Tag Archives: Tennessee Legislature

Rep. Mike Turner, His Relationship With Bloggers And The Long Goodbye

I once wrote at Newscoma that my dream job would be just to follow Rep. Mike Turner around and writing down all the things he says on a daily basis.

For the press corp, you know that Rep. Turner was a box of candy everyday, but on another note he was always good to bloggers too. He understood that we could all help each other and he was always available for a conversation, no matter who you were.

This is important.

He would comment on our blogs, sit down with us and mentor. See, that’s the thing,he didn’t break people down even if he disagreed with you,

So he has decided to step down, and the speculation will run to who will run for leadership in the House next time. I guess the writing was on the wall for awhile.

Anyway, I know that Rep. Turner was that dude who was always going to say that “thing” that someone else wasn’t going to say and bully for him. It was a lot of fun to watch, but he never walked away from a fight which was kinda gratifying when this state got so bogged down with democrats trying to be civil. Look where that got us, campers.

We will miss you Mike, and thanks for being good to all of us. Hate to hear you are leaving the legislature but I know you had a good run.

So I will leave you with this:


Morning Coffee – Presenting Your New Republican Overlords – Pre-Legislative Session Edition

The future of the state lies in these thumbs <shiver>
Image Credit: Squalto-rant

The upcoming session of the Tennessee General Assembly begins in just 15 days. Between now and then there will likely be a whole bunch of nothing news wise, except for the TNDP Chair election which is about as exciting as watching socks dry in the rain (no offense guys, but seriously).

Considering the huge shift from a nearly 50-50 split house to the 64-34-1 Republican super-majority, there’s gonna be a lot of changes coming our way. As Jeff Woods reports in the Nashville City paper, they may not be exactly what voters expected.

From the article:

On the to-do list:

• Changing state law to restrict eligibility for unemployment benefits and make it less difficult and time-consuming for businesses to deny payments to workers.

• Enacting caps on damages awarded in lawsuits against businesses, including product liability and medical malpractice cases.

• Streamlining or even eliminating some business regulations, particularly regarding environmental protection.

Good times. 10% unemployment means gut the little bit of help that is keeping these unfortunate folks barely treading water.

Tort reform means that if someone sells you something that hurts you, you’ll only get a percentage of what you might have before regardless of how negligent the business was.

As for the third item, I hope you like Selenium in your water.

Woods also draws quotes from Knoxville stuntbaby and newly elected State Senator Stacey Campfield who is continuing to push his extreme socially conservative bills, saying social and fiscal conservatism shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.


Oh, but this is only the beginning. Still caught in an economic downturn that has seen the return of huge bonuses for banks execs that were previously mere seconds away from failure while regular folks still struggle to survive, the newly elected Republican majority in the US House wants to make sure things get so bad down at the state level that they can effectively force bankruptcy on states by cutting the availability of low interest bonds and in the process, drive a stake in the hearts of those dastardly unions, that have been seeking to ensure people have a living wage for generations. Welcome to the new era of the Pinkertons.

Here’s Sam Seder, subbing in for Keith Olberman on Countdown last night:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Looks like the next two years are going to be a barrel of laughs.

We’ll be keeping an eye out once the legislature gets back in session. A quick glance at bills already filed may be an early indication, including this retaliation bill against the Memphis City Schools filed by Senator Brian Kelsey.

I’m sure these developments will keep keyboards a clicking over the next six months.

Ok, on to the coffee!

Extending the Bush Tax Cuts did more for businesses than anyone else. If you don’t itemize your taxes and you’re a homeowner, you may see an increase.

The economy in Memphis is stagnant, or so says a report by the Federal Reserve.

Mississippi is going to teach Civil Rights in all grades. Suggestion, start with your Governor.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland is making shit up again.

Shelby County School Board President David Pickler is promising answers about MCS charter surrender. Of course, he’s perplexed by the whole development, even though a report that his body commissioned with the Memphis City Schools tells the inconvenient truth that he summarily rejects. You can have your own opinion Mr. Pickler, but you can’t have your own facts.

Ok, have a good day out there. Chances are we’ll be out of pocket until after the New Year.

