AFP on president's visit (and Haslam and the gas tax)


President Obama will visit Nashville on Wednesday to pressure state lawmakers to accept Obamacare and expand Medicaid after the legislature voted twice to reject expansion.

"President Obama was out of touch with America when he jammed Obamacare through Congress and he is out of touch with Tennesseans as they have said repeatedly they do not want his big government interventions in our state," said Andrew Ogles, state director of Americans for Prosperity Tennesee. "We urge Tennessee lawmakers to continue protecting taxpayers by rejecting Medicaid expansion."

Americans for Prosperity Tennessee led the grassroots movement to stop the expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee despite support from Gov. Haslam.

"Like President Obama, Gov. Haslam is unwilling to recognize the enormous cost to Tennesseans that will come with Medicaid expansion, which is why he is traveling around to sell a gas tax. We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem and Gov. Haslam doesn't get it."

Jul 1, 2015 12:10 PM

Haslam doesn't perform many marriages, likely won't perform a same-sex one

The governor may perform weddings, but he doesn't do many (to date, it's been his children only). He says he's unlikely to perform a marriage for a gay couple.

Jul 1, 2015 8:20 AM

Happy New Law Day!

It's July 1, one of the days when new laws typically come into effect in Tennessee. Among them today are the new abortion regulations and a law requiring tigers to be microchipped.

Jul 1, 2015 8:17 AM

Governor won't meet with Obama

He has no public events on his calendar, but the governor won't be meeting with the president today.

Jul 1, 2015 6:55 AM

House Republicans meet to decide what to do about same-sex marriage

A chunk of state House Republicans got together yesterday to talk about just what they are going to do about same-sex marriage. Not much. David Fowler reminded them they passed a religious freedom law and, unless Tennessee wants to get in on a movement to amend the SCOTUS decision out of the constitution, there's little else to do.

Jul 1, 2015 6:54 AM

DCS commish takes over as governor's chief of staff

From the governor's office comes word of a shake-up at the top. Jim Henry, commissioner of the Department of Children's Services since 2013, will be Bill Haslam's chief of staff starting Aug. 1. He replaces Mark Cate, who last month stepped down from that post. A number of other staffers, including legislative expert Leslie Hafner, also are getting new roles.

“Over the past four years, Jim has led two departments in state government that handle some of our most difficult work concerning our most vulnerable citizens,” Haslam said. “Along with his experience in DIDD and DCS, he has been a mayor, a legislator and businessman. I appreciate his willingness to serve in this capacity and bring his knowledge and expertise to our office.”

Henry, 70, first served in the Haslam administration as the first commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), which was formerly a division of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming a state department on January 15, 2011. He became commissioner of DCS in 2013.

“I am honored to serve the administration in this new capacity and look forward to working in the governor’s office,” Henry said. “I’ll miss working every day with the dedicated and hardworking employees at DCS but know that they will continue to do great work for the state.”

Before joining the Haslam administration, Henry served as president and chief executive officer of Omni Visions, Inc., a company serving adults with developmental disabilities and children and families in crisis. A Vietnam veteran and former mayor of Kingston, Henry spent 12 years as a state representative and six of those years as minority leader.

Haslam also announced that Leslie Hafner, 45, who currently serves as director for legislation, will be promoted to senior advisor to the governor. Hafner is a 20-year veteran of legislative plaza and Tennessee politics. Before joining the Haslam administration, she was a principal at Hafner/Alexander Government Relations. She has also been director of government relations for Bass, Berry & Sims and served seven years in the administration of Gov. Don Sundquist.

In addition, the governor announced that Will Cromer, 30, who currently serves as policy director will be promoted. Cromer will become special assistant to the governor for strategy and will also continue to serve as director of policy. Prior to joining the Haslam administration, Cromer served as policy director for the 2010 Bill Haslam for Governor campaign and as a member of the governor-elect’s transition team. Cromer previously worked for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and before that worked in the Washington, D.C. nonprofit sector promoting free market policies.

The governor also announced that Deputy Director for Legislation Warren Wells, 31, will become the new director for legislation. Before joining the administration as a legislative liaison to the Department of Finance and Administration, Wells served as a research analyst for the Senate Transportation Committee and worked in the office of Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville). Before that he spent nine years in the Army National Guard. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was stationed at Al Taqaddum, Iraq, where he earned a Combat Action Badge and Army Commendation Medal.

Jul 1, 2015 6:50 AM

Legislators team up with Saint Thomas in support of Insure Tennessee

Stakeholders call for third vote on Medicaid expansion
Jun 29, 2015 2:48 PM

SCOTUS rules same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional [will be updated]

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to rule bans on same-sex marriage nationwide.


Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn tells Post Politics the state is reviewing the decision and her office is awaiting some guidance, particularly related to some practical matters, on license issuance, but that her office is ready when they get the go-ahead.

AG Herb Slattery says he'll have remarks at 2 PM.

From the governor: "The people of Tennessee have recently voted clearly on this issue.  The Supreme Court has overturned that vote.  We will comply with the decision and will ensure that our departments are able to do so as quickly as possible."

