Press Releases

Herron: Goodyear Closing Showed ‘Lack of Patriotism,’ ‘Insensitivity’

Press Release from Tennessee State Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, July 11, 2011:

DRESDEN – State Senator Roy Herron issued a statement Monday regarding the treatment of 2,000 Tennesseans who found themselves suddenly without jobs at the Goodyear plant in Union City.

“Goodyear showed its lack of patriotism by firing 2,000 Americans the week of the Fourth of July, its callousness by stopping their pay on 9/11, and its insensitivity by both firing everyone and cutting off their pay on the Sabbath,” Herron said.

“Goodyear is firing Tennesseans while they are hiring Chinese, and they can sell their tires overseas and forget selling another tire to this Tennessean. I have driven my truck 417,000 miles on American-made Goodyear tires, but this American will never buy a single foreign-made Goodyear tire.”

Workers at the plant were told upon arriving to their shifts Sunday and Monday morning that production at the plant had ceased. The announcement came five months to the day after Goodyear had announced the plant would close by the end of the year. Goodyear has been closing American plants as it has been opening new plants overseas, including a new plant opening in China in a few months.

Under federal law, workers will receive two months’ salary — meaning their pay will end on September 11, the 10-year anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Herron is already working to fill the massive hole that Goodyear’s sudden departure will leave in the regional economy.

“I have invited Governor Haslam, the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to come to Northwest Tennessee and talk with workers, business leaders, and citizens about what they are going to do to help our people,” Herron said. “I will do everything I can to make sure the state government responds to the needs of our people and helps bring new jobs here.”

Press Releases

ACLU: Fight Racal, Ethnic Profiling Bills

Press Release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; May 16, 2011:

Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself

This week the Tennessee Legislature will be voting on two bills that encourage racial and ethnic profiling: our very own Arizona-style copycat bill and the anti-Muslim bill. Both bills make Tennessee into a place where individuals and organizations are targeted for harassment by the government based on ethnicity, culture, and appearance.

Urge your legislators to stand up for fair treatment by voting against both the Arizona-copycat racial profiling bill and the anti-Muslim bill.

Stop Tennessee from Becoming Arizona

HB 1380/SB 0780 requires all law enforcement to question the immigration status of any person they stop, regardless of whether the person is actually charged with breaking a law. The bill implies that police will be trained to ask people for their “papers” based on an undefined “reasonable suspicion” that they are in this country unlawfully. The criteria for assessing such a suspicion will inevitably be accent, attire, hair, jewelry or skin color.

The Attorney General recently issued an opinion stating that certain aspects of this bill are unconstitutional. Furthermore, economically, this bill will really hurt Tennessee. In addition to the loss of revenue from depressed tourism and economic development, as seen in Arizona, the bill’s fiscal note increases state and local expenditures by nearly $5 million in the first year alone.

Let your representatives know that they should stop wasting money to create a police state based on unconstitutional racial profiling.

Oppose Harassment of Tennessee’s Muslim Community

HB1353/SB1028 is a loosely-worded bill that accomplishes little of its stated intent of fighting terrorism and instead leaves Muslims feeling targeted and harassed for practicing their religion. Even with amendments that remove specific references to Islam, the bill’s original wording casts a pall over any claim that it is not intended to target a specific group of Tennesseans.

The amended bill still raises serious First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns with its vague definitions and its lack of due process for designated organizations. Furthermore, the federal government already has ample authority to identify and designate terrorist groups, freeze their assets, and prohibit individuals from providing support to those groups.

Let your legislators know that you oppose the unnecessary profiling of religious minorities.

Press Releases

Governor Files Budget Amendment

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam, May 16, 2011:

Reflects strategic investments with reduced spending and increased reserves

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has filed an amendment with the General Assembly that adjusts next year’s budget proposal to reflect new estimates on increased state revenues. The supplemental appropriations amendment (SB2090/HB2139) includes funding that was not included in the budget the governor presented in March, which was based on earlier revenue projections.

“I am pleased that because of increased revenue collections my administration is able to make strategic investments in valuable programs to assist some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens,” Haslam said. “This budget amendment improves our original proposal not only with funds for key projects and services, but we also continue to reduce spending and preserve our savings.”

“We did what Tennesseans do in their households – we evaluated our needs, we evaluated our resources, and we set priorities,” Haslam continued. “Our budget decisions reflect practical, conservative principles.”

