Sen. Bill Ketron, who led the Hill’s Fiscal Review committee during a resurgence of questions over the integrity of price tags attached to controversial bills, relinquished his position as chair of the committee Thursday.
The 15-member committee instead elected for Rep. Mark White as chair, a key ally of House Speaker Beth Harwell and two-year vice chair of the committee. He agreed to rotate with the high ranking Senator every two years for the committee’s top post.
The powerful Fiscal Review Committee reviews revenue collections, budget requests and oversees fiscal operations of state agencies. The committee is also responsible for fiscal notes, price tags attached to legislation, although the notes are calculated by staff and approved by a director appointed by the committee. Harwell has asked the National Conference of State Legislatures to review the state’s fiscal review committee and fiscal note process.
Committee members unanimously approved the appointment of Jeff Spalding as the new Fiscal Review director Thursday. Spalding, vetted by Ketron, is currently a financial analyst of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a pro-school voucher group, and is expected to begin his new post later this month.
Ketron, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and will miss some of this year’s legislative session as he undergoes chemotherapy. He has served six consecutive years as chairman.
Members of the committee have also changed, with the removal of Republican Reps. Jeremy Faison, Matthew Hill, and Mark Pody who were replaced in GOP House Caucus Elections by Reps. Ron Travis, Bill Sanderson and Susan Lynn. Democrat Rep. Joe Pitts was also replaced by Rep. Johnny Shaw. From the upper chamber, Sen. Brian Kelsey was replaced by Sen. Doug Overbey and retired Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry was replaced by Sen. Sara Kyle.
The Speaker tells The Paris Post-Intelligencer she's interested in statewide office (which, in Tennessee, basically means one thing):
“I do love what I do, and it’s an honor to get to be speaker,” Harwell said. “Nobody knows exactly what the future holds, either personally or professionally, but if I had the opportunity to run for a statewide office, I would certainly be interested in doing that, and I would just have to see what the lay of the land is.”
At least, that’s according to the judges of the annual Ag Day on the Hill milking contest between the two speakers. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey teamed up with Sen. Frank Niceley to beat out House Speaker Beth Harwell and Rep. John Forgety by a three-to-one margin.
This is the third year the two speakers have milked-off against each other and Ramsey’s first win against Harwell. However, Harwell’s victories may have had something to do with Chairman Charles Sargent pouring some extra milk in her bucket, sources said.
Here is the skinny on what's in the newest version of the wine-in-grocery-stores bill, including requirements that more than 20 percent of a store's sales must come from groceries, the retail space must exceed 2,000 square feet, and participating stores must impose a minimum markup on wine.
Members say they got their first look at the language at 9 p.m. Monday night. First thing this morning, the House State Government Committee — with Speaker Beth Harwell sitting in the front row of the committee — adopted the amendment, recessed, and now plans to return at 4:30 p.m. today after reviewing the bill.
A collection of remembrace messages on the death of Lois DeBerry:
“Lois DeBerry will be remembered as a tireless advocate for her community, and as one of the longest-serving women lawmakers in the nation and the first African-American female speaker pro tempore in the House, Lois’ legacy will be remembered in Memphis and across our state for generations to come,” said Corker. “I appreciate her many years of public service and her friendship and kindness. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time.”
Speaker Pro Tempore Emeritus Lois DeBerry passed away today from complications resulting from a four year battle with pancreatic cancer. In the years following her diagnosis, Speaker Pro Tem Emeritus DeBerry remained positive and upbeat while channeling her energy and passion into helping raise the awareness of this deadly disease.
Rep. DeBerry defied the odds which show that nearly 80% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease within the first year. In 2012, three years after her initial diagnosis, DeBerry joined with Governor Haslam in proclaiming November to be Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in order to promote awareness and support efforts to create better treatments for this aggressive form of cancer.
“Tennessee owes Lois DeBerry a debt of gratitude for her immeasurable contributions to improving the health, welfare, and well-being of the people of our state,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Lois was an irreplaceable member of our caucus and she will always have a place in our hearts and memories.”
