Today in Tennessee History:In 1781, Freeland's Station in Davidson County is attacked by 40-50 Native Americans. In 1883, William Brimmage Bate is sworn in as Governor. During his administration, the state debt problem was resolved. Bate was the first Confederate general to become Governor of Tennessee.
McCormick says legislators will OK $300M in VW incentives
State law requires a 12-hour "cooling off" period, but there's a loophole that allows judges to waive the period. That judicial discretion led to a controversial case in Nashville in June and prompted Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, to file a bill that aims to take away the judge's choice.
"These are very volatile, dangerous situations in which this 12-hour hold is critical to ensuring that there's at least 12 hours there for victims to evaluate their circumstances and try to get whatever help they need to make sure they're safe when the defendant is released," Lamberth said. LINK (Subscription)
In Looming Fight Over Tennessee Abortion Laws, Both Sides Are Approaching CautiouslyAfter an impassioned campaign over Amendment 1, groups on both sides of Tennessee’s abortion debate are surprisingly practical about what they can accomplish in the legislature this year.
Tennessee voters approved a constitutional amendment in November, giving lawmakers more power to pass abortion regulations. On the first day of the legislative session Tuesday, hundreds of protesters rallied outside the statehouse, decrying the amendment and calling for legislators to respect abortion rights.
But Tennessee’s legislature is overwhelmingly conservative this year. Even abortion rights lobbyists from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood say they don’t expect to stop lawmakers from passing new regulations this year.
The fight now is over what’s inside the laws they pass, says Jeff Teague, head of Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee.
“We’re going to work really hard and really aggressively to make sure that those pieces of legislation are as least harmful to women as possible,” he says.
Teague’s example: A potential mandatory waiting period law, which would dictate how long women have to wait between talking to a doctor and getting an abortion.
“Are you saying a 24-hour waiting period, or are you saying a 72-hour waiting period?” Teague says. “The devil is in the details.” LINK
It's a New Year in Politics, Too
Though it was on something of a holiday break, politics is on the front burner in Memphis, Nashville, and Washington, D.C. again.In Nashville, the 2015 General Assembly convened to take on such key issues as health care, educational standards, changes in taxation, and legislation designed to exploit the constitutional changes effected by the state's voters in the November 2014 election. In the cases of educational standards and "Insure Tennessee," Governor Bill Haslam's proposal for Medicaid expansion, the trick will be to back into the essential structures of Common Core and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), respectively, with improvised Tennessee-specific substitutes.
Nationally, Tennessee's two Republican U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, attained new levels of influence as a consequence of the GOP's capturing a majority in the Senate. Alexander became chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Corker ascended to the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Alexander, who is behind legislation to revise the Bush-era "No Child Left Behind" act, is widely regarded as a possible liaison between Republicans and Democrats in the highly fractionated Senate. Corker indicated, in a conference call with Tennessee reporters last week, that he intends to bring a new activist focus to what he regards as a drift in the Obama administration's foreign policy. For that, he has been touted by columnist George Will as potentially "the senator who matters most in 2015," though Corker has drawn more attention of late for his proposals to raise the federal gasoline tax. LINK
Gilmore, Akbari Elected State Directors For National GroupState Reps. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville and Raumesh Akbari of Memphis have been elected to leadership roles with the national organization Women in Government.
The two Democrats were recently sworn in as 2015 state directors with the group.
The Women In Government Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of women state legislators that provides leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums and educational resources. LINK
McCormick says legislators will OK $300M in VW incentivesA top Republican in the Tennessee General Assembly says he expects his colleagues to approve the state share of a $300 million incentive package for Volkswagen despite misgivings about the role of the United Auto Workers union at the German automaker’s plant in Chattanooga.
House Republican leader Gerald McCormick says he agrees with some colleagues that the UAW should not, in his words, “slip in the back door because of a secret deal with Volkswagen.”
But McCormick nevertheless expects his colleagues to approve the deal struck to ensure the production of a new SUV at the plant and the creation of 2,000 jobs. In McCormick’s words: “Tennessee will keep its promises.” LINK
Harwell wants to split up House Education CommitteeIn a move aimed at easing the workload on some lawmakers, House Speaker Beth Harwell wants to split the House Education Committee into two committees.
It's unclear exactly what the change would mean for some of the large education fights expected this year — think Common Core standards, a new state standardized test and teacher pay raises — but Harwell hopes it streamlines the process of acting on bills related to education.
"That committee had the most bills: almost two times as many bills went to education as any other committee," Harwell said Wednesday morning.
Last year, Harwell split the commerce committee into separate committees focused on different financial aspects, and she split the judiciary committee into committees focused on civil and criminal matters. All of those committees received roughly the same number of bills as years past, and she thought it provided for a better work product. LINK
Crockett Policy Institute