Press Releases

Poll: Majority of TN Voters Oppose Prescriptions for Cold Meds

Press release from Consumer Healthcare Products Association; February 13, 2013:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Tennessee voters, by a 20-point margin (56 to 36 percent), oppose making common cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) available by prescription (Rx) only, and nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) who use nonprescription cold and allergy medicines to treat symptoms oppose the proposal. The new poll, which was conducted by North Star Opinion Research and released today by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), also found that nearly three-fifths of Tennessee voters (57%) believe the state’s current anti-meth law, which utilizes real-time, stop-sale technology known as the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), is effective and should be given time to work. Just 33% say the law should be changed.

The new poll comes as Tennessee lawmakers are considering a proposal (House Bill 368) introduced by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) that would require all Tennesseans to obtain a doctor’s prescription before buying safe and effective medicines containing PSE. In addition to the clear majority of Tennessee voters, a number of prominent Tennessee groups, including the Tennessee Pharmacists Association and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, oppose the measure because it would produce a number of unnecessary burdens for law-abiding consumers, healthcare providers, retailers, and the state as a whole.

“Today’s polling results clearly affirm that law-abiding Tennesseans prefer responsible solutions to the methamphetamine problem that don’t make timely access to a wide range of over-the-counter treatment options harder to come by,” said Carlos Gutierrez , senior director of state government affairs for CHPA. “There’s no question that Tennessee still faces an uphill battle against meth production and abuse, but it’s critically important for state leaders to give electronic tracking technology time to work. A prescription mandate would take away a vital tool for tracking and blocking suspicious purchasing activity.”

In January 2012, Tennessee adopted a real-time, stop-sale pseudoephedrine tracking system, NPLEx. The proven system, fully operational in 25 states around the country, allows retailers to automatically block unlawful attempted purchases right at the sales counter. Law enforcement officials, in turn, can track suspicious purchasing activity and collect evidence against suspected meth cooks and dealers. In a little more than one year since implementation, Tennessee’s system has already led directly to thousands of blocked pseudoephedrine sales and numerous meth lab seizures and arrests. Because it targets meth criminals, NPLEx ensures that responsible Tennessee workers and families will continue to have access to the cold and allergy medicines of their choice. As the new poll makes clear, a strong majority of Tennessee voters favors balanced legislation that won’t impose higher costs and other burdens for honest citizens.

The poll was conducted February 4-6, 2013 and included interviews of 600 registered Tennessee voters. The poll has a margin of error of ± 4.00 percent.

CHPA is the 132-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.


Press Releases

TN Pharmacists: Hawk’s Pseudophedrine Bill Wrongly Punishes Cold & Allergy Suffers

Press release from the Tennessee Pharmacists Association; January 31, 2013:

The following statement can be attributed to Baeteena Black, executive director of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, in response to legislation (HB 0368) filed Jan. 30 by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, that would require Tennessee consumers to obtain a prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine, such as Advil Cold and Sinus and Sudafed.

“The legislation filed today by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, punishes the vast majority of cold and allergy sufferers by making them go to the time and expense of obtaining a prescription from their physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

“The Tennessee Pharmacists Association strongly supports use of the National Precursor Log Exchange, the real-time, point-of-sale, tracking system put into place in Tennessee in January of 2012. That system ensures that our customers and patients continue to have access to the nonprescription cold and allergy medicines of their choice so they can effectively treat their symptoms without having to miss family or work obligations. In addition, this system provides law enforcement with access to valuable information about sales of pseudoephedrine-containing products.

“Our organization remains opposed to legislation that would require law-abiding Tennesseans to obtain a doctor’s prescription to purchase these safe and effective medicines. It’s critically important for our leaders to give NPLEx time to work.

“We all agree that methamphetamine abuse is a serious problem that should be eradicated. Solving the problem is going to require cooperation from many groups including law enforcement and the Tennessee General Assembly. TPA and its members remain committed to working on this serious problem but believe mandating a prescription for these everyday medications is not the solution.”

Press Releases

NFIB Picks Favorite Incumbents to Support In August Primary

Press Release from the National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee Chapter; July 6, 2012: 

NFIB Endorses Candidates in 5 Senate, 20 House Primaries

NASHVILLE, July 6, 2012 – The National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee’s leading small business association, today said it has endorsed candidates in 25 state legislative primary races. The endorsements were made by NFIB/Tennessee SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members. State primaries are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 2, with early voting beginning July 13 and ending July 28. NFIB expects to announce general election endorsements later this summer. The general election will be held Nov. 6.