In May of 2011, the legislature passed House Joint Resolution 516, sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, which named honored Rep. DeBerry with the title of "Speaker Pro Tempore Emeritus.” In accepting the honor of the position, DeBerry told her colleagues that “I’ve never done anything to get a return, every decision that I’ve tried make came from my heart.”
Through her status as Dean of the House, Speaker Pro Tem DeBerry acted as a mentor and leader for many legislators over her forty years of service to the state.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from and work with Rep. DeBerry,” said Rep. Karen Camper. “When I first got elected she took me under her wing and helped teach me how to best represent the needs of my constituents. I know there were many other legislators like me over the years, both Democrat and Republican, who benefited from her wisdom and generosity. I am truly blessed to have known and worked with Rep. Lois DeBerry.”
"Coming in as a new governor, Lois quickly became one of my favorite people on Capitol Hill because of her wit, charm and dedication to her constituents. Lois was a history maker, a wonderful woman, a great legislator and a true friend. I will miss her."
“Lois DeBerry dedicated her life to service. From the Civil Rights Movement, to becoming the first female African-American Speaker Pro Tempore, Lois always made public service a priority. The impact she has had on this great state, the lives of countless Tennesseans, and people all across the country is astounding. She certainly made her mark on history, and it was an honor to know her and serve alongside her in Tennessee General Assembly. I valued our friendship, and will deeply miss her sage advice, and her remarkable sprit and smile. Her dedication to children’s issues, women’s issues, and criminal justice reform have resulted in a better Tennessee. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
"Lois DeBerry was my friend and my mentor. From my first day on the hill in 1994, she was someone I could turn to in every situation. She taught me the importance of working across party lines to get things done for the state, but also to never be afraid to stand up for a cause--even if sometimes you stand alone. Lois was a fighter. She always fought and fought hardest for children. She fought for those on the margins of society and for the city of Memphis which she loved so dearly. Most recently she waged a courageous battle against cancer, inspiring everyone with her upbeat attitude and her determination to survive. I loved Lois DeBerry. Her absence will leave a hole in the House that no one can fill; we are a better state for the service she provided. God rest her soul and be with her family during this difficult time."
“I have known Lois DeBerry since 1974 when I was first elected to the House of Representatives. She had been elected just two years earlier and we were best friends from the very beginning.
Lois is a true Tennessee stateswoman. In the Legislature she led the way on a number of issues important to all Tennesseans including healthcare, education, corrections oversight, and economic development. The Lois DeBerry Center in Nashville, named after her, revolutionized the way we dealt with our incarcerated population and she deserves much of the credit for bringing our prison system out from under federal oversight and into the 21st century.
She served with, worked with and provided advice not only to legislators but also to seven Tennessee Governors including Governors Haslam, Bredesen, Sundquist, McWherter, Alexander, Blanton and Dunn. They all respected her opinion and listened closely to her advice.
During my 18 years as Speaker of the House, Lois served as Speaker Pro Tempore--the first African American woman to fill this role. She was my constant helpmate and someone I could count on during those difficult days in the legislature. In 2000, the National Conference of State Legislators recognized Lois with the William Bulger Award for Legislative Leadership. This prestigious prize is given to one legislator each year who promotes the good of legislative institutions by displaying real leadership qualities, including honesty, integrity and hard work. That was the Lois we all knew.
Lois loved this state. She loved the people of this state. She was the voice for people all across this state, who could not speak out for themselves in our governmental process; the poor, the oppressed, the proverbial people standing in the shadows of life. She rebuffed repeated calls to run for higher office. In 1994 she even turned down a prestigious federal appointment from President Clinton, telling him that her work in Tennessee was simply not finished.
I will miss Lois DeBerry. I will miss sitting with her on the floor of the House Chamber. I will miss her laughter and her great sense of humor that I saw so often in our daily discussions. I will miss her example and her leadership for our state. But most of all, I will miss my best friend.”
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS