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Voter Photo ID Bill Passes, Sans Use of Student Cards

With a near party line vote of 23-7 in the Senate Thursday, all that remains to block state-funded college IDs as valid identification for voting in Tennessee is the governor’s signature.

With no explanation, Senate Bill 125 sponsor Bill Ketron rose and simply said he would “move to concur” with House Bill 229 as amended. The Republican senator from Murfreesboro noted that one of the amendments from the House “retains the present law prohibition on the use of student identification card to veria person’s identity.” The other corrected a typographical error.

This was in stark contrast to a statement Ketron issued the previous week: “We will continue to push to allow state-issued student identification to remain in the bill as passed by the Senate, even if we have to go to a conference committee.”

Sen. Jim Kyle, D- Memphis, and Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, both spoke in favor of allowing student IDs.

“All the photo ID does is verify that you are the person who registered to vote,” Kyle said. “We sometimes seem to be confusing the idea of having a photo ID and the right to go vote. You don’t have a right to go vote unless you have registered to vote and have met the criteria of registration to vote.”

The 15-term senator also expressed a desire for legislation to go further and “give citizens the opportunity to use any valid form of governmental-issued photo ID, but we’re not going to go there. This Senate doesn’t want to do that.”

Kyle attempted to mount an effort to send the bill to a conference committee to reconcile the initial differences in each chamber about allowing student IDs.

Overbey said he believes that a student ID card does meet the standard of the other photo IDs allowed by the bill. Overbey also disclosed a potential conflict of interest based on his role as a trustee for Maryville College, invoking the legislature’s Rule 13.

“I believe in the principle of having a photo ID to ensure that the person going to vote matches a properly issued identification card,” he said. “Folks, I know of situations where folks obtain a false driver’s license, but we do allow driver’s licenses to be used.”

With only those comments, the amended bill passed the Senate along party lines, except for Overbey, who joined the six Democrats in voting against it.

During his weekly media conference following Thursday’s session, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said the bill ended up being what the majority of senators initially wanted when Ketron introduced SB125 earlier this year.

“The bottom line is all of us, to begin with, did not want student IDs included,” Ramsey said. “We simply did it because it helped our case in court if it ever got challenged again.”

Student IDs are allowed in Indiana under the voter ID legislation that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, which Ketron had used as a model for SB125.

In addition to college IDs, the legislation would ban the use of out-of-state driver’s licenses, currently allowed even if they’ve expired, as well as ID cards issued by cities, counties or public libraries. The validity of library cards is before the Tennessee Supreme Court after the city of Memphis and two residents challenged the law.

Because both HB229 and SB125 are now one and the same, the legislation heads to governor’s desk for his signature.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at amhipps@downhomepolitics.com, on Twitter @DwnHomePolitics or at 615-442-8667.

Ramsey Soliciting Ideas for New Judicial District Maps

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is expected today to announce he’s seeking input from the legal community and the general public on what reworked state judicial district maps should look like.

Tennessee’s judicial districts have not been redrawn since 1984. And with districts set to elect their district attorneys general, public defenders and state trial court judges this August, some powerful figures in the General Assembly are saying that this legislative session represents the best chance to improve the efficiency of the districts through redistricting.

“The last time our judicial districts were updated Waylon Jennings and Michael Jackson were at the top of the charts,” Ramsey told TNReport in a statement. “Tennessee is a far different place that it was in 1984. Formerly rural counties have become thoroughly suburban, and our suburban counties now confront problems similar to urban areas. We desperately need to take a fresh look at this judicial map to ensure Tennesseans receive the best possible service from their judges, district attorneys and public defenders.”

At a forum sponsored by the Associated Press last week, Ramsey said Tennessee’s judicial districts are “completely out of whack.”

Ramsey added that he isn’t particularly looking forward to the undertaking. He indicated the process of legislative redistricting last year was a bigger headache than he’d anticipated.

“Really, there’s no political upside to this,” the East Tennessee Republican said. “It is something that I just think is good government and efficiency and making sure that the judiciary operates as efficiently as we do.”

