Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Secret Email From Outsourcing Group Says Don't Send Emails...Crockett 19-14-15

Readers on roads: Raise gas tax, add tolls, spend wiser

AG won’t opine on Knoxville gun ban

Tennessee officials mulling outsourcing told to avoid email

Officials mulling the privatization of operations at state buildings, college campuses, prisons and armories are being discouraged from putting their thoughts into emails.
Terry Cowles, who is in charge of Gov. Bill Haslam's office of Strategies for Efficiency in Real Estate Management, told reporters Tuesday that the directive was put into place to prevent the release of what he called premature or incorrect information.
Records obtained by WTVF-TV in Nashville last month included a timetable for outsourcing state facilities that appeared at odds with the governor's public pronouncements that any decision on whether even to proceed with privatization was still months away. LINK from AP

AG won’t opine on Knoxville gun ban

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery will not issue an opinion on the ban of guns at Chilhowee Park during the Tennessee Valley Fair last month, reports the News-Sentinel.
Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, said he got a message Monday afternoon from the AG’s office stating that no opinion will be issued because the AG’s office does not want to influence litigation already underway.
Last week a Loudon resident filed suit in Knox County Circuit Court asking for the court to affirm her right to carry a concealed handgun in Chilhowee Park. The suit was backed by the National Rifle Association.
“They want the courts to decide this issue,” Smith told the Farragut Gun Club on Monday.
Smith said he is concerned that as a society we are moving towards “no absolutes” where laws are interpreted rather than followed.
“The law says you can carry a gun in a park,” he said. “Are we a nation of laws or are we a nation of opinions?”
Smith and other local representatives requested the AG opinion last month after Mayor Madeline Rogero said guns could not be carried at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Smith said he did not feel that ongoing litigation should be a reason not to give an opinion. LINK from KNS

Tennessee creates $8M fund to promote rural development

The state Economic and Community Development Department is creating an $8 million program aimed at promoting projects in rural Tennessee.
The initial $6 million is designated for "shovel-ready" economic development sites, and another $1 million in grants will be available to enhance tourism projects.
The remaining $1 million is targeted at projects that include a rural broadband capacity survey and main street incubators. LINK from WPSD

TN prison officials to respond to audit Wednesday

Tennessee prison officials could announce changes to scheduling, how they discipline inmates or other programs during a legislative hearing Wednesday.
There's no guarantee Department of Corrections Commissioner Derrick Schofield will enact any of the proposed changes included in a review from theAmerican Correctional Association.
Last week Schofield thanked consultants for the review, but has downplayed issues in the prison system and hasn't yet agreed to adopt any of the suggested changes.
There needs to be additional review of the prison system regardless of whether Schofield enacts the recommendations, said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville. Stewart, an outspoken critic of the department and the ACA's review, said the suggested changes would help some, and he's not trying to say the department won't make them.
If they're not enacted though, Stewart said it's further proof the department is determined to deny calls for change from officers, inmates and their families.
"It would be particularly remarkable, because what it would tell me is that the department as currently managed is not interested in or capable of making meaningful change in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is needed," Stewart said Monday. LINK from Tennessean

Readers on roads: Raise gas tax, add tolls, spend wiser

he Tennessean editorial “If we don’t pay for our roads, they’ll only get worse” generated numerous thoughtful comments on how Tennessee should pay for its road needs.
The state reports a $6 billion backlog in unfunded road projects across Tennessee, and the main source of funding — the gas tax — has diminished in value because of population growth, inflation, road building costs and higher fuel efficiency standards since the last time the state raised the tax in 1989.
Readers suggested a variety of potential new revenue sources, from raising the gas tax to creating a load tax, based on vehicle weight. Others suggested a gambling tax, a tax on marijuana or tolls.
Not everyone agreed with more taxes or fees; some suggested Tennessee should spend its money more wisely before asking lawmakers or voters for a tax increase. Link From David Plazas, Tennessean

Trey Gowdy is right. The House is basically ungovernable.

In an interview with NBC's Kristen Welker, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy(R) offered his honest — and correct — assessment of his party in Congress. Here's the key bit:
I think the House is bordering on ungovernable right now. ... Being speaker is a very difficult job. We need to have a family conversation and sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before that conversation starts. We're getting close.
Now, Gowdy was explaining to Welker why he wouldn't be interested in the soon-to-be vacant job as speaker of the House. But his reasoning is almost certainly why Paul Ryan isn't jumping at the job either, despite basically every establishment Republican in the country urging him to do it.
The problem for Ryan, Gowdy and anyone else who is thinking about being speaker can be explained in a very simple math problem. Republicans currently control 247 seats.  There are, roughly, 40 Republican members — the vast majority of whom identify with the tea party-affiliated Freedom Caucus — who will vote against the wishes of leadership on almost any major measure unless the leadership adopts a very conservative stance. If you subtract 40 from 247, you get 207 -- 11 votes short of what a speaker would need to pass a piece of legislation without relying on any Democratic votes.
A Republican speaker who needs to always lean on Democrats to pass anything doesn't really have all that much power. And every time he (or she) leans on Democrats to pass something, that power erodes even more. (See: Boehner, John.) LINK from Washington Post

The gospel according to Ron Ramsey

What was Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey thinking?
He urged Christians in a Facebook post on Friday to arm themselves in foreboding language that evoked an imminent clash of civilizations.
Ramsey is a bold and assertive man, prone to saying what he thinks on any issue, and that can be refreshing. Sometimes.
That Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, who also happens to be president of the Senate and next in line of succession to the governorship, wanted to mourn the victims of the massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., is understandable.
Nine people lost their lives in a senseless mass shooting, several were injured, and the gunman cowardly killed himself.
However, that Ramsey turned an opportunity for collective mourning into a zealous call to arms pitting Christians against non-Christians is odd at best and dangerous at worst coming from one of the highest-ranking elected officials of the Volunteer State. LINK from Tennessean

Washington Update

Congress departed for the Columbus Day recess last week in a state of chaos, to return October 20, without designating a successor to Speaker John Boehner. The hardline Republican conservatives that defied Boehner for most of his leadership tenure opposed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, depriving him of the 40-50 votes he need to win election by the House. McCarthy withdrew his candidacy.
Establishment Republicans pleaded with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to take control of the House, but so far he has declined to run. Boehner will remain Speaker until a successor in elected by the House.
Amid the disorder, Congress sent a bipartisan Defense authorization to President Barack Obama for his veto. The House approved repealing the ban on the export of crude oil and facilitating drilling on Indian lands. A bipartisan coalition took action to force an October 26 vote to extend the Ex-Im Bank.
When Congress reconvenes, it will have 8 legislative days to avoid a highway construction shutdown and 12 days to prevent a default on Treasury bonds. Extending the highway program should be routine, increasing the debt limit is a more difficult and risky task.
The consequences of debt default could be extreme, causing a loss of investor confidence in global financial markets. The current sell-off of Treasury bonds by China and Russia would almost certainly accelerate and be joined by other central banks. In the worst case, the blow to world markets cause an immediate economic recession. The impact on conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, and to the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement, is unpredictabl
Presumably, Boehner won't allow a debt default and could join with Democrats to increase, or eliminate, the debt limit. Such a move could so inflame Republican hardliners as to postponing or preventing consensus on a Boehner successor.

Crockett Policy Institute

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