases, allowing liquor by the drink to one establishment in what has been voted a dry county or expanding gambling exemptions. Some Republicans traditionally vote against these measures. Not only does it go against their belief but in past elections Democrats have used these votes to attack Republicans at election time. Things like "He voted to increase taxes 75 times" have been used quite effectively.

Now the democrats are upset this tool has been taken away from their election year tool box and they want it back. In the past they have killed non controversial local bills of conservatives until conservative republicans started voting for their tax increases again. It has worked to hurt the candidates reputation at home either way. They say they aren't effective and have alienated so many people that they can't even pass a local bill or they are a tax raising liberal just like the Democrat candidate so vote for the Democrat who can get things done.

But as I have said in the past, A new day is coming. We finally have an ability to fight back. This is another power play. Democrats took a swipe on the Illegal immigration issues last week and now have taken another. They are waiting to see how Republicans respond.

Next week could be very telling as how this year may play out but I doubt it will be the final swing in the fight. I expect the Democrat leadership to continue fighting and pulling power plays in an attempt to keep some sort of ultimate control or upper hand as long as possible.

Tobacco tax

As you may have read The govs plan for a tobacco tax does not look good. The agriculture committee has traditionally killed all anti tobacco bills. This year Naifeh was smart. He saw the righting on the wall and knew this year tobacco bills were going to be controversial and going to go through that committee so for once he stacked A committee with Republicans.

Nothing has changed.

I spoke with a few members on that committee and they say it is not going to be close. Most see it as a 11 to 7 against the tax increases at best (at this time). Some say the other smoking ban bills may get out but it is too soon to tell.

Word is Phil is not happy and is calling members into his office for meetings to twist arms. If he can't get a yes, he is trying to make them not vote or pass. It isn't working.

I spoke with one member after their meeting and asked how it went. They said the governor looked like he had been in a bunch of fist fights.

I asked if he looked like he had been winning or losing and they said...

"Well his knuckles are clean but his face sure is banged up!"

Nuff said.

The Ulysses Jones get out of jail free rule

In a bill just passed If a legislator puts a two thousand dollar check in his pocket and never reports it then it is no longer a crime and all the rules we passed in the wake of the Tennessee Waltz won't change it. In fact some who were caught in the E cycle scandal would have walked with this new rule. Legislators now never need to do the donor side of a financial disclosure again because the election commission has to do them for us.

That is right. If a legislator doesn't put down ANY donors in their financial disclosure the election commission has to tell them who they omitted (Good luck) and then give them ten days to correct this "error" before they can asses a fine or a violation. If a legislator fixes the "error" in the ten days after the notice then it is all good and the election commission can do nothing about it.


This new rule was made supposedly for a legislator who may have been sent a check before the filing deadline but received it after. The election commission already had digression to press charges and assess fines or not for minor omissions that may be a little late because of a delivery issue. Now though they no longer have any digression. Unless I am crazy (more so then usual) we just made it impossible to catch or penalize someone who accepts money and NEVER reports it. I used to think they were called bribes but now it is just an omission fixable after they are caught and notified.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Als Resolution as it should read

If you read this You may want to check the version I prefer. You will never know how close I came to offering this as an amendment.


A RESOLUTION to honor Al Gore as a Tennessee’s “Hypocrite of the Year” for 2007.

WHEREAS, Tennessean and former Vice President Al Gore has, through scare tactics and misleading and exaggerated scientific evidence, become a leader for the environmental and global warming movement; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth, the propaganda film based on Mr. Gore’s book of the same title, was recently awarded on Oscar based on the faulty notion that it was a documentary