“NFIB supports candidates who understand how important it is to reduce burdens on small business,” said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee. “These candidates have consistently supported less taxation and have worked diligently to improve our unemployment and workers’ comp systems.”

Endorsements by Senate and House Districts (NFIB members bolded)

Senate District, Name

2, Doug Overbey

14, Jim Tracy

18, Ferrell Haile

28, Joey Hensley

32, Mark Norris

House District Name

2, Tony Shipley

5, David Hawk

6, Dale Ford

8, Art Swann

10, Don Miller

11, Jeremy Faison

12, Richard Montgomery

20, Bob Ramsey

22, Eric Watson

24, Kevin Brooks

27, Richard Floyd

31, Jim Cobb

45, Debra Maggart

48, Joe Carr

61, Charles Sargent

66, Joshua Evans

71, Vance Dennis

90, John DeBerry

96, Steve McManus

99, Ron Lollar

NFIB’s endorsement is critical to these campaigns. Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB has pledged it will activate its grassroots network on behalf of these campaigns. NFIB’s political support is based on the candidates’ positions and records on small business issues.

Featured NewsTracker

Hawk Denies Wife’s Domestic Assault Allegation

State Rep. David Hawk says he didn’t hit his wife, despite his arrest Sunday on charges that he struck her in the face while holding their 11-month old daughter.

“I did not harm my wife,” the Greeneville Republican said at the state Capitol. “Yesterday morning my wife had a gun and told me she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby.”

Hawk, chairman of the Environment and Conservation committee and five-term member of the state House, said he had read an upsetting text message on his wife, Crystal Hawk’s, phone Sunday morning after they spent a night out drinking.

“We had been to an event, a social event, Saturday evening. We had stopped at a location, had a drink with some friends. She had a martini, I had a beer,” he said. “She drank a little bit at the event. We went back to the previous location, she had another martini. There was, of course, nothing in the morning.”

Hawk’s wife said her husband hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground while she held their daughter, according to the police report filed with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department Sunday. The report said she had “obvious signs on her face and arms of assault against her.”

Rep. Hawk said he did not know where the bruises or the gun came from.

Hawk said he will speak with House GOP leadership about whether he should retain his chairmanship. “There is still a lot of water that must go under the bridge before that decision (can) be made,” he said.

He has a court date set for May 21.

NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Fmr. Speaker Williams Eyes Unicoi Co. in Redistricting

It wasn’t clear if Rep. Kent Williams was spilling the beans on something he knew or whether he was speculating, but he introduced himself at an East Tennessee business roundtable this week by saying he would pick up Unicoi County as part of his district next year.

That would be, of course, if Williams wins re-election.

Gov. Bill Haslam went around the room having members of the General Assembly introduce themselves to business leaders from the region at a roundtable in Kingsport Tuesday.

Lawmakers took turns giving their names and the districts they represent by generally saying which counties their districts include. Heretofore, Williams, from Elizabethton, has represented Carter County, and his page on the official website of the General Assembly lists him as a “Carter County Republican” as opposed to being simply a Republican.

The “CCR” designation dates to when Williams was disowned by the Republican Party for his deal that made him Speaker of the House in the 2009-2010 General Assembly. Williams, a recognized Republican at the time, struck a deal with the Democrats where he won the speakership by getting every Democrat to support him and by voting for himself, upsetting many Republicans.

When it came Williams’ turn to introduce himself on Tuesday, he said, “I used to say Carter County, but with redistricting coming up, I say ‘4th District’ now, because I think the 4th District is probably going to incorporate Unicoi County.

“I would be proud to serve Unicoi County if I get the opportunity.”

Unicoi County is currently in the 5th District, represented by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville.

Williams added that he is a former Speaker of the House, although most of the people in the room clearly would know that.

“I enjoy doing what I’m doing and enjoy working with my colleagues,” Williams said.

Other legislators in the meeting were Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, and Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.

Republicans are drawing the lines for redistricting, power won by virtue of their strong majority status attained in the 2010 elections. Speculation has been rampant over what the designers of districts would do, both in terms of legislative districts and congressional districts based on the 2010 census.

