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TCPR: Proposed New Fish Hatchery is Wasteful

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, May 26, 2010:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research today called on state lawmakers to oppose a $16.9 million fish hatchery contained in the proposed state budget, along with all other pork-barrel spending. Governor Phil Bredesen and House Speaker Kent Williams plan to place the hatchery in Williams’ Carter County district. According to the Bredesen administration, the hatchery would create 22 jobs in the region, which amounts to roughly $768,000 per job.

“Leave it to government to turn $17 million into just a few dozen jobs,” remarked Justin Owen, TCPR’s director of policy. “In reality, this project is about one job: Speaker Kent Williams’ job.”

The fish hatchery is proposed as part of $341 million in “contingency” spending, meaning that the money is contingent upon Congress acting to send the state this additional funding. If approved, the state will spend $16.1 this year to build the hatchery, adding to the $800,000 it has spent on the project already.

“In Tennessee, fish is the new pork,” said Owen. “At a time when people are losing their jobs and the state is hinting at raising taxes, politicians want to dig a big fish pond in Upper East Tennessee. It would be humorous if it weren’t so true.”

The project represents yet another example of wasted taxpayer money at a time when Tennesseans can least afford it. It also encourages other lawmakers to press for their own government-funded projects, driving frivolous spending even higher. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research urges state lawmakers to avoid going down this slippery slope, especially during such a tough economic climate.

“If lawmakers really want to create jobs, they should lower taxes, cut spending, and get out of the way,” Owen said. “Throwing millions of dollars at political pet projects isn’t the answer.”

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Constitutional Amendment Protecting Right to Hunt & Fish Passes Senate

Press release from Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus, Jan. 28, 2010:

Sen. Jackson’s legislation on track to go to voters this fall

NASHVILLE — State constitutional protection of Tennesseans’ right to hunt and fish passed unanimously in the Senate Thursday and is on track to go to voters this fall, thanks to the efforts of Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson.

“This is an important day not just for the thousands of sportsmen in Tennessee, but for anyone who supports the protection and conservation of our natural resources,” Sen. Jackson said.

Sportsmen spend more than $1.3 billion annually on hunting- and fishing-related expenses in Tennessee, according to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau data. Many of those dollars support the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which protects endangered species and natural areas throughout the state.

Those funds directly preserve jobs and opportunities for families and small businesses, Sen. Jackson said.

The constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Jackson passed 31-0 after its third and final reading Thursday. Pending House approval, the amendment will go to the ballot this November, where it will require a simple majority of the voters who cast a vote in the governor’s race.

The amendment provides for the personal right to hunt and fish within state laws and property rights. It allows for hunting and fishing of non-threatened species through traditional means, “consistent with the state’s duty to honor this heritage and its duty to conserve and protect game and fish.”

“All of Tennessee benefits when a parent takes a child hunting and fishing, as opposed to taking a child to a shopping mall,” Sen. Jackson said. “The tradition of hunting and fishing is worth defending.”

The text of the amendment can be found at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/106/Bill/SJR0030.pdf.