Ramsey also said that, in addition to the public at large, he is requesting input from those that would be directly affected, such as the Trial Judges Association, the District Attorneys General Conference and the Tennessee Bar Association.

Officials with the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts have said they have no opinion on redistricting, but Ramsey has said that the process will likely be controversial.

The debate over judicial redistricting is not a new one. Unlike legislative redistricting, it is not mandated by the Tennessee Constitution. And since the mid-1990s — about 10 years after the last redistricting — state officials have been debating how best to go about it — or whether to do it at all.

In 2007, the Comptroller’s Office awarded a $126,522 contract to the Justice Management Institute and George Mason University to conduct a study of potential judicial redistricting in Tennessee (pdf).

The five-page report after the study came to this conclusion: There was no need for redistricting, but more study was needed.

From the report: “Only a few people provided any thoughts about potential benefits, namely the creation of more time available to justice professionals to process cases, lower caseloads and reduced travel time.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at trent@tnreport.com, on Twitter(@trentseibert) or at 615-669-9501.

Ramsey: Signs Pointing Toward GOP Supermajority in Senate

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDTYwGvWGVE[/youtube]


Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
says that come Election Day, Republicans will enjoy a supermajority in the Tennessee Senate — meaning that the GOP will not need any Democratic support to pass legislation.

“I do think we’re going to have the supermajority,” Ramsey told TNReport. “There are six seats we’re playing in, and none of us as incumbent Republicans have serious opposition. This is the first time I’ve ever run without an opponent.”

Republicans need to win two more seats to snag the supermajority, or 22 of the 33 seats.

And if money talks, Ramsey may be right. GOP candidates for state Senate have a massive financial lead going into the final days of their campaigns, according to campaign finance reports released by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

The reports released this week show Republican Senate candidates with a more than 2-to-1 lead in terms of cash on hand. And when you add up the total amount of money raised in contested races, Republicans have outraised Democrats $1.8 million to $861,000 since Jan. 1, records show.

You can search all of the filings by clicking here.

Perhaps more telling is the amount of money spent in the past two months, which is what the most recent campaign finance reports show.

Of the six key races that Ramsey spoke of, Republicans have spent $384,041 and Democrats have spent $253,451, according to those filings.

That’s money that goes for newspaper and radio ads, campaign workers, mailings, food and gas to fill up the gas tank.

In only one of those races did the Democrat outspend his opponent. That was the race in Senate District 24, a West Tennessee district that spans from Obion County to Benton County.

In that race, Democrat Brad Thompson spent $111,372 over the past two months. His Republican opponent John Stevens spent $62,932 over that same period.

Most of the six races, though, more closely resemble the contest in Senate District 20, a district that surrounds downtown Nashville like a letter “C” spanning from Belle Meade to Goodlettsville. Republican Steve Dickerson plowed $54,941 into the race over the past two months. His opponent, Democrat Phillip North, spent $28,028 over that same period.

“I do think there will be significant gains,” Ramsey said. “Somewhere between two (Senate seats) to five or six.”

This is not the first time that Ramsey has been talking about a possible supermajority. Check out what he told the Nashville Scene and Nooga.com.

Other Senate seats identified as being in play include:

State to Withhold Administrative Funding from Nashville Public Schools

Press Release from the Department of Education; September 18th, 2012:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Education today informed Metro Nashville Public Schools that the state is withholding approximately $3.4 million of non-classroom, administrative funding from the school system, as a consequence of the district’s refusal to follow state law.

The money represents the non-classroom components of the state’s Basic Education Program funding formula. The state is withholding this portion of October’s funds based on the Metro Nashville Public School Board’s refusal to follow Tennessee’s charter school law in its meetings on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11. The state chose the non-classroom funds to mitigate the impact on students.

“We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”

The department intends to reallocate the funds to other districts in Tennessee using the state funding formula.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell noted that the Metro school board had multiple chances to comply with state law.

“The Metro Nashville school board had two chances to follow the law, and twice it chose to not do so. This is the consequence,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey agreed, saying he supported the decision to uphold the law.

“The Metro Nashville school board’s brazen defiance of state law limited options for thousands of Nashville parents and their children,” Ramsey said. “The rule of law is not optional in Tennessee. Those who break it must be held accountable.”