WHEREAS, Marlo Lewis, PhD, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute finds that nearly every significant statement Mr. Gore makes in An Inconvenient Truth regarding climate science and climate policy is either one sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or wrong; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth never acknowledges the indispensable role of fossil fuels in alleviating hunger and poverty, extending human life spans, and democratizing consumer goods, literacy, leisure, and personal mobility; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth never acknowledges the environmental, health, and economic benefits of climatic warmth and the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth neglects to mention that aggregate mortality and mortality rates due to extreme weather events declined dramatically during the 20th century; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth neglects to mention the circumstances that make it reasonable rather than blameworthy for America to be the biggest CO 2 emitter: the world's largest economy, abundant fossil energy resources, markets integrated across continental distances, the world's most mobile population; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth impugns the motives of so-called global warming skeptics but never acknowledges the special-interest motivations of those whose research grants, direct mail income, industrial policy privileges, regulatory power, prosecutorial plunder, or political careers depend on keeping the public in a state of fear about global warming; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth never addresses the obvious criticism that the Kyoto Protocol is all economic pain for no environmental gain and that regulations stringent enough to measurably cool the planet would be a “cure” worse than the alleged disease; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth implies that, throughout the past 650,000 years, changes in CO 2 levels preceded and largely caused changes in global temperature, whereas the causality mostly runs the other way: CO 2 changes followed global temperature changes by hundreds to thousands of years; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth ignores the societal factors that typically overwhelm climatic factors in determining people's risk of damage or death from hurricanes, floods, drought, tornadoes, wildfires, and disease; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth implies that a study, which found that none of 928 science articles (actually abstracts) denied a CO 2 -global warming link, shows that Mr. Gore's apocalyptic view of global warming is the “consensus” view among scientists; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth reports that 48 Nobel Prize-winning scientists accused Bush of distorting science, without mentioning that the scientists acted as members of a 527 political group set up to promote the Kerry for President Campaign; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth hypes the importance and exaggerates the certainty of the alleged link between global warming and the frequency and severity of tropical storms; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth claims polar bears “have been drowning in significant numbers,” based on a report that found four drowned polar bears in one month of one year, following an abrupt storm; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth portrays the collapse in 2002 of the Larson-B ice shelf—a formation the “size of Rhode Island”—as harbinger of doom. For perspective, the Larson-B was 1/246th the size of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth presents a graph suggesting that China's new fuel economy standards are almost 30% more stringent than the current U.S. standards. In fact, the Chinese standards are only about 5% more stringent; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth blames global warming for the record-breaking 37-inch downpour in Mumbai, India, in July 2005, even there has been no trend in Mumbai rainfall for the month of July in 45 years; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth blames global warming for recent floods in China's Sichuan and Shandong provinces, even though more damaging floods struck those areas in the 19th and early 20th centuries; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth blames global warming for the disappearance of Lake Chad, a disaster more likely stemming from a combination of regional climate variability and societal factors such as population increase and overgrazing; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth warns that a doubling of pre-industrial CO 2 levels to 560 parts per million (ppm) will so acidify seawater that all optimal areas for coral reef construction will disappear by 2050. This is implausible because coral calcification rates have increased as ocean temperatures and CO 2 levels have risen, and today's main reef builders evolved and thrived during the Mesozoic Period, when atmospheric CO 2 levels hovered above 1,000 ppm for 150 million years and exceeded 2,000 ppm for several million years; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth warns of “significant and alarming structural changes” in the submarine base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but does not tell us what those changes are or why they are “significant and alarming.” The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been retreating since the early Holocene. At the rate of retreat observed in the 1990s, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet should disappear in about 7,000 years; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth warns that half the Greenland Ice Sheet could “slide” into the sea, even though the ice sheet sits in a bowl-like depression surrounded by mountains that restrict glacial outflow to the sea; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth claims glaciologist Lonnie Thompson's reconstruction of climate history proves the Medieval Warm Period was “tiny” compared to the warming observed in recent decades. It doesn't. Four of Thompson's six ice cores indicate the Medieval Warm Period was as warm as or warmer than any recent decade; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth claims the rate of global warming is accelerating, when it has been remarkably constant for the past 30 years—roughly 0.17°C/decade; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth attributes Europe's killer heat wave of 2003 to global warming; it was actually due to an atmospheric circulation anomaly; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth claims that 2004 set an all-time record for the number of tornadoes in the United States. Tornado frequency has not increased; rather, the detection of smaller tornadoes has increased. If we consider the tornadoes that have been detectable for many decades (F-3 or greater), there is actually a downward trend since 1950; and

WHEREAS, An Inconvenient Truth blames global warming for a “mass extinction crisis” that is not, in fact, occurring; and

WHEREAS, despite calling the campaign to combat global warming a "moral imperative," Mr. Gore hypocritically consumes outrageous amounts of electricity and natural gas, frequently flies in private planes, and owns a zinc mine notorious for polluting the air, ground and water near his Carthage home.

