Thursday, May 31, 2007

Filibuster !

Republicans in the house are threatening a filibuster on the tax increase bill if the Hawk amendment is not brought back to life.

42 cents

The tax increase passed in the senate at 42 cents putting it up to 62 cents. It was a party line vote and the indy went with the dems to increase taxes with a 1.5 billion dollar surplus.

School funding cut

The funding for school infrastructure was just striped out of the surplus lottery funds budget. The senate Democrats and one Republican (Woodsen) voted to remove the money from school infrastructure in the senate. Another amendment with the same goal was pushed forward but only received 20 votes (late amendments have to get 2/3 to get on in the senate) The goal then was to send it to a conference committee between the house and the senate where it could be worked out so we could get money back to our schools for infrastructure. House Democrats voted not to send it to conference committee on a party line vote. When that move failed the democrats cheered.

Congratulations democrats, you kept money from going to build schools.

Senate tax talk

I just spoke with one senator about what is going on in the senate. As you may have read, Phil thinks he has the 17 votes to up the tax. If it is true I wonder who will get the credit (Or blame) for the passage. It is 16-16-1, If all sixteen democrats and one independent vote for the tax increase and it passes will the headline be "Democrats pass tax increase" or will it be "Republican controlled senate passes tax increase"

BEP reform

Passed.

True education first

Failed 47-46. Education will still be funded after all the other proposals have already been passed and funded. I guess getting education out of the cellar is not the true priority, getting more taxes for pork under the guise of helping education is.

Lottery funds to schools

Passed. Excess lottery funds can be used to increase K-12 school infrastructure spending. This was a top caucus position in the house. The total is $162.80 per student per county. The Knox co. school system will get 8.6 million for Capital improvements. Good job David Hawk!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How to spend more and drop seats

The gov keeps trying to figure new ways to tax and spend more and more of your money while refusing to give any of the over collections back so you can afford to buy decent food for your family. I would laugh if it wasn't so pitifully. I am starting to think the gov has this thing about people not being able to eat decent food. He refuses to cut the tax on food, even for healthy foods, and then he wants to tax the gas they use to cook it. Where will it end? Is the tax increase on paper plates and sporks next?

Of course every time the gov talks about any government function all you hear is chicken little claims. "We cant afford it unless we pass the tax increase!!" I don't care what he is talking about. I bet if a reporter mentioned we were out of toilet paper in the men's bathroom Phil would say "If we don't pass the tax increase we will be using leaves from the capitol yard."

We have been hearing the song and dance for a while now and the facts don't back it up. I would say Phil has been spending like a drunken sailor but that would give drunken sailor a bad name. Facts are Phil has grown state government by 30% in 5 years, from 18 billion to 28 billion in state spending.

How did he get this title of a conservative democrat? I know times were tough when he came in but when is the talk going to stop and the conservative going to start? Name one tax he cut. Name one major program he cut. I know some will jump up and say "Oh!,oh!,oh! I know this one! Tenncare!" As they use to say on the show Tic, Tac, Dough. "XXX, No! I'm sorry, circle gets square". We now spend more on health care then we did before Phil came in. The budget is just as balanced as it was under Sundquist only now its 30% bigger so what is the claim to fame? I don't get it. I use to think Phil had a shot at a Democrat VP spot but it is like he is doing all he can now to screw it up. I am not sure if he figured that if Fred get in his hopes are toast any way so he might as well go ahead and tax away. Either way he is killing his legacy.

The sad thing is he has a few weak Republicans that are still eating it up. This is not why people voted us in the majority (slim that it is) in the senate. As Dick Army said "When we are us and they are them, we win". We only loose when we stop being us and try to be them or they try to act like us and because of a sketchy history on our part are able to pull it off. We will never be able to outspend a liberal. It is not in us and the liberals will never really buy in to it any way. The first "credible" liberal that offers more will get them back. In the meantime we have killed off all of the people who voted us in because of our conservative beliefs in the first place. The next few weeks (days?) will separate the conservatives from the liberals. If you can't find courage to vote against a tax increase with the level of spending increases we have had and the surpluses we have then you probably never will.

It is time to step up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Songs of the legislature

Last night after session Bill Dunn invited a group of us out for a night of pizza and sodas at a place called the sand bar and grill. It is a little place in the ground floor of the hotel where Bill stays. The good thing about this little place is it had karaoke (I am not sure. Is that good????).

I don't do karaoke. The last time I did it, the DJ actually stopped me in the middle of the song and asked if any one there "wanted to hear any more of this?" after a resounding "No!" I was shut off. After that result I figured singing wasn't my ticket to fame and fortune and I better keep the day job of fixing up old houses.

I seldom go out much after session, but I knew this excursion was going to be well worth the trip.

I was expecting a few legislative cuts such as this, this or this.

