TN. Legislators Still Distrought Over Taxes
- FROM YESTERDAY'S "TENNPOLITICS"- AN ONLINE POLITICAL REPORT
Getting Their Heads Together (Ouch!)
"With Senate, House, and the Governor's office still in disharmony and the fiscal-year deadline looming ever closer, the Legislature reeled back into Nashville this week for another indeterminate period of brawling, mauling, and caterwauling. Gov. Don Sundquist unveiled his latest strategy -- that of a "partial shutdown." If midnight June 30 happens to arrive with no state budget in place, the Gov. has contingency plans for only "limited, essential" services. The Legislature, meanwhile, was preparing its ad hoc version of a "continuing resolution," which would keep most things going for 30 or 60 days or so."
When I arrived at the capitol yesterday it was like a tomb--very few folks around. I started asking around about new proposals, etc., but no one seemed to know anything. The legislators finally began to arrive and the House and Senate convened at 3:00 p.m. Senators Curtis Person (who is still having high blood pressure problems), Jeff Miller, Andy Womack, Janice Springer were absent. (Sen. Atchley still out because of open-heart surgery.) Senator Roscoe Dixon (D-Memphis) was called on to open the session in prayer. While
asking God's blessings, etc., he also asked for the "spirit of compromise" for the senators.
There are only four bills on the Senate's calendar and they must be dealt with after the budget and appropriations bills are passed. Senator David Fowler (R-Chattanooga) inquired about the "new" Conference Committee and Mason's Rules. [Interesting sidebar: While in the elevator, I overheard a lobbyist comment that she had asked Gov. Wilder about Mason's Rules. You will remember that Sen. Mike Williams had made a point on Friday that an entirely new Committee had to be appointed. In typical Wilder fashion, he replied that it's the Speaker's rules, not Mason's rules that prevail.]
On the floor, there was discussion about the fact that after the Conference Committee had reported, the Senate had acted as a committee of the whole (I confess that I didn't quite understand all this). At any rate, Speaker Wilder commented that his conscience tells him that we didn't need an entirely new
Committee, whereupon he appointed the following Senators to serve on the "new" Committee: Jim Kyle (Chairman), Doug Henry, Randy McNally, Bob Rochelle, Tommy Haun, Mike Williams, Ward Crutchfield, Gene Elsea, John Ford, Joe Haynes, David Fowler, Ron Ramsey, and Jerry Cooper.
Sen. Bob Rochelle, who never misses a chance, was quick on his feet to move that this "change" about Conference Committees be made permanent for future Senates. Other senators [rightly] objected and no vote was taken.
When the Senate adjourned, the Senate Conferees met across the hall and Sen. Kyle gave each man an opportunity to make comments. Sen. Kyle commented that there were "no easy choices; if there were we would already have made them." He also said that it would be his desire that nothing go out of the committee without a solid majority vote and he would like the Committee to be "judged by the product, not the process." Speaker Wilder commented that we should have "efficiency in government and equity in taxation" and that people should not come to the legislature saying that they won't vote for new taxes; they have a "duty to vote for taxes" and balance the budget. I think it was Sen. Ron Ramsey who commented that he thought that the Senate needed to understand that they could not fund a budget as large as they had presented and that the
House needed to agree to fund something a little larger than they presented.
(In other words: they need to find a happy medium.) Others committed to working together to try to bridge the gap between the various philosophies represented by the members, do a good job, balance the budget, etc. Senator Henry reported that two bills had been assigned to the "Delayed Bills" committee for "stop gap" measures.
The House met and appointed its half of the Conference Committee: Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry (chairman), Matt Kisber, Tommy Head, Shelby Rhinehart, Joe Armstrong, Joe Kent, Ronnie Cole, Ralph Cole, Randy Rinks, Tim Garrett,
Jere Hargrove, Steve McDaniel, Zane Whitson, and Bill McAfee. (Same "old" Committee with the addition of McAfee.)
Both bodies adjourned until 9:00 a.m. today and scheduled the Conference Committee to meet this morning at 10:00 a.m. in Room 16, Legislative Plaza.
I understand that the Committee (still loaded with pro-state income tax people) began its meetings last night!! One of the possible proposals may be to reduce the sales tax and lower the threshold for the state income tax to $50,000. This battle is far from over and you must stay involved to have your voice heard. The object of our efforts is to prevent the opening of the "new revenue stream" or "money machine" as one legislator called it.
It is my opinion that the Committee should recommend that something very close to the plan that was passed in the house 50-40-1 and failed in the Senate 12-18. That may be the message you want to convey to your Senator and Representative.
Phil Sherrod's List: This mailing list will forward messages to all members of the Tennessee State Senate and House. A message sent to either of these lists will be forwarded on to each member. The sender's "From:" address is the same as the original message so it does not appear to be coming from a
mailing list. To send a message to all Senators, address it to:
TNSenate@... To send a message to all House members, address it to: TNHouse@... Please pass the word. Or call your legislators at 1-800-449-8366. ** It appears that these Legislators are missing the point made but the Tennessee citizen tax revolt that took place just days ago, namely, they are fed up with tax increases.Some of JAIL's past articles has contended that Tennessee really does not have need of any new taxes, and that they have stashed away a generous amount of cash to run Tennessee for a long time without taxes. (See some of our past articles on www.egroups.com/messages/jail4judges)The battle going on in Tennessee affects us all whether we live in Tennessee or not. This is a battle over whether we have a government of the People or not, and Tennessee is the Lexington on that point. Their loss is our loss.-Ron Branson-
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