glen casada

Sports betting bill becomes law without Lee sigature

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at an economic development announcement in Nashville on March 20, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has allowed the online sports gambling bill to become law without his signature.

Here is his letter to House Speaker Glen Casada explaining his actions:

RE: House Bill 0001/Senate Bill 0016 Speaker Casada:

I am letting House Bill 0001 become law without my signature.

I do not believe the expansion of gambling through online sports betting is in the best interest of our state, but I appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick and mortar establishments. This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, themost harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity.

Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to support this cause. We see this issue differently but let me be cle ar: any future efforts to expand gambling or introduce casinos in Tennessee will assure my veto.

Respectfully,

Bill Lee

Read Rep. Mike Carter’s letter seeking the speakership

Rep. Mike Carter takes the oath of office in Nashville on Jan 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) has sent a letter to Republican colleagues to declare his bid for the speakership. He pledges not to change any committee chairmanships, though he calls for an overhaul of the chamber’s rules to promote integrity. Carter says he would return most political functions to the House Republican Caucus chairman.

Carter is the second member to declare his candidacy after Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough).

Read the full letter below.

Members,

Today I am writing to request your support to serve as your Speaker. I am not asking you to serve me. I am asking for the high honor to serve you and the state of Tennessee.

I state this now, no Chairmanship, no Vice-Chairmanship, nor any other title or position currently held shall be removed. To allow that would give our opponents an opportunity to claim that any removal of a title is reflective of some conduct unbecoming of that representative. Considering what we have been through and realizing that conservative leadership is essential to the progress of Tennessee, we must balance every appearance against the effect on the reelection of our members.

I will form a PAC for the benefit of the members and work diligently to restore confidence with our contributors. I will assist the Caucus Chairman whenever he feels the office of Speakership is helpful for raising money.

We must reestablish the past tradition of the Caucus Chairman being the primary political figure. In my view the Speaker shall promote a culture to restore the trust of the citizens of Tennessee while encouraging great legislation we can be proud of and run on.

A Speaker’s leadership advisory team shall be established consisting of those who do not hold Chairman or Vice-Chairmanship positions of leadership so that the opinions of all shall direct the House. With the atmosphere we’re facing we must not only live in a glass bubble we must, with the consent of the Caucus, develop new rules and procedures to prove that integrity and trust has returned to the House of Representatives. Tennessee: First in integrity.

We must undertake a complete review of all policies, procedures and rules for committees and officers.

We will continue to lead as an equal branch of government cooperating with all but cowering to none. The House controls the purse, a duty and responsibility which we will take seriously and devote appropriate assets to lead the budget process.

You will be able to walk the halls and talk in your office without fear of eavesdropping.

Members will not be intimidated, and under no circumstance shall a member be threatened with a primary opponent because of any vote taken. They should at all times vote their conscience and district.

The bylaws of the House of Representatives Republican Caucus state, ”the speaker shall conduct his or herself with the highest ethical and moral standards representing the citizens of Tennessee and the Republican Caucus.” If we are to restore public trust, a clean break is imperative. The people of Tennessee both demand and deserve it.

Respectfully submitted,

/Mike Carter/

Mike Carter

State Representative

District 29

 

Casada’s former right-hand man is running to succeed him

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) attends a meeting on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Matthew Hill, a Jonesborough Republican who served as embattled House Speaker Glen Casada’s right-hand man, says he is running to succeed him.

WJHL-TV reports Hill announced his plans at a Johnson City Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday morning.

Upon his election as speaker in January, Casada named Hill his deputy speaker and chairman of the House Ethics Committee. In that role, Hill pushed through controversial changes to House rules aimed at eliminating statements and announcements by members on the floor, imposed what Hill called a “biblical standard” of two members to file ethics complaints, and drafted an advisory opinion that one member charged was aimed at trying to “rig and predetermine” a favorable outcome for Casada.

It remains to be seen how much support Hill will garner among members who just voted this week that they had lost confidence in Casada over a text message scandal and his heavy-handed leadership style.

So who voted against the Casada no-confidence resolution?

House Speaker Glen Casada’s inner circle dines together after the Franklin Republican won the GOP nomination to lead the chamber in November 2018.

We know the final tally of the vote to declare the House Republican Caucus had lost confidence in Speaker Glen Casada was 45-24. But in the aftermath of the secret ballot, it’s been exceedingly difficult to find members who admit to have remained supportive of the embattled speaker.

“Forty-five of us stood for what was right and just,” said Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), the first lawmaker to publicly call for Casada’s resignation. “And now, evidently, there were 68.”

