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TN House Votes to ‘Stand with Rand’ (and Babs)

The Tennessee House has passed a resolution in support of a joint proposal by U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to reinvest in the Highway Trust Fund “at no additional costs to taxpayers.”

Sponsored by Dresden Republican Andy Holt, HJR0094 encourages Congress to “Stand with Rand: Invest in Transportation.” It passed Wednesday on an 86-3 vote.

Paul and Boxer are pushing federal legislation to allow companies to voluntarily repatriate their earnings held in foreign banks at a tax rate of 6.5 percent, and funnel that revenue to the highway fund.  The adjusted tax rate would only apply to funds that are in excess of the company’s recent average repatriations, and only to money “earned in 2015 or earlier,” according to a press release. The companies would have five years to take advantage of the proposal.

Holt said Tennessee could see over $100 billion in transportation infrastructure revenue, should the legislation pass.

The possibility of raising the gas tax — both federally and at the state level — has been floated recently as ways to continue road improvements and shore up the trust fund.

Rep. Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson, D-Memphis, questioned if “Stand with Rand” was Sen. Paul’s campaign slogan. Holt replied that he wasn’t sure, but said the purpose of the resolution is to show support for the transportation funding action taken by the Kentucky senator at the federal level.

Parkinson voted against the measure, joined by fellow Democrats G.A. Hardaway of Memphis and Bo Mitchell of Nashville.

If no congressional action is taken, the Highway Trust Fund is projected to go insolvent by May 31.

Support for federal land transfer more partisan

The House passed another Holt-sponsored resolution as well Wednesday, but mostly without support from Democrats. That measure, House Joint Resolution 92, passed 64-25 with 3 abstentions.  It calls on the federal government to cede federally controlled public lands in the western United States back to the states in which they are situated.

The resolution declares that “limiting the ability of western states to access and utilize the public lands’ natural resources within their borders is having a negative impact upon the economy of those western states and therefore the economy of the entire United States.”

Three Republicans — Ryan Haynes and Eddie Smith of Knoxville, and Cameron Sexton of Crossville — joined the majority of Democrats to vote against the resolution. GOP Reps. Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain and Pat Marsh of Shelbyville, and Memphis Democrat Johnnie Turner, indicated they were present but not voting.

Livingston Rep. John Mark Windle was the only Democrat to vote yes on the resolution.

Holt explained that while the resolution calls on the federal government to transfer public lands to the states they occur within, it also requests the states return to the U.S. government any land designated as being a part of the National Park System, the National Wilderness system or belonging to the military.

Holt got pushback on the floor from Rep. Jason Powell, a Nashville Democrat, who said “we must protect America’s backyard, the American West.”

The House Democratic Caucus issued a press release following the House session condemning the resolution as a vote against hunters and others who enjoy outdoor recreation in the nation’s parks.

The South Carolina Assembly passed a similarly worded resolution in 2013.

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, since Utah passed legislation in 2012 calling for the transfer of public lands to the state, several other states have passed legislation along the same lines, including Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico.

Both the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Republican National Committee have issued “model resolutions” in support of the concept, but both are worded differently from Holt’s resolution.

Contact Alex Harris at

Press Releases

Rep. Powell Invites Public to Suggest Bills

Press release from Tennessee Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville; January 29, 2015:

Any successful business asks customers for suggestions about what can be done to improve their product, and government must do the same. I want to engage the public in my quest for great new legislative ideas.

For anyone thinking, “I wish someone would make this a law” this is the opportunity! I’m inviting the public to send me a proposal, in 250 words or less, for a bill he or she would sponsor as a representative. Every proposal will be considered no matter if it is from a Democrat, Republican, independent or tea partier.

I will read all suggestions and narrow the list down to my preferred ideas, then I will contact the sponsor to get a more in-depth take on their proposed legislation. I will select at least one idea and run it as a bill. There is a possibility that the bill won’t become law because it will ultimately have to pass the General Assembly and be signed by the governor. However, it will not fail for lack of trying on my part.

Let’s see if this if this year’s best piece of legislation comes from a constituent, not a politician. My goal is not to revolutionize the legislative process, but to simply increase public participation in governance with the hope of passing legislation to improve Tennessee.

Anyone can email me with their name, address and legislative idea in 250 words or less at or submit at before Thursday, February 5.

Rep. Jason L. Powell
District 53, Davidson County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 34 – Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

Press Releases

Rep. Powell Announces Support for Insure TN

Press release from State Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville; January 21, 2015:

Over the last couple of weeks, I have thoroughly reviewed Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Plan, listened to the constituents of House District 53, and asked questions to the Administration as well as healthcare experts.  After careful consideration, I support Insure Tennessee and will vote for the proposal when given the opportunity on the House Floor.

Insure Tennessee is a unique Tennessee plan that will provide 200,000 working Tennesseans the opportunity to have basic healthcare.  Insure Tennessee takes a conservative approach to insuring more Tennesseans by offering new private market choices while promoting personal responsibility through cost-sharing components of the plan.  Most importantly, the proposal will not create any new taxes for Tennesseans or add any state cost to the budget.

I hope my fellow legislators will put people above politics, governing before elections, and pragmatism over ideology in consideration of Insure Tennessee.  I believe it is important to make my support known now to continue building consensus on both sides of the aisle.  I will assist as needed during the special session of the General Assembly to help win passage of this resolution.  There are 200,000 working Tennesseans counting on 132 legislators to do the right thing.  These working Tennesseans can count on me to support Insure Tennessee and continue moving our state forward.

Press Releases

House Unanimously Passes ‘Made in Tennessee Act’

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; April 16, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The House voted unanimously to support Rep. Jason Powell’s “Made in Tennessee Act”. HB718 will help small businesses by creating a Tennessee brand for non-agricultural products made in the state.

“This is a common-sense proposal that will help promote Tennessee products made in my district and across the state,” said State Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville). “The small business owners I talked to during the campaign told me they are struggling to compete with cheap products from China. The Made in Tennessee Act will strengthen and promote the Tennessee brand in our state and across the nation.”

The Made in Tennessee Act authorizes the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services to use a logo or seal for “Made in Tennessee” products and goods, except for food and agricultural products, that have been processed, fabricated, manufactured or otherwise transformed in Tennessee. The bill builds on the Department of Agriculture’s successful “Pick TN Products” campaign by promoting commerce in Tennessee.

“Tennesseans make some of the best products in the nation,” said Rep. Powell. “The Made in Tennessee brand will make it easier for Tennesseans to support local economic and job growth by supporting locally owned small businesses in our state.”

HB718/SB806 passed the House and Senate unanimously and will go on to Governor Haslam for his signature.

Video of the discussion on the bill is available here:

Press Releases

TSEA PAC Endorses Powell in Bid for District 53 Seat

Press release from the Tennessee State Employees Association; July 19, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Employees Action Movement (TEAM) – the PAC of the Tennessee State Employees Association – proudly endorses Jason Powell, D-Nashville, in his bid for election to the District 53 seat of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

“We are pleased to endorse Jason Powell’s campaign,” said James Braswell, Chair of the TEAM Administrative Committee. “Jason Powell appreciates state employees and values the services they provide daily to the citizens of Tennessee. He understands that quality services depend on a motivated, effective and efficient workforce and has shown a desire to maintain these values in state government,” said Braswell

TEAM, is the political action arm of the Tennessee State Employees Association, which represents hundreds of state employees in the 53th District. TSEA was established in 1974. For further information, visit TSEA’s website at You can also follow TSEA on Twitter @tseaonline.