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Beavers Chides Lynn on Health Freedom Press Release

Press Release from Mae Beavers for Senate; July 20, 2010:

An Instance on Where Talk is Cheap, the Facts Matter – Senator Mae Beavers on the TN Health Freedom Act

Mt. Juliet, TN – This week, Sen. Mae Beavers’ opponent sent out another press release attacking Sen. Beavers regarding the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, a bill that Sen. Beavers passed twice in the State Senate, and a bill that Beavers’ opponent was unable to pass in the State House.

The press release in question, in addition to recent mailers sent out by Sen. Beavers’ opponent, references the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, a bill that was crafted by Sen. Beavers with the aid of Rep. Jim Clark from Idaho – one of the nation’s leading state sovereignty champions. Senator Beavers’ bill included protection for Tennesseans from the unconstitutional provisions of the national healthcare legislation, and directed the Tennessee Attorney General to join the Attorney Generals of other states to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Sen. Beavers’ bill was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate (26-1) in February of 2010, after being recommended by the appropriate Senate committees. Four months later, in June, five minutes before telling the House sponsor of the Health Freedom Act, Rep. Mike Bell, that he would vote for the bill and send it out of committee, House Speaker Kent Williams instead voted to kill the bill. Incredibly, Beavers’ opponent now declares in her press release that this never happened. The event was widely reported at the time, and decried by all those opposed to the unconstitutional federal healthcare mandate.

It is also a fact that soon after, the Speaker voted instead to send Beavers’ opponent’s substantially weaker bill that did nothing to combat the unprecedented and unconstitutional federal mandates to the floor of the house. Unfortunately Beavers’ opponent’s weaker bill was DEAD in the Senate as it had never been moved by the Senate sponsor, nor heard by a single committee.

“My opponent knew that the Senate version of her bill had not moved through committee, but instead the House Speaker knew that he could kill my bill and instead pass out my opponent’s, a move that screams politics at its worse,” said Beavers. “It’s also a fact that before doing this, my opponent had agreed to hold back a bill regarding the TWRA that she was sponsoring at the Speaker’s request, a move that many know was made to put pressure on the TWRA to provide funding for the Speaker’s pork project – the infamous fish hatchery in Carter County.”

Beavers’ opponent’s press release also reveals that she doesn’t understand how a bill becomes a law. She claims that Sen. Beavers, apparently single-handedly, amended her weaker Healthcare Freedom Act in the Senate. Such a statement shows blatant ignorance regarding how the State Senate operates, as the only way the Senate agreed to hear the dead bill directly on the floor was to amend it to include language that had moved through the Senate committee system and had been passed by the full Senate.

“My opponent obviously does not know how the State Senate operates, and would rather spread baseless lies,” said Sen. Beavers. “I did not amend my opponent’s bill – the entire Senate did – and if we would not have, then that bill would not have been able to be voted on. The Senate saved the Health Freedom Act, and we then passed it for a second time.”

Eventually, the House failed to pass the TN Health Freedom Act, a move that angered both Sen. Beavers as well as many who view the national healthcare legislation to be unprecedented and unconstitutional. Yet, Sen. Beavers’ opponent continues to blame her for the bill’s failure, including calling the language passed by the Senate as being “unconstitutional.”

When asked about such a statement, Sen. Beavers responded by saying, “Well, the only way you can believe that the TN Health Freedom Act is unconstitutional is if you believe Obamacare is constitutional, and quite frankly I and my nine co-sponsors and the other 22 Senators who voted for the Heath Freedom Act do not.”

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Press Releases

Three Major Newspapers Endorse Haslam for Governor

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; July 11, 2010:

Commercial Appeal, Tennessean, Knoxville News Sentinel Back Haslam Days before Early Voting

KNOXVILLE – Major newspapers in each of Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions today endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam for governor, citing his experience, leadership and temperament.

The endorsements are indicative of the statewide network of support Haslam – the first of the three Republican candidates to visit and garner support from all 95 counties – has worked hard to build during the last 18 months.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes: “[Haslam] has a sense of perspective and a level of maturity that lift him above his competitors in the GOP race. He has the disposition to work well with members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, members of the General Assembly, local officials, business leaders and the public…GOP voters looking for a candidate who will remain true to core party principles and best represent what is admirable about the people of this state should give strong consideration to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.”