WHEREAS, according to the Nashville Electric Service, Mr. Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh in 2006—more than 20 times the national average—in his Belle Meade home; and

WHEREAS, last August alone, Mr. Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year; and

WHEREAS, Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Mr. Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore’s heated pool house ran up more than $500 in natural-gas bills every month; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore claims to purchase carbon offset to reduce his “carbon footprint,” but a CNSNews.com reports that Mr. Gore doesn't purchase carbon offsets with his own resources, and that they are meaningless in terms of global warming; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore’s offset purchases are actually made for him by Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment firm that Mr. Gore co-founded, and which provides carbon offsets as a fringe benefit to all 23 of its employees, ensuring that they require no real sacrifice on the part of Mr. Gore or his family; and

WHEREAS, the impact of these offsets is also highly limited. The Carbon Neutral Co.--one of the two vendors that sell offsets to Mr. Gore's company, says that offset purchases "will be unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . . . in the short term"; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Gore’s indifference to his personal energy hypocrisy was highlighted on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, when he refused to sign a pledge to consume no more energy than the average American household; and
WHEREAS, Former U.S. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. bought about 88 acres along the Caney Fork River from Occidental Minerals, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, for $160,000. Included in the deal was the subsurface area. The rights to the minerals below ground were then leased back to Occidental; and

WHEREAS, on the same day, Mr. Gore Sr. sold the land and subsurface area to his 25-year-old son, Al, and daughter-in-law, Tipper, for $140,000. The mineral lease to Occidental was put in their names; and

WHEREAS, Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corp., was a controversial influence peddler who trafficked in politicians of all stripes and parties, Mr. Hammer pleaded guilty in 1975 to providing hush money in the Watergate scandal; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Hammer cut a wide swath across Washington from the 1930s until his death in 1990. His controversial career was marked by decades of profitable business dealings with the Soviet Union, which were closely watched by the FBI; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Hammer leapt into the big time by acquiring Libyan oil rights for Occidental Petroleum through what biographer Edward Jay Epstein has characterized as a combination of shrewd business dealings and bribery; and
WHEREAS, Hammer cultivated close relationships with many politicians, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, he was closest to Albert Gore, Sr., a U.S. senator from 1953 until 1971; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore received $20,000 a year for 27 years and $10,000 a year for three years, making a total of $570,000 in lease payments; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore’s mine is a complex of several interconnected sites known as the Gordonsville Mine and Mill, the Cumberland Mine and the Elmwood Mine; and

WHEREAS, in 1996, Mr. Gore’s mine twice failed biomonitoring tests designed to protect water quality in the Caney Fork for fish and wildlife; and

WHEREAS, a 1998 study by the Environmental Working Group criticized the zinc-mining operation for purchasing a toxic waste that included sulfuric acid and reselling it as fertilizer; and

WHEREAS, the Environmental Protection Agency began reporting toxic releases from Mr. Gore’s metal mining operations for the first time in 1998.

