glen casada

After thoughts of pumping brakes, full steam a head on voucher bill

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

After Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to create a statewide charter authorizer nearly bogged down in the House Education Committee last week, there was talk that the next big piece of legislation aimed at creating voucher-like education savings accounts might need another week to ripen before heading through the same panel.

Looks like that delay is now off the table.

The Lee administration is pressing to present the bill to the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

The charter authorizer bill advanced out of that committee on a 13-9 vote, but only after House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) came to the panel to personally intervene. Casada was able to get several freshman Republican who voiced concerns about the measure to get on board.

The bill also got the support of embattled Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro), whom school choice advocates have tried for years to to defeat because of his support for traditional public schools.

Maybe Casada will be at the meeting from the start on Wednesday?

Report: House payroll grows under Casada

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert reports that new House Speaker Glen Casada has increased payroll costs in the lower chamber of the General Assembly, compared with his predecessor (a fellow Republican), in large part due to salary hikes for existing staffers and the hiring of more personnel.

Ebert’s analysis shows Casada presides over a $5.1 million payroll for employees in his office, House leadership, and committees. Last year at this time, that payroll stood at $3.8 million. Casada’s office says much of that change is due to reclassification of House employees.

That may not be the last of the increased spending: The General Assembly is in line to receive a $7 million budget increase under Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s annual spending plan introduced this week.

Casada said  House employees have been “under-compensated for the last several years.”

“With our new House leadership team in place, we are modernizing operations to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities to represent constituents effectively, and to craft and enact laws that provide solutions and meet the needs of our state,” he told the newspaper.

Salaries for the eight staffers in the speaker’s office this year total nearly $942,000. Last year, the five employees in then-House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office earned $545,000.

Read the full story here.

 

 

Casada’s office orders removal of women protesting Rep. Byrd

House Speaker Glen Casada’s office ordered troopers to remove six women holding signs protesting Rep. David Byrd’s chairmanship from a committee meeting.

The Associated Press reports the women sitting in the audience held signs at face-level reading “Enough is enough,” “Take a stand,” and “Protect constituents.” Three women have accused Bryd of sexual misconduct when they were teenage basketball players and he was their their 28-year-old high school basketball coach.

One of the women, Christi Rice, has since recorded a call to Byrd in which the lawmaker apologizes for unspecified transgressions. He has denied anything happened with other students.

“I wish I had a do-over because I promise you I would have corrected that and that would’ve never happened,” Byrd said in the recorded call. “But I hope you believe me when I say that it’s one of those things that I think about it all the time, and I always ask forgiveness for it and I hope you forgive me.”

Casada’s predecessor, Beth Harwell, had demanded Byrd’s resignation after the allegations were first aired by WSMV-TV last year. But Casada has deemed the allegations to be “fake news” and appointed Byrd chairman of an education subcommittee after he was overwhelmingly re-elected in November.

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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.

 

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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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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Casada assigns House committees

House Speaker Glen Casada speaks to fellow Republicans in a caucus meeting on Jan. 10, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are your House committee assignments for the 111th General Assembly:

Agriculture & Natural Resources

  • Chair- Halford
  • Vice Chair- Todd
  • Chism
  • Clemmons
  • Holt
  • Hulsey
  • Keisling
  • Marsh
  • Moody
  • Reedy
  • Stewart

Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee

Photo gallery of House action as Casada elected speaker

Here’s a look at some of the action surrounding the election of Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) as House speaker on Tuesday.

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) gestures toward former Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) after his election as speaker in Nashville on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) attends a Republican caucus meeting on the first day of the 111th General Assembly on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) attends a caucus meeting on the first day of the 111th General Assembly on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

New House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) takes over the gavel from former Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

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Casada wants to restore 3 oversight committees

Rep. Glen Casada, the Republican nominee for House speaker, wants to restore oversight committees for prisons, children and families, and TennCare, The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert reports. Those oversight committees — and eight others — were eliminated through an initiative of former Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and outgoing House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) in 2011.

Lee uncertain about Casada’s call for more House control on budget

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in Nashville on Nov. 7, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee says he’s not certain how the House will become more assertive in the state budgeting process. Glen Casada, who won the GOP nomination for House speaker, announced earlier this week that he will seek to give the chamber a bigger role in developing the state’s annual spending plan.

“I have no idea that that is going to happen,” Lee told reporters at a Nashville food bank on Wednesday. “What I do know is we’re going to be working together and we’ve already started that process. I believe we can work together as the executive branch and legislative branch to advance the common good for Tennesseans.”

The Tennessean reports Lee and Casada played phone tag after Casada won the speaker nomination on Tuesday, but finally connected on Wednesday.

“My hope and my belief is that we have an opportunity to actually not work in separate veins, but on the same page,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Lee said he’s working on assembling his staff and Cabinet. The first announcements are expected next week.