The Tennessean writes: “In look­ing at the polit­i­cal his­tory and cam­paign com­ments of Haslam and his oppo­nents, Lt. Gov. Ron Ram­sey of Blountville and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chat­tanooga, it’s clear they share sim­i­lar views on social issues — abor­tion, guns, the death penalty. There­fore, the choice comes down to how well each of the can­di­dates would man­age the state’s affairs, set poli­cies that will best address the chal­lenges Ten­nessee faces, and rep­re­sent the needs of all Ten­nesseans regard­less of where they live, their eco­nomic stand­ing and their per­sonal beliefs. It is on those cri­te­ria that Bill Haslam emerges, head and shoul­ders, as the best candidate.”

The Knoxville News Sentinel writes: “[Haslam’s] management of the city indicates he would manage the state’s affairs with competence as well. Haslam’s campaign has remained positive and focused on the skills he would bring to the governor’s office, despite the sniping of his opponents. He has come off as the most reasonable, civil and thoughtful of the GOP hopefuls.”

Haslam has run a relentlessly positive campaign, talking about the issues Tennesseans care most about: jobs, education and budget management, and recent polls and these endorsements show Tennesseans regard him as the candidate with the leadership experience, proven record of success and temperament to lead Tennessee as it faces difficult challenges with unique opportunities.

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years.  An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit www.BillHaslam.com.

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Press Releases

Dems Tee Off on GOP Lawmakers for Playing Golf On Taxpayer Dime

Press Release from Tennessee Democratic Party; July 7, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Republicans in the state Legislature admit they “have no problem” playing golf at taxpayer expense instead of balancing the state’s budget and working to solve problems for their communities.

State Rep. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville and three other Republican members of the state House of Representatives each collected $185 in per diem recently while spending the afternoon at Two Rivers Golf Course, according to a WSMV TV Channel 4 investigative report that aired on Tuesday.

“I have no problem with that at all,” Marsh replied when asked if he should be paid per diem while playing golf. State lawmakers are paid $185 each day the Legislature is in session to cover daily expenses.

Republican state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas received much criticism last year after collecting more than $18,000 in taxpayer-funded expense reimbursements despite being a first-term legislator with no leadership responsibilities. He had collected more per diem than any other Republican lawmaker in the state House at that point last year.

“This is one more example of the kind of hypocrisy that is rampant with state Republicans,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “They rant about too much government and too many taxes while back home, but they all run to the taxpayer trough when they are here in Nashville supposedly doing state business.

“It takes a lot of gall to ask Tennessee taxpayers to pay for golf excursions while trying to cut funding for unemployment benefits, programs to reduce infant mortality and projects to create jobs. While most of us have to sacrifice in lean times like these, you have some who are totally oblivious to the struggles of ordinary Tennesseans.”

State Reps. Dale Ford of Jonesborough, Steve McManus of Cordova and Mike Harrison of Rogersville were also playing golf at Two Rivers Golf Course on May 18 while the Legislature was in session, according to the Nashville television station’s report.

“Public servants should be focused on public service, not how they can spend time improving their golf game,” Forrester added.

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News Transparency and Elections

Pawlenty: GOP Stands to Gain from Voters’ Deficit Disdain

Presidential politics for 2012 are already being discussed, and Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker came right out and linked Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to that race at Friday’s Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner.

Pawlenty was the featured speaker at the state party’s big event of the year in Nashville, and Pawlenty delivered an address to about 1,500 people with a message that echoed the same conservative rhetoric sweeping Tennessee.

Alexander introduced Pawlenty as “Minnesota’s Ronald Reagan,” a conservative governor in a liberal state.

“He’s strong on education and cutting spending,” Alexander said. “We’re delighted to have him here.”

Corker told the crowd at the Nashville Convention Center, “My sense is he may think about running for president. Let’s make sure somebody like him or some other outstanding Republican candidate becomes president and changes the direction of this country.”

Pawlenty told the audience that if they doubted what it meant to be a conservative governor of Minnesota, he reminded them that it was the “land of Eugene McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura and current Sen. Al Franken.

“You think Massachusetts is liberal? They voted for Reagan twice. Minnesota never did. In one election, 49 states voted for Reagan, and guess which one didn’t?”

His reference was to 1984 when Mondale was the Democratic nominee and lost to Reagan in a landslide, with Mondale carrying only his home state.

Pawlenty spoke of “state-sponsored companies too big to fail, a federal government too big to succeed, federal debt too big to pay off and leaders in the Democratic Party around this nation too small to do anything about it.”

Pawlenty said American common sense has been “steamrolled” by a coalition of big government and certain businesses that scratch each others’ backs.

“We see a country under siege from its own government. Have you had enough?” he asked. “We need to rise up and fight back.”

Pawlenty said the government is operating like a credit card and played on the familiar MasterCard commercial to make his point.

“Stimulus bill $800 billion. Misguided Wall Street bailout $700 billion. Ridiculous health care plan $2.6 trillion. Cap and trade $2,000-plus per family. Republicans getting elected this November priceless,” he said.

Pawlenty told the crowd not to shy away from religious convictions.

“It’s OK. In fact, it’s appropriate to stop and thank and acknowledge God,” he said. “People say it’s politically incorrect, blah blah blah. Hogwash. It’s in the founding documents of this nation. It’s what George Washington believed. It’s what Abraham Lincoln believed.

“We shouldn’t turn away from him now.”

He told a story the audience enjoyed.

“A high-ranking leader, a female leader, came into my office,” he said. “She came in and said her enterprise was in huge trouble. She said the balance sheet was a mess. The employees are overpaid and underperforming. ‘We are up to our ears in debt, nobody is buying what we’re selling,’ she said. She said there are going to be layoffs, and even she could be laid off.

“And I said, ‘But Speaker Pelosi, we don’t do bailouts, but if there’s any consolation, there are going to be big changes come this November.'”

Pawlenty met briefly with members of the media prior to the event, along with Alexander and Corker. He said Tennessee had “a lot of natural beauty” and “wonderful economic potential.”

He said he would very much like to see a Republican governor elected in Tennessee. Pawlenty said he is traveling the country but focused for now on elections in 2010. He said he would make a decision on 2012 early next year.

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Press Releases

Wamp’s Production Agenda Focused On Auto Manufacturing

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; May 27, 2010:

WASHINGTON – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for Governor, was joined today by Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volkswagen of America, to talk about Volkswagen’s new auto assembly plant in Chattanooga and Wamp’s plans to launch a new “production agenda” as Tennessee’s next governor to move the state from third to first in automotive manufacturing.

Wamp and Jacoby were the featured speakers at this morning’s closing session of the Tennessee Valley Corridor National Technology Summit in Washington, D.C.

Jacoby outlined Volkswagen’s $1 billion investment in its new manufacturing plant in Tennessee that is expected to create more than 11,000 new jobs in the state. Jacoby said the plant would open soon with new mid-size sedans rolling off the Chattanooga assembly line early next year.

Wamp saluted Volkswagen and many other manufacturers that have recently invested in communities large and small throughout his East Tennessee congressional district, including Wacker Chemie, Alstom and Confluence Solar.

“As governor, I will create a strong new production agenda for Tennessee with a major focus on automotive manufacturing and related industries to create thousands of new jobs,” Wamp said. “Because for every job we can create in Tennessee to make it, build it or grow it, we can then create seven or eight more service, support and small business jobs. A strong new production agenda is priority one to help more Tennessee families and communities in every county in our state.”

During the Tennessee Valley Corridor event, Wamp was joined by hundreds of business, education and economic leaders from across the Tennessee Valley, as well as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and U.S. Reps. John Duncan, Lincoln Davis, Bart Gordon, Heath Shuler and Phil Roe for discussions on energy innovation, advanced transportation, education and workforce development and national security during the nonprofit organization’s 23rd summit meeting since Wamp formed the Corridor in 1995.

Wamp’s 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee includes plans for job creation in the critical areas of manufacturing, defense, information technology, health care services, agri-business, engineering, transportation and the rapidly expanding bio-fuel and energy sectors.

As governor, Wamp intends to leverage the state’s existing strengths and its growing base of automobile manufacturing and related industries to aid the development and recruitment of more high-tech jobs and create powerful new economic engines in every region of the state.

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, including his 20/20 Vision For an Even Better Tennessee, please visit the campaign online at www.ZachWamp.com.

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Press Releases

House Dems Denounce Senate GOP Budget Proposal

Press Release from House Democratic Caucus; May 12, 2010:

Leaders to Roll Out Alternative to Republican Budget

NASHVILLE (May 12) – House Democrats on Wednesday announced a push to stand up for teachers, farmers, working families, and other Tennesseans hurt by cuts proposed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

On Monday, the Republican majority in the Senate offered a budget amendment putting over $140 million in funding on the chopping block. These include $34 million in cuts to teacher pay, $6 million in cuts to agriculture investments in farmers, $100 million in cuts to state employees, and $3.5 million in cuts to public safety.

