Monthly Archives: January 2019

House committees banning live streaming by members

Republican members vote during a House GOP caucus meeting in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As reported by The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison, live streaming of legislative proceedings by members is being banned in several House committees.

House Speaker Glen Casada’s office says he’s leaving the decision up to the chairs of each committee, but the policy will also extend to the House floor — and to the visitors in the gallery.

“The chairmen that are choosing to do this are choosing to do so in order to make the legislative process run more smoothly both for themselves and for the public,” Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren told the newspaper.

Commerce Chairman Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) said he was imposing the policy because he didn’t want committee members to be distracted by a colleague using social media to “prove a point.” Some members last year used social media to try to intimidate others, he said.

The change comes after a rule change pushed by Casada to eliminate speechifying on the House floor. The House Republican Caucus, which has enough members to decide new laws without the input of a single Democrat,  has also decided to close its caucus meetings to the public.

UPDATE: Statement from Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren:

House session and committee hearings are and will continue to be shown on the General Assembly’s website and on public television stations across the state. If someone actively violates House policy by disrupting the legislative process — through unruly live-streaming, blatant disregard for decorum, or disrespect of members or the public — they will be removed from the area. Legislators, stakeholders, and those visiting to see government in action must be allowed to do work and enjoy their time without unneeded and senseless disruption. Speaker Casada fully supports his chairmen in their decisions to run their committees as they best see fit.

 

Legislation seeks to move General Assembly flag to Cordell Hull

The flag of the Tennessee General Assembly is a bit of a curiosity. It flies above the Capitol when the legislature is in session. And, as it turns out, outside the Legislative Plaza office complex, according to the state law books. The only problem is that General Assembly no longer operates out of the old subterranean office space, having decamped to the Cordell Hull building last year.

Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) now wants to do something about that. He has introduced SB94, which would move the flag from the Legislative Plaza to the Cordell Hull.

The flag of the General Assembly was adopted in 1987 after being designed by Sheila Adkins, a high school student at Knoxville’s Fulton High School. According to the Blue Book, she “chose white for purity, blue to denote respect for Tennessee, red as the traditional color for America; stars to symbolize the state’s three Grand Divisions; wheat for agricultural heritage; and the gavel for the power of the people vested in the state’s legislative body.”

House Speaker Casada names senior staff

Newly-elected House Speaker Glen Casada gestures toward his predecessor, Beth Harwell, in the House chamber on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) has named the top staffers for his office.

Here’s the full release:

(NASHVILLE) — Today, Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) announced the addition of his new senior staff to assist in the operations of the Tennessee House of Representatives and to help serve the citizens of the state.

Cade Cothren has been named Chief of Staff in Speaker Casada’s office. Cothren will oversee day-to-day operations in the General Assembly for the Speaker and serve as his top advisor and strategist. Under his leadership, Cothren will select and supervise House staff, manage communications and information flow, and negotiate with key stakeholders and groups to implement the Speaker’s agenda. The University of Tennessee graduate previously served as Political Director, Press Secretary, and Director of Communications. At age 31, Cothren is the youngest person to serve in this role in modern history.

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Rose wins GOP primary in special election to succeed Norris in Senate

Covington businessman Paul Rose won the Republican nomination contest in the special election to succeed former state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville). Rose won 60% of the vote, compared with 14.4% for George Chism, 14.3% for Heidi Shafer, and 11% for former state Rep. Steve McManus.

Rose will face Eric R. Coleman, who received 543 in his uncontested Democratic primary.  The general election is March 12.

More executive orders from Gov. Lee on ethics, transparency, and non-discrimination

Bill Lee is inaugurated as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Jan. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has issued three more executive orders. Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued three executive orders to underscore and improve state government’s approach to ethics, transparency and non-discrimination practices.

“Earlier this week, I signed my first executive order to address issues facing our rural communities, and the three orders I signed today reflect firm expectations for how state government conducts business,” said Lee. “I believe in limited and accountable government, which is why I have emphasized my administration’s approach to ethics, transparency and non-discrimination in hiring.”