WHEREAS, in the five-year period from 1998 to 2003, before the mines were shuttered, 16.6 million pounds of toxic substances were released into the air, water and land at the Gordonsville site, according to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory data, and 2.6 million pounds were released at the Cumberland site; and

WHEREAS, in its last year of full operation in 2002, the Gordonsville-Cumberland mines ranked 22nd among all metal mining operations in the U.S., with about 4.1 million pounds of toxic releases; and

WHEREAS, in recent years, releases of toxic substances from Mr. Gore’s zinc mine into waterways were often above the allowable levels set under the federal Clean Water Act.; and

WHEREAS, Sampling at one site where Mr. Gore’s mine discharges into a tributary of the Caney Fork River found 23 violations of the limit on zinc levels out of 30 samples taken between October 1995 and August 2000; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Gore admitted that “pollution releases from the mine in 2002 placed it among the ‘dirtiest/worst facilities’ in the U.S”; and

WHEREAS, given the facts concerning Mr. Gore’s failure to lead the environmental movement with integrity and live his own life in a manner reflective of his own recommendations; now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED FIFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, that we hereby honor and congratulate native son Al Gore as a Tennessee’s “Hypocrite of the Year” for 2007.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an appropriate copy of this resolution be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such copy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rumor mill

Word on the street is the surplus for this next year is going to top $500 million.

Illegals need have no fear of the law in Tennessee

Well two more step to keep illegals from driving on our roads were killed today in a democrat controlled subcommittee. First the ability of our State Highway Patrol to enforce immigration laws had the legs cut out from under them.

Then the safety factor of having drivers who would be able to read such signs as "Road washed out ahead","Hidden driveway ahead","children at play" as well as have a rudimentary ability to communicate with police and safety personnel was killed because, to some people, to ask someone to be a competent driver is just not as important as the need to have a good image. The Tennessean covers it in this piece.

All the porn that's fit to print

Just a heads up that the porn not corn tax swap bill.

I have two versions of this bill the first is about ready to move into committee. I just got back some details that I have been waiting for and have had some amendments drawn up. I have sent the bill along with the amendments off to have the fiscal note adjusted and judging from early projections and some drafting changes I expect some good results. Expect a press release in the next week or so, maybe less.

In the senate, the committee it goes to first had put it on notice without the sponsor, Dewayne Bunch, requesting it. When it came up Dewayne put it in general sub to hold it until all drafting and financial adjustments were ready for presentation to the committee. He should be pulling it back out of general sub when we get the final adjustments.

Governor tax and spend

No sooner did I finish my last post then the governors agg man came in to see where I stand on the governors tax and spending proposal. After some back and forth a few things came out that I found quite interesting.

The potential money gained by the governors tax increase is not going to go into education for sure. It is planned to go into the general budget and then possibly into education for this year. Next year and after that, who knows.

The governor refuses to earmark the money to go to education for any period of time.

The governor refuses to cut the tax on food no matter what. I mentioned that I felt strong support to cut the tax on food and was told the governor would veto it if it passed. Good thing the governors veto power is week in Tennessee. I asked what tax the governor would cut if the money were available and was told none of them.

The pace

So far this year things have been moving very slowly in the legislature. Most committees have few bills in deliberation and some committees have been forced to put bills on notice for the sponsor (without the sponsor asking to put them on notice) just to try to jump start some action. I have spoken with people on both sides of the isle about this and they agree things are slow moving but the reasons vary depending on who you talk to.

Some say that is all up to what happens on the few big issues and every one wants to see how they go.

The tax increase on tobacco, do we need it? Will it pass or fail? If it passes will the money go to cutting the tax on food or will it go to more education. Many republicans have said "No new taxes, We have a huge surplus now. No more is needed" I think most republicans will support a tax swap that is revenue neutral but that is where they draw the line. They feel the some of the surplus can go to education and some to other projects. Others say take the surplus and cut taxes. Many republicans say taxing tobacco to pay for education could lead to less money for education in the long run as tobacco use drops off or if money from the over all budget for education (non tobacco money) gets cut. I think passing a separate education only budget might assuage some fears of an overall cut in education funds as time passes.

I think what we are seeing is a big game of adult chicken. Only one car can pass and No one wants to be the first to swerve. Both sides want to have the last bill standing. When the choice is one the decisions get easier. Both sides are now jockeying for position and hoping the other side swerves first.

