Monday, April 30, 2012

Belle Meade Admits First Female Resident Member

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 5:54 PM

After flirting with the idea of allowing an African-American into their tony enclave, the historically white, rich and male Belle Meade Country Club has reportedly admitted its first female resident member.

According to club documentation reviewed by Pith, the BMCC has granted full membership to Adelaide D. Stevens, the apparent owner of Duly Noted, a Nashville-based greeting card, stationery and imprinting business. She was sponsored by member James W. Spradley Jr., CEO of Functional Foods Group, maker of the GooGoo Cluster. She was sponsored by D. Mark Wright, president of Show Dog-Universal Music.

Calls placed to Stevens and BMCC manager Michael Seabrook were not returned as of posting time.

Prior to Stevens' admittance, the club drew sustained fire for its exclusionary membership policies.

The times, they are a changin'.

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Senate Passes Anti-All Comers Bill, Beavers Tied in Knots

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

After a lengthy debate that evoked references to devil worshippers and apartheid, the Senate passed a bill prohibiting all-comers policies at the state's public universities, along with an amendment that targets private Vanderbilt University specifically.

The amendment caused a heated debate last week when Rep. Bill Dunn offered it in the House. The bill was eventually placed on the desk and will need a two-thirds vote to be taken up again in that chamber.

The amendment essentially gives Vanderbilt a choice: Either exempt religious organizations from a recently adopted policy that requires student organizations to allow anyone to join, or apply it to all student organizations including fraternities and sororities.

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Ain't No Sunshine: Records Request Denied, Legislature in Blurry Mad-Dash

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM

It became clear early last week that much of the work done in the final days of the legislative session would be obscured by legislators' frenzied rush to wrap things up as soon as possible. With their self-set deadline quickly approaching, lawmakers have spent the last week pushing through as many bills as they can fit in a day, only taking breaks to meet in committees and schedule more bills.

Perfect timing, then, for the executive branch to dim the lights as well.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported this morning that the Haslam administration is refusing to hand over records showing advice they received — and from whom they received it — about a bill that would restructure the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

Through a deputy for Haslam's legal counsel, the administration told the TFP that the records were protected by attorney work product and deliberative process privilege. Tennessee Press Association Policy Director Frank Gibson told the paper that argument was dubious, given that the information sought was being used to form public policy.

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A Corporation's a Person, No Matter How Large

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Just an average citizen who wants to be heard
  • Just an average citizen who wants to be heard

Like something out of an inverted children's fable, a bill that would now give corporations the benefits of acting like a little guy, without the frustrating limitations, passed a committee this morning and is fast on its way to the House floor.

In its original form, the bill, which has already passed the Senate, repealed limits on the total amount of money individual candidates can receive from political action committees (PACs) and corporations. After an amendment brought in committee this morning by bill sponsor Rep. Glen Casada, it would do that along with giving corporations the freedom to choose between acting as individuals or PACs when it comes to political contributions.

Tom Humphrey with a good explainer, excerpted after the jump:

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NY Times Op-Ed: Faithful Tennessee Christian Calls Foul on State Legislature

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 5:19 AM

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It's no secret that the Republican-controlled state legislature has been on a rampage to turn the clocks back several centuries, between opening the door to teaching religious doctrine in public schools and trying to warn children of the slippery slope of hand-holding. While we take no pleasure in witnessing the half-cocked insanity that goes on at the Capitol, it does at the very least provide us plenty of blog fodder.

Of course, there are some folks who take our coverage with a grain of salt — we being the heathen liberal media, after all. But this op-ed in Saturday's New York Times, from a self-described faithful Christian, really hits the nail on the head, describing how our Tennessee state senators and representatives pander to conservative Christians — and strive to put an end to the religious freedoms their forefathers fought to ensure. It's one of the most thoughtful, succinct and well-written takedowns of our state legislature you're likely to read. And I guess that should be no surprise, since it was penned by critically acclaimed author (Bloodroot) and Morristown, Tenn., resident Amy Greene.

A few excerpts from the op-ed, titled "God and Man in Tennessee":

Meanwhile Bo Watson, the Republican state senator who sponsored the creationism law, claims the legislation is meant to encourage students to challenge the merits of current scientific thought, and to protect teachers who might criticize evolution in the process; he also stresses that the bill prohibits teachers from interjecting their personal beliefs.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Harwell, Ramsey Appoint Conference Committee to Settle Budget Pissing Match

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Oh my gosh is that the budget music?!?
  • Oh my gosh is that the budget music?!?