“The budget proposal offered by Senate Republicans is unacceptable and shows a fundamental lack of compassion for Tennesseans,” said House Democratic Leader Gary Odom (D-Nashville). “What Tennesseans need is a budget that will lead them to recovery, not ruin.”

Additional program cuts offered in the Senate Republican budget proposal include Tennessee’s Meth Grant Program, Internet Crime Grant Program, and Children’s Services.

“The Senate began work on this proposal this afternoon. We are going to counter that when they decide to send it to us,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory). “We have asked for weeks for the majority party plan. It is here and we disagree.”

House leadership Wednesday morning approved a preliminary counter budget to the Republican-backed proposal.

“We have already begun work on an alternative budget proposal,” said House Finance Chairman Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “We intend to fix as many of the Senate Republican cuts as we can because they hurt our teachers, farmers, state employees, and Tennessee families.”

Democrats now wait on the Senate to approve their budget proposal, at which time the House will take up the measure and conclude business for the year.

“After years of fiscally conservative budgeting and belt-tightening, we are in the position of using savings to help the people of our state,” said Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington).

Added Speaker Pro-Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis), “Our rainy day fund is for a rainy day, and here in Tennessee it’s raining.”

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces Teacher Recruitment Plan

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, May 11, 2010:

Will lead an aggressive “push for talent” in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam announced today his plan to address Tennessee’s coming teacher shortage and recruit high quality teachers into every classroom by leveraging innovative programs and strategies.

Mayor Haslam will promote innovative programs that provide alternative routes into teaching and work with the Tennessee Department of Education, State Board of Education, and Tennessee’s teacher colleges to develop strategies for enhanced recruitment efforts.

Programs including Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, the Distinguished Professionals Education Institute, Teach Tennessee, and urban residencies are examples of the types of efforts Mayor Haslam will look to expand across the state. He will also work with Tennessee teacher colleges and state education officials to reach bright students early and recruit them into teaching.

“The next governor must have a strategy for bringing more high quality teachers into the profession,” Haslam said. “We have many outstanding teachers across the state and we’re making strides in the area of teacher evaluation and development. However, the state is facing a serious challenge on the teaching front: At the same time we’re working to improve the quality of teaching we’ve got to increase the quantity of teachers we’re successfully recruiting.”

The University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research estimates that Tennessee could face a teacher shortage that reaches more than 30,000 by the 2013-2014 school year, and a wealth of research has shown that no other in-school factor has a greater impact on the success of a child than the effectiveness of the teacher.

“It’s essential that every classroom in Tennessee is led by a highly effective teacher,” Haslam continued. “My strategy will not be to simply wait and hope they come to us. I will lead an aggressive effort to widen and strengthen the pipeline into teaching and actively recruit the best talent.”

“As I’ve traveled the state visiting schools, meeting with teachers and principals, and talking with local education officials, I’ve seen examples of innovative programs that are popping up all across Tennessee,” Haslam said.

“With major recent outside investments in Tennessee, including the Gates Foundation and Memphis City Schools’ Teacher Effectiveness Initiative and the announcement of Tennessee’s win in the Race to the Top competition, it’s clear that the rest of the country is beginning to notice the momentum that is building around education in Tennessee,” continued Haslam. “As governor, I will capitalize on the opportunity that exists, and a big part of that will be doing whatever it takes to bring the best and brightest into teaching in our great state.”

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News Tax and Budget

Flood Delays GOP Budget Plan; Doesn’t Alter Anti-Tax Stance

Indefinite disruptions to commercial activity and staggering losses of personal property to the catastrophic flooding over Middle and West Tennessee further bring home the point that inundating the private sector with new taxes now is bad public policy and worse politics, say legislative Republicans.

The GOP budget plan, put on hold for yet another week, will still include deeper cuts to state spending than what’s been proposed by the governor in order to avoid adding to taxpayers’ burdens, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said Thursday.

“I think the recent flooding and the devastation from the storms is additional grounds for us to go easy on Tennesseans and quit taxing them right now,” Norris said.

Senate Republicans say they might be ready to unveil their version of a state budget early next week after ironing out details with their House counterparts.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he is sharing the plan with both Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to speed up negotiations. “I just kind of want to pass this around, bounce it around, see where everybody is to make sure and get relatively close to begin with,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey hopes the plan, which he said removes all tax increases posed by Gov. Phil Bredesen earlier this year, could be officially approved by both chambers in “a week or so.”

