McCormick lets the gavel crash in Budget Sub

As chairman of the House Finance Subcommittee, the “Black Hole” of legislative legend, Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) can make or break the funding dreams of rank-and-file members. Even when he’s had to crush those hopes, he’s tried to do so with a gentle touch. But not on Monday, when Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) tried to pull what McCormick saw as an end-around on the budget process.

Sparks and fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ketron, who is running for Rutherford County mayor this year, wanted the state to spend $150,000 to purchase, maintain, and restore the Johns-King House in Smyrna.

“You need to go through the same process that everyone else goes through and if yours doesn’t make it on the list that gets get chosen, you don’t need to go to your state senator and ask him to over everyone’s head,” McCormick said. “Because we really react negatively to that.”

Sparks ultimately agreed to take the bill off notice, but continued to argue his case before his mic was shut off. McCormick then hammered the gavel with unusual force.

According to a 2015 Daily News Journal report, the home was built in 1807 by Robert Weakley, a colonel in the Revolutionary War who was a member of Tennessee’s first General Assembly. The property was located along an alternate route of the Trail of Tears The family sold the House to Thomas Johns in 1840, and during the Civil War it was used as a Confederate hospital.

The property was sold agin in 1863 to Benjamin and Mary King, whose home in the La Vergne settlement was burned by the Union Army.

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