Some of the songs covered were This, This, and this.

Little did I know we had so many good voices in our caucus. Vince Dean and Richard Floyd were next level and Chris Crider has a little bit of showman in his blood. It was a riot. Word is John Deberry is on the invite list next time because the strength of his voice. Could be fun.

On the shoe with Oatney

After a slight technical delay I had a good interview with Dave Oatney. We hit on a wide range of topics and some inside stuff that is coming up in the very near future.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Where do you stand?

Where do you stand politically? Take this short (10 questions) quiz and find out. It is only a snapshot but I was scored conservative/libertarian.

Thank you

To all those who gave some and to the some who gave all, I thank you. Now go and have a BBQ while you still can afford to do it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ophelia to go to rehab

I guess it is common knowledge now that the family of Ophelia Ford is going to be coming to get her and take her into rehab in the next day or so. I think this is a good thing. Not for the political reasons but because she is a fellow human being. I am glad that she has someone in her family that cares enough about her to do the difficult thing and go get her. Yes, I could take a political shot at her but I think the real important thing right now is for people to step back from the political angle and wish her well in her personal recovery.

Addiction is a terrible thing. It can grab anyone. Rich or poor. Republican or Democrat. Smart or dumb. I hope she sees what a great act of love by her family this is and is able to turn her life around and come out of this as better person.

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Budget 2.0

Many republicans in the house have put together another alternative budget to the Governors and the Democrat plan. Here are the facts.

Republican Budget 2.0

 No tax increase
 Funds BEP 2.0 at 50% (= $335.5 million more in K-12 than 06-07)
* Over all education budget 435.5 million more K-12
 3% state employee raise
 $24 million in compression pay for state employees
 Restores $32.8 million in recurring road funding
 ½ cent recurring sales tax cut on food
 Non-recurring December sales tax holiday on food
 Crime package (4 Republican sexual offender / firearm bills)
 No pork
 $21 million farm program
 $136.6 added to rainy day fund
 $26 million remaining in non-recurring $ / $5 million remaining in recurring
 Does not bust Copeland cap

EXPENDITURE Governor’s Budget, Democrat Plan, Republican Plan 2.0

K-12 improvements $284.5 million, $384.5 million, $335.5 million*
K-12 Capitol GRANT $0, $0, $100 million*
Higher Ed $75.7 million, $75.7 million, $75.7 million
Higher Ed Capitol Outlay $0, $125.9 million, $125.9 million
Employee raise 1% + 2% bonus, 3% raise, 3% raise
Compression $0, $26.8 million, $24 million
Rainy Day $36.6 million, $216 million, $136.6 million
Pork $0, $20 million, $0
Tax Cut on Food $0, $40.7 million, $114.8 million
Recurring Highway $ $0, $32.8 million, $32.8 million
Debt for trees $82 million, $82 million, $0 ($82 million cash)
Farm program $6 million, $21 million, $21 million

TAX INCREASE $219.6 million, $219.6 million, $0

 In a year with unprecedented growth, $1.5 billion in new revenue, we should not even be contemplating a tax increase, but should be looking at how to return the taxpayers money.
 We are growing Government at an unprecedented level. By spending so much in good times, the growth is simply unsustainable in lean times and we will be forced into another income tax debate.
 The Governor has said we have to pass a tax increase to fund education. That is simply not true. You can fund the new BEP formula, take care of state employees, add more to the rainy day fund, provide sales tax relief on food, live within our means by not busting the Copeland cap and still not raise taxes!

Rosa and me

A lot of talk has been going around about the Rosa Parks act and why I voted against it. Long and short of it is I did not like the expunging of felonies part of it. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and many others advocated for non violent resistance to end the discrimination problem in their time. I support that system as well.

Felony charges in that arena were seldom non violent charges. Half of Memphis was burned when MLK was shot. Homes and businesses of innocent people were robbed and burned. Violent resistance was advocated by some groups like the black panthers. I feel expunging those type crimes and others like it need closer scrutiny then was given in the bill. I had an amendment to remove that part of the bill but it was killed. If the felony part was not in the bill I would have supported it.

Unfortunately this was one of the bills that has a great title, but when you read it does not turn out to be as good as the name.

Yes, I knew how it would look when I voted against this bill. The classic cries of racist would go out. But I know who and what I am (and what I am not). These false attacks do not bother me but they do bother many who fear the impending attacks. I figured all along that was part of the plan of this bill, Some legislators use this type of tactic to pass questionable legislation, to stir up race hatred, to divide us. But I have long believe that a nation divided against itself will not stand. This type of tactic on this issue is one of the worst that is used in politics.

The end result is I voted against the bill. I could not in good conscience vote for what I thought was a bad bill just because the title would make me look non PC.