GOP lawmakers have promised to share an alternative to Bredesen’s budget plan for weeks, but have repeatedly missed their own deadlines, saying they need more time or are waiting for key documents from the governor’s office.

A vote Wednesday night in the House in favor of a hospital tax that will help close part of a $660 million hole and dodge cuts to TennCare and helped clean up next year’s budget picture, said Norris.

Lawmakers are still facing at least a $105 million hole in the next budget year that kicks off July 1. Bredesen suggested filling it with additional tax revenue the state can collect if it lifts the sales tax on purchases higher than $3,200.

Republicans nixed that idea and say they’ll propose an alternative plan “without,” in Norris’ words, “all the taxes and fees the governor seeks.”

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at andreazelinski@tnreport.com.

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News

Senate Appoints ‘Vivacious Lady’ To Ethics Commission

The newest member of the state’s internal watchdog group says she won’t let partisan politics taint her ability to make fair decisions when weighing in on campaign and lobbyist reporting discrepancies.

Republicans hand-picked Tammy White, a former state government worker, to sit as the party’s Senate representative on the Ethics Commission last week.

Once an East Tennessee regional representative for former Gov. Don Sundquist and a business consultant for the Department of Economic and Community Development, White says she brings diverse experiences and an appreciation for accountability to the table in her new role as a government-employed ethics guru.

She says her experience gives her an edge to figuring out how to make the bureaucratic processes designed to make government more transparent also more efficient.

“You can collect a lot of data, but it’s what you do with the data that makes the most sense and value,” said White, 44, who is now the president and CEO of Leadership Knoxville, an organization that looks to inspire people to better lead their communities. “I think there are things like using more technology, and then reports that can be generated from that technology that can assist on the administrative side of the department.”

The Ethics Commission regulates lobbyist activity and financial disclosure statements from appointed and elected lawmakers.

White is one of six members appointed to the commission which is split evenly to represent both Republicans and Democrats. They set policy, issue opinions and review related complaints.

The members, serving four-year terms, are appointed by leadership in the Senate, House and the governor.

White was one of three people the caucus considered for the position. She replaces Nathaniel Goggins of Chattanooga

Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, called her a “vivacious lady full of energy and character” when introducing her to members of the State an Local Government Committee.

Although her last political work was done on a Republican governor’s watch, White says party biases won’t interfere with her decisions on the commission.

But Sen. Thelma Harper, a Nashville Democrat, said she wanted to make sure anyone taking the spot would be impartial.

“I would hope simply because your politics are different from my politics, I would not want that to get in the way of fairness. That’s the only thing I ask,” said Harper.

“I believe in ethics and transparency in government makes for the best representative government that we could ever have,” she told committee members who voted unanimously for her appointment. “I do believe that we are all human, and can make errors, but I think we can look at that fairly and justly, and I give you my word that that’s exactly what I will do.”

Harper then joked about White slapping candidates with hefty fines, adding, “When you’re female, you have to smile as you turn the knife.”

After working in a variety of government jobs, White says she has an appreciation for transparency in government, holding people accountable and “really trying to find wrong and unethical behavior.”

She maintains that Tennessee, by and large, does a pretty good job at keeping politics clean, and legislative deal-making on the up and up.

“I will do my very best to be impartial when it comes to party politics and to be fair and just,” White told TNReport. “And I think that’s the most that anybody can ask for,” she said.

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Press Releases

GOP: Dem’s Tax, Spend Agenda Makes Tax Day More Daunting

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party; April 15, 2010:

NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney issued the following statement on tax day – the deadline for Americans to file their tax returns with the federal government:

“This is the time of year in which Americans take stock of exactly how much of their hard-earned money is taken from them. This tax day is particularly daunting because taxpayers know they are footing the bill for the trillions of dollars in big-government policies Washington Democrats have rammed through Congress over the last year.

“Here in Tennessee, Democrats are proving that the only solutions they have for our state’s economic challenges are more tax hikes. Gov. Bredesen has already proposed $50 million in new taxes in his budget and just today it was reported he wants to increase the so-called ‘luxury’ tax – a tax on items exceeding $3,200.

“The fact is Democrats just don’t get it. Our Republican candidates across the state understand that we need a smaller, more efficient government that is going to ease the tax burden on Tennesseans, not increase it. Voters are gravitating toward that message and that’s why Republicans in Tennessee are going to be so successful this November.”