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New Rep Bolsters GOP House Majority

NASHVILLE – With the official swearing-in of Shelbyville trucking company owner Pat Marsh recently, Tennessee Republicans expanded their control over the state House of Representatives to a majority plus one.

House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, who introduced Marsh to take the oath of office from state Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch, immediately named Marsh to the House committees on transportation and commerce.

Williams told the 60-or-so people scattered about the House floor observing the ceremony that Marsh’s “expertise in the business world,” and  “expertise in transportation — being in that field his whole life,” suit him well to oversee legislation affecting the two.

Born in Fayetteville and a graduate of Fayetteville Central High who later graduated with a business degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Marsh, 59, worked for Ford Motors and later Goggins Truck Line — which he eventually bought and then sold — before starting a new line called Big G Express in 1995, according to his campaign bio.

Marsh, who said his legislative priorities include promoting “job opportunities, improved education and safer neighborhoods,” routed Democrat Ty Cobb in a District 62 special election earlier this month.

The election is perceived by some here and elsewhere as an example of Republicans capitalizing on local dissatisfaction with prominent national-level Democratic Party initiatives. For state Democrats, the outcome was at minimum a “disaster,” reported the Nashville Scene.

Even a Wall Street Journal political columnist took note of the election, which delivered the traditionally Democrat-held District 62 seat into the hands of a Republican for the first time in generations.

“In Tennessee, Republican businessman Pat Marsh won 56 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Ty Cobb,” wrote WSJ‘s John Fund. “It wasn’t as if Mr. Cobb had a name unknown to voters. His brother Curt had held the seat before resigning to take another government office (and it probably didn’t hurt having the same name as a baseball legend). But Mr. Cobb attributed his defeat to the fact that ‘a lot of people based their opinions on national issues . . . the health care issue was the main one.'”

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TN Rated High in Economic Freedom & Limited Government

Two studies released this year by separate free-market think tanks paint Tennessee state government as among the most fiscally restrained and constitutionally prudent in the country.

Forty-eight out of 50 states offer better legal environments for securing the principles of limited government under their state constitutions than can be found in federal court under the U.S. Constitution,” write the authors of the Goldwater Institute’s “50 Bright Stars: An Assessment of Each State’s Constitutional Commitment to .Limited Government.”

“Nevertheless, Arizona Alabama, Tennessee and Idaho are in a class by themselves.”

And a nationwide analysis by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center scorecarding state-level government deference toward for personal and economic liberty ranked Tennessee among the Top 10 in key policy areas.

In addition to high marks for government fiscal restraint and comprehensive freedom, the the Virginia-based group’s paper, published last Feb 26, puts the Volunteer State at No. 8 in “economic freedom.”

The Mercatus authors — Texas State University professor William Ruger and State University of New York assistant professor Jason Sorens, both political science specialists – say their “Freedom in the 50 States” study is “the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres.”

The No. 1 state in the country in overall freedom, according to the authors, is New Hampshire. Bringing up the rear is New York.

Of Tennessee’s eight neighboring states, only Missouri ranked higher in overall freedom at No. 6.

Tennessee didn’t however fare nearly as well in “regulatory policy” or “personal freedom” in the Mercatus study, ranking No. 28 and No. 18 in those categories respectively.

The Goldwater Institutes study says it uses “the U.S. Constitution and federal court system as a baseline, this report assesses each state’s constitutional jurisprudence for its commitment to limited government.”

“Taking into consideration the findings of a recent Mercatus Center study of economic freedom among the 50 states, which serves as a proxy for the freedom friendliness of each state’s political culture, this report reveals that principles of limited government are most secure under the constitutions of Arizona, Alabama, Idaho and Tennessee,” writes the institute’s Center for Constitutional Government director, Nick Dranias.

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TN Stimulus Snapshot

On Aug 6 The Wall Street Journal published a state-by-state breakdown of “some of the major spending in the stimulus legislation.”

Here’s what the newspaper reported for Tennessee:

  • Education: $1,415,737,842 (per capita: $228)
  • Pell Grants: $146,500,714 ($24)
  • HUD: $188,804,358 ($30)
  • Health: $333,557,637 ($54)
  • Crime Fighting: $50,380,636 ($8)
  • Job Training: $71,721,699 ($12)
  • Water: $77,743,500 ($13)
  • Transportation: $644,717,407 (per square mile: $15,298)
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