The one big topic moving at all is Illegal immigration I think it will be the test guinea pig because both sides now want to take credit. Republicans who have worked the bill for years in the house want credit for their years of work but democrats who control the house say they want credit. In the senate republicans can stop the identical Democrat versions of the bills but then democrats would kill the republican version in the house. If the same bill does not pass both chambers it is dead.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Timeless Reagan

The more things change the more they stay the same.

"Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too
strong." - Ronald Reagan


"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose." - Ronald
Reagan


"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's
just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan


"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandment's would have
looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."- Ronald
Reagan


"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have
learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald
Reagan


"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards,
if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book." - Ronald Reagan


"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short
phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it
stops
moving, subsidize it." - Ronald Reagan


"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the
government and I'm here to help."
- Ronald Reagan


"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but
doesn't have to take the civil service examination." - Ronald Reagan


"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one
end and no sense of responsibility at the other." - Ronald Reagan

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a
government program." - Ronald Reagan


"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a
nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Minimum wage maximum error

Rep. Susan Lynn Has a good post on her blog about some of the errors with the new Tennessee minimum wage bill the Democrats are purposing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It is all about the money

Some people have said that they think Sen. Williams should step down now that he is no longer a Republican. I think that would be inconsistent with the way Don McCleary was treated when he switched parties. Don did the right thing and followed his heart and convictions. His ideals and voting history were not aligned with his party any longer. He switched parties, He gave back donations to who ever wanted them and he stuck with his decision when he ran for office again.

I think Sen. Williams should do the same things. His beliefs do not match what his party stands for so he should give donations back to who ever wants them and stick with his decision when he runs for office again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bring your green

Tonight I will be going to the Tennessee Conservative Unions Saint Patricks day event. It will be at Ramseys cafeteria on the corner of Central and Merchants Drive in Knoxville. Ironical, it is "Dutch treat" so the price is only $12.50PP. Last year they had some great corn beef and cabbage (my mouth is watering). I look forward to Loid and Kelvins top ten list as well as the fun competition for the most Irish name, most green outfit and the reddest hair. I always come up just short in the red hair contest, but who knows, this could be my year!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

He still wants more

I know the tobacco tax is not even up for a vote yet but Phil is already laying the groundwork for an increase in another tax, the gas tax.

In a meeting with Republican leadership Phil was working the room hard saying how we are really going to need to do something soon about the gas tax and that we don't have the money to do the things we want to do for roads.

Williams quits Republican party

Well, many people wondered when it would happen. Now it has.

Williams has said the party has left him.

Did he ever mention one issue the party left him on? One issue he does not agree with Republicans on? One issue he thought that Republicans should back down on? I am ready to hear them. I will post them on this blog. Can any one name one time republicans asked him for one vote on any issue other then leadership? To my knowledge the only issue he has ever been unhappy with was the decision to replace him or the structure that kept him in power.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey comments: "Just 64 days ago, Sen. Williams voted for me for Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor. I appreciated his support and the Senate Republican Caucus wanted him to be a valued and contributing member. Unfortunately, Sen. Williams did not feel comfortable with conservative Republican leadership. Apparently his ideology no longer fits within the Republican philosophy. I wish him the best."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Young presidential candidate

I know you have to start early to run for president and for some the time is now! This young man could be a voice on the rise..... Give him some time and some credit for planning ahead.

A 50,000 watt shock wave

Monday is going to be a hectic day for the Franks. But worse for liberals.

Besides running a booming restaurant business in Oak Ridge (Natures Marketplace is my favorite place to get or order good home made foods), Terry doing her blog and a column for the local paper , Lee and Terry doing a live call in TV show every Monday from 7 till 8:30 (you can view it on line here). Lee and Terry Frank will now be expanding their wide base of appeal into another realm today as they start their live radio call in show.

I expect lively discussion just like on their TV show or Terry blog. I and other legislators can not wait for it to go online so we can listen in from Nashville.

