Monday, February 23, 2009

February Legislative Update

TN District 71

The Tennessee State Legislature reconvened on Monday, February 9, 2009, to begin the 2009 regular session. There are a number of important issues facing our state in the coming months.

According to the most recent figures provided by the Tennessee Department of Revenue, January revenues were down $114 million, with Sales tax revenues, including those from Christmas, down $68 million. Because 62 percent of Tennessee's overall revenues come from the sales tax, this accounts for a large part of the budget hole. The total tax collection is $522 million below the budgeted estimate for the fiscal year, and Tennessee could very well be on path to having over a one billion dollar loss in year over year revenues. The next largest source of revenue, franchise and excise taxes, were down about 24 percent and are proving to be more volatile than ever before.

The recently passed Federal stimulus bill is anticipated to help our state through this budget crisis, but significant reductions in state government spending are still going to be required. I will be working diligently in the coming months to make sure that any negative impacts on our community and our State as a result of these reductions are kept to a minimum.

Almost two thousand bills have been filed for consideration so far this year. Most of these bills propose the creation of new laws or the modification or elimination of existing laws. A copy of each bill is filed in both the State House and the State Senate. Each bill is first assigned to a committee of legislators that reviews bills dealing with certain subject matter. The committee reviews each bill assigned to it and votes on whether or not the bill should become law. Bills often have to be approved by two or more different committees because they can affect different areas of the law. If a bill is approved by all of the necessary committees, it is presented to the entire House and the entire Senate. If it gets a majority vote in both the House and the Senate, it is then sent to the Governor for his approval. If the Governor approves the bill (or if the governor rejects the bill and the legislature then votes to override his rejection), it finally becomes law.
I will be serving on the Judiciary Committee, the Health and Human Resources Committee, the Civil Practice Subcommittee, and the Public Health Subcommittee for the next two years. However, I am always available to address your concerns about any topic facing our community or our state. I can be reached by email at or by telephone at 615-741-2190.
The Tennessee Legislature has created a new website,, that provides a wealth of information about our legislative branch of government, including easy access to all pending legislation, contact information for all legislators, and live video of all committee and floor sessions. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and suggestions about any pending legislation of interest to you.

Nashville Address
105 War Memorial Bldg.
Nashville TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2190
Fax: (615) 253-0377

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kent Williams will be kicked out of the TN GOP today

From Tennessee GOP Chairman Robin Smith:

Members of the State Executive Committee:

As you know, I have announced that I will be making the results of my deliberations on the Williams matter public today.

It is my first duty as Chairman to keep you informed of the activities of the TRP and wanted you to know the result I will announce before it is made public.

I have reviewed documentation presented by members of the Legislature, members of this Committee and Mr. Williams’ comments, both public and private, in the course of coming to this decision. It has been my intention to move deliberately to gain an idea of the course Mr. Williams intends to take. With you, I have watched his actions.

We have watched during the last 28 days to see if Kent Williams would assign the 13 Committee Chairmanships to the Republican Majority. He did not.

We watched to see how Rep. Williams would assign office space and staff to the Republican Majority. He has crammed 49 of his colleagues in 46 offices.

We have watched Rep. Williams maintain the same wage practices with Democrat staff earning more than the Republican staff, even as democrat staffers are assigned to fewer representatives.

We have learned that Mr. Williams has met with Governor Bredesen as the “Republican Representative” on the critical issue of the budget. Mr. Williams has withheld all of this information from the Republican Caucus encumbering their policy statements and decisions.

We have been repeatedly informed that Rep. Williams refuses to caucus with the Republicans.

We requested that members of the Caucus provide the TRP with specific examples of assistance that Rep. Williams has given to our candidates, caucus or party. None could.

So it is with regret that I inform you of my decision to remove Kent Williams’ status as a bona fide Republican. In the end, I must do what I believe to be right in this matter and not just what might be the politically or strategically expedient response. The principles we value must be placed above mere political calculation.

With this decision, we send a message that Tennessee Republicans expect better. Our party is not the tool to achieve personal power. The grassroots members who work so hard will not have their dedication sold to the highest bidder. Ours will be the Party of principle standing on integrity and honor.

It is now time to move forward. My staff and I are already out recruiting candidates, raising money and preparing for 2010. Next year we will elect a Republican governor and strengthen our majority in the legislature. I am honored to have you along on our journey.


Robin T. Smith
Tennessee Republican Party