michael curcio

Can Curcio counter curse of ‘last supper’ photo?

House Judiciary Chairman Michael Curcio of Dickson is a leading contender for the vacant No. 3 Republican leadership position in the chamber. But if he wins it would be against a trend of a house cleaning among erstwhile allies of former Speaker Glen Casada.

A photo of Casada’s lieutenants celebrating in a Nashville steakhouse after the Franklin Republican’s nomination as speaker last November has become a symbol of the hubris of the moment. Four of those pictured no longer hold their positions — most notably Casada himself, who became the first Tennessee House speaker in 126 years not to serve out his full term. Another, Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, came in third in the vote to succeed him (his brother and childhood friend, Reps. Timothy Hill and Micah Van Huss, are also pictured).

Former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, whose text message exchanges with the speaker kicked the lid off the scandal that ultimately toppled Casada, is seated at the head of the table. Former aides Shawn Hatmaker (the reputed “hall monitor”) and Michael Lotfi (whose no-show job rankled members) are also pictured.

And on the bottom right sits Curcio, who supporters of Rep. Curtis Johnson’s rival bid for speaker believed was in his camp until they saw this photo after the election. Casada later named Curcio chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Curcio was a vocal supporter of the rule changes pushed through by the new speaker aimed at limiting dissent within the chamber.

Rep. Michael Curio (R-Dickson) checks his phone during a House Republican Caucus meeting in Nashville on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Curcio is a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss), Americans for Prosperity, and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington.

The other candidates for caucus chair are Reps. Jeremy Faison of Cosby,  Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain, and Jerry Sexton of Bean Station. The caucus election is scheduled for Thursday.

Marriage bill stalls amid debate over who can perform ceremonies

A seeking to allow more elected officials to officiate over wedding ceremonies has run into trouble in the House amid a myriad of questions about the purpose of the legislation.

Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) put off the bill after extensive questioning on the House floor about the need for extending the officiating power to all current and former state lawmakers (the speakers of both chambers can already solemnize weddings), plus nearly 1,700 city or town council members.

The bill would also specify that that ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis, or other spiritual leaders must be ordained or “otherwise designated in conformity with the customs of a church, temple or other religious group or organization” in order to preside over weddings.

“We have right now in Tennessee a situation where people are going online and getting an online ordination in order to marry friends and family members,” said House Judiciary Chairman Michael Curcio (R-Dickson). “Right now we don’t know under the eyes of the law whether those are legal marriages. So we desperately need clarification.”

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