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Hill on raises for teachers, employees: ‘I didn’t have the votes today’

A budget amendment that would have charted a plan to give teachers and state employees raises stirred up Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday but lacked the votes to pass, said Rep. Matthew Hill.

“Knowing that I was going to lose, if I ever want to have a chance of doing it again, I don’t want to tick everybody off. I want to be able to take a stand for doing the right thing,” he said.

Hill gave an impassioned speech on the floor calling on lawmakers to fulfill the governor’s pledge earlier in the year to offer raises and a bonus to teachers and state employees. He then took the proposal to do that off notice.

The move came after three Republican Caucus meetings in the last 24 hours. House members found themselves on the receiving end of a full court press by the state’s constitutional officers warning them the amendment could jeopardize Tennessee’s financial stability and bond rating. House leadership also said that the move is a bad idea.

Hill, an East Tennessee Republican and spokesman for the changes assembled by a team of fellow members of the GOP, said he will try again next year to make room for employee pay bumps.

Democrats, too, tried to edit raises into the budget to no avail. The House then passed the $32 billion budget and the Senate plans to take the spending plan up this afternoon.

Apr 10, 2014 2:33 PM

McDaniel predicts open-carry will get disappeared; fears 'every gang-banger in Memphis' would go armed

Rep. Steve McDaniel doesn't think House Finance will let unpermitted open-carry see the light of day:

McDaniel said he doubted that the bill would ever reach the floor for a House vote as the legislature steams toward a conclusion early next week. “It’ll never get out of House Finance," predicted McDaniel, who said emphatically that he was personally disinclined to vote for the measure.

“Hell, no!” said McDaniel, who said that, if the measure passed, “Every gang-banger in Memphis will end up packing. Can you imagine?”

Apr 10, 2014 1:40 PM

Dems ask to have Clayton removed from the ballot

The TNDP has determined, once again, Mark Clayton is not a bona fide Democrat, despite him having been the party's most recent nominee for Senate. The party has asked the election commission ax him from the primary ballot for governor.

Apr 10, 2014 1:13 PM

'In God We Trust' goes to study, Campfield irked

The Senate agreed to a House version of bill, asking the State Building Commission to study the painting of "In God We Trust" in the tunnel leading to the Capitol. Senate sponsor Stacey Campfield was miffed:

Campfield was visibly upset by the chamber's action, and complained off the microphone that one GOP colleague was "messing" with his bill.

Apr 10, 2014 1:11 PM

UAW subpoenas Corker and Haslam

The Times Free Press reports that the junior senator and the governor are on a laundry list of officials from whom the autoworkers' union is seeking testimony.

Apr 10, 2014 7:17 AM

Cannabis oil study gets Senate approval

The Senate gave approval to "a four-year study of the effectiveness of cannabis oil on certain types of intractable seizures."

The House version is scheduled for today.

Apr 10, 2014 7:15 AM

Senate votes to ban local firearm regulation

Local governments will be permitted to regulate where guns can discharge only under restrictions OK'd by the State Senate late Wednesday.

Apr 10, 2014 7:09 AM

Public-school lobbying ban killed

The House went through the trouble of amending the bill dozens of times and debated for hours, but eventually they voted and rejected the ban on public school systems lobbying the legislature.

Apr 10, 2014 7:07 AM

House sides with higher pseudoephedrine thresholds

After debate about meth ruining lives, the state creating hoops for allergy sufferers and the integrity of lawmakers’ loyalty oaths, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill limiting how much of certain cold medicine people can buy.  

Although the measure passed 80-17 in the House, it was not until lawmakers waded through thick debate indicating the chamber is unwilling to accept stricter limits on how much allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine people can buy without a prescription.

The House prefers limits of two 2.88g boxes of medicine like Sudafed and Claritin-D per month and no more than a five-month supply per year without a prescription. The products include pseudophedrine, a drug used to produce meth.

“If someone tries to push that number too much, they risk losing everything we’ve gained,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, who has led the opposition in the House against the governor’s preferred limits which he says are too restrictive for allergy sufferers.

The administration and Senate would prefer tighter restrictions, namely setting the limit at two 2.4g boxes per month and a two and one-half months worth before needing a prescription.

So would Rep. David Hawk, who is running the bill. He had closely aligned to the administration's restrictions before agreeing to the House’s current limits in order to advance the bill in committee. He refused to commit to members on the floor Wednesday that he would stick to his chamber’s limits if the House and Senate are forced to work out their differences in a compromise committee.

“I think both the House and Senate would need to show a little flexibility,” said Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who favors stricter limits but added, “Our goal is to get the very best bill that both the Senate and the House will agree upon.” 

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is carrying the bill in the Senate. He told the Nashville Post that gravitating towards the House version will “be an easier sell” if the governor’s office is willing to go with the House version, although he earlier said the debate could turn into an all-or-nothing proposition. Influential Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally said he prefers the governor’s stricter limits but would reserve judgement until the bill makes it into the Senate chamber. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a Senate floor vote.

Apr 10, 2014 6:00 AM

Open carry bill presents Haslam campaign flashback

Via Der Kaiser, Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that his administration is carefully examining the ramifications of a Senate-passed bill that would allow Tennesseans to openly carry guns without state-issued permits.

Apr 9, 2014 3:49 PM