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TN Senate Dems: Senate GOP Vote to Not Extend Women’s Economic Council

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; March 4, 2015:

Council provides research on women’s issues that affect all families

NASHVILLE – Legislation that would have extended the Tennessee Economic Council on Women failed to pass out of a Senate committee today, with much of the discussion centered around whether we should have an economic council on men.

“Domestic violence, human sex trafficking and sexual assault rob our state’s economy of $1 billion each year,” said Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, who voted yes to extend the council. “We know this because of the peerless research this council provides. It is heartbreaking that this important work could fall victim to the Republican war on women.”

Sponsored by state Sen. Mike Bell, SB 256 would have extended the council through 2019. The legislation remains in the Senate Government Operations committee after receiving three yes votes, four no votes and one present. If it doesn’t pass, the council will terminate June 30, 2015.

“These aren’t just women’s issues; they affect entire families,” Sen. Harris said. “Men have to recognize the advantages we have and be willing to zero in on issues that uniquely affect women. Finding solutions to these problems benefits us all.”

The council was established in 1998 to address the economic needs of women, studying employment practices, educational opportunities, child care, property rights, health care and domestic relations.

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Press Releases

Former TNGOP Chair Named to TN Economic Council on Women

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; September 16, 2013:

(September 16, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today appointed Robin Smith of Hixson to the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.

“Robin Smith is the kind of strong conservative woman who can serve as a true role model for all women in Tennessee,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “A skilled advocate for free markets and economic growth, I look forward to her ideas on how to use the council to empower our state’s women economically.”

“Robin Smith has been a passionate advocate for women’s economic advancement in our state for years,” said Speaker Harwell. “I am excited that she has agreed to serve to further the economic betterment of women, children and families in Tennessee.”

Smith graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a degree in nursing and is certified in project management through Stanford University.

Smith served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. During her tenure, Tennessee Republicans gained majorities in both houses of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction.

A former Tennessee Human Rights Commissioner, Smith currently serves on a variety of boards and writes a weekly column for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Smith is founder and head of Rivers Edge Alliance, a management and consulting firm and is currently a partner in SmithWaterhouse Strategies, a public affairs and public relations agency.

“I’m grateful to Lt. Governor Ramsey for offering me the opportunity to serve our state,” said Smith. “I look forward to working on behalf of women across the grand divisions of Tennessee to promote free market, pro-growth policies that lead to economic empowerment for women.”

The Tennessee Economic Council on Women is a state agency created under TCA § 4-50-100 in 1998 to assess economic status of Tennessee women. The Council’s mission is to develop and advocate for solutions to help women achieve financial independence and economic autonomy.

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Featured News

UT’s Coach Summitt Honored by Haslam, TN Women’s Group

Gov. Bill Haslam wore an orange tie Friday, and his orange ties showed as he presented an award to University of Tennessee women’s basketball Coach Pat Summitt, inducting Summitt into the Tennessee Economic Council on Women‘s Hall of Fame.

The honor put Summitt in elite company as only the third inductee, following Jane Eskind, the first woman to win a statewide election in Tennessee, and Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey, a senior judge on the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals. Eskind was an activist for the Tennessee League of Women’s Voters and won a seat on the state Public Service Commission in 1980.

Summitt has won 1,037 games and eight NCAA championships as head coach of the Lady Vols.

Haslam said Summitt is a model for excelling.

“If Pat were a CEO, she would be a great one. If she were a school principal, her school would be the best one in the district. If she were a lawyer, she would be arguing before the Supreme Court,” he said.

“If she were running for governor, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

Haslam, former mayor of Knoxville, noted that every player who has finished at the program has graduated, that you never hear about a player for Summitt getting into trouble and that every player for Summitt talks about their playing career as being a formative experience in their lives.

“Would that all of college athletics were like that,” he said.

“It is an honor for me to play a role in recognizing Pat. There are a lot of great Tennesseans, but as governor I can’t think of anybody I am more proud of than Pat Summitt.”

Joan Cronan, women’s athletic director at the school, told a story of how the Lady Vols were playing in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville last season and didn’t play well in the first half of a game. At halftime, Cronan invited Haslam to go to the locker room with her. He said sure. Summitt was intense. Cronan and Haslam were standing against the wall in the back of the locker room. Summitt stopped and asked, “Governor, what do you have to say to these girls?”

According to Cronan, Haslam said, “Ladies, the economy is not real good in Nashville right now. There are 9,000 people in orange out there. Please play well.”

First Lady Crissy Haslam also attended the luncheon at the Airport Marriott in Nashville.

“The Haslam family has been so wonderful to all of us,” Summitt said before the event. “And to have the governor here today, and for him to take time out of his busy schedule and come to this event … but that’s the Haslam family.”

Summitt made special note of the governor’s father, James Haslam II, founder of Pilot Corp. and long-time benefactor of the University of Tennessee.

“Big Jim, he and Natalie, they have done such a great job with that family,” she said. “They’re all grounded. They all have focus. They all have purpose, and they all love the University of Tennessee.”

Summitt, who played at Cheatham County Central High School and UT-Martin, seemed overwhelmed at the prestige of the honor.

“I had no idea how big this event was going to be. It just touches your heart, when all those people from Ashland City, Cheatham County, show up and I’m looking around thinking, ‘I’m not believing this,'” Summitt said.

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