Q: Why didn't you vote on the charter authorizer bill?
Ramsey: There were a few things there on the other side of the aisle that they weren't comfortable with, so we just thought it would be better just to lay it over until next year, and we'll take it up next year.
Q: Was it related to redistricting at all?
Q: What do you mean? Was it retaliation?
Ramsey: No, it wasn't retaliation. I thought the judicial redistricting bill should have passed, and they didn't. So that's where we are.
Q: You're saying it was retaliation.
Ramsey: We are where we are.
Q: Is this any way to run a railroad?
Ramsey: Absolutely. Absolutely. This is the way our Founding Fathers set this up.
Q: What? Taking bills hostage?
Ramsey: No. So the House held bills hostage? Is that what you're saying?
Q: No, I'm saying you did. The House might have done it too for all I know.
Ramsey: Exactly. It works either way. It's not holding bills hostage. It's one body disagreeing with the other. In the end, that's the way it works. This is the first year of a two-year General Assembly. The bills that are still alive can come back next year. The world's not going to come to an end.
Q: Are you and Speaker Harwell at peace with each other?
Ramsey: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. ... It's a fact of life. It's not fun to fight with friends or to have disagreements with friends. But in the end, we're all here together in the state of Tennessee. We have another session to come back to and we'll all be friends soon. We are now. There's always tension at the end of sessions.
Update: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner released the following statement in response to the failure of HB702/SB830, the “state charter authorizer”:
“Earlier today the Tennessee State Senate refused to hear a bill that would have stripped away local control of charter school authorization for five counties in Tennessee.
“The Tennessee Charter Schools Association claimed in a release that 'the concept of broadening educational options for Tennessee students has once again become the victim of politics, despite thoughtful consideration over the bill through ten committees and passage in the House yesterday with a vote of 62 to 30.'
“This is absolutely false.
“While hostage taking of legislation is not good governance, the result could not have been better for the people of Tennessee.
“HB702/SB830 was one of the most haphazard and poorly executed legislative packages in recent memory. The bill was significantly altered on at least five different occasions — not to make the bill ‘better’- but simply to gain the support of whatever particular committee was hearing it at the time.
“The House bill was passed on the floor after Republicans called the question and cut-off debate without a single person being allowed to speak on the bill. The legislation itself was brought in a last minute amendment that was not heard in a single House committee.
“House Democrats are grateful to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey for killing this bill this year.
“The highest performing charter schools in this state have been authorized and supported by their local boards of education. This legislation was brought out of spite because one charter school operator was not given a blank check to operate in Nashville.
“We hope that legislators on both sides of the aisle will come back next year with clear heads and realize that this was an unnecessary and damaging proposal for our education system in Tennessee.”