Press Releases

Haslam Appoints 152 Tennesseans to 58 State Boards, Commissions

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; December 28, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of 152 Tennesseans to 58 state boards and commissions.

“I appreciate the willingness to serve the state and the commitment of these men and women,” Haslam said. “Tennessee will be well-represented on these boards and commissions, and I look forward to continuing our review to make sure Tennesseans have a government responsive to them.”

The governor continues his review of the state’s complete range of boards and commissions to determine other potential reforms that might be made to improve efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

Appointment terms are varied due to differing statutory requirements or term limits determined by specific qualifications. The appointments are:

Advisory Committee for the Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Disabled

  • Robert Duvall, Antioch

Air Pollution Control Board

  • J. Ronald Bailey, Chattanooga
  • Karen Cisler, Nashville
  • Shawn Hawkins, Knoxville
  • Larry Waters, Gatlinburg

Architects and Engineers Board of Examiners

  • Jerome Headly, Tullahoma
  • Paul William Lockwood, Brentwood
  • Frank Wagster, Jackson
  • Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities
  • Betty Hodge, Bristol

Board of Appeals

  • Barbara Clark, Knoxville
  • James Crumlin, Brentwood
  • LeeAnn Foster, Knoxville
  • James Hamilton, Dyersburg
  • Laura Holland, Lascassas
  • Bland Justis, Greeneville
  • Brian Ragan, Dickson
  • Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson, Ooltewah

Board of Boiler Rules

  • David Baughman, Murfreesboro

Board of Communication Disorders

  • Terri Philpott-Flynn, Lawrenceburg

Board of Dietitian and Nutritionist Examiners

  • Kim Pryor, Knoxville

Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators

  • Russell Caughron, Murfreesboro

Board of Examiners in Psychology

  • Melissa Gay, Hendersonville

Board of Nursing

  • Brent Earwood, Jackson
  • Lisa Heaton, Elizabethton
  • Marithia Silvers, Calhoun
  • Mark Young, Mount Juliet

Board of Occupational Therapy

  • Donna Carron, Adams
  • Ruth Ford, Franklin

Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners

  • Kim Johnson, Franklin
  • Roland Federico, Chattanooga

Commission on Aging and Disability

  • Margaret Seay, Kingsport

Committee on Physician Assistants

  • James Montag, Telford

Council for Licensing Hearing Instrument Specialists

  • Jerry Hall, Cleveland
  • Fredrick Rayne, Cookeville

Doe Mountain Recreation Authority

  • Carolyn Hawkins, Mountain City
  • Gabrielle Lynch, Trade
  • Terry Maughon, Elizabethon
  • Richard Strang, Kingsport

Douglas Henry State Museum Commission

  • Mary Ann Clark, Jackson
  • Charles Cook, Jr., Nashville
  • Deborah DiPietro, Knoxville
  • Deannie Parker, Memphis
  • Jan Simek, Seymour
  • Tom Smith, Nashville

Elevator and Amusement Device Safety Board

  • Larry Moore II, Kingsport
  • David Hale, Lebanon

Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health

  • Rose Grindstaff, Brentwood

Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board

  • Earl Worsham, Gatlinburg

Homeland Security Council

  • Mark Sirois, Johnson City

Information Systems Council

  • Donald Enfinger, Fairview

Interagency Coordinating Council

  • Janet Coscarelli, Nashville
  • Catherine Knowles, Nashville

Keep Tennessee Beautiful Advisory Council

  • Michael Dumont, Linden
  • Sandra Ennis, Tullahoma
  • Terry Griffin, Clarksville
  • Ann Johnson, Franklin
  • Georgette Johnson, Memphis
  • Sara Ladd, Nashville
  • Larry Potter, Cordova
  • Ganelle Roberts, Memphis
  • Kelsey Ross, Franklin
  • Cindi Smith-Walters, Murfreesboro

Local Government Planning Advisory Council

  • Ernest Burgess, Murfreesboro
  • Dan Eldridge, Jonesborough
  • John Gentry, Athens
  • Brent Greer, Paris

Pest Control Board

  • Kenny Crenshaw, Millington
  • Frank Hale, Franklin

Polysomnography Professional Standards Committee

  • Donald Samples, Johnson City

Sam Davis Memorial Association Board of Trustees

  • John Bratcher, Murfreesboro
  • Shirley Davis, Franklin
  • Jerry Oxsher, Smyrna
  • Richard Thomas, Smyrna

Star Quality Advisory Council

  • Karen Baker, Kingsport
  • Karen Grandfield, Soddy Daisy
  • Renee Hauge, Knoxville
  • Merlean Hill, Memphis
  • Patty Kelly, Clarksville
  • Patti Ricossa, Cordova
  • Bridgett Stanfill, Clarksville
  • Harriet Wilson, Knoxville