If you live in or around Knoxville you can listen on FOUR radio stations Monday through Friday from 3 - 6 pm on

Knoxville 850 WKVL
Oak Ridge, 1290 WATO
Loudon, 1140 WLOD
Maryville, 1400 WGAP

Friday, March 09, 2007

Crider hits back

If you remember this story you may want to check the video of the second agg committee of this year. About 7 minutes in, the committee is supposed to hear a presentation by Ken Givens (one of the constitutional officers) when Chris Crider says he has a special presentation to make to him. Chris gets out of his seat and pulls out a news paper story that shows this "Non partisan" person campaigning at a fund raiser for Chris's opponent. (Oddly the sound on the video goes out at this time) Chris then goes on to pull out a plaque and announces this plaque is for special recognition of doing a fair and honest job in this election cycle. It is called the Chris Crider partisanship award. Chris has his picture made with him and the award. When Ken Givens reaches for the award Chris pulls it away and says "No, No, No. This award is for me! I won the race. Not you! See, my name is on the plaque, not yours. When you win then your name will go on it. Until then I will keep putting my name on it. But just so you don't go home empty handed I got you a trophy.

Chris then pulled out a trophy with, Well, Lets just say the south side of a horse on it and presents it to him. Chris gave it to him and said " This trophy is for you and all your efforts."

I would love to have seen it all first hand or gotten a full audio of it but I guess until the odd sound snafu gets fixed I guess we will all have to live with the story as told here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Home schools unite

Today we had a meeting with many of the home school groups that have been under attack and the state fire marshal (and his people). Many of the bigger home school groups and some of the smaller groups showed up to complain of past treatment and several mentioned a sudden surge of activity to shut these groups down.

We had an early meeting with the home school groups about an hour before the fire marshal showed up to allow them to vent on their issues. Many were angry that they had been shut down without being given a chance to defend themselves. Others were scared that they could be next and did not want to give the name or location to the fire Marshall when asked. I can understand their reasoning.

The room was packed. We had several legislators that could not even get into the room to listen and were three and four deep in each of the four doorways.
When the fire marshal showed up he said he was answering anonymous complaints about illegal schools operating. I suspect part of this may be from TEA/NEA groups who do not like home school groups and would prefer that they do not exist. If you want proof on this I offer you the NEA resolutions list from this last year.

The home school groups countered that they do not give credit and thus should not be held to the same standard that schools are. They should meet the regulations of a sylvan learning center, a church group, a boy scout/girl scout group or a red cross class that teaches lessons and skills but do not give credit. Instead they were blanket called a school and shut down.

Some of the home school groups said it was the county fire codes people who were saying it was part of the state fire code and it was the states fault. The state group said about the opposite. Part of the problem was neither group wanted to take credit for what was going on or what happened and neither group wanted to say what happened was wrong or it was their fault.

We ended with all groups willing to come together again and a plan to meet separately to work on a definition of school that both groups can agree to. If you want to listen to the meeting with the fire Marshall Kay Brooks will have a download of it on her site.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blogger day on the hill

“BLOGGER DAY ON THE HILL”

Hosted by
the House Republican Caucus

Join the House Republican Caucus for two days on Capitol Hill!

Monday, March 26th and Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Tentative Schedule

Monday

• 2 pm - 4 pm Monday Matters
Monday Matters is a series that the House Republican Caucus hosts every week for its members to update and brief them on current issues

• 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Meet with the Leader
Join House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower for a welcome and introduction as well to discuss pertinent issues

• 5:00 pm Session
Bloggers are invited to sit in the gallery and witness a session of the 105th General Assembly

Tuesday

• 8:00 am Coffee and Doughnuts
Bloggers are invited to attend a morning reception with House Republican membership

• House Committees begin at 9 am
Bloggers may attend committees at their leisure

• 12 pm Wrap-up with Leader Mumpower

All Tennessee bloggers are invited! All participants must RSVP. Please contact us at the information below to RSVP by March 19th. Please include your name, address, phone number, email, and website location.

