NASHVILLE — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has objected to legislative Democrats’ plans to name the outer rim of a pathway system at the state’s Bicentennial Mall after former Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte.
At issue is the estimated $6,000 price tag for installing signs featuring the name of Conte, the wife of Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The Haslam administration has “flagged” numerous bills this session, objecting to their passage for financial reasons or philosophical considerations.
In this case, it was an objection based on cost, said the bill’s sponsor, House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, this morning. Naifeh said he doesn’t think there was anything partisan behind the move.
“I’ve got it worked out,” Naifeh said, noting he hopes to get additional sponsors to sign onto the measure this morning on the House floor. “I can raise the money if I need to or if the department decides they can handle the signs.”
Naifeh said he grew to respect Conte during her eight years as first lady, citing her walks across the state to highlight and raise money for children’s advocacy centers.
Moreover, Naifeh said, “you know we had signage for [former First Lady] Martha Sundquist, if you’ll recall. It isn’t unprecedented.”
Around 2000, lawmakers named a new state forest after Martha Sundquist, wife of Republican Gov. Don Sunquist.
When a bill is flagged for its costs, the measure is placed “behind the budget,” meaning that if legislative leaders decide to do so, it will be added to the state’s annual spending plan. In recent decades, a number of signs have been approved based on agreements they would be funded by entities other than the state.
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, ...