Pressure Builds Over State-Local Control of Charter Schools

Republicans who laud government that stays close to the people are finding themselves in a pickle now that a local school board has bucked state law.

Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Board of Education ignored orders by the Tennessee Board of Education to usher the charter school Great Hearts Academies into the district last week — the second such rebuff in a month. The Metro schools board contends that the first of five schools, run by a Phoenix-based charter school operator, would lack diversity and pander to an affluent Nashville neighborhood.

The Great Hearts dispute has exposed Republican leaders to criticism that they espouse local control only when it suits their aims.

“This whole thing just flies in the face of Republican philosophy when you have the big bad state coming down telling the local school board they have to comply with the law,” said Jerry Winters, a lobbyist with the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, which has been resistant to the emergence of school choice.

Charter schools have enjoyed favorable treatment at the hands of GOP Gov. Bill Haslam and his education department. The administration’s agenda for reform has included tougher standards for teacher tenure, tying teacher evaluations to test scores and an expansion of charter schools.

Metro schools’ refusal to grant Great Hearts permission to open a school has sparked statewide debate over whether local approval is best. Great Hearts announced that it would not challenge the Metro schools’ decision.

“It’s really been kind of shocking to watch a government openly acknowledge and violate the law,” said Matt Throckmorton, executive director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association.

Disgusted by the ongoing feud, Throckmorton and other charter school advocates are pushing for the state to assemble an outside agency to review and approve charter school applications, allowing charter operators to leap-frog over the local school district.

Details on how that system would operate are still in the works.

Throckmorton says local school districts should still be involved with discussions about pending charter schools. But politics are getting in the way of opening quality schools that could find more effective ways to teach children, he said.

Opponents of the idea say locally elected school board members — rather than a handful of appointed officials in Nashville — should decide whether a charter school is the right fit for the district and the community.

“I think people are wanting to make this an example to justify their intent to make a statewide authorizer,” said Lee Harrell, a lobbyist for the Tennessee School Boards Association which is opposed to charter schools skipping over local officials. “Often you hear the best decisions are made on the ground. (State approval) would totally fly in the face of that mentality.”

Several top state officials are staying quiet on the matter, including Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, who in August said the state would take “appropriate action” to see to it that Metro schools approved the charter school.

He declined to comment on the latest denial for Great Hearts, although emails obtained by the City Paper indicate he was keenly interested in getting the application approved and has engaged in discussions about the need for a statewide authorizer.

The governor’s office has also been silent on the issue, although officials say they were waiting for Haslam to return from his economic development trip in Japan last week. Prior to Metro schools’ first rejection of the Great Hearts application, Haslam said he saw no need to develop a state panel to approve charter schools.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham has also declined to comment.

But Republican legislative leaders who have repeatedly offered messages about the importance of local control hint that they’d be open to a plan giving the state more power.

“I am extremely dismayed that the Nashville School Board is focused on limiting parental choice and educational opportunity for children,” Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told TNReport in an email. “It is unfortunate that the board seems mired in the old education politics while the rest of the state is moving forward.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell agreed, calling the decision by MNPS “simply a mistake for our children” and saying the Legislature “will revisit this issue” when they come back in January.

“We believe in local government and local school boards. But when they don’t give opportunities for our children, then that’s a problem,” she said.

Charter schools are privately-owned but publicly-funded. Supporters say they offer more flexibility to innovate and create choice and competition, while detractors say they drain public money and students, leaving traditional public schools with the students hardest to educate.

Charter school performance is generally mixed. Last school year, two charter schools ranked among the best performing institutions in the state, while five other charter schools reflected some of the worst student academic records statewide.

TN Tightens Rules on Unemployment Benefits

After almost a year of Republican lawmakers complaining that the state’s unemployment system is too lax, Gov. Bill Haslam is signing three bills into law that stiffen rules for people seeking benefit checks.

The bills come as the state’s unemployment rate drops below the 8.2 percent national average to 7.9 percent after skyrocketing into double digits with most of the nation during the peak of the economic recession.

