Cordell Hull

McNally says renaming Cordell Hull Building shouldn’t be done ‘without considerable forethought and study’

Former Gov. Winfield Dunn awaits the start of the of the inauguration of Gov. Bill Lee in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) doesn’t appear quite as eager to push through a new name for the legislative office complex as some of his House counterparts. Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) announced last week he plans to introduce legislation to name the building after former Gov. Winfield Dunn. The facility constructed in the 1950s is named after Cordell Hull, the country’s longest-serving Secretary of State.

“This is not something that should be done without considerable forethought and study,” McNally told The Tennessean.

McNally got his start in politics working for Dunn’s 1970 campaign for governor, calling him “a great man (and an) outstanding governor. But he also praised Hull, who was a state representative before serving in the U.S. House and Senate.

New movement afoot to rename Cordell Hull Building

Gant

State Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) wants to rename the General Assembly’s new office complex after former Gov. Winfield Dunn, reports WKRN-TV’s Chris Bundgaard. The building has been named after Cordell Hull, the country’s longest-serving secretary of state, since it was first constructed in the 1950s.

Dunn is a Republican, while Nobel Peace prize-winning Hull was a Democrat.

Dunn became Tennessee’s first Republican governor in 48 years when he was elected in 1970.

It’s not the first time Republicans have chafed at working in a building named after a Democrat. As the AP reported in 2017, state Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) wanted to remove the name of “that old Democrat socialist” before lawmakers moved last year. But Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) opposed the change, noting that Hull was from his district.

Hull was born a  log cabin in rural Pickett County in 1871 and served in the state House and the U.S. Senate before being named secretary of state in 1933. Poor health forced him to retire from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Cabinet in 1944.

The previous call to change the name of the Cordell Hull building didn’t gain much traction. Then-Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) wasn’t thrilled by the idea.

“He was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives,” McCormick said. “And as long as he wasn’t a state senator, I think it’s OK to leave his name on the building.”

No word yet on whether the effort to name the legislative branch’s office complex after a former head of the executive branch will give anyone pause.

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.”

Lee won’t lift gun ban within state Capitol

Gov.-elect Bill Lee won’t lift the ban on firearms within the state Capitol when he takes office.

That’s according to Sam Stockard over at the Daily Memphian.

“I think the regulations as they are will stand. I’m not going to change that,” Lee said.

As of the start of the year, 628,427 Tennesseans had state-issued permits to carry firearms in public. The state suspended or revoked 2,252 permits for criminal charges or orders of protection in domestic violence cases. Another 2,882 permit applications were denied.

The General Assembly began allowing handgun carry permit holders to bring their firearms into the new Cordell Hull legislative office complex when it opened last year. But outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam maintained the ban within the Capitol.

Permit holders must present themselves to state troopers at the Cordell Hull entrances, and are required to keep their guns holstered all times within the building.

New House Speaker Glen Casada told the publication he sees no reason to change the policy.

“I support the current policy in place allowing citizens to go armed in the Cordell Hull building,” he said. “An armed, law-abiding citizen creates a safer environment for all Tennesseans.”

Democratic state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), a former Marine, said Lee’s decision to keep the ban in place is unsurprising.

“I think he wants to keep himself safe,” Parkinson said.