Harwell to divided Republicans: ‘Be kind to each other’

With Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax bill scheduled to hit the House and Senate floors on Wednesday, GOP House Speaker Beth Harwell is urging divided fellow Republicans to “try to keep personalities out of it” during debate, reports the Times-Free Press.

“This will be a hard week,” Harwell told GOP Caucus members Monday. “We got big votes and I’m just asking y’all no matter how you come down on this — we’re going to have good Republicans for this bill, we’re going to have good Republicans against this bill — I’m asking you to be kind to each other.

“We don’t have to make it a personal thing, we don’t have to talk about anyone,” Harwell added. “Just vote your conscience and say what you need to about the issue. But let’s try to keep personalities out of it.”

Her comments came after weeks of infighting among House Republicans and a weekend in which Haslam launched a personal lobbying campaign by phone seeking to sway enough undecided Republicans and Democrats to vote for his IMPROVE Act.

…In an email blast Monday, Haslam touted the plan, calling it “the largest tax cut in our great state’s history.”

Besides lowering the grocery tax from 5 percent to 4 percent, a move that affects most Tennesseans, the IMPROVE Act also includes a favorable business tax change that corporate manufacturers can use if they wish. And it continues to phase out the personal Hall Tax on investment income.

…During Monday’s caucus meeting, (Caucus Chairman Ryan) Williams told fellow Republicans “we may debate the bill, we may discuss the bill, we may even completely disagree on the bill, but we won’t be disagreeable on the bill. I think it’s very important that we say that. People know we are Christians by our love, maybe they’ll know we’re the House Caucus by the way we treat each other.”

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