State Board of Cosmetology

  • Pearl Walker, Memphis

State Board of Pharmacy

  • Kevin Eidson, White House

State Rehabilitation Council

  • Floyd Stewart, Whites Creek

State Textbook Commission

  • Jason Robinson, Cleveland

Statewide Independent Living Council

  • Jill Hindman, Hixson
  • Cynthia Martin, Tullahoma
  • Connie Robinson, Germantown
  • Dorothea Thompson, Murfreesboro
  • Wanda Willis, Nashville

TennCare Pharmacy Advisory Committee

  • Carol Minor, Nashville
  • Joel Phares, Arrington

Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil, and Gas

  • James Cameron III, Franklin
  • Jill Davis, Englewood
  • Kevin Davis, Savannah
  • Frank McGinley, Savannah
  • Derek Gernt, Allardt
  • John Guoynes, Oak Ridge
  • Monty Halcomb, Wartrace
  • Charlie Johnson, Sevierville
  • David Anthony Robinson, Kingsport

Tennessee Collection Services Board

  • Steve Harb, Knoxville

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

  • Brenda Davis, Chairman, Franklin
  • Jennie Harlan, Columbia
  • Raquel Hatter, Nashville
  • Gary Houston, Union City

Tennessee Consolidated Retirements System Board of Trustees

  • Alfred Laney, Nashville

Tennessee Community Services Agency Statewide Board of Directors

  • Tommy Hooper, Brownsville

Tennessee Corrections Institute Board of Control

  • Jeff Brown, Crossville
  • Armando Fontes, Newport
  • Dan Hughes, Lexington
  • Deborah Newman, Murfreesboro
  • Bill Oldham, Memphis

Tennessee Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • Robert Baldwin, Memphis

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

  • Roger Gibbens, Chattanooga
  • Elizabeth Ritchie, Knoxville

Tennessee Economic Council on Women

  • Veronica Johnson, Nashville
  • Miriam Barnard, Nashville

Tennessee Ethics Commission

  • George Jaynes, Limestone

Tennessee Forestry Commission

  • Johnny Heard, Collinwood

Tennessee Historical Commission

  • Kathie Fuston, Columbia

Tennessee Human Rights Commission

  • Crystal Horne, Signal Mountain
  • Ralph White, Memphis

Tennessee Massage Licensure Board

  • Marvis Burke, Harrison
  • Bethann Easterly, Nashville

Tennessee Medical Examiner Advisory Council

  • Michael Dunavant, Ripley
  • Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, Knoxville
  • Samuel Smith, Brentwood

Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission

  • Minnie Lane, Knoxville

Tennessee Real Estate Appraiser Commission

  • Rosemarie Johnson, Paris
  • Mark Johnstone, Jackson

Tennessee Registry of Election Finance

  • Patricia Heim, Nashville
  • Norma Lester, Memphis

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Advisory Council

  • Nancy Badger, Chattanooga
  • Kathy Benedetto, Johnson City

Underground Storage Tanks and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board

  • Warren Anderson, Murfreesboro
  • Marty Calloway, Maryville
  • Stacey Cothran, Lewisburg
  • Kenneth Donaldson, Columbia
  • George Hyfantis, Seymour
  • Bhag Kanwar, Franklin
  • Jared Lynn, Smyrna
  • David Martin, Hermitage
  • Beverly Philpot, Lawrenceburg
  • DeAnne Redman, Greenbrier
  • Franklin Smith, III, Brownsville
  • Mark Williams, Manchester
  • Viticulture Advisory Board
  • Carl O’Cain, Jackson
  • Connie Perrin, Corryton
  • Michael Reedy, Kingsport
  • Kip Summers, Brentwood

Water and Wastewater Operators Certification Board

  • Randall Braker, Manchester

Tea Party Marshaling Anti-Obamacare Muster

Members of the Nashville Tea Party are planning a rally outside the state Capitol at noon Wednesday. Their hope is to put GOP lawmakers and Gov. Bill Haslam on clear notice that grassroots conservatives want Tennessee to disavow state-level cooperation and support for the federal health insurance exchanges outlined in President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

“We’re calling it the ‘Just Say No’ rally, and we’re trying to send a message to the governor,” said Ben Cunningham, leader of the Nashville Tea Party. “We’re encouraging him to just say no to a state-run exchange and let the federal government own this disaster.”

Cunningham said he expects people from all three of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions to attend.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that states choose between creating a state-run exchange where individuals may purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies or allowing the government to create a federally run insurance exchange.

Either way, those exchanges are supposed to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2014.

Haslam continues to say he has not made a decision on what course his administration will formally set — even after the federal government extended the deadline to make a decision to Dec. 14. Haslam and other state officials have complained that the federal government has failed to answer key questions as to how state-run exchanges would work.

Many governors, such as Rick Perry in Texas and Jan Brewer in Arizona, have said they will not set up a state-run exchange.

Tennessee tea partiers “would like Gov. Haslam to join with those governors and say, ‘No, we’re not going to be a branch office of the federal government,’” said Cunningham. He said a petition to that effect is circulating and “is getting a very good response.”

