Posts

Ramsey Backs Texas Gov. Perry for President

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Aug. 10, 2011:

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Tennessee) today issued a strong statement of support for Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) after attending a private meeting with the governor in San Antonio. Gov. Perry is widely believed to be exploring a run for President with an announcement likely in the next few weeks.

“With the stakes this high, I don’t think any of us have the luxury of standing on the sidelines in the upcoming election,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “Our country is at the edge of a precipice. We can either allow President Obama to drive us into the abyss or we can stand our ground and take our country back. I believe Gov. Perry to be the man best suited to lead this fight. If the governor sees fit to make the decision many expect him to, I let him know today that I’ll be there to support him in any way I can.”

Lt. Gov. Ramsey cited not only Perry’s strong support for the 10th Amendment but also his stunning record of economic success as the reasons for his early and enthusiastic support.  “Even Gov. Perry’s detractors concede that the economic success of Texas throughout the Obama Recession has been nothing short of miraculous,” stated Ramsey. “Slice the numbers anyway you like, Gov. Perry’s record in Texas doesn’t lie. I’m eager to see Gov Perry’s Texas recipe for economic growth served up to the entire nation.”

“I think Gov. Perry understands the stakes in this election and welcomes the challenge. He has a long and proven track record of winning elections while at the same time sticking to his principles. His leadership in Texas has been the embodiment of constitutional conservative governance in action. I’m proud to stand behind him.”

Lt. Gov. Ramsey was also candid in dismissing criticism, leveled by potential rival campaigns, that Gov. Perry is unfit to carry the conservative banner because of his involvement in the 1988 Presidential campaign of Al Gore.

“That’s just silly. The Al Gore of 1988 wasn’t the Al Gore of today or even the Al Gore of 2000. Al Gore is a political chameleon and back in the eighties he was doing every thing he could to convince conservatives that he was their representative in the Democratic Party.”

“The true conservatives in the Democratic Party were the first to see Al Gore was a fraud and came to terms with the fact that that the Democratic Party of their fathers was no more. Rick Perry was one of those Democrats.”

“Let’s remember, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat once upon a time. Now he’s a conservative hero to millions of Republicans. Look at Gov. Perry’s record since 1990. Is it more Al Gore or more Ronald Reagan? The man’s record speaks for itself.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the first GOP Senate Speaker in Tennessee in 140 years, has been named “The Best Lawmaker for Business in Tennessee” by Business Tennessee magazine for his success in passing pro-growth policy to improve the state’s business climate.

In the 2008 elections, which saw Republicans suffer major losses across the country, Ramsey led Tennessee’s Republicans to a gain of three Senate seats and a solid five seat majority. Lt. Governor Ramsey became the longest-serving Republican Senate Speaker in Tennessee history in 2009 and was elected to a third term as Speaker in 2011.

Ramsey Names Entrepreneur to Housing Agency Board

Press Release from the Office of Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, Aug. 3, 2011: 

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today announced the appointment of Phil M. Baggett to the board of directors of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA).

“I enjoy placing business owners and entrepreneurs in a position to impact their community and their government for the better,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “Mr. Baggett’s extensive experience in starting, owning and operating businesses will be a great asset to the agency.”

An experienced entrepreneur and executive, Baggett has founded or co-founded no less than four successful companies.

He is the former president of Community Education Partners, a for-profit education company that provides dropout prevention and disciplinary alternative programs for charter schools in four states. Prior to overseeing the start-up of that business, Baggett was a founder and CEO of Hyperglot Software Company where he successfully marketed the first tutorial product using digitized sound to teach students foreign languages.

Mr. Baggett has also served as President of the Foreign Language Division of The Learning Company, Executive Vice President of Man Wing Company, Inc. and President of United States Slate and Marble, Inc.

Currently, Baggett is working to expand operations at his family farm located in Cheatham and Montgomery counties to include grass-fed beef.

Baggett received his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Business Administration degrees from the University of Tennessee.

Established in 1973 by the General Assembly, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency was created to promote the production of more affordable new housing units for very low, low and moderate income individuals and families in the state, to promote the preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing units for such persons, and bring greater stability to the residential construction industry and related industries so as to assure a steady flow or production of new housing units.”

Ramsey Appoints Tracy to Commerce Committee

Press Release from the Office of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, July 12, 2011:

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R – Blountville) today announced the addition of Sen. Jim Tracy (R – Shelbyville) to the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee.

“I’ve known Jim for a long time,” said Ramsey. “His commitment to public service is equaled only by his commitment to economic growth. He’ll be a great pro-business addition to an already pro-business committee.”

Commerce Chairman Sen. Jack Johnson (R – Franklin) echoed the sentiments of the lieutenant governor.

“Sen. Tracy’s reputation as a lawmaker stands on its own. I’m very pleased that he’ll be joining us on the Commerce committee. I look forward to his many contributions.”

The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over legislation concerning a myriad of different areas and interests. Due to the scope of legislation frequently before the committee it is considered one of the most powerful committees in the General Assembly.

“I’m very thankful to the Lt. Governor for this opportunity,” said Sen. Tracy. “I’m very eager to get to work in January to continue the good work being done to promote job creation and economic expansion.

Ramsey Touts GOP-Led Education, Tax & Election Reform

“Open Letter” Facebook Post by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey on Friday, July 1, 2011:

As many of the bills we passed this legislative session become law today I can’t help but reflect yet again on the success unified Republican government has had over the last few months.

Of course the media will seek to mischaracterize the solid conservative policy achievements we made this year. I understand that. It comes with the territory of Republican leadership, I suppose. But as you peruse those headlines I’d like you to join me in taking stock of what we accomplished.

First of all, I can’t tell you how great it is as a Republican to proudly note two bills specifically that have become law. One, Senate Bill 261 (now Public Chapter 396) actually cuts taxes and the other Senate Bill 725 (now Public Chapter 410) actually cuts government.

Now you might say that I’m a Republican and cutting government and cutting taxes is what Republicans are supposed to do. That’s very true. The Grand Old Party is the conservative party – we should always focus on shrinking the size of government and putting tax dollars back in the hands of the people. But often there are obstacles.

Whether it is Democrat Party rule or just the intestinal weakness of those in our own ranks, often times Republicans never seem to get their principles carried out in action.

But in Tennessee, with Speaker Beth Harwell and Governor Bill Haslam by my side, we were able to raise the exemption on the Hall Income Tax on retirement savings, which effectively gave thousands of Tennessee seniors a tax cut. At the same time, we cut 11 government oversight committees which were redundant and unnecessary.

For someone like me, who has been fighting for this Republican Majority for twenty years, it is tremendously satisfying to see the fruits of my labor and the labor of my fellow Republicans.

But it doesn’t stop there. Take a look of at the list of bills becoming law and you’ll see a pattern of education reform. We created a meaningful tenure law that brings us much closer to our goal of putting a great teacher in every classroom.

Because of Senate Bill 1468 (now Public Chapter 499), it is now easier than ever to home school your children if that is your choice. Not only that, the state legislature ended social promotion out of the 3rd grade, a key benchmark year for student learning. No longer will we to simply pass along students who have not absorbed the knowledge they need to succeed. While some counties are fighting to keep social promotion, we will do everything possible to see that they adhere to the law.

Perhaps our greatest step forward in educating Tennessee students was the Collaborative Conferencing Act. It removed the stranglehold one union held over our education system. All teachers will now have input with local school boards who, because they are directly accountable to voters, determine the direction of local school systems.

The impact of this reform is tremendous. The union that has held education reform back in this state for too long can do so no longer. Local communities, teachers and parents now hold the keys to education in this state and there is truly no limit to what they can achieve with the yoke of unionism removed from around their necks.

Additionally, unified Republican government has strengthened the death penalty, strengthened our right to work status and and made clear that if you kill a pregnant woman you have committed two homicides, not one.

There is one more issue to include that is particularly meaningful as we celebrate Independence Day. The Republican majority strengthened your voting rights this year. To be a truly free state, citizens need to be confident in the knowledge that their vote is counted. They also need to be assured that the votes of those who are here illegally are NOT counted. Citizenship is an important value. It is an American value and a Tennessee value and I am proud that this Republican majority stood up for it.

Thanks to Senate Bill 1666 (now Public Chapter 423) Tennessee voters can now trust that our election results are the will of the citizens of this state.

The first year of the new Republican majority has been a success. But that does not mean we are going to rest on our laurels. I’m proud of our achievements but I look forward to working with you in the years to come to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family. I hope you do too.

Ramsey Expects New Hall Tax Relief Exemption for Seniors to Win Approval

Press Release from the Office of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, May 16, 2011:

Tax relief for seniors set for smooth passage

(Nashville) – The fight to protect seniors’ retirement savings has passed an important hurdle with the announcement that legislation sponsored by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and Sen. Ken Yager (R-Harriman) to raise the standard exemption on the Hall Tax has been included in Governor Bill Haslam’s budget. The Hall Tax relief included in the budget applies to Tennesseans age 65 and older. Of the individuals who pay the Hall Tax, 48 percent are age 65 and older.

“We tell middle class folks to save and invest for their retirement and then we punish them for it by taxing their nest egg,” said Ramsey. “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.”

“I am delighted Governor Haslam has included Hall Tax relief for senior citizens in his supplemental budget plan,” said Senator Yager. “This was part of my platform when I ran for State Senate; therefore, I am very pleased that it was included in the Governor’s budget. This puts the bill in excellent shape moving into the final days of this legislative session and making this tax relief closer to reality for many senior citizens across Tennessee.”

Currently, persons over 65 with total income less than $16,200 for a single filer or $27,000 for a joint filer are exempt. Senate Bill 261 increases, beginning with tax year 2012, the annual Hall Income Tax standard income exemption for taxpayers 65 years of age or older from $16,200 to $26,200 for single filers and from $27,000 to $37,000 for joint filers.

The exemption has not been revised in over a decade.

Ramsey Concedes Judges Bill Is Dead For This Year

While he insisted earlier this legislative session it was important that the state’s practice of selecting judges be made constitutional, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said Thursday there isn’t enough time to tackle the issue this year.

“We got started late on that this year, no doubt about it,” he told TNReport. “It will have to pass next year.”

Several proposals to rejigger how judges are chosen have stalled, including one to eliminate the constitutional requirement that judges be elected.

Another proposal would have voters decide whether the state Legislature should figure out a way to hand-pick judges.

The state’s current process for picking judges, dubbed the Tennessee Plan, calls for nominees to be put forward by a selection committee, with the governor making the final appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court and the appeals court. Judges serve eight-year terms, then face elections to retain their posts.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris predicted earlier this session that there may not be enough time to seriously consider Ramsey’s proposal, which would have started the process of amending the state constitution in line with the Tennessee Plan. The bill is in committee.

“It’s underway, but if we’re trying to get to adjournment next weekend, there’s just not enough time,” the Collierville Republican said. “We’ve got all next year as well.”

Putting constitutional amendments on the ballot is an arduous process. It requires approval from two general assemblies back-to-back, then a public vote.

Ramsey’s bill is not the only constitutional amendment tied up in the final days of the session.

Sen. Mae Beavers wants to ask voters if they’d rather elect the attorney general. The Supreme Court now makes that appointment.

She’s postponed action on the bill twice in the last week, saying she wanted to make sure she has all the votes needed to advance the proposal to the floor. It’s scheduled for another hearing Tuesday.

“I haven’t polled members. That’s one reason why I rolled it to make sure I have the votes there,” she said.

Ramsey, Building Commission OKs Money for Montgomery Co. Veterans Home

Press Release from Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey; April 15, 2011:

Lt. Gov. Ramsey applauds authorization of veterans center

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today announced that the State Building Commission has approved money to fully fund the planning of a community living center for veterans in Montgomery County. Lt. Governor Ramsey, who chairs the Commission, described the Montgomery County Veterans Community Living Center as a way to give back to those who fought for our nation.

“The service of our veterans make our way of life possible,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “It is very important for us to make sure adequate facilities are available to care for our elderly veterans in their golden years.”

“Many of our country’s servicemen pass through Fort Campbell at some point in their career. They grow to love the state and many return here to retire. This facility is one way we can thank them for their service.”

The facility will be a 108-bed intermediate and skilled care nursing home/community center for the veterans of Tennessee. Today’s authorization allows planning for the project to commence and for a designer to be selected. The multi-million dollar project will be paid for by state, federal and local funds.

State Costs From Illegal Immigration Disputed

Tennessee lawmakers leading a push against illegal immigration say it’s costing the state roughly $500 million a year — about the same amount spent to keep the entire city government in Metro Nashville chugging for four months.

But other policy experts argue that number exaggerates the case and take issue with its underlying assumptions.

At the center of the legislative effort targeting illegal immigration is Rep. Joe Carr, a Lascassas Republican sponsoring three related measures in the House.

One would require businesses to check the immigration status of prospective employees, using the federal E-Verify program. Another would require the state to check a person’s legal status before letting the person receive certain state benefits. And a third “Arizona-style” measure would have police check the documents of suspected illegal immigrants, turning over those deemed unlawful to federal officials.

Carr unveiled the three proposals at a press conference in February, saying, “According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are over 140,000 illegals in Tennessee, costing the Tennessee state taxpayers a net of $496 million a year.”

Education

That estimate of half a billion dollars is actually not from Pew, but from a group called the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform. FAIR describes itself as nonpartisan, though some argue it has an anti-immigration slant. The Washington, D.C.-based group’s membership, according to its mission statement, consists of “concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.”

FAIR finds the greatest cost driver from illegal immigrants to be education — the teachers, overhead and other costs associated with providing schooling for the children of illegal immigrants.

“Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments,” according to FAIR.

Pinning down a firm estimate of the cost of illegal immigration is tough, in part because no one knows just how many students are in the state without permission. A bill by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, proposes schools try to help gather that kind of data.

There’s also the question of who really counts as a legal citizen. If a married couple entering the U.S. without permission brings a child, then the law deems that child to be here illegally. But if that same couple has a child born in the United States, then under the 14th Amendment the baby is automatically granted citizenship. Carr finds this debatable, saying the amendment leaves open a question of jurisdiction, which he’d like to see spelled out in court.

Because he’s not convinced the children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S. are rightfully here, Carr, when tallying up the total impact of illegal immigration, factors in the cost of educating those so-called “birthright citizens” – as does FAIR.

A 2010 report from FAIR uses an estimated U.S. total of 13 million illegal immigrants – itself a slippery number to gauge, as compared to Pew’s estimate of 11 million. FAIR extrapolates that there are almost a million illegal immigrants in American schools, and figures the country also pays to teach another 2.5 million of their siblings who were born in the U.S.

Counting the two groups together, FAIR estimates just shy of 30,000 Tennessee students are the children of illegal immigrants, costing the state more than $280 million.

Researchers behind a 2007 study (pdf) from the state comptroller’s office didn’t hazard to guess Tennessee’s cost or the number of students here illegally, using instead the previous year’s total of 26,707 English Language Learners “as a rough estimate of unauthorized aliens in the schools, although the number also includes legal aliens.”

Susan Mattson authored that report. She agrees that education is one of the main drivers behind state spending for illegal immigrants, but points out that whether a student is here legally or not, federal law insists they receive a free education.

Taxes

The state report also hinted at potential economic gains from illegal immigrants.

“We found studies in Texas and Arkansas that were showing a small positive benefit of unauthorized aliens on their economy overall,” Mattson said in an interview with TNReport. “Now, these include the economic impacts also of that population: on their productivity, their wages, and consumption – what they’re spending.”

Since most of Tennessee’s revenue comes from a sales tax, consumers pay into the state’s coffers any time they make a purchase, whether they’re here legally or not.

Carr argues that even so, unauthorized workers tend to lack good educations and lucrative careers, so what they’re paying back hardly offsets their cost to the state. Citing the report from FAIR, Carr says the state gets about $50 million in taxes paid by illegal immigrants and spends $546 million in services for them – yielding a loss of roughly half a billion dollars.

The report’s methodology has drawn some backlash from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which says FAIR bends the math to advance a racist agenda.