AT&T vs Comcast

The AT&T vs. Comcast war you have been seeing all the TV commercials about was pulled by its sponsor in the house (most likely for the year) while in committee yesterday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Batting .500

The omnibus rules bill came up in Gov. Opps today. That bill is the one I spoke of several times with the squirt gun ban on campus. I had two amendments the first would allow legal conceal carry permit holders to not be subject to disciplinary action by the university. I thought it would be a good first step to allowing legal cc permit holders to defend themselves as was the case at the Appalachin school of law in Virginia instead of have a massacre as was the case at Virginia tech. It failed on a voice vote. The other was the removal of the ban on squirt guns/cap guns/ bent sticks/ pointed fingers at TSU. Odum blew up with the thing democrats have become fond of saying on the house floor (this is new, we were not told about this, your grandstanding, this isn't the place for this, move to the table)

This system is sort of like all the new cloture votes you have been hearing about at the federal level, this is an attempt to shut off all debate and stop possible amendments. They have been using this tactic a lot on the house floor. Now they are trying to push it down in to the committees.

The fact is though that I did bring it up in the last committee. I said in the last committee I was going to bring amendment forward to chang this bill in the next committee (this one). Unfortunately Leader Odum decided not to show up for the last committee so he was oblivious to this fact.

The removal of the ban passed on a 6 to 5 vote (Republicans showed up for the committee and actually outnumbered the democrats 6 to5). Super soakers live to squirt another day.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

A lot of talk has been going around as to why the big things aren't moving. It all comes down to the senate.

The senate is the entire ball of wax. Everything big that is still on the table is waiting for the senate to move on. The house is on hold because the house sponsors feel that they aren't going to bother moving anything until the senate moves it first. If the senate passes something then they can follow suit. If it is killed then the house sponsor can blame it on the senate.

A good example is the tobacco ban bills. All the tobacco bills in the house keep getting rolled from week to week waiting for the senate to do the dirty work. The same could be said of the tobacco tax increase, the budget and BEP reform.

Not that the senate is the cause of the hold up but as you may have read part of the hold up is the lack of information being given by the administration. The gov want to put off any decision making to give him more time to sell the idea of a tax increase and other ideas before he actually presents them. If he gets his tax increase then he can put what ever he wants (or pull out what he does not want) in the education reform package because the senate wont have any thing left to hold over his head.

On the flip side if the senate passes education reform or at least BEP reform then it could work and pass a no new taxes budget.

Another part of the Governors scheme is to put off any decision until legislators are so sick and tired of being here with nothing to do that they will vote for about anything to get out of here and go home.

The senate in itself seems confused on what direction it wants to go. At times it looks strong and resolute about no new taxes with a 1.5 billion dollar surplus. Other times it looks like it will vote for 20 cents if a small bone is thrown to them in the form of a slight tax decrease on food (most say half to a third of the new tax would be enough make them cave). Part of this is probably due to the close but fluctuating numbers in the senate.

Not having a budget of any form to go by makes it difficult to plan. The govs original budget was quickly trumped by the budget put out by some Republicans. No new taxes, under Copeland cap, a cut of the tax on food, funding for the new BEP and over 60 million extra in the budget to spend as needed. Unfortunately the republican plan suffered from the same problem as the governors BEP reform plan.

Premature evaluation.

When it was first rolled out it was not a unified message. No one had a copy. Not house republican members, not senate republican members and house republican leadership would not even take ownership of it. Despite its original Merit it quickly dried up for lack of traction. Word is now that the dems are planning on putting out a budget of there own. Republicans have not been sitting on their hands. A new Republican budget that is even better then the original one is soon to be rolling out. Hopefully this one will fair better then the last one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When is it pork?

Lots of people have different definitions of when a project is pork and when it is not. Many legislators love the idea of giving out the pork because they say it is government closer to the people and these projects are needed (plus it is great PR). Pork can be tempting and addicting. Most of the ideas you may hear of fall outside of my idea of what government (or at least this level of government) should do.

I will agree that most of these causes are good and I am sure a strong argument can be made to give money to any of these groups, but the question is should one state legislator be the one handing out checks to these groups. In my opinion no.

If a proposal does not have state wide application that should be the first flag. Yes, Some state laws we pass now deal with helping the commerce of an one area, but that is usually for commerce and usually exceeds the capability of the local municipality to put into effect a project of need. Ultimately though the state works to handle state issues.

The next level of government is local government. Local government should handle what is not done by the state government (or not done well) and what the individual can not do or has great difficulty in doing themselves. For a state legislator to give state money out to an organization with in local government is not what we should be doing. By giving checks to any organization that is under the local government umbrella and does not meet the previous standard then we are usurping the local government authority. We are in effect saying that we are superior to the local government in knowing what is needed by the local community. If we want to return money to local governments then fine we could do that, but they should decide from there where the need is greatest.