Executive Order 2 fortifies the ethics policy applied to the governor, members of the governor’s staff, members of the governor’s cabinet and other executive branch employees. It expands the scope of employees required to file ethical disclosures and is designed to ensure that senior members of all departments and all employees regularly interacting with the General Assembly must file such disclosures.

Executive Order 3 mandates openness, transparency and accountability within the executive branch. Employees will be required to attend training within the next 120 days to ensure legal requirements relating to the following are met: open meetings, open records, and applicable ethics and disclosure rules. This order requires that training to happen on a specific timetable (within 120 days), while also mandating additional, recurring training.

Executive Order 4 directs the Commissioner of Human Resources to review all hiring and employment practices to ensure there is no discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, or any other category protected by state and federal law. The Department of Human Resources, in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is directed to conduct training within 120 days to ensure the executive branch complies with this policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity in hiring, firing, promoting and other management practices.

 

Lee’s first executive order seeks to focus attention on distressed counties

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee in his first executive order aims to focus state agencies on improving services for Tennessee’s 15 economically distressed counties.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued his first executive order, requiring all state executive departments to issue a statement of rural impact and provide recommendations for better serving rural Tennessee.

“My administration will place a high emphasis on the development and success of our rural areas,” said Lee. “Our first executive order sends a clear message that rural areas will be prioritized across all departments as we work to improve coordination in our efforts.”

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Former Rep. Fincher endorses Rose in special state Senate election

The primary for the special election to succeed former state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris  is on Thursday. The race features one Republican candidate from Tipton County (businessman Paul Rose) and three from Shelby County (former Commissioners George Chism and Heidi Shafer and former state Rep. Steve McManus).

Rose has landed the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher along with a host of other officials and luminaries.

“His conservative credentials as a small business owner and strong background as a man of faith make him exactly what Shelby and Tipton counties need in a state senator,” Fincher said in a release.

Full release after the jump.

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Here’s your Bill Lee inauguration gallery

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Bill Lee delivers his inaugural address in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee, bottom left, looks on as his Cabinet takes the oath of office in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig Tennessee Journal)

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Full text of Gov. Bill Lee’s inaugural address

Bill Lee takes the oath of office as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s inaugural speech, as prepared for delivery:

“In 1796, a man and his young family began their homestead just up the way on the banks of the Cumberland River. That was the same year the great state of Tennessee was formed. 223 years and 50 governors later, we stand here on the banks of the Cumberland, celebrating our history and anticipating our future.

I am honored to stand before you today.

Thank you for that warm introduction Governor McNally. Thanks to you, to Speaker Casada and all the Members of the General Assembly. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.

To the former governors, thank you for being here as well. It’s an honor to have you.

I would also like to thank our Constitutional Officers, the Justices of the Supreme Court, Members of Tennessee’s Congressional Delegation and all of my fellow Tennesseans who have joined us here in War Memorial Auditorium, and those watching at home. Thank you for sharing in this special moment.

I would not be here today without God’s gift to me, my wife Maria.

Throughout the past two years of campaigning, Maria has been constantly at my side. She has been steadfastly committed to me and in this process has become committed to the people of Tennessee. She will make a remarkable First Lady. Maria, thank you.

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Haslam grants final set of 20 pardons, 3 commutations

Gov. Bill Haslam delivers his final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Haslam has granted his final set of clemency orders, issuing 20 pardons and three commutations. That brings his total to of nine commutations, 35 pardons, and one exoneration before he leaves office on Saturday.

Here is the full release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today granted executive clemency to 23 current or former Tennesseans.

“These individuals receiving pardons have made positive contributions to their communities and are worthy of the forgiveness that may help them restore their rights or obtain employment. Those receiving commutations will gain another chance to become contributing members of society,” Haslam said.  “Clemency requires attempting to balance mercy and justice, and my legal team and I have taken this responsibility seriously during a thorough review of many cases.”

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