“One of the things you want to make certain you do throughout all this is make certain the process, which is a valuable one, gets protected,” Haslam told reporters after signing the legislation at a Nashville sign company Wednesday. “Protecting benefits for the people that deserve them is a very important part of what we do.”

The proposals came in large part at the urging of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who has taken a leading role in pushing the overhauls. He spent much of his “Red Tape Road Tour” last year asking businesses what they want out of state government. At the same time, House Republicans surveyed other employers.

Both camps reported stories from business owners that some job candidates delayed taking jobs while they milked their unemployment benefits, or workers who were fired for just-cause were still able to get on the beneficiary rolls.

“It will protect the integrity of the process yet at the same time make sure that those who truly need the benefits will get the benefits,” Ramsey said at the ceremonial signing, adding the goal is to make sure the jobless see their unemployment check as “a benefit and not a lifestyle.”

The National Federation of Small Business Tennessee chapter, which teamed up with Ramsey in his Red Tape tour, conducted its own informal employer survey and also found that issues with the unemployment benefits system rank high among business owners’ concerns.

“The bills plug holes exposed by the great recession, like ensuring more workers are actively looking for work,” said Jim Brown, executive director of Tennessee’s NFIB.

“I know that can be a controversial subject, but this will help many unemployed individuals return to the workforce sooner, which is good for them, it’s good for their families and it’s good for their communities,” he added.

The most significant changes to state law are found in the “Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012.” The measure creates a broader definition of “misconduct” that will disqualify applicants from benefits if they were fired for cause. Under the new law, “misconduct” is defined as:

  • Conscious disregard of the rights or interests of the employer
  • Deliberate violations or disregard of reasonable standards of behavior that the employer expects of an employee
  • Carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence to show an intentional or substantial disregard of the employer’s interest or to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or shows an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations to the employee’s employer
  • Deliberate disregard of a written attendance policy and the discharge is in compliance with such policy
  • A knowing violation of a regulation of this state by an employee of an employer licensed by this state, which violation would cause the employer to be sanctioned or have the employer’s license revoked or suspended by this state
  • A violation of an employer’s rule.

The laws also call for developing an electronic system the Department of Labor and employers can use to communicate notice of employee separation and challenges to benefits claims. The measures also tighten up the definition of a seasonal employer so workers can’t claim unemployment benefits if they knew their job would only last a few months out of the year.

Job seekers will also have to begin providing proof they made contact with three employers every week or visited their local career center in an attempt to find work. The department will be charged with auditing 1,000 of those reports each week and booting claimants who fabricate their work search.

The law also allows the department to deny claims to workers rejecting valid job offers or failing employer-mandated drug tests.

Lawmakers this year also approved a bill that would require welfare recipients to submit to a drug test if they have prior drug convictions or are red-flagged during department screenings for benefits.

While the state doesn’t currently make most government employees take drugs tests as a condition of getting or keeping their jobs, it offers tax breaks encouraging private-sector employers to demand their employees submit to urine sampling. An effort to require state lawmakers to take drug tests failed this year for lack of support among Republican legislators.

Although the proposals passed easily with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, only Republicans joined Haslam in his ceremonial bill signing. The governor only signed two of the three bills at the event Wednesday, although he expressed support for all three measures. The third bill with the most significant changes to state law, SB3658, was still being transmitted to the governor.

Andrea Zelinski and Alex Harris contributed to this report.

Ramsey Takes Up For Perry Following ‘Oops’ Moment at Debate

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has a very good memory of what it’s like on the campaign trail.

It’s easy to goof, the way Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Ramsey’s preference in the Republican presidential primary, did Wednesday night.

Perry got caught up in what is being called a “gaffe,” a “brain freeze” and “the worst stumble in the 51-year history of televised presidential debates.”

Perry’s description for it: “Oops.”

Perry tried to name the three departments of the federal government he would like to get rid of as president, but he could only go 2-for-3, naming Commerce and Education and failing until it was way too late to state Energy as the third department he would like to dump.

Ramsey, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 — calling for the elimination of some state departments, by the way — said Thursday it’s easy to make a misstep the way his guy did Wednesday. Ramsey, state campaign chairman for Perry, took up for his man.

“All of us, at times, have one, two and three things and forget the third thing. His just happened to be on national television,” Ramsey said. “I do think obviously it’s embarrassing. No doubt about that. But I do think that we’re still a long way from having this race over, and people are looking for an alternative to (former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt) Romney.

“I think that’s the reason you see Michele Bachmann go up and then fall back down, you see (former Minnesota Gov. Tim) Pawlenty go up and then fall back down. Rick Perry did the same thing, and now it happens to be Herman Cain. Once again, this is still a process that will be working its way out over the next several months.”

Ramsey raised the subject of Perry’s campaign chest.

“I think Rick Perry has the money — I don’t think, I know — Rick Perry has the money to stay in this through the long haul, and stumblings like this are embarrassing, yet at the same time I think he will recover from this,” Ramsey said.

The Perry campaign this week announced the endorsements of six other Tennessee Republican legislators, including Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown, Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson, House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, Rep. Don Miller of Morristown and Rep. Mark White of Memphis.

Ramsey said he did not have to twist any arms to get those legislators on the Perry team.

“Just the opposite,” Ramsey said. “I didn’t even try. These are people that have come to me and said, ‘We would like to be on board.’”

Ramsey is the highest ranking elected official in the state who has publicly joined a Republican presidential campaign. Gov. Bill Haslam has refused thus far to state a preference, even as people close to Haslam have joined the Romney finance team.

The governor’s father, Jim Haslam, joins Nashvillian Ted Welch as state finance chairs for Romney. The governor’s brother, Jimmy Haslam, is a co-chairman, as is Brad Martin, a longtime friend of the governor. The finance team also includes Chrissy Hagerty, wife of Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bill Hagerty.

The governor was asked this week, given that so many people close to him were joining the Romney team, why he was holding back.

“No specific reason,” Haslam said. “Given the timing of Tennessee’s primary (March 6), I don’t know that there’s any urgency to it. I think there are some other things that can and will play out. At some point in time, I will endorse. I’m just not there yet.”

Haslam Appreciates Confidence from Bond Rating Agencies

Press Release from Gov. Bill Haslam; Oct. 4, 2011:

Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s recognize state’s conservative fiscal management

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today lauded the three bond rating agencies for maintaining the state’s solid credit ratings, a testament to Tennessee’s leadership and conservative fiscal management.

The state will keep its Aaa rating from Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Inc. and its AA+ rating with a positive outlook from Standard & Poor’s. Moody’s, however, did place the state’s rating on “negative outlook,” which relates to the agency’s decision in August to confirm the Aaa bond rating of the United States while assigning a negative outlook.

These ratings allow the state to pay lower interest rates when it borrows money. Tennessee has one of the lowest debt burdens of any state in the country, a fact that is a strong positive in the evaluation process.

“We have a proven history of fiscal responsibility in Tennessee, and I appreciate the confidence the agencies are showing in our current leadership team by maintaining the state’s strong ratings during these turbulent economic times nationally,” Haslam said. “We are committed to fiscal restraint in managing our budget and will continue to prepare for the likelihood of less federal funding out of Washington.”

Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes along with the state constitutional officers including Comptroller Justin Wilson, Treasurer David Lillard, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and other state officials traveled to New York in August for preliminary presentations to two of the ratings agencies. Following those meetings, Emkes asked state agencies to draft contingency plans to prepare for reductions in federal funding.

Haslam and Emkes joined Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and the constitutional officers earlier this month in New York for the state’s annual meetings with the three agencies. There they made the case that Tennessee is a well-managed state with low debt and is well-positioned to weather the current financial climate.

The Tennessee Constitution requires the state to balance its budget every year, and any capital project must be funded at 11 percent of its cost in the first year. The governor emphasized these structural decisions in state government are important indicators of stability and prudent management.

 

Ramsey Condemns Gibson Guitar Raid as ‘Criminalization of Free Enterprise’

Facebook Post from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Sept. 12, 2012:

While I’ve been interacting with constituents and preparing for the upcoming legislative session, I have been appalled at the recent news reports out of Nashville and Memphis.