“If they (the federal government) want to implement this program, have at it, but our experience in the past with Medicaid, with education funding, is always a bait-and-switch situation where they fund much of the expenditures on the front end, and then the states are left with huge expenses on the back end,” Cunningham said. “There is some indication now that the phone calls and the emails that the governor is getting are overwhelmingly against a state exchange.”

The governor has indicated that while he opposes Obamacare in general, and he thinks the health exchanges are a bad idea overall, he’d prefer it if the state run them rather than the feds. However, high-ranking Republicans in both houses of the state’s General Assembly have indicated that support is lacking among the majority party for the state taking on that responsibility.

Trent Seibert can be reached at, on Twitter at@trentseibert or at 615-669-9501.

Featured Liberty and Justice News NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Slow Gov’t Services an Extra Burden on Taxpayers: Haslam

Whether it’s inefficient state workers or lagging technology at driver’s license centers, the public essentially pays an additional “tax” any time government services are slow, Gov. Bill Haslam said this week.

“I think there’s two kinds of taxes. There’s a tax that people pay, sales tax, income tax or whatever tax you’re paying. And then there’s the tax that you pay when you don’t get full value for government service,” he told the Tennessee Digital Government Summit in Nashville Tuesday.

“When we don’t give you full value, that’s another tax. We just don’t call it that,” he said.

The governor didn’t wager a guess as to how much the public is paying in that tax each year when speaking to the information-technology experts. But he announced that the state is now trying to reduce the cost with technology upgrades at driver service centers.

“I think there’s some what I would call just basic customer service issues about how committed we are to making certain that customer gets in and out quick,” he told reporters after speaking to the summit. The Department of Safety is also tackling changes to how driver’s license centers manage information and working to put the “right number of employees in the right places,” he said.

Business and Economy Education News NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Rising Health Care Costs Limiting Middle-Class Edu. Opportunities, says Governor

Middle-income families are the ones facing the most pressure on tuition increases at state colleges and universities, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday. And he reiterated a theme he’s been hitting on a lot lately — that health care costs are the reason higher education is getting financially squeezed in Tennessee.

Haslam was commenting on news this week that the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus is seeking a 12-percent increase in tuition when the UT Board of Trustees meets next week. Tennessee Board of Regents schools, meanwhile, are looking at potential increases of 8.8 percent to 11 percent for the coming school year.

Haslam, who as governor is chairman of both systems, will attend meetings of the two organizations next week where tuition will be addressed. The UT Board of Trustees meets Wednesday and Thursday. The Board of Regents meets Thursday and Friday.

“We have a major issue around keeping college affordable for middle-class families in Tennessee,” Haslam told reporters Friday after a speech to a state convention of veterans in Nashville. “I think the TBR schools and the UT schools need to make sure they’re doing everything to keep costs down.

“But we also have to be realistic. Part of their problem is we’re giving them less funding as a percentage of their budget than we used to, and it’s quite a bit less. If you look at our budget now compared to 30 years ago, so much more of the state’s budget is taken up with health care costs. That had to come out of somewhere, and where it’s come out of, frankly, is higher ed.”

Haslam had already put a 2-percent cut to higher education in the state budget this year. He has repeatedly talked about health care expenses when discussing a lack of funding for higher education.

The state recently approved applying Hope scholarships to students taking summer classes, but even with that move the state had to impose an overall cap of 120 hours for the scholarships because of limited funds from the lottery.

The governor put a finer point on the issue Friday when he talked about how tuition affects students and their families.

He said the state had maintained its funding well on basic K-12 education in the last 30 years but that government has slowly trimmed funding for its universities at the same time.

“That’s a discussion I want to have: How can we make certain we’re running both systems — and each campus — as inexpensively as possible?” he said. “We have to do that.”

Haslam said that when meeting tuition costs, middle-income families have a tougher time obviously than higher-income families, but often also even than lower-income families.

“Most of our lower-income families through scholarships and grants can have tuition,” Haslam said. “They’re not totally taken care of, but they’re not in horrible shape.

“Families of more upper means are obviously OK. The middle-income families are the ones where their kids are working and taking on loans, and we’re about to price them out of it — right when we need to increase the percentage of students with degrees. So it’s a major challenge. It’s a long-term trend that the state has been involved with.”

Haslam made a speech in Memphis on Wednesday where he emphasized the need to produce more college graduates in Tennessee to meet the demands of a modern workforce. He has cast that issue as one of the keys for the state to compete for jobs, which factor into the state’s overall economic future.

“The challenge for us is to try to figure out how to keep funding higher education,” Haslam said Friday. “And their challenge is to take out as much cost as they can out of the system.”

The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees oversees campuses at Chattanooga, Martin and the Health Sciences Center in Memphis as well as the flagship campus in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is comprised of 46 schools and is the sixth largest system of public higher education in the nation. Its universities include Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and the University of Memphis.