We know Rep. Andy Holt made an impassioned — but unsuccessful — plea to table the resolution during the closed-door caucus meeting. But the Dresden Republican has been uncharacteristically quiet since the vote. Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) wrote an op-ed supporting Casada on the eve of the meeting, and Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) spoke in his favor during the gathering.

Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro) told the Daily News Journal he voted against the resolution. And presumably Casada himself voted against. So that’s five of 24.

Everyone else seems to be rushing to the winning side of the vote, including Casada’s erstwhile allies from northeast Tennessee, Matthew and Timothy Hill and Micah Van Huss, according to WJHL-TV.

Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), who was seen as working in close concert with Casada after he was appointed judiciary chairman, raised eyebrows among colleagues for issuing a statement after the vote claiming to have been on the winning side.

Casada to resign upon return from trip abroad

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) checks his phone as he awaits the joint convention to hear Gov. Bill Lee’s first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Glen Casada plans to resign upon his return from a trip to Europe.

“When I return to town on June 3rd, I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as Speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition,” Casada (R-Franklin) said in a statement.

Casada’s long-planned vacation is scheduled to begin Friday. The decision to resign from the chamber’s top leadership post follows an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the House Republican Caucus on Monday. Gov. Bill Lee had said he would call a special legislative session if Casada did not resign.

“Speaker Casada has made the right decision, and I look forward to working with the legislature to get back to conducting the people’s business and focusing on the issues that matter most to our state,” Lee said in a statement.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) also lauded the decision.

“Speaker Casada announcing his intent to resign is the right decision for the legislature, the Republican Party and the statem,” McNally said. “I commend him for it. Now we move forward. I am committed to working with leadership in the House to help restore the trust that has been lost in any way I can.”

Gov. Bill Lee to call special session if Casada doesn’t resign

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters on March 19, 2019, about his proposal to introduce an education savings account program in Tennessee. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee said Monday eventing that House Republicans had sent a “clear message” in their 45-24 vote to declare they had lost confidence in the leadership of Speaker Glen Casada. “I’m prepared to call a special session if the Speaker doesn’t resign,” the govenror said in a statement.

Lee had said before a special House Republican Caucus meeting that he would await the outcome of the no-confidence vote to see whether it would serve a “signal” to whether the body wanted a special session. Apparently it did.

Casada told the caucus after the vote that he planned to spend the coming months trying to regain the confidence.

UPDATE:

House Republican leaders issued a statement calling on Casada to resign and applauding Lee’s willingness to call a special session. The statement was signed by:

  • Rep. Cameron Sexton (Caucus Chairman)
  • Rep. Ron Gant (Assistant Majority Leader)
  • Rep. Matthew Hill (Deputy Speaker)
  • Rep. Chris Todd (Freshman Leader)
  • Rep. Rick Tillis (Majority Whip)
  • Rep. Paul Sherrell (Majority Floor Leader)
  • Rep. Clay Doggett (Majority Secretary)
  • Rep. Mark Cochran (Majority Treasurer)

[House Majority Leader William Lamberth had issued a statement earlier calling for the special session.]

Casada loses confidence vote, 45-24

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville speak to reporters about a no-confidence vote on House Speaker Glen Casada’s leadership. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican House Speaker Glen Casada was dealt a stunning rebuke by his caucus on Monday in a 45-22 vote to declare the members had lost confidence in his ability to lead the chamber.

Casada, who was only elected speaker in January, had hoped to weather the storm surrounding his office following revelations he had engaged in lewd text message exchanges with his former chief of staff, and that the aide had once taken cocaine in his office and propositioned interns and lobbyists.

The meeting was closed to the media. A secret ballot determined the outcome.

Casada told members he will work to regain their confidence in the coming months, meaning he doesn’t plan to step aside.

UPDATE: State Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden is now calling for Casada to resign:

The vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus sends a clear message; it is time for the Speaker to heed the advice of the majority of his fellow legislators and step down from his position of leadership and allow someone else to begin the process of restoring the trust of all Tennesseans.

UPDATE 2: House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) is calling for a special session to replace Casada:

After today’s vote, it is time for the Speaker to resign, and I hereby request Governor Lee call a special session by the end of June for the House to choose a new Speaker.

Censure vs. no confidence: What does it mean?

Speculation is running rampant in advance of Mondays special House Caucus meeting about what actions will be pursued against House Speaker Glen Casada amid the scandal embroiling his office.