Another area popular for giving is when a legislator gives out money to a non governmental agency such as a community group or neighborhood organization. When we do that we are doing what the individual or the private entity should do themselves. We are taking away the authority and the ability of the individual to support these groups as they see fit. In effect we are saying that we should decide what you should support and what you need. What is good for you and your community. To me if a legislator thinks these groups have Merit then they should work to return money to the individual and encourage them to spend it on the group. Ultimately though the individual should decide.

As a Republican I feel government closer to the people is better. The individual is the ultimate form of local control. The individuals ability of self governance. The ability to allow the person to support and spend their money on what they want and need as they see fit when the basic needs of the group have been covered should be the ultimate goal of government.

My proposal was a combination of these principles. My ultimate goal is to return the money to as wide a base of the individual taxpayer as possible where they would see a result. The broadest form of tax relief that I could think of that would have an impact was to remove or lower the tax on food. That was going to be too unwieldy so After talking with Mayor Haslem we decided that the next level up would be to give the money back in some form of tax rebate on property. That is what I went with.

It met two criteria, it went back to a local org as was roughly the goal of this bill and it returned money to the widest group of people that could be managed (My goal). I spoke with chairman Fitzhugh and Rep. Tindell previous to making this proposal and Harry told me that he was going to try to add an amendment to the bill that would make this proposal acceptable. Rep Fitzhugh said if it was added and fit the criteria then he would accept it onto the bill.

We will see. It all may be for naught if the bill is killed in the end.

I am shocked! Shocked I say!

Just as predicted the education reforms (minor as they were) will be removed from the BEP package if this passes. Not that the reforms were all that strong to start with.

Myspace and sexual predators

Here is a good story on the MySpace and sexual predator problem that I spoke of here.

From the story

MySpace, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., obtained the data from Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. The companies partnered in December to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States, and Angus said MySpace has already used the database to remove about 7,000 profiles

7,000 profiles from eight states. To my knowledge Tennessee is not yet on the list of states to have the names of their predators removed. I would imagine the system removes predators by name only. Just imagine how many more predators might be removed if we added IP addresses or E mail addresses. Today I will be looking into what it takes to have Tennessee put on the list as it is. More soon....

Gun Bill update III

Frank Nicley gun bill was given a 90 thousand dollar fiscal note (for signs to tell people that they can carry in all the parks)and was sent back to budget sub. from calender committee.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Is this backwards?

Is it me or is the headline of this story a little backwards. I would think that the bigger offer would get top billing. But instead of "Republicans Cut grocery tax full cent per dollar" it is "Dem: Cut grocery tax a half-cent per dollar "

What he said

I just got done doing an interview for channel 6 news in Knoxville talking about the pork proposals. I mentioned this poll and talked about how the state is rolling in enough cash to fully fund the BEP, remove the tax on food for the rest of the year and still have money left over.

I went to Bill Hobbs and saw a post and a link to a Frank Cagle story that lays out all the local implications, political long term consequences and hypocrisy of some of the local media clear as day.

Good stuff!

For all you Fred heads

Check this poll and get excited!

New roads or old roads

We had a bill up last week to renew the Tennessee department of transportation.

Rep. Joey Hensley came up with an amendment that said if TDOT does not finish the projects it promised to do if they got a gas tax increase in 1986 then it could not start any more new road projects.

The amendment gave TDOT four years to complete the projects promised twenty years ago before the hold on new projects would kick in.

Democrats balked. If they have to deliver on what was promised to get a tax increase then the entire system would go into shutdown. How would they be able to give out road projects as political payoffs if they have to complete the things they actually promised? What was he thinking? Besides next year a new gas tax is being purposed.

Now put that same mentality into education reform. They want new taxes for education but don't want to be held accountable for any results to get the money. Just give more and then things will change they say. Twenty years later.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The pickle

Kleinhitler has a good post on the tough position many legislator feel they have been put in. Many conservative legislators put in for the pork begrudgingly and will probably vote against the bill when it comes up, but the thought that if they don't put in for it then it will just be spent elsewhere was too much to overcome.

I still think using the earmark for tax relief is the best option for conservatives (If they are allowed as earmarks). Some are refusing to put in for it on principle.

Can we get "Eye of the tiger" next?

Rep. David Hawk made a suggestion to play chamber music during breaks in legislation while on the house floor. In his words to "Sooth the savage beast". This morning chamber music was playing as we entered the house floor. The feed back has been overwhelmingly positive.