The Board of Regents also oversees 13 community colleges and 27 technology centers. is a not-for-profit news service supported by readers like you.

Press Releases

Ramsey Celebrates ‘Republican Session’

Statement from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; May 25, 2011:

The Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned for the year.

What a relief to write that sentence.  While I can’t wait to spend this time with my new grandson and tend to the small business Sindy and I run, I’m also excited for Tennessee taxpayers.

The best part about the legislature adjourning is that it saves you money. The General Assembly has not adjourned earlier than this since 1998 – five weeks earlier than last year. Those five weeks would have cost the taxpayers an extra $450,000. Considering the transition of a new gubernatorial administration and new House Speaker, I am proud of how quickly and efficiently we attended to the peoples’ business.

I want to also thank the grassroots activists and stalwart Republicans who gave me the honor of finally serving in a General Assembly where a Republican governor was flanked by two Republican Speakers.  It was truly a historic legislative session.

Working closely with Bill Haslam and Beth Harwell, two people with whom I share not only party affiliation but a common view of how government should work, has been an honor and a privilege.

I’ll be honest with you – it was fun. It was a welcome relief to finally work with people who “get it.” The governor and Speaker Harwell understand our values and principles.  I believe together we have served the Great State of Tennessee well. I’m proud of what we have accomplished.

Smaller Government

Across the country, people are struggling. Governments, as well as families, are having trouble making ends meet.

Tennessee has seen its share of economic pain but we are doing far better than the rest of the nation. We are truly an island of sanity in a nation gone mad. I aim to keep it that way.

The federal government clearly doesn’t have its house in order. Tennessee does and will continue to as long as I have anything to do with it.

For the first time in three years, the budget is balanced on a recurring to non-recurring basis. The budget we passed over the weekend is not only balanced but reduced substantially over last year. Our budget, already lean and mean, is now 3.7% smaller.

In a nation where the federal government describes the lack of a budget increase as a cut, our accomplishment this year is huge.  This budget represents tangible, significant change.

That’s what this new Republican majority is about: making government smaller, more efficient and more responsive to citizens.

And unlike your average politicians, we started cutting with ourselves. Private businesses all across the State of Tennessee are being forced to maximize efficiency in the face of limited resources. It is only appropriate that we in government do the same.

I sponsored a bill this session which cut several redundant and unnecessary committees in the legislature. No services were cut, no oversight will be lost. The people of Tennessee will lose nothing with these cuts.  Nearly $850,000 dollars will be saved by this simple streamlining measure.

It’s the ability to do things like this, affect real change in the way government does business, which sustains me. It’s why I entered the political arena in the first place.

With Republicans now in power, I no longer have to focus on trying to mitigate the damage of backward Democrat policies, I can lead the charge for positive change. It is a tremendous feeling and I owe you a debt of gratitude for giving me the opportunity.

Cutting Taxes

Another outstanding accomplishment this session was the tax cut we were able to give our seniors.

Cutting taxes is a core conservative principle.  In a tough budget year, we found an effective way to roll back the tax burden on those who save for retirement.

I sponsored legislation with Sen. Ken Yager so more retirees will have more of their money exempt from the Hall Tax, Tennessee’s tax on investment income.

Working men and women of modest means who have saved wisely should not have to see their hard-earned dollars taxed.  This exemption will aid middle class people who live modestly get a break on their hard earned savings.

After last November’s elections, conservatives were expected to walk the walk and talk the talk on taxes – and we did.

Education Reform

A highly-paid, successful workforce is an educated workforce. Reform of Tennessee’s education system has been stifled for years by Democrat Party leaders. One union stood in the way of our children’s progress for decades in the General Assembly. Name a reform and the unions opposed it: school choice, merit pay, charter schools, tenure reform.

Our new Republican majority in the legislature not only supported and passed the Governor’s tenure reform and charter school agenda, we took the initiative in several areas of education reform.

Sen. Jack Johnson led the charge to eliminate the union monopoly in Tennessee’s education system. Teachers will now have a voice and teachers who exceed expectations and inspire students will be rewarded, as they should be. Mediocrity will no longer be encouraged in education in Tennessee.

The General Assembly also ended the scurrilous practice of social promotion. No longer will kids be passed along uneducated in Tennessee. If a child cannot read and write completely by 3rd grade, that child will be held back until they can.

We can no longer afford to be timid on education reform. The stakes are too high. The future of Tennessee is at risk. That is why we not only sought union and tenure reform we also made it easier for parents to choose alternatives to traditional education such as virtual schools and homeschooling. One size does not fit all. Parents need to be given as much choice as possible to ensure their children are educated.


Something Democrats will never understand is that the government can not “create” economic growth. They say we have no jobs agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. We simply have a different philosophy. Our entire agenda, everything we do, is about jobs. Our agenda is about removing barriers and creating an environment where business owners and entrepreneurs flourish.