Other statements after the jump in the order in which they are received.

From Megan Barry:

Words cannot express the joy I have for so many of my gay and lesbian friends and family who now have the freedom to marry whomever they love,” said Megan Barry. “I am confident that Obergefell v. Hodges will stand the test of time as a Supreme Court decision which fundamentally strengthened the United States of America – bringing us ever closer to the dream of all men and women being created equal under the eyes of the law. I want to thank Abby Rubenfeld and Bill Harbison for fighting on behalf of marriage equality and helping to make marriage equality a reality in Tennessee.”

The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges has effectively overturned laws across the country designed to block same-sex couples from enjoying the freedom to marry. Barry is committed to seeing Davidson County implement the court’s decision as quickly as possible, and has already agreed to officiate the ceremony of same-sex couples wishing to exercise their rights.

“We have worked hard to make Nashville a warm and welcoming place to all who enter – no matter where you were born, no matter how you got here, and certainly no matter whom you love,” said Bar “Now that marriage equality is the law of the land, I hope that the State of Tennessee will fully join the City of Nashville in embracing equality by removing any last vestiges of discrimination that still exist in our laws.”

From Rep. Diane Black:

“With the drop of a gavel, five Supreme Court justices have silenced the voices of thousands of Tennesseans,” said Congressman Diane Black. “I have always believed that marriage is a sacred promise between man, woman, and God. I respect that others may disagree and I believe that we should encourage a thoughtful, open dialogue about this issue in the individual states – not attempt to cut off debate by imposing a sweeping, fixed interpretation of marriage nationwide. Sadly, that is exactly what the court has done.”

Congressman Black added, “Tennesseans are a compassionate people, and we should be able to make laws that match our values on issues of marriage and family, while respecting the dignity of those with whom we may disagree. As we look ahead to implementation of this ruling, we must now ensure that religious freedom is not further eroded and that the conscience rights of our clergy and faith-based wedding officiants are protected.”

From TNGOP chair Ryan Haynes:

“Tennesseans overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. If a change was to be made, it should have been allowed to play out through the democratic process but, unfortunately, today’s judicial activism short-circuits that ability. While this has long been pushed by the Democrats' agenda, the issue is far from settled."

From Lt. Gov. Ramsey:

The Supreme Court today issued an unfortunate and fundamentally wrong opinion. In 2006, not even a decade ago, over 80% of Tennessee voters issued a strong mandate in favor of traditional marriage. Today, the Supreme Court declared that mandate null and void.

While the Supreme Court did not stand up for traditional marriage, this decision does not end the institution. The federal government may have the ability to force Tennessee to recognize same-sex unions but it cannot and will not change the hearts and minds of conservatives and traditionalists in Tennessee and elsewhere.

In the communities and churches across this state, the true definition of marriage, a union of one man and one woman, still lives and breathes. It is an eternal truth that no law or government can truly alter.

From Rep. Jim Cooper:

“Love and equality win,” Cooper said. “I’m glad the Supreme Court ruled on the right side of history.”

From Mayor Karl Dean:

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in Tennessee. I joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry last year because I believe all people should be treated fairly and equally and that everyone’s individual dignity should be respected. Welcoming and supporting people of all backgrounds and beliefs make our city stronger.”

From the RNC:

“The Supreme Court failed to recognize the states’ constitutional role in setting marriage policy, instead finding a federal role where there is none.  In doing so, they have taken power away from the states and from the people to settle the relevant issues for themselves.

“Even though the Supreme Court has spoken with finality, there remains a diversity of opinions about marriage policy—from those celebrating today’s ruling to those concerned about the constitutional balance of power.

“As a Party, we believe in the importance of traditional marriage between a man and a woman and remain committed to finding common ground to champion the family’s role in society. Marriage is critically important to strengthening our country and our communities. Likewise, we will remain champions of religious liberty. Today’s ruling cannot and must not be used to coerce a church or religious institution into performing marriages that their faith does not recognize. We should respect the sincerely held religious views of our fellow citizens, just as we respect those on the winning side of this case.”

Jun 26, 2015 9:15 AM

Abortion providers sue state to stop new laws

Three abortion clinics, including one in Nashville, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking blockage of the state's new requirements, set to take effect July 1:

The legal challenge asks that a court immediately block a law that requires clinics performing 50 or more surgical abortions each year to be regulated as ambulatory surgical treatment centers.

The suit also seeks to block a newly enacted measure requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo a 48-hour waiting period after first receiving in-person counseling by a physician. Both laws, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in May, are scheduled to take effect July 1.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, also includes a challenge to a 2012 Tennessee law. That law requires doctors performing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law has forced the closure of two abortion clinic since it was enacted, according to the lawsuit.

"Tennessee women have already suffered under the laws passed by politicians to choke off access to safe and legal abortion, and it's time for the court to step in before greater damage is done," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York City-based advocacy group that joined Nashville law firm Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison and Jesse & Jesse in filing suit.

Jun 26, 2015 6:27 AM