Kara Watkins, House Republican Press Secretary
102 War Memorial Building
615-741-1975
kara.watkins@legislature.state.tn.us

Hypocrite hall of fame

Terry Frank beat me to it. I was working up a post about this but clicked on Terry's sight this morning and saw that she already had it up. Early bird gets the worm. I think most people can see through this hypocrisy. Phil must be getting tips on how it is done from the pros like Ted Haggard and Al Gore.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Guest Blogger Rep. Mike Bell

Stacey has asked me to contribute my thoughts about the current discussion involving home school groups and the state fire marshal's recent action. First before I get into that subject I would like to say that I am an avid blog reader and have been for about two years. My favorites are not necessarily in any order Bill's, Adam's, Nathan's, Terry's, and Kleinheider's. Now to the home schooling issue.
Last Wednesday evening I was contacted by a home school leader in this state who told me that the state fire marshal's office was shutting down home school support groups that meet in churches. He told me that there have been a couple shut down in the Nashville area and at least one in the Jackson area. Thursday morning I contacted the state fire marshal's office to find out what they had to say about this. I was told that anytime they find a school meeting in a building that does meet the fire codes they would take action. He said there have been a few of these "schools" shut down. I told him these were not schools but support groups. He said if the students were receiving credit then the fire marshal's office considered them schools. I then said these support groups did not meet the state's definition of a school. He said they would continue to close down these schools when they meet in buildings that do not meet the fire safety codes for schools. We continued to debate whether the fire marshal's office had the authority to decide what was a school and was not a school. He said any group that meets in a building for more than 4 hours a day or more than 12 hours a week and had at least 6 students had to meet all fire codes for school buildings. If this is true I know many home school families that have more than 6 children. Are their houses going to have to meet the fire codes? After discussing a few other things we ended our conversation. I will be contacting the fire marshal's office on Monday to set up a meeting with myself and several other representatives and senators. In fact every Rep. and Sen. I have talked to about this issue wants to be at this meeting. I believe this is an example of a state bureaucracy at its worst. Buildings that are perfectly safe for 500 people on a Sunday morning are declared unsafe for 30 children meeting to learn Spanish or choir? Buildings that are safe for Sunday school or bible studies are not safe for students learning chemistry or algebra? In the future will the state tell churches they can't have bible schools because of these fire codes? I have been contacting leaders in the home school community across this state to get specific examples of where support groups have been shut down by the fire marshal's office. I hope to have a better idea of how many have been affected in a couple of days. But I was told by the fire marshal's office that they will continue to close this type of "school" down. I will write again after the meeting with the fire marshal. I hope to have that meeting either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mike Bell

Friday, March 02, 2007

ATTACK ON HOME SCHOOL GROUPS

In the last week we have had a rush of complaints from home school organizations from across the state. Home schools traditionally produce some of the best and brightest kids who achieve high results in the real world.

As you may or may not know home school students are starting to team up and are becoming a more powerful group. They are starting to come together and do things like start sports teams and clubs that meet and interact with other more traditional students. Some home school groups and students have also been meeting in churches and Sunday school classrooms to get specialized teaching by a specialist in a common field of interest. An example might be a group of ten or fifteen home school students gathering together to hear a presentation or be taught about nuclear science from a nuclear scientist from Oak Ridge. I did a discussion one day about how our state government works for a similar group.

Lately though these groups have come under attack. Codes inspectors have begun to shut these groups down in mass. The reason given is that when they meet they become "a school" and the churches and Sunday school class rooms that they meet in don't meet code for schools. Forget that these same rooms are much more packed every Sunday for church or Sunday school classes. Expect to hear more about this as time progresses.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Drew all the time

When I went out to my car this morning and started it Paul Harvey was on the air talking about the TCPR story and Al Gore's hypocrisy. This story is everywhere. I gave Drew a call and told him about it and he said he was shocked at the legs of the story. He is supposed to be on CNN again tonight and the Wall Street Journal wants him to do a story about his experience of the last few days.

Also in the rumor mill people close to Al Gore say this story has him in a tail spin. Plans to run for president that were being lined up now look shaky.

Expect a new report to come out about Al Gore's Carthage home in the very near future. It could be another big hit. That footprint just keeps getting bigger.