For example, we passed comprehensive tort reform this year.  This protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits and manages their risk. This is the kind of thing that encourages business and makes job creation a reality.

It would be great if we could just wave a magic wand and make jobs appear. But we can’t. Even the recruitment of large corporations in the Bredesen years didn’t match the job growth that came from homegrown Tennessee companies.

The full recovery of our economy requires expansion and entrepreneurship within the state – not just relocation from without. This is why the new Republican majority and Gov. Haslam are focused on trying to make Tennessee the most business-friendly environment possible.

The government can’t create a good economy — but we in the legislature can get out of the way of business and create the environment that allows Tennessee’s entrepreneurial spirit to shine through.

Illegal Immigration

Everybody knows we have an illegal immigration problem in this country and President Obama has done nothing to help the states on this issue. That should not stop us from trying to fix the problem – and it hasn’t.

We were able to send legislation to the governor that requires Tennessee voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot. The integrity of our election system cannot afford to be compromised. Tennesseans need to know that their leaders are chosen by their friends and neighbors, not aliens who have broken the law by entering this country illegally.

I’m proud to note that we were finally able to pass E-Verify legislation which ensures that new jobs created by Tennesseans actually go to those here legally. E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration, allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. It is free and over 97.4 percent accurate.

My primary goal in the legislature is to fight the regulatory burden on small business, but we simply cannot allow businesses to hire illegal aliens in Tennessee. This legislation will go a long way to stop it.

Looking to the future

That’s really just a sampling of the strides we made this year. Rest assured, there is more to come.  With their first legislative session behind them, Speaker Harwell and Gov. Haslam have become very effective partners in governance. Together, we will accomplish much in the future.

Tennessee Republicans have talked a lot about what we would do when we took power. Now we are showing what we can do. This year was just an appetizer. Next year, and in the years to come, you will see the main course.

I truly cherish your support. We have done remarkable things together. And I’m not stopping anytime soon. I hope you aren’t either.

Business and Economy Featured News Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

Amazon Debate Centers on Details of State Incentives

A clash over Internet sales tax collections regarding Tuesday became yet another arena of questions over what sort of deal former Gov. Phil Bredesen struck with the online sales giant.

Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, has proposed legislation that would force businesses such as Amazon, which is dramatically increasing its presence in the state, to collect sales taxes on consumer purchases in Tennessee. Amazon opposes such legislation, questioning the constitutionality of such a law.

But discussion over McNally’s proposal led lawmakers to ask yet again what exactly was done in the Bredesen deal that landed Amazon distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Action was deferred on the legislation, as was the companion bill in the House, until next week, but there appears to be no waning of curiosity among lawmakers about the Amazon agreement — including whether the deal is even in writing.

“There are a number of questions that I have — the committee has — certainly the issue of transparency, the issue of fairness, the potential of economic impact from jobs, versus fairness to existing businesses that are here and collecting sales tax on behalf of the state,” McNally, chairman of the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee, told reporters.

McNally said his intention is to clarify state law on sales tax requirements on businesses that have a presence in the state — an element of the issue that has become open to debate.

One side of the issue argues that letting big distribution companies like Amazon slide on sales tax collections is unfair to the bricks-and-mortar retail businesses that are increasingly failing to compete with the Internet presence of Amazon and businesses like it.

Advocates for Amazon say the sales are being conducted in the home state of Washington, that the presence in Tennessee is only for distribution of the product and that there is no real retail presence of Amazon in the state.

Amazon has reportedly said if the legislation is passed in Tennessee it will take its books and go elsewhere, where the business climate is friendlier. Further, Amazon has reportedly increased the stakes, saying it has also prepared to build distribution centers in Knoxville and Nashville.

The emergence of Amazon in Tennessee has become a significant issue because its presence would bring more than 1,000 jobs to its East Tennessee centers and potentially as many more in new locations in Nashville or Knoxville.

Tennessee has actively recruited businesses that have the potential to create jobs. Gov. Bill Haslam has said he wants to honor commitments to large companies that were made by the previous administration.

But legislators continue to be frustrated by the lack of knowledge of precisely what those commitments were.

Even if the governor and lawmakers back the previous deal, Amazon’s flirtation with new distribution centers ups the ante on whether to force the company to collect sales taxes on its transactions.

Haslam has said that ultimately the Internet sales tax issue would require a multi-state solution because no single state could remedy the problem on its own.

The discussion in the Finance committee Tuesday appeared to show Republicans and Democrats of like mind. Both parties understand the importance of sales tax collections in state revenue.

“It’s an issue that of course involves jobs, but it’s an issue that involves fiscal policy in the state,” McNally said. “This is not a tax issue, it’s really a tax collection issue.”

Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, said during the meeting, “It almost seems like somebody’s playing games with us, because you know our tax base is based on our sales tax, and that’s pretty important to us.