The other white meat

Jessica Fender has a good piece about the pork proposals floating in the house and senate. I will be putting forward a proposal to dedicate the money to some form of tax relief.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thoughts and ramblings

The following are some thoughts and rambling I have been hearing around the legislature from both sides of the isle. Some I support, Some I don't. Some are new ideas, some are old. Take them for what they are, ideas suggestions compromises that are floating around. Will any pass or get traction? who knows. pick your favorites or put in other ideas in the comments section. I know many legislator read this blog and I will put down all ideas.

1. "We don't need a tax increase we need to give a bigger chunk back."

2."It isn't pork if it fills a want of the people"

3."The schools need it"

4."Put the slush fund/pork toward tax relief"

5."How can we get pork and then say we need a tax increase?"

6."40 cents will pass"

7."20 cents will pass"

8."no new taxes will pass but there is enough to do the BEP change anyway"

9."The Governor will not allow the BEP to change if he doesn't get his tax increase"

10."If we vote for the tax increase we are as bad as them."

11."Republicans will support a tobacco tax increase if it is linked to real reform in education, otherwise no"

12."20 cents this year and 15 cents next"

13."20 cent tobacco tax increase up front and another penny for every school taken off the failing schools list (There are 20).

14."2 cent tax increase on tobacco for every school taken off the failing schools list. Lets reward success not failure"

15."This is a once in a life time chance to get real education reform. If we tie the money to results they will have to do reform"

16."We need to return the money we took from the gas tax"

17."The governor will deal, he has to."

18."The governor wont deal and will take his chances"

19."Only a few republicans will vote for the tax increase no matter what"

20."the governor wont support any plan that has set benchmarks for improvement. He is in too deep with the TEA"

21."If we are going to pass a small tax increase we might as well pass a big one and remove the tax on food. The political repercussions are the same"

22."Next year it will be a gas tax increase"

23."The house will spend its pork their way the senate will spend it theirs."

24."The house republican budget has no new taxes, funds everything and still is full of pork"

25."The liberal republicans are mad at the conservative republicans about the alternative no new tax budget. It will make them look bad when they vote for the tax increase"

26."I am going to give my pork money to the TCPR"

27."Can I give mine to tennessee right to life?"

28."We fight more about a surplus then we do about cuts, we will be here till July"

At the request of a chairman

Is there a fair chairman in the house?

Judicial selection

The judicial selection committee has been renewed for one year. Four years was wanted but an amendment by Mike Bell lowered it to one. If the bill was killed all together then the yes/no vote for judges would return to a regular run for office just like other elected officials do. Just like how it is drawn up in the state constitution. I voted for the amendment (one year is better then four)but against the bill (None is better then one). The amendment passed 47-46, the bill passed something like 88-6.

Ford goes postal

I think when people see this they have got to wonder what is up with her. This supposedly went on until she was pulled out of the room by a fellow legislator and taken into a back room. Supposedly her yelling and screaming in the back room was so loud that the committee could barely hear each other over the outbursts.

This is a better and more complete copy of all that was said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

MySpace and on line predators

This is a good article from the NY Times about on line child predators. They spent a good portion talking about the need for a bill similar to one that I carried and that the democrats killed earlier this year.



In his statement, Mr. Nigam also reiterated MySpace’s support for state and federal laws that would require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and instant messenger accounts with authorities. He said such a step would aid the company in keeping sex offenders off the service, which has 65 million monthly visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix.

Currently Virginia and Kentucky are among the few states with such laws. In December, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, introduced an e-mail registration bill in the Senate, where it is still pending.

Keep your hands on your wallet

Many people think we are short to recess. I and others still think that we will be here until late in the first or early in the second week of June.

Your lips say no but your bill says yes

You may remember me talking last week about house bill 1776. Well it came up last night. I asked Ulysses Jones on the floor about my concerns and he responded several times that I just don't understand and how the bill will not do what I described.

The bill passed.

I decided to call Bruce Androphy at the ethics commission and and ask him his opinion on the bill. He said That yes it would do as I described. Ethics complaints against state employees would have final dispensation handled by the appointing authority (whoever gave them the job). In the capitol that is the speaker of the chamber.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

2.0 in slow mo

What the 2.0 plan does not tell you is laid out in this report by Susan Lynn.

Also the BEP plan as it is being touted is not meant for immediate full implementation. Word is only 50% will be covered in year one. The rest will come as time and money allow.

Audio of objections

The video is still "missing" but here is an audio copy of the objections. It is not that clear but you can still make most of it out.

Hey Mom,

Thanks for all you do.

I love you.

Stacey

Friday, May 11, 2007

More controversial videos go missing

As you may have read in my last post the video of the controversial squirt gun ban vote has gone missing as well as the vote tally.

Now I have just been told that another controversial vote and a shady move by speaker Naifeh has gone missing from the video archive.

We had a bill on the house floor for Med Mal tort reform. It had been watered down to a large extent already. No caps for punitive damages or any thing like that. Well another amendment was added by Rob Briley that would scrap the entire bill.

