Press Release from Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, July 29, 2010:
Republican Lawmakers Leave Districts in Crisis for Political Pandering Trip to Arizona
Sen. Stewart calls on Republicans to focus on issues in Tennessee, not Arizona
NASHVILLE – Amid soaring unemployment in their districts and pleas from voters to focus on jobs and the economy, Tennessee Republican lawmakers are flying to Arizona on Friday to present a do-nothing resolution to Arizona’s governor.
“Apparently Tennessee Republicans think political junkets to Arizona are more important than unemployment in their own districts,” said state Sen. Eric Stewart of Belvidere. “I get angry when lawmakers take the people they represent for fools and just downright lie to them about the facts.
“Make no mistake: this trip is all about politics and pandering. The resolution commends Arizona’s immigration law, but does absolutely nothing to address Tennessee’s illegal immigration issues.”
Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas and Rep. Tony Shipley of Kingsport will be among Republican lawmakers going to Arizona on Friday to present a nonbinding resolution that cost Tennessee taxpayers $500.
The trip comes a week after the Department of Labor revealed that unemployment rates in 72 Tennessee counties increased in June – including all of the counties that Ketron, Carr and Shipley represent.
Ketron’s district includes Marshall County, which has the state’s second-highest county unemployment rate at 16.7 percent, and the city of Columbia, which has the highest unemployment rate of any Tennessee city at 16.8 percent.
‘Tennessee Republicans like to talk big about illegal immigration, but they always side with their big-business buddies and deep-pocketed donors when Tennessee Democrats propose doing something about it,” Stewart said.
Stewart pointed out that Gov. Phil Bredesen has sent more than 1,000 National Guard troops to assist Border Patrol agents in securing our nation’s borders. Tennessee Democrats in the state legislature also attempted in 2007 to pass a law that would have required government agencies and private employers with public contracts to check employees’ immigration status against a national registry, harshly penalized those employers who still hired illegal immigrants and cut off social service payments to illegal immigrants.
The measure passed the Democrat-controlled House unanimously, but died in a Republican-controlled Senate committee when not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill.
“Tennessee Republicans are more interested in protecting their big-business buddies than they are in protecting our border, our jobs and our economic security,” Stewart said. “Republicans have a choice: Join Democrats in fixing Tennessee’s illegal immigration problem by punishing big businesses that exploit cheap labor at the expense of Tennesseans, or continue to waste taxpayer dollars and pander to people they don’t represent.”