Notable funding priorities in the governor’s budget amendment include:

  • $71.3 million for disaster relief resulting from recent storms and flooding.
  • $4.7 million for the Department of Intellectual Disabilities Services to restore residential rates.
  • $1.9 million for mental health services for residents of Northeast Tennessee through the Mountain State Health Alliance.
  • $8.5 million to restore previously scheduled rate reductions of 8.5 percent to mental health providers in TennCare.
  • $5 million for payments to the Memphis Regional Medical Center, Nashville General Hospital and Jellico Community Hospital.
  • $3.5 million additional for smoking cessation assistance in TennCare.
  • $6.9 million grant for three programs at Meherry Medical College.
  • $220,000 for first-year debt service on construction bonds for $22.6 million, 108-bed State Veterans’ Home in Clarksville.
  • $2.5 million for the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
  • $1 million recurring to limit the impact of the Hall Income Tax on eligible seniors 65 years and older, beginning in fiscal year 2012-2013.
  • $19.9 million additional for lottery scholarships to fund students’ ability to utilize them during summer school.
  • $5 million to the University of Memphis for operations on the Lambuth campus in Jackson.
  • $21.1 million for state building maintenance, plus $1 million for a statewide capital improvements master plan for Higher Education and state facilities.
  • $16.5 million for a potential major economic development expansion project.

“While this modest growth in revenues is encouraging, it is important to remember that Tennessee has avoided more than $800 million in cuts the past couple of years with one-time funding that is no longer available,” said Haslam. “This budget includes $160 million in non-recurring dollars that won’t be available next year, so we will continue to balance the needs of our citizens with the ‘new normal’ of less revenue with which to fund our priorities.”

The budget amendment assumes a reimbursement of approximately $82 million in Medicaid funding errors, which the federal government says is owed to the state. Several healthcare-related investments are contingent on receiving those funds, as well as higher education investments:

  • $15.7 million for nursing home funding.
  • $7.9 million for TennCare enrollee services (lab and x-ray, dental, transportation).
  • $3.4 million additional for Home Health Provider Services.
  • $15.9 million in additional funding for capital outlay expenditures in Higher Education.

The General Assembly is expected to consider the budget this week.

Press Releases

Watson Takes Tough Stand Against Taxing Amazon

Press Release from the House GOP Caucus, May 9, 2011:

Bradley County Conservative Comes Out Strongly in Defense of Amazon and Jobs for Tennesseans, State Must Not Go Back on Promises Made

(May 9, 2011, NASHVILLE) – With the recent news that a few legislators are considering a bill that would force the company Amazon to pay State sales taxes in Tennessee, Representative Eric Watson (R—Cleveland) vowed to fight the ill-conceived plan that could potentially hurt the job prospects for thousands and the economy for all Tennesseans.

Watson serves as the House Judiciary Chairman and will speak to the Bradley County Commission at noon eastern today regarding Amazon. He intends to ask the Commission to pass a resolution supporting the Fortune Top 100 company.

Before speaking to the Commission, Rep. Watson remarked, “I am heading to the Commission today to talk about an amazing company that is coming to Bradley County and wants to call Tennessee home. I am thankful for the leadership of Amazon who recognize Tennessee is a strong low-tax, right to work State that fosters a great environment for companies to succeed and create jobs.”

The Chairman of the Judiciary continued, “Unfortunately, a few legislators seem to have taken their eye off the ball and want to try to force Amazon to pay sales taxes in Tennessee. In my view, this attempt is unconstitutional and uncalled for. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear State’s cannot collect sales taxes from internet-based companies. To try and overturn a clear decision is unwarranted. Moreover, the maneuvering by these lawmakers jeopardizes the reputation of our State. We have a strong track record of welcoming companies and keeping our commitment to them. This legislation infringes on that reputation of prosperity.”

Amazon announced earlier this year it would locate two distribution centers in East Tennessee—one in Bradley County and another in Hamilton County. Over the weekend, the company announced it was looking at additional sites for further expansion in the State. Overall, the company’s investment will total more than $139 million in Tennessee for the first two centers alone. Legislative analysts estimate that Tennessee government would reap an additional $7.9 million a year under the legislation while local governments would see about $2.7 million.

Watson concluded, “It is ridiculous that any legislator would stand in the way of an agreement to bring a company here to Bradley County that stands to benefit all of Tennessee. Here’s my advice for these lawmakers: In this slow economic recovery, I would hate to be known as the legislator who pulled the rug out from a company bringing thousands of jobs to our State. Tennesseans don’t cotton to that kind of ill-conceived effort.”