“FAIR is notorious for never counting the tax benefits of the undocumented in the United States,” says center Research Director Heidi Beirich. “So they don’t take into account the pluses from this population.They only look at the negatives in terms of social spending.”

But FAIR dismisses that allegation, with a spokesman firing back that the SPLC has an agenda of its own.

For his part, Carr says he’s been careful not to put too much stock in FAIR’s findings. He says he’s spent literally hundreds of hours researching the issue and culling data from a variety of sources.

“Matter of fact,” Carr says of the $500 million cost estimate, “I think it’s probably low.”

More Hearings Scheduled

The Tennessee Tea Party posted on Facebook recently that Carr was looking for help: “A compromise may be in the works with Gov. Haslam that would water these bills down. Please call and email Gov. Haslam and urge him not to go soft on this legislation,” the post read.

Carr’s three bills are scheduled to go before the full House State and Local Committee on Tuesday, having passed together in that subcommittee late last month.

The subcommittee spent most of its time on a measure that would make employers verify the legal status of new hires, HB1378. Several business lobbyists stated their dismay with the measure, though Carr says he’s already made numerous concessions to them.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey later told reporters that lawmakers are trying to work with business interests, who would prefer such verification be voluntary, but he doubts any compromise will leave them completely happy.

The Senate version of the measure has passed out of the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee and is now on its way to the Judiciary Committee.

Carr has said he still has work to do on the other two immigration measures he’s carrying. He said they have little chance of passing in their current form because fiscal notes estimate they’d cost the state millions of additional dollars, with one saying that while the legislation aims to cut costs by denying benefits to illegal immigrants, how much money would be saved “cannot be reasonably determined.”

Ramsey Tips Deadlocked Committee in Favor of Electing Judges

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, March 29, 2011:

(Nashville) — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today cast the tie-breaking vote to advance a bill requiring the election of all judges in the State of Tennessee, including appellate and Supreme Court justices. The 4 to 4 tie occurred in Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee meeting on Senate Bill 127. Lt. Governor Ramsey broke the tie by voting in favor of the bill.

Ramsey took the step because he believes state constitution currently demands that judges “shall be elected” in the state of Tennessee.

“It is clear that we need judicial reform in Tennessee,” said Ramsey. “I don’t necessarily think that electing judges is best for the state in the long term but the constitution is the constitution and the constitution clearly states that judges shall be elected.”

The state currently operates under the “Tennessee Plan” which allows the governor to appoint judges from a select list of candidates from a nominating commission. Judges then stand for what is called a “retention election” where votes make a yes or no decision on whether a judge keeps their job. While the constitutionality of the plan has been affirmed by the Supreme Court, many legal scholars dispute the ruling.

“My hope is that my actions today will spur those who recognize the need for reform to craft a constitutional judicial solution in an expeditious manner,” Ramsey continued. “Either we change the constitution or we change the Tennessee Plan. Sooner or later, this has to be addressed. I prefer sooner.”

The last time Lt. Gov. Ramsey entered a committee to break a tie was in 2009. Senate Bill 127 moves next to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

Ramsey Denies He’s Anti-Megasite

Press Release from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, March 25, 2011:

(Nashville) –Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey strongly refuted the implication that he or his representatives on the state’s Building Commission have worked to hold up funds for the Haywood County megasite. The unfounded and inaccurate assertion was made by Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) in the March 25 edition of the Jackson Sun.

“I have not attempted to withhold funding for this megasite and any statement to the contrary is a complete falsehood,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey said. “I absolutely support this project. To my knowledge there is no current request for funds in the pipeline. As soon as there is we will look at the request and act on it. I have every expectation that any monies needed to complete the project will be released expeditiously.”

Megasites have been credited with helping attract multi-million dollar economic projects to the state of Tennessee. Examples include the $1.2 billion Hemlock semi-conductor facility in Clarksville and the $1 billion Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

“These megasites have proven themselves an asset to the economic health of the state,” said Ramsey. “Once the original expenditure has been exhausted and plans and requests for new money are received, we will act to ensure West Tennessee receives the help it needs.”