Education Featured News

Tensions Run High at Capitol as Education Bills Face Floor Votes

Tennessee lawmakers are close to approving stricter standards for teachers to earn and keeping tenure.

The plan has passed both chambers of the Legislature, but needs a final look in the Senate next week before it heads to the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam, who proposed the legislation to start with.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s bill would subject new teachers to a five-year probationary period, instead of the current three, before they could be considered for tenure. Teachers would be evaluated annually, and they could lose protected status after two years of poor performance.

Although its passage appears certain, the bill must go through one more round of voting in the Senate as early as next Thursday to clear up technical differences between the two chambers’ versions of the bill.

“The governor’s tenure bill passed with overwhelming support in the Senate earlier this month, and we foresee no problems in passing it once we receive the bill from the House,” said Adam Kleinheider, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s spokesman.

Democrats say they believe the tenure reform is largely a good idea but still argue that the new law would be premature if it goes into effect for the 2011-2012 school year. The bill would tie tenure to performance based on a set of evaluations the state is still testing.

“The important part is we’re just getting this cart before the horse,” said Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, the Democratic caucus leader. “We need to know what the evaluation system is before we adopt a major revision of our tenure.”

Republicans in the House approved the bill Thursday on a 65-32 vote margin with all but one Democrat, Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis, voting against. The Senate voted 21-12 in favor of the bill two weeks ago, also with the help of a lone Democrat, Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville.

Teacher tenure is one of Haslam’s key legislative priorities this year and the first one to make it this far.

The only difference between the House and Senate version is the cutoff for teachers who would be grandfathered in. In the Senate version, teachers who are awarded tenure by June 15, 2011 would not be subject to the new evaluation-based tenure requirements, but the House sets that date as those granted tenure before July 1, 2011.

If passed, teachers would need to meet the following requirements to become eligible for tenure:

(1)  Has a degree from an approved four-year college or any career and technical teacher who has the equivalent amount of training established and licensed by the state board of education;

(2)  Holds a valid teacher license, issued by the state board of education, based on training covering the subjects or grades taught;

(3)  Has completed a probationary period of five (5) school years or not less than forty-five (45) months within the last seven-year period, the last  two (2) years being employed in a regular teaching position rather than an interim teaching position;

(4)  Has received evaluations demonstrating an overall performance

effectiveness level of “above expectations” or “significantly above expectations” as provided in the evaluation guidelines adopted by the state board of education pursuant to § 49-1-302, during the last two (2) years of the probationary period; and

(5) Is reemployed by the director of schools for service after the probationary period

Under the new system, educators must score “above expectations” or “significantly above expectations” for the last two years of their probationary period before becoming eligible for tenure. Those ranking as “meeting expectations,” “below expectations” or “significantly below expectations” could not be recommended for tenure, although the district could continue to employ them.

Teachers could lose their status if they have two consecutive years of “below expectations” or “significantly below expectations” scores. They would need another two years of “above expectations” or “significantly above expectations” ratings to become eligible for tenure again.

Tensions are running high on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Caucus Leader Mike Turner and Republican Rep. David Hawk butted heads on the House floor Thursday after Hawk publicly scolded legislators for badmouthing a GOP bill to remove the Tennessee Education Association from the ranks of appointees to a school safety board. The bill passed 62-34. Only one Democrat, John DeBerry of Memphis, voted in favor.

Turner, who had just finished calling the legislation an attempt at bullying the TEA and said, “One day there will be a reckoning,” approached Hawk on the floor. The two appeared to engage in a heated exchange before leaving the chamber, followed by at least a dozen legislators. The two returned moments later, saying Turner had apologized.

Both lawmakers told reporters later that pending education bills — including a proposal to curb the power of teachers’ unions — have created a tense mood at the Capitol.

Lawmakers are aggravated, said House Republican Leader Gerald McCormick. He said Republicans are frustrated that Democrats characterize their education bills as attacks on teachers, and Democrats are stressed because they can’t move their agenda forward.

“They’re not used to having to actually consult with us, and they’re certainly not used to being outvoted,” McCormick said, “and I think those tensions are flying pretty high right now, but I think they’ll get used to it.”

Turner said of his GOP colleagues, “We feel like this has not been handled fairly. It’s been rushed through.

“We think a lot of the stuff they’re doing today is punitive.”