Some see a censure vote as less damning for Casada than a vote of no confidence. But it’s unclear what the latter would accomplish given that there’s nothing in the House GOP bylaws that lays out the penalties if the motion is successful. On the other hand, here’s what the bylaws say about a censure:

DISCIPLINARY ACTION
A member can be censured with a recommendation of the majority of leadership and a
vote of 2/3 of the Caucus. A vote of censure can take any or all of the following actions

• a letter of reprimand to be kept on file for public viewing;

• denial of attendance at a caucus function or functions;

• denial of caucus funding;

• recommendation to the state party for disqualification;

• other actions may be brought with a vote of four-fifths of the membership.

One key thing to remember on a censure is that it would take the majority of the leadership to even bring the motion to a vote. Leadership is defined as the speaker, speaker pro tem, majority leader, caucus chair, assistant leader, whip, floor leader, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. A majority would mean six votes if all 10 leaders are in attendance.

We are hearing that Casada will be given an opportunity to address the members (attendance is expected to be in the 60s out of a total of 73 Republicans), after which he will be asked to leave the room so the members can discuss matters freely.

Gov. Bill Lee offers thoughts on GOP caucus meeting on Casada

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) is sworn in a as speaker of the House on Jan. 9., 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee spoke to reporters on Monday morning about his thoughts going into the special House Republican Caucus meeting on whether members still have confidence in the leadership of Speaker Glen Casada. Lee has said he would have fired Casada if he worked in the executive branch or for his private company, but that the decision over the speaker’s fate lies with members of the House.

Q: What’s your take on Casada developments?

Lee: There’s a vote today that will be important and we’ll learn a lot about that. The legislature, it’s their decision, it’s their vote. So we’ll be watching and see what happens.

Q: What’s your hope?

Lee: My hope is that they exercise their ability to the leader, and they’ll do so to back Casada with a vote of confidence or no confidence. That’s a process that’s important. The speaker himself has said that’s important.

Q: No matter what happens, you have the ability to call for a special session. Are you willing to make that call?

Lee: that’s premature. This meeting, and what happens in this meeting, will be important. And we’ll see what happens before we start any conversations beyond that.

Q: If they do pass no confidence, will you consider a special session?

Lee: It’s something to consider, but we’ll have to wait and what they do vote on first.

Q: Have you had contact with Casada since the scandal broke.

Lee: I haven’t. I haven’t spoken with him.

Q: Rep. Carter accused him of trying to rig the Ethics Committee report. Does that push you toward saying maybe he should step down.

Lee: I don’t know what took place in those Ethics Committee meetings. Like everything that has happened in the last few weeks, we just have to watch and see how the legislature weighs what’s happened, and their decision because of it.

Q: Would that be a reason to call a special session.

I think the legislature will determine, they will signal if they want a special session to consider that sort of thing. But again, it’s premature.

Q: If you were a House member how would you vote?

Lee: That’s a hypothetical question, I will leave that up to the House of Representatives.

Q: You’ve been careful with your words the last couple of weeks –

Lee: — There’s a reason I’m being very careful. Because there’s a separation between the executive branch to the legislative branch. It’s very important and there’s a reason for that. This is a decision the House of Representatives and that branch of government needs to make. So I’m intentional in recognizing that separation of government. IT’s important that it’s set up that way and it’s important that we carry it out that way.

Today’s the day for Casada to sink or swim. Or is it?

The state House Republican Caucus meets Monday afternoon at a Nashville hotel to decided whether embattled Speaker Glen Casada still has their confidence to lead the chamber.

Casada has been furiously lobbying members not to cast him aside. One idea that’s been floated is for the caucus to vote on whether to censure the speaker rather than pass a no-confidence motion, with the former being considered less fatal to his prospects to remain speaker.

Another option is for the caucus to simply vote down the no-confidence motion.

Any outcome, however, is bound to leave the speaker in a severely weakened position.

One of Casada’s major challenges is that just about every rumor floated about him feels like it might have some credence — no matter how outlandish it sounds. That means the Franklin Republican is constantly on the defensive, trying to slap down the latest whispers.

The lastest rumor spreading around the Capitol is that Casada has allegedly promised to support a primary challenger of Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) after she declared the speaker should step aside (and also because she earlier voted against the school voucher bill). Casada aides and House Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville say they are unaware of any such arrangement.

Meanwhile, Republican State Executive Committee member Randy Ellis of Harriman issued a statement calling on Casada resign as speaker:

The continued drama involving Speaker Casada has quickly turned into a National embarrassment it’s time for the Speaker to step aside and allow for new leadership. This ordeal has overshadowed all the hard work and accomplishments our legislature has worked so hard for during the last session.

It is time to end this prolonged drama. For the sake of our great party and the state of Tennessee, I call for Speaker Casada to step down as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.