Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mancini Calls for GOP Leaders' Resignation Over Cover Up...Buzz for 1-26-16

Anti-voucher groups urge bill's defeat

State Lawmakers Take A Swipe At Tennessee Education Association

Democratic chief calls for resignation of House GOP leaders

Today’s AP wrap-up on ‘sorely disappointed’ Durham

House Speaker Beth Harwell and State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes on Monday called for state Rep. Jeremy Durham to resign from his seat in the Tennessee General Assembly amid allegations of sexual harassment.
In a news conference at the legislative office complex, Harwell also announced an overhaul of sexual harassment policies following a report in The Tennessean over the weekend that Durham sent inappropriate text messages to women working at the Legislature.
“In light of these recent revelations, it is important that Rep. Durham step down from his position as a member of this body,” Haynes said.
Harwell said it would ultimately be Durham’s decision, but she said she believes he should resign.
“I think I’ve made my feelings clear,” she said. “I think he needs help, and I think it would be in his best interest.”
Harwell said the House will begin work to update the Legislature’s 19-year-old sexual-harassment policies. Once that is complete, each of the chamber’s 99 members will undergo sexual-harassment training, she said.
The speaker also said interns will be banned from attending legislative receptions or parties, and they will be instructed not to give their cellphone numbers to lawmakers.
Durham announced Sunday that he would step aside from his position as House majority whip, but would remain in the Legislature and aggressively seek re-election to the Williamson County seat this fall.
In a written statement Monday, Durham denied any wrongdoing. Associated Press

McCormick to GOP: Don't do anything illegal

Majority leader tells members to turn down bribes, says seasoned DOJ officer has relocated to Nashville
AUTHORS Andrea Zelinski
Ten years after the Tennessee Waltz sting operation marched four sitting lawmakers through Legislative Plaza in handcuffs on corruption charges, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick stood before his 73-member House Republican Caucus warning lawmakers that the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity office is now in Nashville and lawmakers should "be at their toes at all times."
The warning comes nearly a year after Jack Smith relocated to Nashville from Washington, D.C., to serve as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, a position focused on public corruption but one with a broader scope than that of the DOJ's office of public integrity.
“I was just hoping if anyone were starting to get lazy and feel entitled, maybe I could put a stop to it and influence their decisions down the road if we have anybody like that,” McCormick told Post Politics.
“If anyone comes in and offers to do anything in return for your vote, that is against the law,” he told caucus members last week. “And I know everybody wants to — we all naturally want to — be people-pleasers because of the business we’re in, but that’s when it’s time to be rude to somebody, kick their butt out of your office and pick up the phone and call the TBI. Or the FBI.”
Said another way:
“If somebody comes in, it’s against the law to say, ‘Well, I’ll help you with this but I want you to help me with some fundraisers this spring.’ That’s off-limits right now. We can’t talk about those things right now,” McCormick said.
Lawmakers are barred from raising money while the legislature is in session and from accepting certain gifts and trips — many of those rules born out of the Tennessee Waltz. Nashville Post

State Lawmakers Take A Swipe At Tennessee Education Association

The Tennessee Senate has voted to put an end to payroll deductions for union dues for teachers, a move that could hurt the finances of one of the major lobbying groups in the state legislature.
State senators voted 21-9 Monday to bar school districts from taking out money for the Tennessee Education Association. Sen. Todd Gardenhire, the Chattanooga Republican who sponsored the measure, says the TEA shouldn't be able to reach into teachers' paychecks when competing groups that represent teachers can't get access to the system.
"Well, there's several organizations that can't get on the local school districts' computer programs to be able to deduct their dues. So this puts everybody on an equal playing field."
The legislation was slipped onto an unrelated measure, Senate Bill 151, late last week. That bill dealt with teaching children how to properly wear bicycle helmets.
Several Republican lawmakers objected to the way in which the bill was presented.
Americans for Prosperity is among the groups supporting the proposal. It sent out a tweet lauding the measure shortly after it passed.
TEA lobbyist Jim Wrye says stopping payroll deduction would upend decades of practice. His organization did not learn of the measure until shortly before it was introduced and will try to fight the measure in the state House of Representatives, which has not yet taken it up. WPLN

Anti-voucher groups urge bill's defeat

In preparation for the next step in Tennessee's school voucher showdown, groups statewide called for legislators to oppose the bill being heard Tuesday in the full House budget committee.
Organizations in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis urged lawmakers to vote down the school voucher plan that will provide a limited program for low-income students at struggling schools. The legislation is supported by Gov. Bill Haslam and some conservative groups.
To be eligible for the program, students would have to qualify for free or reduced lunches and be zoned for or attend a school that is in the bottom 5 percent of all schools in the state. The bill caps the number of students who can apply, with an eventual expansion to 20,000 vouchers.
The hope is the push will help defeat school vouchers for yet another year after it made its way out of a key House finance subcommittee that has in past years killed the bill. The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee will hear the bill at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Those opposing the plan include the Tennessee Education Association, Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence and most Tennessee Democrats.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, pointed Monday to multiple studies and reports throughout the nation that say vouchers have had little effect for students. Voucher programs offer government-funded scholarships that can be used for private school tuition. Tennessean/Subscription

Democratic chief calls for resignation of House GOP leaders

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini today called for the resignations of Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada,reports the Times-Free Press. She contends the leaders sought to shield Republican Majority Whip Jeremy Durham despite knowing of sexual harassment allegations against him.
In a news conference, Mancini attacked what she called a “culture of secrecy and coverups” and charged Republicans created a “toxic workplace” with regard to Durham, who stepped down from his caucus post on Sunday after allegations surfaced from three women who work at the Legislature regarding unwanted texts from the Franklin Republican.
“The mishandling of his offensive behavior by House Republican leadership also raises serious questions about the complicity of Speaker Harwell, Leader Gerald McCormick and Chairman Glen Casada.”
Alluding to accounts in a Tennessean news article over the weekend, Mancini said all three “knew the substance of Durham’s inappropriate behavior at least one week in advance of the caucus vote and likely much earlier.”
She said various statements from Republicans showed Durham’s “inappropriate behavior rose to the level of sexual harassment.” Humphrey on the Hill

State House Grits Teeth, Congratulates Renata Soto

After balking last week, the state House adopted a resolution tonight to congratulate Renata Soto for her appointment to lead the National Council of La Raza.

Still, 10 representatives found some reason to vote against it in an unsurprising display of weirdness. Among the naysayers was the anti-immigrant, pro-militia Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden.

Last week the resolution was about to be adopted unanimously along with the regular slate of completely noncontroversial tributes for various people across Tennessee when House GOP Caucus chairman Glen Casada intervened and stopped it. That caused some outrage particularly in Nashville, where Soto is beloved. Mayor Megan Barry tweeted her support for Soto. Pith in the Wind

Crockett Policy Institute

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