Gibson Guitars, the iconic manufacturer of the axes wielded by a wide variety of artists from Chet Atkins to B.B. King to Angus Young, has been raided for the second time in the past few years by armed agents of the federal government. Gibson’s crime? Importing a certain type of wood for use in their guitars that may be illegal in a foreign country.

That’s right. Our government executed criminal warrants based on one interpretation of another country’s laws. This would be funny if it wasn’t so downright scary.

A federal raid is a not a small thing. It is a serious undertaking that has consequences for the business against whom it is conducted. Computers get forensically imaged, boxes of files are carted out. Employees are detained and questioned. Business can not be effectively conducted for days if not weeks afterward.

This kind of action can result in lost profits, lost jobs and the bankruptcy of a company. The economic consequences can be dire. Raids such as these should not be taken lightly.

Yet what was the stated need for overwhelming force in this case?

Basically, the federal government is suggesting that Gibson Guitar has violated the Lacey Act. It charges that Gibson imported wood from India that was illegal because it was “unfinished.” The wood is allegedly illegal not because of any law passed by Congress or any state legislature but because of an interpretation of Indian law.

Is this reason enough to hold hostage an employer of over 1200 people?

Even if one concedes the questionable merit of the Lacey Act, which requires American companies be bound by the law of foreign nations, the repeated targeting of one company in this fashion is abhorrent.

Our Constitution was written to ensure that the federal government’s power was not only limited but decentralized. The Founding Fathers wanted a government where no branch or agency of government could have too much power.

Looking at the Gibson case, the US Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service has surely violated that founding tenet. As I mentioned, this is the second time the company has been raided by armed agents of Fish and Wildlife. No charges were ever filed in connection with the first raid in 2009 but the companies property has still not been returned.

Gibson, it should be noted, has provided evidence that the wood imported in both cases was completely authorized as legal by the countries exporting the wood.

What has been most concerning to me is the implicit assertion by the government that if this “unfinished” wood had been finished in India by Indian workers instead of at Gibson by American workers the company would have no legal problem.

It is almost as if the federal government is encouraging Gibson to do what many other companies have done for various reasons: Ship American jobs overseas. Gibson is one of the few major US companies that still produces a tangible product within America’s borders and the federal government targets them because they MAY have run afoul of a foreign law.

I fail to see the need for armed federal agents in a place of business like Gibson. This is not a criminal cartel, it is a musical instrument manufacturer. The company does not thumb its nose at the law, in fact, the company and it’s CEO have clearly made their best efforts to stay within the law.

In fact, the only beef the Obama administration could really have with Gibson Guitars is the political habits of its CEO. Apparently, the head of Gibson has been very generous in his donations to Republican candidates and causes such as Congressman Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Lamar Alexander. One of Gibson’s chief competitors on the other hand prefers Democrat candidates. I hope this is simple coincidence and not something more sinister.

If Gibson Guitars has broken the law, they must pay required penalties. But the resources which have been brought to bear and the manner in which this company has been targeted amounts to a classic case of overreach and overkill.

In an ever increasing competitive global economy, the federal government should be looking for ways to assist and nurture American businesses – not seek to criminalize companies who provide high-paying jobs to American workers.

Gresham Named to Senate Finance Committee

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Aug 16, 2011:

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today announced the appointment of Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Gresham also serves as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

“Dolores Gresham has been an invaluable member of the Senate since her election in 2006,” said Lt. Gov. Governor Ramsey. “In an age when we are increasingly looking for ways to maximize government efficiency and shrink the size of government, it is crucial to have proven fiscal conservatives on our Finance committee. Sen. Gresham doesn’t just talk the talk on budget issues. She’s walks the walk. I’m proud to have her on this committee.”

“I’ve always been committed to keeping taxes low, government small and the budget balanced,” said Sen. Gresham. “There is no better place than the Finance committee for a legislator to achieve those goals. I’m honored to have been chosen to serve.”

One of the more powerful Senate committees, the Finance, Ways And Means Committee is responsible for all measures relating the raising of revenue, the issuance or payment of bonds and the appropriation of state funds. Much of the committee’s work revolves around the general appropriations bill crucial to forming the state budget.