Page Walley

Senate deals setback to effort to block local governments from suing state

The Tennessee Senate meets on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate on Monday rejected a proposal by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) to ban local governments from filing lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of laws passed by the General Assembly.

Kelsey said his bill would only apply to lawsuits filed after the bill went into effect. But he cited recent legal challenges over school vouchers, voter ID, and funding for large school districts as examples of litigation he is seeking to outlaw.

Kelsey’s bill went off the rails when Republicans like Sens. Ken Yager of Kingston and Page Walley of Bolivar began questioning why local governments should be prevented from challenging the constitutionality of measures that may bring them fiscal harm.

Walley noted that when he was a state House member in the 1990s, 77 small school districts successfully sued the state for more equal education funding. Kelsey argued that instead of the lawsuit filed by the late Lewis Donelson, the small school districts should have pursued their aims by “talking to the legislature.”

Walley agreed it would have been better for the General Assembly to act on its own accord, but recalled “an intransigence” on the part of lawmakers that prevented a solution at the time.

The vote on Kelsey’s amendment failed 14-14, with three Republicans and two Democrats missing the vote. Kelsey asked to move his bill to Wednesday, at which point he is expected to introduce another amendment seeking similar restrictions.

Kelsey’s amendment failed on a 14-14 vote on April 26, 2021.

Humphrey on Walley-Templeton matchup: Flip a coin

A welcome sight for those keeping a keen eye on the TNJ: On the Hill comment section this morning: Blog founder Tom Humphrey has waded in to give his two cents on the only open race for the state Senate.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton is squaring off against former state Rep. Page Walley for the Republican nomination to succeed state Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) in District 26.

Here’s Old Tom’s assessment of the race:

Knew Page Walley when he was a state rep and he was an honest, smart and amiable gentleman, striving to avoid fights whenever possible but willing to scrabble when things got testy. Do not know Templeton personally, but his reputation among those whose judgment I respect is that he is an honest, smart and amiable gentleman, striving to avoid fights whenever possible but willing to scrabble when things get testy.

Both, I suspect, are pretty much dead center moderates in the Bill Haslam/Lamar Alexander mode insofar as the GOP spectrum goes. In other words, you’ve got two peas in a pod. Either would represent the rural district as well, maybe better, than the average Senate district in our fair state represents its constituency.

Which makes the campaign a very interesting spectacle for those of us who enjoy politics as a spectator sport. It’s a game between their paid managers — Bob Davis versus Tommy Hopper, picking the two most prominent names. Both of those fellows are shrewd political operatives, absolutely willing to go negative if the polling situation warrants or to stay cool with warm fuzzy ads if not.

Prediction: Flip a coin. And, of course, money is a major matter.

Choosing sides in the Walley-Templeton state Senate race

Former state Rep. Page Walley and former Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton are assembling their campaign teams for this year’s only open state Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville).

Walley is getting his campaign consulting from Bob Davis, a former state Republican Party chairman, and the Stoneridge Group. Templeton has enlisted another former state GOP chairman, Tommy Hopper, and consultant Layne Provine.

Former state Rep. Barrett Rich is backing Templeton, while retired Rep. Steve McDaniel is supporting Walley.

Senate District 26 comprises Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, McNairy, and Henderson counties.

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Battle of the ex-commissioners: Templeton, Walley to run for Gresham’s state Senate seat

Jai Templeton and Page Walley are announcing their bids to seek the Republican nomination to succeed retiring state Sen. Dolores Gresham.

Templeton is a former state agriculture commissioner, while Walley was once commissioner of the state Department of Children’s Services. Senate District 26 comprises Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, McNairy, and Henderson counties.

Gresham was elected to the West Tennessee seat after John Wilder (D-Mason), retired after 44 years in the Senate — 36 of them as speaker. Gresham, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, has served as chair of the Education Committee ever since she joined the Senate.

Templeton, a former McNairy County mayor, lives in the Stantonville community, about 15 miles southwest of Savannah. Walley, of Hardeman County, served in the state House from 1990 to 2000. State Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) plans to stay in the House.

Read the campaign releases after the jump.

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