Some democrats were even against the amendment. When it came up for a vote it failed, but as soon as it failed the sponsor of the bill (Doug Overby) made a motion to send the bill back to Judiciary committee. A committee that is closed. More or less killing the bill.

Conservatives were ready. A hand full of legislators jumped up and yelled "I OBJECT!", "I OBJECT" I don't mean a little yell, I mean LOUD yelling. It was so loud it startled some people, possibly even woke some up.

Naifeh still went ahead and dropped the hammer saying "Without objection".

People were mad! they would not sit down. Glen Casada and Tom Dubois(Our parliamentarian) jumped into action. A few minutes later Glen was recognized and said to the effect of "Mr speaker we had a group of legislators objecting to a motion that I don't think even had a second"

Naifeh said "I saw a second over there" and made a wave of his hand in the direction of half the floor.

Glen shot back "Well mister speaker we still had several legislators very vocally objecting to the motion so we would like to make a motion to challenge the ruling of the speaker" (that there were no objections to the motion).

I heard several people say they had never seen that happen in all their years in the legislature. It still failed. I think we had about 33 people who stood strong on the vote but anyone who was there knew there were objection.

I was waiting to get a video copy of the entire thing before I talked about it but guess what?

I have just been told that as soon as the bill gets started the video goes blank.

Odd how that works (Or doesn't) on these bad votes. They must not like the fame.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Super soaker ban update

The story about the ban on squirt guns, cap guns or any thing that looks like a gun from the TSU campus that I wrote about here is starting to grow. Oddly the video and vote tally from the committee seems to be MIA.

Another interesting factoid. Sen. Thelma Harper, the person who spoke on camera against my amendment (to allow people with a conceal carry permit to carry on campus without repercussions from the campus) to channel 4 was one of the first to call out a personal conflict on the senate floor on a conceal carry bill herself. I would assume that indicates that she herself has a Conceal Carry permit. Actually I guess this would prove it.

From the channell 4 story

State Rep. Thelma Harper, who represents the TSU district, said college students need help and protections, but said guns were not the right idea.

“Arming them with guns, that’s not he answer,” she said.


Can I get an "Amen!!" from Rosie O'Donnell?

Illegals get sanctuary in church

I wonder if this was the reason Rob Briley made the exemption for people to transport illegals for religious reasons without penalty.

Dumbing it down

You may have read about a bill that would give kids a diploma from high school for attendance. When I first read about this bill I thought "No way, It won't even come out of the first committee". Once again I am let down. It made it all the way to the house floor.

I will quote the governor from his state of the state speech.

"We need to raise standards and expectations. Not just for the college bound but for everyone"

"We need a state wide curriculum that is rigorous and aligned to the real demands of higher ed and the workplace"

"Something I learned as a father is that children are very good at responding to expectations. If we set them low, they respond low. If we set them high they respond in kind"

"We need to raise standards and expectations in our schools"

I quoted the governor when it came up on the house floor and the huddles started all over the floor. After a delay Curry Todd asked that the bill be sent back to the education committee. More talking. Finally the sponsor allowed it to go back to the education committee.

May it die there.

1776

You may remember house bill 1776. That was the bill that Brian Kelsey and I tried to add amendments to that would stop the free food and drink at receptions. This bill is bad all by itself. It is coming back over from the senate to be re passed in the house after minor changes. The bill as it is takes the power away from the ethics commission to prosecute employees of the state and gives the power to prosecute to the leaders of the chamber (Naifeh and Ramsey) This bill is bad because (As an example only, not that it ever happens;-)) If someone does something unethical for hmmmm, lets see......... say, the speaker, then the person they will be held accountable to is.......The speaker. Fox meet hen house.

Its not just me

Some people say I am too partisan and that it hurts my ability to pass meaningful legislation. FYI on today's calender of events out of 24 pages of bills and 39 bills, only one Republican bill made it out of committee and on to the house floor for a vote. It was a local bill to increase library taxes in one county from one dollar to five.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Elected school superintendent

Failed. It was only going to be allowed if 2/3 of county commission voted for it and then it passed a vote of the people. Still no dice.

Expunge murder convictions

We just passed a bill that would allow for the expunging of felonies (even murder) if the murder was done while challenging a law designed to maintain discrimination. About 35 voted against it. MLK is spinning.

Gun bill update II

Frank Nicleys gun bill passed committee today 6 to 4. A bad amendment was added on to the bill to make all parks put up signs at the park entrances letting people know that they can carry legal guns in the parks. This is another poison pill to try add a huge fiscal note to the bill in hopes that it will make it an easy kill in the next committee.

Get the broom!!

Cause it was a sweep!! Last night the legislators and staff had the final game in a three part trilogy against the interns. First was softball...Legislators won, then it was basketball....Legislators crushed them, finally it was flag football.

