published Saturday, December 31st, 2011

‘Creative tension’ good for policy, Tennessee GOP leader says

NASHVILLE — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s stated intention of taking a more assertive role with legislation in the GOP-led General Assembly is already leading to some interesting differences on policy.

For example, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, would like to do away with the state’s inheritance tax. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, hopes to chip away at the state’s Hall income tax on investments and interest.

Haslam has said he wouldn’t mind doing either but believes the state’s revenues won’t allow for it in 2012.

During a recent roundtable with reporters by top House Republicans, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, downplayed such issues as Haslam moves into his second year as governor.

“I know there are a lot of questions about, ‘Well, the governor says this and somebody in the Legislature says something that seems to be at odds with it.’ But that’s OK,” McCormick said. “I think a little creative tension is a good thing and leads to better policy.

“We’re going to have disagreements from time to time,” McCormick said. “We don’t have to take them personally. We can actually use it to craft better legislation, like we do in the Legislature every day.”

GOP’s 18th state Senate primary gets interesting

Gallatin, Tenn., pharmacist Ferrell Haile this week picked up an endorsement from Bryan Bondarant for his 18th Senate District Republican primary bid in 2012.

Bondarant, a Sumner County veterinarian, ran unsuccessfully for the seat this year in a special election to serve the remainder of Republican Diane Black’s Senate term following her election to Congress.

Bondarant won the most votes in Sumner County in the special election. But he lost the multi-andidate GOP primary to Kerry Roberts of Roberston County. Bondurant had the support of Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville.

After winning the primary, Roberts easily won the general election.

Haile, also from Sumner, is no stranger to the Senate, having served briefly as Black’s replacement until Roberts took office.

In a statement, Bondurant called Haile “exactly the type of person that we need representing us in the state Senate.”

Moreover, Bondurant said, Haile “has the knowledge and expertise to influence the debate in Nashville in a positive manner.”

The situation could get interesting. Ramsey liked Haile and was recently seen deep in conversation with him at a Sumner County Republican event.

Meanwhile, Haslam reportedly plans to hold a fundraiser for Roberts.

Stay tuned.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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