Friday, April 10, 2015

Crockett News Round Up for 4-10-15

Insure Tennessee town hall blasts no-show Harwell, others

Lawmakers could soon be packing heat on Capitol Hill

Guiding principles for a more enlightened U.S. education policy

Roadblocks to the budget

Is it better to spend $120 million on one project or $1 million on 120 projects? Some variation of that question is one lawmakers will be faced with next week as they plan to approve a state spending plan for the next year.
As the legislature presses toward a mid-April adjournment, lawmakers will have to settle several budget battles first, like whether to reduce the Hall tax, give their blessing to a series of economic incentives and approving a new state museum.
“The one thing that we have a lot of is non-recurring money. What we don’t have is recurring money, we just don’t have any,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin.
Lawmakers expect to pass the state’s $33.3 billion spending plan this week with hopes to adjourn the following week. The spending plan assumes an uptick of $31.5 million in recurring funds, largely in tax revenue growth, and $318 million in one-time money from a legal settlement, according to the administration’s proposal.
The lopsided increase in one-time money to recurring funds has led the governor to propose about $245 million in additional capital projects, including spending almost half of the dollars on a new state museum next to the Bicentennial Mall in Nashville at the chagrin of at least one lawmaker.
“I want to send you home with something to think about,” Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, said on the House floor before legislators left town Thursday. “I want you to think about if $120 million for a state museum is the best use for the taxpayer of Tennessee’s money. And we’ll talk about this again next week.” 
Budget gurus in both chambers say they have heard grumbling over the museum, although House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent expects the capital project to weather any challenge from lawmakers. LINK

Lawmakers could soon be packing heat on Capitol Hill

When it comes to passing laws to put guns in the hands of more Tennesseans, never underestimate the passion of our state General Assembly. With the National Rifle Association gathering in Nashville this week, Tennessee legislators went all out to make conventioneers feel welcomed.
Both houses voted on Wednesday (appropriately April Fool’s Day, which was also the day after the state Senate killed Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan for a second time in two months) cities and towns now have to prohibit firearms inside municipal parks.
That includes Johnson City, which in 2009 became one of more than 70 local governments to opt out of a state law allowing handgun permit holders to tote their weapons inside a state or local park.
Despite calls from Johnson City leaders for him to do otherwise, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, voted to usurp a local government’s control of its parks.
Afterward, Crowe did his now familiar “Rusty two-step” to dance around his vote.
“It was very hard to discern from the letters and calls from constituents which side weighed more heavily than the other,” Crowe, who has been named “Legislator of the Year” by the First Tennessee Development District, told Press staff writer Gary B. Gray.
Johnson City leaders were disappointed by the vote. City/ County Commissioner David Tomita told Gray he did not believe the GOP-led General Assembly’s actions on the gun issue best reflect the true philosophy of the Republican Party.
“Logistically, we’re the ones on the front lines,” Tomita told Gray. “We’re the ones taking the local temperature. One of the edicts of the Republican Party is smaller, less intrusive government. But every time you take something away from local government … well, that is not something Ronald Reagan would do.”
Well, there he goes again — another politician channeling Reagan on a local issue.
As I recall, Reagan’s administration ended federal revenue sharing with state and local governments. LINK

Insure Tennessee town hall blasts no-show Harwell, others

Neither Speaker of the House Beth Harwell nor a member of staff attended a Thursday town hall onInsure Tennessee so the town hall organizers are bringing her the questions.
Harwell was invited to attend, but she and her staff declined, said Ginna Betts, who corresponded with her. Harwell, R-Nashville, did offer to meet with organizers at Legislative Plaza — and the organizers plan to take up the offer by bringing the questions from the town hall to her office, Betts said. Attendees will be invited to the yet-to-be-set meeting.
"We all want to know where she is tonight," several people chorused through the audience when the question-and-answer period began. The town hall, planned to be the first in a series, was sponsored by the Tennessee Health Care Campaign and constituents of Harwell.
Had she or a staffer attended, the only wingback chair in the meeting area would have been theirs. LINK

Tenn. Lawmakers Can't Agree on Guns Bill Drafted as NRA Gift

It was supposed to be a welcoming gift from Tennessee lawmakers to the more than 70,000 people coming to the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Nashville this weekend.
But the bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to be armed in all of the state's parks has gotten tied up amid bickering between Republicans in the state House and Senate.
Originally enacted in 2009, the guns-in-parks law included an opt-out provision for city and county governments. More than 70 communities initially decided to keep their gun bans in place. LINK

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Uses NRA Slot To Court Tennessee Republicans

Scott Walker is making overtures toward Tennessee Republicans while in Nashville to make a speech at NRA's annual convention.
It's all part of an effort to show the Wisconsin governor can appeal to Southern voters.
Walker arrived at the state Capitol shortly before noon on Thursday for a private meet-and-greet session with Tennessee lawmakers. Walker described a kinship between their work and his as governor.
"I just think the real success in America is happening in our statehouses, and I think we need more leaders in Washington who understand that and put more power back to the states."
Thus begins Walker's courtship of Tennesseans. The state will not be among the first to hold its presidential primary next spring, but it could provide a chance for Walker to show strength south of the Mason-Dixon line.
He's already made a tour of South Carolina, an early primary state.
Tennesseans have been receptive to non-Southerners in the past, with Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorumwinning the state's primary in 2012. But a strong campaign organization can be decisive in Tennessee, as demonstrated by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner in 2008. LINK

Hillary Clinton to Announce Presidential Bid as Early as Sunday

Two sources close to the Clinton campaign say former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for president of the United States "as early as Sunday."
She is expected to make the announcement on social media, with campaign stops planned for next week, including to first-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa.
Clinton, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2008, now enters the race as the undisputed frontrunner for her party's nod. Only a handful of other Democrats have expressed interest in pursuing a White House bid, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But none have Clinton's broad name recognition, massive fundraising apparatus and sky-high approval ratings within the party.
If she captures the Democratic Party nomination, Clinton will be the first woman in American history to top a general election ticket for a major political party. LINK

Guiding principles for a more enlightened U.S. education policy

The unique character of public schooling means that no one policy, strategy or leadership style works everywhere. It also means that leaders can seldom make positive change by decree. Rather, they must engage in a challenging process of working with stakeholders—including unions, teachers, parents, and community members–to improve teaching, learning, student motivation and many other aspects of their operations. The process can be frustrating and slow. When the parties have earned each other’s trust, however, it can also forge powerful partnerships that get more mileage than centralized command-and-control decision-making.
Superintendents who operate in mayoral control districts sometimes say that they are fortunate not to have to report to a school board and to be able to act decisively on their own. College presidents don’t have to answer to the public. But a beauty of public schools is their potential to be democratic communities, if not democracies. They engage in an ongoing conversation about how to offer an education that will reflect residents’ broad hopes and values, parents’ desires for their children, and educators’ expertise. The process is messy and imperfect. At its best, however, it helps conserve the best of what is, invites consideration of what might be, sorts the good from the bad and moves to implement changes with broad support and conviction. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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