Although the interns put up a valiant effort and even scored and lead at one point (on a play that was not held up under video review) the legislators were able to come back and scrape out a victory 15 to 8.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Super soaker ban to go on TV

I just did an interview with Dagny Stewart from Channel 4 News on the squirt gun and cap gun ban at TSU. It should be on tonight at 6 PM. You can view it here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Gov opps votes to ban super soakers at TSU

We just voted in joint gov opps committee to allow Tennessee State University to ban water guns, cap guns or any other weapons that simulate a firearm. It passed on a party line vote.

I made a motion to strike the language and instead allow people to carry legally permitted guns without disciplinary action but was told that we can only make recommendations in that committee, changes had to be done in the next committee. I made the recommendation.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A conservative Democrat blog

Some people say I am all Republican all the time but here is a Democrat blog that follows conservative principles. You may want to check it out.

It didn't take long

It didn't take long for What I said here to come true.

What I said....


In the governors speech much was said about making people accountable for results with this new money. Many times (really, almost all the time.....O.K., all the time) that is just lip service. Goals, time lines and repercussions for failure just don't seem to pass TEA lobbyist approval. I hold little hope that this time will be any different. Bill Dunn has a bunch of great ideas on how to make it a reality if they are really serious, but I am not holding my breath. It will get down to where they will say "Give us the money! Give us the money! What ever you ask for is too much or will be too hard! Just give us the money and we will work it out!" People will cave in and it will be more of the same.


The next day on Tennessee Politics Blog

The state has three options for dealing with failing schools: close the schools, we can remove the schools from the school system and make them charter schools, or run by a university. Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales likes the new BEP money, but doesn't like Bredesen's threats: "We are in a better position locally to manage those schools than the state."

Just like clock work. I wonder if he read my post or did he learn the speach at some TEA workshop?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lincoln day dinner tonight

The Knox county Lincoln day dinner is tonight at 7:15 at Rothchilds more info is here Sen. Richard Burr is the keynote speaker.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Come here and get polled

Several legislator are doing an informal poll on the tobacco tax. We would like it to go on as many blogs and websites as possible to get a feel for how the state feels about this topic. If you blog please put this link up.



Question one is do you favor a tobacco tax increase. if you vote yes on question one then you are asked how you would prefer the money to be spent, For education or to remove the tax on food.

That is it.

All points of view welcome.

Gun bill update

People have been asking me for an update on The gun bill that I talked about here a little while ago. The bill is set to come up in full judiciary committee this week. It was set to come up last week but one key vote was not going to be able to be there so the sponsor (Frank Nicley) had to roll it (put it off) for on week. The vote is expected to be that close.

Bills on illegals that passed this week

The MOU(Memorandum Of Understanding) bill (by Delores Gresham) that allows state troopers to take training so they can check for immigration status of suspected illegals in the US passed. Delores has been working for years on this bill. I read of a similar thing that is being done in a local jail and as I recall the number was something like 88 of 94 people checked turned out to be illegal.

The reason it passed (besides being a good bill) Was a deal was cut in passing of another bill, One that did away will the illegal driving certificate program for good. Two versions of the bill were presented in the house this year. One by Donna Rowland(R) and one by Mike Turner(D). Mikes bill moved in the senate but only if the MOU bill was brought back to life (it was already killed in committee) and allowed to move in the house. It happened. Mike was gracious enough to share credit with Donna Rowland on the floor. Donna has been working to pass a bill doing away with the illegal driving certificate program since the program was first passed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My point of view on 2.0

Yes, I think the BEP needed reform but just FYI this is not the reform package presented by the BEP study committee. That plan was considered by many to be the most fair way to distribute money to our schools with no new money. A true straight reformulation that would have some winners and some losers. Tougher to pass, but costs a lot less also. This plan is good, but is more of a payoff with some reform where everybody gets more and two areas get a lot more.

In the governors speech much was said about making people accountable for results with this new money. Many times (really, almost all the time.....O.K., all the time) that is just lip service. Goals, time lines and repercussions for failure just don't seem to pass TEA lobbyist approval. I hold little hope that this time will be any different. Bill Dunn has a bunch of great ideas on how to make it a reality if they are really serious, but I am not holding my breath. It will get down to where they will say "Give us the money! Give us the money! What ever you ask for is too much or will be too hard! Just give us the money and we will work it out!" People will cave in and it will be more of the same.

On the other side of the issue.

Many conservative legislators feel they have had the legs cut out from under them on removing the tax on food. They doubt any serious effort will be put toward that goal since this deal has been cut. The only real hope was in the senate. Some legislators there are serious about cutting taxes but others would be just as happy with more pork and they got theirs. The best description I ever heard about the senate is "Its about 30 people wandering around trying to figure out why they aren't governor yet, all trying to position themselves or get the one big deal to put them over the top so they can be." I would say the number is closer to twenty five.

