Thursday, March 7, 2013

'The Less You Say the Better'—Chairman Eldridge Following Speaker Harwell's Lead After Open-Mic Gaffe

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 3:21 PM

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Tennessee Citizen Action, the pro-labor lobbying group, is demanding an explanation for Rep. Jimmy Eldridge's caught-on-video vow to run rough-shod over critics when the governor's workers' compensation bill makes it to the committee he chairs.

In the video, Eldridge promises to ram the bill through his committee saying, "I’m going to take care of that bill”, "That freight train is going off ...", and "I can assure you of this, that bill is flying.”

Tennessee Citizen Action calls on Speaker Beth Harwell and Governor Bill Haslam to publicly address Eldridges’ statements and assure the hardworking men and women of Tennessee that any changes to workers’ compensation law will get the fair and deliberative hearing that changes of this magnitude deserve.

"This is a complicated issue that is going to affect whether or not hardworking Tennesseans, while they heal after being injured on the job, will be able to feed their families,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “No proposed laws should ever be 'freight-trained' through any committee, but especially laws like that affect the health, well-being and security of the men, women and children of the state.”

Reporters sought comment from House Speaker Beth Harwell and top lieutenant, Gerald McCormick, today during the pair's media avail—the first for them this session—and we didn't get too far.

"I appreciate his enthusiasm for the bill," McCormick said. "I think it's a good bill. Maybe his choice of words could have been better."

"I don't know that I can comment for Chairman Eldridge," Harwell said. "You're more than welcome to ask him for a response on that."

We tried that yesterday. One of his minions puffed out his chest, stood in front of the representative's office door and informed us that "Speaker Harwell's office" had instructed Eldridge not to talk to reporters. That's neat, isn't it? Harwell tells us to talk to Eldridge, and Eldridge says Harwell told him not to talk to us.

It's all in keeping with the speaker's motto: "The less you say, the better."

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