TennCare Hospital Fee Approved by the Feds

WPLN reports that Federal Officials have approved the so called “Bed Fee” that will help stave off cuts in TennCare.

The fee, the only revenue enhancement approved by the state legislature this session, imposes a 3.5% rate on net revenue generated by private hospitals for the benefit of the state’s public institutions.

The fee, which started gaining support in February, was sent to the Governor in May and went into effect yesterday, July 1st.

While the fee was originally proposed to help address funding shortfalls at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, The MED, it eventually became a way to help maintain funding levels for uncompensated care at all the state’s publicly owned hospitals. The proposal gained even more traction in the face of proposed $201m cut in TennCare that, if enacted, likely would have put all publicly owned hospitals out of business.

Morning Coffee – I Said I Wouldn’t, But I’m Gonna Edition

John Boehner
Orange complexion courtesy of the oompa loompa

So yesterday I talked about old habits, and in that post I bemoaned the way that I used to torture myself with Morning Joe.

I was doing that very thing as I was writing Morning Coffee. Unfortunately for me, just when Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei came on, I turned it down because he makes me stabby. So I missed the whole darn thing about John Boehner being lazy.

Hurts my heart.

Anyway, it made me wonder if that time slot is cursed for politics or something. Seems like every couple of years there’s a huge gaffe. Actually, it’s probably less than that. Sleepy eyed political pukes on TV before brunch? MADNESS!

So there, I said I wouldn’t talk about it again, but I am talking about it again, because nothing makes me happier than stories about the Republican Party in disarray.

Part of me wonders though, if Scarbrough isn’t just playing smackmaster for Eric Cantor. He’s more up Joe’s ally, if you know what I mean, and he’s not that weird color orange or anything.

You know he’s making a play for leader. What better news for him than a talking head talking about the current leader being lazy.

Interesting….but I need coffee!

Wondering what the Tennessee Legislature did for all those months and how it effects you? Tom Humphrey has the deets on the laws that go into effect today.

State Senator Jim Tracy is probably kicking himself for a law he pushed that’s now allowing a mosque he opposes to be built. I can’t help but snicker. If you value religious freedom, you oughta give Ben Leming a look. He may be the only non-crazy person in the race. Actually, he seems downright rational. What a concept!

I know it’s hard to believe that a division of the Memphis City Government could be open to fraud, but one is. Mayor Wharton says he’s on the case.

Speaking of Memphis, yesterday they inked a lease agreement with Bass Pro for the Pyramid.

Hey Memphis peeps, go vote for Kontji Anthony in that “Hey Oprah, give me a show” thing. Seriously, that would be awesome.

I can’t wait for the coming long weekend, so I may just partake in it starting this afternoon. Well, probably not, but tomorrow for sure.


Tennessee’s Waste Of Money Problem Situation

Stephen George is blasting the legislature for wasting money this session. Speak to Power discussed this last week about the per diem problem in Nashville.

I’d bet the money I just paid for our legislators to prance and pose that, were a poll to be taken of the voting public, more people would agree with me than would support, say, a do-nothing resolution to declare that the mighty Tennessee legislature snubs its nose at health care reform law.

Amid the charade is legislation (both passed and attempted) regarding illegal immigration. Where they actually do something, the bills only hurt the state.

He points out some of the legislation that didn’t do Tennessee any favors.

Morning Coffee – First Week Without the Lege Edition

This session left the state battered and bruised, but still breathing

It seems that its milestone time around here. Last week we passed out 1000th post, then we had our first speaking gig and now we have our first full week without the shenanigans of the legislature.

While that may seem like a big change for a little blog that’s spent a lot of time talking about state politics, I think all of us are glad the state is out of harms way…for now.

Like I’m sure someone said last week, (though my hazy mind can’t remember who) this means we’re in full on campaign mode. With just 7 weeks until state and federal primary elections the action is just starting up, particularly in the Republican Gubernatorial primary race.

But we’ll get on with that later, right now it’s time for some coffee!

Like we said, the race is on, but hopefully unlike the George Jones song, the winner won’t be losing all.

Here in the Shelby County race for Mayor there was some action. TNDP Chair Chip Forrester called a poll released by Republican Mark Luttrell bogus, and said that Luttrell was posing as a Democrat. An independent poll disputes the poll released by Luttrell and says the race is all tied up.

Grand Divisions the blog of the Tennessee Equality Project is trying to whip up awareness of the upcoming primary.

Richard at Mediaverse notes a rumor that has CA Editorials Editor leaving to become Chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. That’s a pretty huge move. Regardless of how it works out, we wish him well.

And finally, this isn’t really political, but deals with the other subject you’re not supposed to talk about in a bar, religion. Southern Beale has an interesting post on what happens when we die.

Al-righty folks, the week’s just getting started. Make it a good one!

We Need More Harold Buehlers

I never met Harold Buehler. I, like most Memphians had heard of him, but honestly, until the past several months I didn’t know that much about him, or what he did.

I didn’t know that he was a former educator and coach, or the impact he had on the community he served.

I didn’t know that he, more than any other single developer in Shelby County, was responsible for turning hundreds, if not thousands of parcels of land from blighted nuisance to a productive part of the community.

What I didn’t and still don’t know could probably fill up volumes, but I know one thing, we need more people like him. We need more people working to provide opportunities for our working poor and impoverished citizens, from affordable housing, to education, job training and economic development.

I know that he had his detractors. I don’t think you can live in this world and not have some detractors. But despite those detractors is the undeniable fact that he made providing safe, affordable housing for people in need in this city his life’s work. For that, we should thank him.

Mr. Buehler passed away on Sunday. On the last day of session the Tennessee Legislature passed a resolution honoring his contribution to our community.

We need more Harold Buehlers. People dedicated to helping lift people up rather than pointing fingers and blaming them for being down. People who look for creative solutions to complex problems and put them into action.

His legacy will be felt in this community both through the homes he built, and the spirit of helping those of us who are less fortunate. His family will carry on with the business he built, but hopefully his legacy will inspire more people to look for creative ways to help those in need.

I didn’t know Harold Buehler, but what I’ve come to know of him is inspiring.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Morning Coffee – 1K Edition

Poorly Photoshopped by Yours Truly

Yesterday, we here at Speak to Power passed a milestone with our 1000th post.

Way back in February when we started this thing we had a vague idea of what we were trying to accomplish; build up and help promote a community of people with a shared purpose focusing on the things that unite us. Just like it was way back in February, this is still a work in progress.

I know 1000 posts isn’t really all that much. Kleinheider could bang out 1000 posts in an afternoon back in his heyday, but we’re proud of what we’ve become through this evolution and look forward to what we will be in the future.

The blogosphere, media in general, and people’s attitude toward media is changing in ways that we never imagined just five years ago. It will continue to evolve as people’s expectations change and the rate of news distribution increases. We intend to roll with these changes just like everyone else, and hopefully continue to provide a window to the world that is informative, engaging, sometimes challenging, and always focused on building a community.

Thanks for all the support you’ve shown us in our first four months. It’s been a fun ride and we look forward to the road ahead of us.

Now, on to the coffee!

Aunt B asks a very important question about Tennessee Republicans and footwear.

River City Mud is talking Herenton. It’s a good read even if it is “quarrelsome”. (Just kidding, it’s totally not quarrelsome)

A Republican blame storm is brewing on the horizon. I love watching those.

Tom Humphrey has a list of the winners and losers for this legislative session. *insert snark here*

Susan Lynn (R-Lebanon) may have an Election Finance violation. (Free registration required)

This ain’t just hurting churches most of my former and my current employer is dealing with this mess.

It’s Friday, enjoy it dadgummit!

The New Poll Tax

Voting is a fundamental right in our nation. Since the 1960’s when the Voting Rights Act repealed the Jim Crow laws that sought to disenfranchise African-American voters that right has been protected from all sorts of shenanigans. Now the Tennessee legislature has voted to restore one of these laws, the poll tax.

Just like many Jim Crow laws, this law doesn’t apply to everyone, but people who have served their time in jail, and been released.

Its easy to continue to hold a grudge against these folks. That’s the emotional thing to do for folks who hold order as sacred over equality. But these people have paid their debt to society. If they are to be successful back here in the outside world, they must find a way to re-integrate back into society. Having their voting rights restored is one of those steps to re-integration.

But as a story by TN Report notes, a new law, if signed by the Governor, would make the restoration of voting rights that much more difficult, by requiring felons to pay all their court costs and fees BEFORE they can have their voting rights restored.

Supporters of this bill argue that paying court costs is a part of a felons debt to society and that by restoring their voting rights before those costs are paid, we are “victimizing twice” the victims of the original crime.

But the fact of the matter is that few released felons have bright employment futures ahead of them. Their re-integration back into society is the single biggest challenge facing them and us. How these individuals make their way in these weeks and months after release often has a huge impact on whether or not they will return to the Department of Corrections. Requiring them to pay all the fees associated with their incarceration before they can fully re-integrate into society is an unnecessary barrier that compounds this challenge.

The reality is that people in jail contribute zero to society. In fact, they are a drain on resources. It is in our best interest to do everything possible to ensure that they have the opportunity to contribute and become a productive member of society. This bill does nothing to help that process.

In the end, this is about whether or not we believe people who have been released from prison have been punished enough. The supporters of this bill don’t think they have. The supporters of his bill think they should be punished more, even though by they are technically “free”. In prescribing this additional punishment, the legislature has virtually ensured that becoming a productive member of society on the “outside” is that much harder to attain.

Should released felons be required to pay back their court costs and associated fees? Absolutely, that’s part of their responsibility. But should we, as a society, continue to punish these individuals by withholding their voting rights because their circumstances make paying those fees a lengthy and burdensome process? No. They’ve paid their debt in time, and while nothing can undo the crime they committed that put them in this situation, continuing to punish them because they lack the resources to pay fees and court costs is punishing an individual for something they have no control over, being poor.

Morning Coffee – Breathe Easy Edition

Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na, Hey-Hey-Hey, Goodbye....

Tennessee you can rest easy. As Senator Mark Norris tweeted at 2am this morning the Tennessee Legislature adjourned early this morning. Thank God!

Y’all, it’s been so bad that one opinion piece yesterday called this legislature inept. More importantly, they laid the blame squarely at the feet of Ron Ramsey.

You see, legislators are elected to make hard decisions. That’s their gig. But in the face of revenue shortfalls, high unemployment, and lots of needs out there in the state, many members of this legislature, particularly Senate Republicans, were just too chicken to do the very thing they were elected to do, make the hard decisions. In the process, they killed or ignored several bills that might have protected Tennesseans from the kind of ecological disasters that folks down in the Gulf, or closer to home, like the Coal Ash Spill, they tried to nullify the Healthcare Reform Act, they eschewed Federal Matching dollars that pay off at a 2:1 ratio, and generally made a mess of something that could have been so damn simple if they would have just allowed it to be.

That ain’t leadership, that’s self-interested protectionism.

I’m glad this session is over, and I can assure you I’ll have a much more detailed account of just how over the top this session was in the coming days.

In the mean time, I need some coffee!

There was a lot of last second action in the lege last night including, but not limited to: the passage of flood tax releif and a campaign finance transparency bill that covers corporations. On the FAIL column was the Freedom from Healthcare Act that was sent to conference committee. Something interesting happened when this was sent to conference, Speaker Williams appointed 3 Republicans that have supported the bill to committee and no Democrats. Needless to say, Speaker Emeritus Naifeh was none too happy about this.

Bill Haslam has a poll out showing he’s in the lead in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor. In second place is Zach Wamp and Undecided, followed by Ron Ramsey.

As Trace noted yesterday, Democratic Candidate for Congress and former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton had a media free-for-all yesterday. In it, he claimed that teenaged rape victims that couldn’t get timely rape kits and abused animals in a city shelter are trivialities even though he’s running on his record. Yeah, I’ve got more to say about this, but wow…just wow.

Finally, a shout out to one of our bloggers in crime, LeftWingCracker, AKA Steve Steffens is happy about the Chicago win in the Stanley Cup final last night. Not sure how everyone else falls on this one, but remember Steve, this means that no other team in Chicago can do anything well for at least a decade. enjoy it while you can!

Alright, after today, you just have one more day before the weekend. Me, I’m counting the hours.