Let me throw this out to the people who want glory and good policy.

Revenues are up. Way up. We have growth and surplus totals of about 1.2 Billion. Enough for the BEP change (about $460 million) plus cutting all the tax off of food for the full year(about $420 million) and still have money left over. The question is will any one be able to rally the troops and infuse the the will power and focus to stay and do it.

If yes, That person will become a hero to conservatives and the working man state wide. Any person who buys food will remember your name fondly. Being the leader in the move to cut the tax off food will also have bipartisan support from the people on the street. I would say cutting the cost of food helps the entire state more then all the other issues still on the table combined.

If no such person exists, I think a small cut will still happen but some people will get tired of being in Nashville and will settle quickly at one of the first offers made. Probably the one month cut in December ($70 million). The rest will go to pork.

Drew Johnson on 2.0

Drew Johnson of the TCPR has a strong point of view for the 2.0 plan.

Drew, You need to stop holding back so much. Let us know how you really feel!


Bredesen’s “BEP 2.0” a Political Payoff to Pass Bloated BudgetGovernor’s plan swallows surplus rather than returning it to taxpayers.

NASHVILLE – Today Gov. Phil Bredesen called on the Tennessee General Assembly to “seize the moment” and enact a plan to address the state’s inequitable school funding formula, the Basic Education Program (BEP). According to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, however, the Governor has seized the moment to make a political payoff to select legislators in exchange for passing his swollen, pork-filled budget.
Rather than assigning existing education funds in more evenhanded way, the funding scheme, known as “BEP 2.0” pours $476 million new state tax dollars into the funding formula.
The Governor mentioned senators Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) and Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), as key actors in developing the BEP 2.0 scheme. Not surprisingly, Woodson and McNally’s districts would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the plan to throw more of Tennesseans’ hard-earned money at schools.
Under BEP 2.0, Knox County, which is represented in part by both Woodson and McNally, would receive an additional $8.8 million from the pockets of taxpayers, and Anderson County, which lies entirely in McNally’s district, is positioned for an increase of $2.2 million.
In fact, Woodson and McNally are considered the key votes needed to pass the Governor’s bloated budget, which has exploded to nearly $28 billion. Some believe that the additional education money promised to Knox and Anderson Counties will ensure the support of Woodson and McNally, likely enabling the budget to pass.
“The Governor is trying to pass his budget by committing budgetary bribery with money snatched from the pockets of Tennessee’s working families,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
The Governor hopes to pay for BEP 2.0 by raiding the surplus of state tax dollars and increasing the sales tax on cigarettes.
This surplus, which is expected to top $300 million this fiscal year, was created when the state government took more money from Tennesseans than was necessary to fund the expected cost of this year’s $26.5 billion dollar budget.
“Bredesen is using surplus money that should go back to taxpayers to pay off unprincipled legislators who believe that bringing home the bacon is more important than letting all Tennesseans keep more of their money,” Johnson said.
Rather than taking additional money from state taxpayers, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research recommends allocating existing funds in a more equitable fashion and returning the surplus to taxpayers by temporarily eliminating the state’s 6% sales tax on groceries. With the $300 million surplus, the Governor could eliminate the state grocery tax from July 1 through the end of 2007 without cutting a single state government expenditure.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Great speech

No matter how you feel on the issue. I am sure by this video you can see why the right wing insider was the policy analyst for Sen. Fred Thompson.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On Illegals

The Oak Ridger has a synopsis of an argument Rob Briley and I had on an Illegal immigration bill.

It actually went further then that . Rob asked if I was against churches transporting illegals.

I responded that I was against anyone knowingly transporting illegals for anything except emergency services. (The amendment made it OK to KNOWINGLY transport illegals for religious reasons). Some of my concerns were; How can you tell if they really were transporting for religious reasons? If I were transporting illegals and got caught I would say I was taking them to church. It started to heat up so the speaker called us both out of order and had us both sit down .

After the bill passed I did ask the sponsor if since the bill makes it illegal to transport illegals across state lines what if they transported themselves across state lines? Would that be illegal as well? He thought for a few seconds and then said yes, it would.

That is good news because if an illegal person can not prove they got into Tennessee legally, originally, then they can be charged with illegal transportation of an illegal alien (themselves).

Interesting.

The deal

Word on the street is a deal has been cut. The BEP will be fixed. In return some people promise to vote for the governors tobacco tax plan instead of the plan to use the money to remove the tax on food for the poor. A small amount of money may go to remove a small percent of the tax or cut it for a short period of time in an attempt to appease the majority of people who want to remove all of the tax on food for good.