After the Senate took a knife to the budget this morning, in retaliation for House members' refusal to go along with spending proposals they say violated a friendly agreement, representatives from the two chambers are now headed to a conference committee to talk it out. As a result, the session rolls into next week.

Chas Sisk details some of the proposed cuts here.

While some amendments have resulted from sincere passion, like that on display during the long debate last night over funding for the Taft Youth Development Center, most of these proposals have come up as legislative nose-thumbing more than anything else.

In any event, the would-be heroes who will break the deadlock:

From the House: Republicans Charles Sargent, Mike Harrison, David Alexander and Democrats Mike Turner and Craig Fitzhugh.

From the Senate: Republicans Randy McNally, Mark Norris, Bo Watson, Bill Ketron and Democrats Jim Kyle and Lowe Finney.

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Gateway Sexual Activity on the Floor of the House!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

This may or may not be The List
  • This may or may not be The List

Will Gov. Bill Haslam be forced to review The Secret List of Unmentionable Sex Acts?

It's looking that way now that the House has passed an abstinence-focused sex-education bill and sent it on to Haslam's desk. The bill has already passed the Senate, where it's sponsor refuted claims that the bill would install abstinence-only education programs.

The bill is certainly redundant and arguably unnecessary, but it's effect is somewhat in question. Representatives from the state's Board of Education confirmed in committee that it is in line with current state law and said they didn't see the need for it. It also allows for discussion of safe sex and contraception.

Some Democrats argued, however, that it makes teachers vulnerable to undeserved litigation or discipline because a parent might feel they've encouraged, or not done enough to discourage, certain behaviors.

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Anti-All Comers Bill Incites Religious Debate, Dunn Runs Afoul of Party Leadership

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM

A bill prohibiting public universities from adopting all-comers policies for student organizations came up twice in the state House yesterday, but arguably took a step backward procedurally. Such is life at the end of this legislative session, during which discord among the GOP majority has repeatedly delayed progress on various matters.

State Rep. Mark Pody's bill would keep state-run public universities from enacting a policy implemented by Vanderbilt this year, which prohibits student organizations from discriminating when it comes to who can join or take leadership positions. Certain religious organizations have taken issue with the policy, saying it prevented them from operating according to their particular religious principles.

Yesterday afternoon, though, when the bill first came up on the House floor, Rep. Bill Dunn offered an amendment, which he had previously withdrawn in committee. His proposal targeted Vanderbilt — a private school that does receive some state funds in various forms — and would have required them to either do away with the policy or expand it to include fraternities and sororities as well.

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Campfield Stands Alone Against 'Crony Capitalism'

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 9:17 AM


Sen. Stacey Campfield acting out in the Senate

In the Senate last night, Stacey Campfield opposed a Haslam administration bill to expand the use of economic development grants by giving cash to corporations that move to Tennessee. As the bill has already passed the House unanimously, Campfield stands as the only legislator in the land to vote against it.

In a passive-aggressive line of questioning, a charade of proper procedure that makes conflict in the chambers all the more entertaining, Campfield (as seen in the video above) pressed Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and likened the expansion of the so-called "FastTrack" grants to the "crony capitalism" Republicans were decrying months ago during the Solyndra debacle.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Long, O Lord? Budget Squabbles Threaten to Lengthen Session

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 1:22 PM

After disagreements yesterday afternoon over the allegedly porky nature of certain Senate Republican additions to the proposed state budget, legislators could be forced to come back next week to wrap up the legislative session.

In response to the death of several Democratic proposals at the hands of Republicans in the House Finance Committee yesterday, outgoing House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh took aim at Senate Republican spending proposals, arguing that they broke an agreement an agreement between the two chambers not to fund local projects. When House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick moved to table Naifeh's proposal, several Republicans voted against him, leading to an abrupt break in the meeting for a lengthy caucus meeting meant to get members back in line.

Tom Humphrey with more details on the dispute and the projects involved here.

With the two chambers quarreling and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey vowing to play tit for tat with House leadership, forlorn legislative staffers (and reporters) are clearing their schedules next week. Developing.

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