“It doesn’t seem fair.”

Braden Cox, director of state public policy for Amazon, told legislators the sites planned for Tennessee are “fulfillment centers” for the orders that go through Amazon.

“Fulfillment centers. This has become a new term of art,” said Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, the Senate majority leader.

“I’m trying to look at this from your point of view,” Norris said. “But I’m having the same difficulty Senator Haynes has.”

When Haynes referred to Amazon sites as “stores,” a lobbyist for Amazon corrected him by saying they are “warehouses,” not stores, and noted that a consumer can buy boots from L.L.Bean without paying sales taxes.

Much of the discussion centered on the commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution, from Article 1, Section 8, that authorizes Congress to regulate commerce between several states. The issue also involves the due process clause from the 14th Amendment.

The due process clause says no state shall deprive any person of “life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the due process clause prohibits a state from taxing a company unless there is “minimal connection” between the company and the state.

A key case study involved Quill Corp., a mail order company incorporated in Delaware, that made catalog sales. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that there was sufficient presence, known as “nexus,” of Quill in the state and that Quill had to collect the state’s sales tax. But the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the state court, saying the case did not represent sufficient nexus as it related to the commerce clause.

Norris said there is risk in affording one company like Amazon a tax break that is, in turn, disadvantageous to other businesses in the state and could interfere with their interstate commerce.

But in the end, some of the biggest questions among lawmakers remained on deals in the Bredesen administration.

McNally asked Cox directly what the agreement was and if it was in writing. Cox referred to statutory economic incentives available to any company and that there had been “commitments made” regarding sales tax collections. He said they were made in a “business context.” He said he couldn’t speak to the legal nature specific to the state.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has been out front seeking answers to exactly what deals were made under the previous administration, at one point calling for a meeting with Matt Kisber, who was commissioner of Economic and Community Development under Bredesen.

McNally picked up that ball on Tuesday.

“I think it’s important for the people of Tennessee to know what the deal was, what we ended up giving away in order to get the jobs in the centers,” McNally told reporters.

Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, echoed concern about tax breaks.

“I think we’ve got to be very cautious on giving all of these tax breaks to companies because ultimately the taxpayers in Tennessee end up paying for it,” Beavers said Tuesday.

“I’m not sure how many jobs we’re talking about, and that would have an impact on some things I think. We just keep giving company after company tax breaks. How long can we afford to do that?”

Andrea Zelinski contributed to this story.


Eat Your Vegetables

No, it’s not mom saying that. It’s the State of Tennessee, which posted this reminder Thursday to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

The state says that Tennesseans’ consumption of vegetables ranks above the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes questions about diet in an annual telephone survey on exercise, sleep, smoking and other health topics.

We are in the Land o’ the Meat ‘n’ Three, so that makes sense.

About one-third of Tennesseans surveyed said they ate at least three vegetables a day while just 26.3 percent of respondents nationwide said they did.

Not so with fruit, where the numbers were almost exactly reversed. Just 26.4 percent of Tennesseans said they consume fruit twice a day; nationally, about a third of respondents said the same.

State officials seem intent on influencing, via taxes and laws if necessary, what goes from our plates to our bellies.

The related issue of obesity has been targeted by state policymakers, most recently in a five-year plan including strategies such as regulating land use and levying taxes to favor stores that offer healthy food, promoting school gardens and recruiting ministers to help in the effort.

The question of how to reduce childhood obesity was posed to the candidates for governor earlier this month in their first debate, with candidates suggesting education (Mike McWherter) and a good example (Bill Haslam) as solutions, the Cookeville Times reported.

Press Releases

Government Workers’ Union Endorses Finney

Press Release from Lowe Finney for State Senate, July 26, 2010:

Employees Association Backs District 27 Senator

JACKSON – The Tennessee State Employees Association has announced its endorsement of State Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) for State Senate District 27.

“Senator Finney has shown during his time in the State Senate that he is willing to listen to state employees and act fairly and promptly on their behalf. We fully support Lowe Finney for State Senate,” said James Braswell, chairman of the Tennessee Employees Action Movement, the political arm of TSEA.

Established in 1974, TSEA is a nonprofit association that advocates for the interests of approximately 45,000 state employees in Tennessee. The organization has successfully fought for retirement benefits, longevity pay and whistleblower protection for state employees, among its many accomplishments.

This year, Finney helped pass a budget that saved more than 550 state jobs that would have been eliminated under a previous budget proposal. He also helped pass a recession assistance package, contingent on economic recovery, and protected employees’ retirement plans.

“We have a responsibility in state government to respect and help our employees,” Finney said. “I’m honored to receive the TSEA’s endorsement, and I look forward to continuing to work with them on the issues that face thousands of Tennessee employees.”

In addition to the TSEA announcement, Finney recently received endorsements from the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Tennessee Education Association.

Press Releases

State Revamps Website

State of Tennessee Press Release; July 15, 2010:

NASHVILLE – The state of Tennessee recently completed the successful launch of a new design for that makes it easier to find government information and services. The interactive website delivers custom content based on a user’s interest, click behavior and geographic location, and the engaging new design decreases the amount of time visitors spend locating information about programs and services.

The home page features quick and easy access to the most popular features and topics as determined by data gathered from past users. The site also features an enhanced search function that offers suggestions and potential matches as a visitor types into the search box. Clicking on topics provides visitors with suggestions on related topics to make finding information easier and more intuitive. uses GeoIP technology to identify a visitor’s location so city, presenting city and county government information and up-to-date local news and interactive mapping to help visitors find points of interest like schools, libraries, and state parks and historic sites. Prominently displayed links to social media, RSS, and other rich media and a new mobile-optimized site make it easy for visitors to connect with state government using the latest technologies.

A new public participation feature will help increase government transparency by creating a single location for public participation opportunities that is featured on the home page. This new service makes it easy for visitors to quickly find information about upcoming meetings and download it to their personal calendar. supports an average of 1.6 million unique users per month and offers hundreds of user-friendly digital government services that help constituents interact more effectively with the state, including driver license renewal, background checks, professional license renewal and tax filing services. Earlier this year, processed the state’s one millionth online driver license renewal.

The redesign of the website was completed with no taxpayer or appropriated funds through a unique self-funded, public-private partnership with Nashville-based NIC Tennessee Inc.

About is the states official website and a collaborative effort between the state of Tennessee and Nashville-based NICUSA Tennessee, part of the eGovernment firm NIC’s family of companies.

About NIC

NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV) is the nation’s leading provider of official government websites, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The company’s innovative eGovernment services help reduce costs and increase efficiencies for government agencies, citizens, and businesses across the country. The NIC family of companies currently provides eGovernment solutions to more than 3,000 federal, state, and local agencies that serve 98 million people. Additional information is available at

Press Releases

Bredesen Appoints 135 People To State Boards, Commissions

State of Tennessee Press Release; July 13, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen has appointed 135 men and women to serve on 60 state boards and commissions. These Tennesseans represent areas from all across the state.

“I commend all those appointed for their willingness to serve the state through its boards and commissions,” Bredesen said. “Tennesseans have always been recognized for dedicating their time and talents to serve their fellow citizens, and I appreciate these men and women for upholding this tradition. I am confident they will represent their respective boards with integrity and honor.”

Appointment terms vary based on statutory recommendations or term limits specified by geographic or other qualifications. The appointments are as follows:

Advisory Committee on Credit Life Insurance Rates

Earl R. Whaley, Jr., Maryville

Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities

Jeffrey L. Finney, Elizabethton

Chantal Bena Hess-Taylor, Cordova

Flavenia L. Leaper, Memphis

James E. Topp, Collierville

Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation

Bobby L. Pitts, Franklin

Air Pollution Control Board

John R. Roberts, Sr., Manchester

Archaeological Advisory Council

David H. Dye, Cordova

Architects and Engineers Board of Examiners

Robert G. Campbell, Jr., Knoxville

Board of Dentistry

Michael Philip Tabor, Nashville

Board for Professional Counselors, Marital & Family Therapists, and Clinical Pastoral Therapists

Stephen A. Caldwell, Dickson

James L. Philpott, Hixson

Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities

Sylvia J. Burton, Cookeville

Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Cummins, Fayetteville

Janice M. Hill, Memphis

Roy King, Knoxville

Board of Chiropractic Examiners

Craig B. Ratcliff, Sevierville

Board of Communication Disorders & Sciences

John Richardson Ashford, Nashville

O.H. “Shorty” Freeland, Adamsville

Board of Dietitian and Nutritionist Examiners

Abbie Jane Derrick, Nashville

Janet J. Skates, Kingsport

Board of Examiners in Psychology

George H. Bercaw, Chattanooga

Donald Lynn Brookshire, Signal Mountain

Rodney A. Sullivan, Telford

Board of Medical Examiners

Michael John Baron, Franklin

Gary Keith Lovelady, Manchester

Board of Osteopathic Examination

Donald H. Polk, Waynesboro

Board of Physical Therapy

Minty R. Ballard, Brentwood

Lisa Church Fortner, McKenzie

Michael L. Voight, Nashville

Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners

David H. Long, Martin

Board of Respiratory Care

Brian T. Cook, Chattanooga

Board of Social Worker Licensure

L. LaSimba M. Gray, Jr., Collierville

Teresa C. Housteau, Knoxville

Building Finance Committee

Debbie C. Small, Pleasant View

Lonnie M. Haley, III, Memphis

John Frank McGuffin, Morristown

Carroll County Watershed Authority

Joe T. Smothers, Huntingdon

Committee on Physician Assistants

Omar Nava, Clarksville

Emergency Communications Board

Mark T. Archer, Buchanan

Isaac Duff “Ike” Lowry, Bluff City

Steven J. Smith, Murfreesboro

Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission

Warren L. Gooch, Oak Ridge

Health Services and Development Agency

Charlotte C. Burns, Savannah

James Lee Wright, Franklin

Keep Tennessee Beautiful Advisory Council

Terry A. Griffin, Clarksville

Larry E. Potter, Cordova

Jarron B. Springer, Nashville

Local Government Planning Advisory Committee

Tony Burriss, Trenton

Linda Hayes, White Bluff

George E. James, Springfield

Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Board

Cathleen T. Burrell, Adams

Jonathan M. Edwards, Lawrenceburg

Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors

Edward “Ed” Cole, Nashville

James K. “Ken” Davis, Lebanon

Solid Waste Disposal Control Board

Jack Edward Deibert, Clarksville

Jared L. Lynn, Hermitage

State Board of Accountancy

William F. Blaufuss, Nashville

Jennifer L. Brundige, Nashville

Stanley Bernard Sawyer, Memphis

Casey M. Stuart, Signal Mountain

State Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors

Sue Braly, Pulaski

State Capitol Commission

Judith Boyer Danner, Nashville

State Workforce Development Board

Kristee Bell, Memphis

Craig S. Butler, Lexington

Echell Eady, Murfreesboro

Shirley A. Frierson, Nashville

Raymond S. Marston, Lawrenceburg

Jean C. Schmidt, Nashville

Yolanda E. Shields, Spring Hill

Zachariah N. Stansell, Knoxville

Sandra B. Woods, Humboldt

Tennessee Aeronautics Commission

Jim Berry, Georgetown

Tennessee Arts Commission

Donna Chase, Knoxville

Edwin F. Gerace, Johnson City

Carol L. McCoy, Nashville

Tennessee Board of Court Reporting

John Mack Green, Murfreesboro

Tennessee Board of Regents

Agenia W. Clark, Brentwood

Barry Doyle Gidcomb, Columbia

Fran F. Marcum, Tullahoma

Casey Lyn McCullum, Athens

Howard Roddy, Hixson

Tennessee Career and Technical Education Council

James G. Neeley, Nashville

Tennessee Collection Services Board

Elizabeth C. “Beth” Dixon, Memphis

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

Philip A. Acord, Chattanooga

Sidney J. Bynum, Nashville

Lindsay V. Callahan, Cookeville

Janell F. Clark, Cookeville

Erica S. Gilmore, Nashville

Martha C. Herndon, Sharon

Carlton Lewis, Nashville

Harold Moses Love, Jr., Nashville

Joy Phillips Strickland, Piney Flats

Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Directors

Dennis L. Carroll, Cleveland

Alfred W. Laney, Nashville

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Cynthia R. Chambers, Jonesborough

Renee M. Lopez, Gallatin

Deborah S. Riffle, Humboldt

Marilyn L. Sortor, Memphis

Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board

Timothy Lynn Bell, Woodbury

Richard Holliday, Memphis

Dennis Wayne Parker, Sparta

James E. Ross, Jackson

Robert W. Thurman, Jr., Brentwood

Tennessee Foreign Language Institute

Gloria L. Bishop, LaVergne

Katherine Taylor Haynes, Nashville

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Jack Murrah, Hixson

Zachary Ross Walden, LaFollette

Tennessee Human Rights Commission

Joseph Warren Walker, III, Whites Creek

Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board

Regina L. Bartlett, Hendersonville

Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission

James D. “Donnie” Hatcher, Brownsville

Stan McNabb, Tullahoma

William L. Tarr, Jefferson City

Reed Edward Trickett, Nashville

Tennessee Performing Arts Center Board of Directors

Anne L. Russell, Nashville

Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

James R. “Russ” Farrar, Brentwood

Tennessee Real Estate Commission

Wendell F. Alexander, Dresden

Grover C. Collins, Lewisburg

Michelle W. Haynes, Gallatin

Tennessee Real Estate Appraiser Commission

Edward A. Baryla, Jr., Johnson City

Herbert E. Phillips, Nashville

Nancy W. Point, Rogersville

Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction (TRICOR) Board of Directors

Tonya G. Jones, Nashville

George Jordan Phillips, Gallatin

Tennessee State Veterans Home Board

Clarence E. “Gene” Bayless, Jr., Knoxville

Hughley Moore, Collierville

Robert D. “Bob” Tuke, Nashville

Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation

SimmieRay Lee Dinkins, Henning

William C. “Will” Pinkston, Nashville

Tennessee Water Quality Control Board

James W. Cameron, III, Franklin

Frank McGinley, Jr., Savannah

University of Tennessee Board of Trustees

J.A.M. “Toby” Boulet, Knoxville

Carey Elizabeth Smith, Kingsport

Water and Wastewater Financing Board

Randy Paul Wilkins, Springfield

Water and Wastewater Operators Certification Board

Larry W. Moore, Germantown