Crockett Policy Institute Buzz
FCC overrules state laws to help cities build out municipal broadband
Release Tennessee legislator health plan records
As legislators eye VW subsidies, Ramsey says Saturn subsidies may have been a mistake
“It’s time for a Council of Christian Relations and a NAAWP in this Country,” reads a comment posted by House Majority Floor Leader Sheila Butt on Facebook last month.
The Republican floor leader posted the comment on Jan. 27 on the Facebook page of Cathy Hinners, who operates Daily Roll Call, a website critical of Muslims in America and specifically in Tennessee. The comment, obtained by Pith, was deleted and later replaced with, “We need groups that will stand for Christians and our Western culture. We don’t have groups dedicated to speaking on our behalf.”
Butt’s comment was posted in reaction to a link to an open letter by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national civil rights and advocacy organization, about 2016 Republican presidential candidates embracing Muslim Americans
The acronym “NAAWP” is a spinoff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, seemingly to mean a National Association for the Advancement of White People.
Butt, a tea party-leaning Republican from Columbia who was newly elected as floor leader, repeatedly refused to explain to Pith what she meant by the comment and the meaning of NAAWP. She said only that reading the acronym as the National Association for the Advancement of White people is “totally misinterpreted.” LINK
Black Caucus wants Rep. Butt ousted from TN House leadership (TNDP, too)Black Caucus Chairwoman Brenda Gilmore said Butt’s comments, particularly the Facebook post, divide the Legislature and the caucus said Butt should no longer be GOP floor leader.
“When we witness a wrong that is occurring and we stand by and do nothing, and say nothing, then I say that we’re just as guilty as the person who has afflicted the victim,” said Gilmore, a Democrat.
House Speaker Beth Harwell didn’t give any indication she plans to reprimand Butt.
“This was a legislator acting on her own,” said Harwell, a Republican. “This was not a caucus incident, nor was it a leadership incident. I think she was misunderstood, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada issued a statement supporting Butt.
“I call on my colleagues in the General Assembly to join me in defending western values and culture against radical Islam,” Casada said. LINK
As legislators eye VW subsidies, Ramsey says Saturn subsidies may have been a mistakeState Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said Thursday that it may have been “a mistake” for Tennessee to subsidize the development of the General Motors plant outside Nashville because it has a United Auto Workers union contract.
The Blountville Republican’s comments came as GOP lawmakers weighing a $166 million incentive package for Volkswagen expansion in Chattanooga seek assurances that the German automaker will remain neutral on labor issues among its workers.
Republican lawmakers have grumbled about the United Auto Workers union’s ongoing role at the plant, and Ramsey pointed to the thriving Nissan plant in Smyrna as an example of the benefits of nonunion auto production compared with the GM plant that begun its life making Saturns. LINK
FCC overrules state laws to help cities build out municipal broadbandBefore it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee — both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases.Even so, the FCC's 3-2 vote will serve as a landmark moment that other communities will point to as they try to compete against commercial ISPs and knock down those deeply restrictive state laws. "There are a few irrefutable truths about broadband," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ahead of the vote. "One is you can’t say you’re for broadband, and then turn around and endorse limits." The commission has decided that Tennessee and North Carolina are needlessly preventing the "reasonable and timely deployment of high-speed internet access to all Americans," a senior FCC official said during a press call a few weeks ago. It's not hard to see the exact same logic being applied elsewhere when other petitions are brought forward. LINK
Muslim Group Fears Tennessee Terrorism Bill Could Be Used To Seize Houses of Worship
A pair of Middle Tennessee lawmakers has filed a bill to let state officials seize property they believe has been used for terrorism. That has a group that represents Muslims concerned their houses of worship could be targeted. State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) and state Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) have introduced legislation that would give state and local investigators the power to seize assets from suspected terrorists. The FBI already can confiscate property from suspected terrorists, even before they have been found guilty. LINK
Release Tennessee legislator health plan recordsThere is a compelling reason for why media companies, such as The Tennessean, and other organizations want to know which state lawmakers accept taxpayer-funded health plans.
It comes down to these principles: fairness, equity and sincerity.
The votes of seven Tennessee senators on a special committee this month killed Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal, which would have used federal Medicaid dollars to cover 280,000 working poor people across the state who can't afford health insurance.
The opposition centered around a rejection of the Affordable Care Act, and fears that:
•The federal government couldn't live up to its promise of paying for Insure Tennessee (100 percent through 2016, 90 percent thereafter);
•Haslam couldn't live up to his promise of it not affecting Tennessee's budget (despite the Tennessee Hospital Association agreeing to pick up the remaining 10 percent of the bill starting in 2017); and
•The program couldn't be shut down at the end of its two-year pilot status, despite federal assurances that the state could do just that.
Meanwhile, six of those seven lawmakers benefit from taxpayer-funded health plans that pay 80 percent of their premiums. LINK (Subscription)
Man Fined $1,000 After Voting For HimselfAubry Wilhoite has learned a tough lesson about democracy.
He faces a $1,000 fine from the Tennessee Ethics Commission after he wrote in his name in a race for the Bedford County Commission.
Wilhoite, 58, is a substitute teacher who lives in a modest apartment outside Shelbyville.
His problems started after early voting in the Bedford County commissioner's race last April.
He noticed no one running in the primary, so he wrote in his own name.
"It was just a whim," Wilhoite said. "I said I'll write my name in and see if it goes up the flag pole."
When he told a election worker what he'd done, the worker suggested he fill out a brief write-In candidate form - for his vote to count.
Wilhoite thought nothing of it, but he didn't realize that the form made him an official candidate in the general election for Bedford County commissioner.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Did you make any campaign signs or anything like that?"
Wilhoite said, "No."
And when the general election came around, Wilhoite actually voted for someone else.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "You didn't even vote for yourself?"
Wilhoite said, "No."
He said that his best friend's brother was running and he thought he'd do a great job.
Wilhoite received zero votes, but beginning in the summer he started getting what he calls "threatening" letters from the Tennessee Ethics Commission.
They demanded that he turn in what was called a "statement of interest." LINK
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