April 23, 2012 

The Daily Buzz
Gov. Bill Haslam Gains National Attention On GOP Social Issues Agenda


After Tennessee's Republican-led Legislature passed a bill to protect school teachers who review "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories" in areas including "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning," it drew denunciations from a number of scientists and civil libertarians. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, decided this month to let the bill become law without his signature.

Mr. Haslam said in an interview that the law had passed by a wide margin, so the Legislature could have easily overridden a veto. And he said that while he feared that the law would muddy state policy for teachers rather than clarify it, he had been assured by state education officials that it would not actually change the way science is taught in Tennessee.

But he said he also worried that the law could damage the reputation of a state that was home to another famous legal battle over the teaching of evolution, the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925.



The Battle Ahead

 House Democrats, meanwhile, last week unveiled their alternative to the fiscal 2012-13 budget pushed by Haslam and Republican lawmakers.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said he expects revenues may exceed $200 million above projections. But Haslam and Republicans don't intend to let the new money be formally acknowledged by the State Funding Board, which means they can resist spending it, Fitzhugh and other Democrats complain.

"At a time when working families are still hurting and the state is collecting revenue far and beyond what last year's estimates indicated, it's irresponsible to leave this money out of the budget," Fitzhugh said.

"A far better option, I think, is to use these funds for the benefit of all Tennesseans by avoiding unnecessary cuts and making smart investments in our future."

The Big Picture

Bill Freeman, a Democratic activist, former state party treasurer and big donor to Obama's re-election campaign, conceded that Republicans probably will continue to do well this year. But he said the tide could soon turn if the GOP fails to do much to improve the economic conditions its constituents are living with in Tennessee.

He compared the Republicans in the General Assembly to a dog that chases a bus - and finally catches it.

"They don't know what to do," said Freeman, co-founder of Nashville real estate firm Freeman Webb Co. "It's much more just to bark and bark and bark and run up and down the road."

Dems face uphill battle

Changing the political dynamics remains an uphill battle for Tennessee Democrats, Freeman said, "but the big picture is moving our way."


Quote Of The Day


 That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.  

Steve Jobs

Quick Hits


The AP story on how Tennessee Lawmakers hope to adjourn this week. LINK


Tennessee has a poor job market for recent college graduates. LINK


Pat Nolan breaks down issues at the Capitol last week at Capitol View Commentary. LINK


Tom Humphrey writes that you win some, you lose some and the art of compromise. LINK


 Congratulations to the winners at the Tennessee Alliance For Progress. LINK


The realities of CISPA. Gary Moore on the latest internet bill. LINK


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We Need To Do A Better Job

Are Republicans deliberately crafting bills to make sure disenfranchised folks can't vote, have a tougher time affording college and if involved with gangs, spend as much time in prison as possible?


I hope not, although stranger things have happened.

But surely they're smart enough to know who is disproportionately affected by these bills, and it's hard to believe they care.

They don't have to care, because we, the voting public, with our silence and low voter turnout, convey we don't care.

It's been said that when you know better, you do better.

So if we want a better government, we need to do a better job of following what our representatives are up to and watching on whose behalf they work.





The Things That Wouldn't Die

If the 2012 Tennessee legislative session were a horror movie, it would be called The Things That Wouldn't Die.

Two bad proposed laws - the "Don't Say Gay" bill and the "guns in trunks" legislation - continue to head toward floor votes despite widespread opposition. If Gov. Bill HaslamHouse Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey are the vampire killers, they need sharper sticks.

This is the week the bills live or, one can only hope, die. A key legislative leader informed House members last week that they need to book a hotel room for Friday and Saturday nights, as this legislative session could wrap up by Sunday. (Perhaps they should consult a calendar. Saturday is the Country Music Marathon, and hotel rooms are booked. Maybe lawmakers should get tents and camp: "Occupy Legislature.")




Faces Behind The Stories 
A shocked Capitol responds to the news of Andrea's injuries
A shocked Capitol responds to the news of Andrea's injuries

Andrea Zelinsky from TN Reports broke her leg. Erik Schelzig filmed lawmakers and Capitol Hill reporters in this video wishing her well. If you want to see some of the faces behind the stories you see coming out of Nashville having a bit of fun with their peer, this is the video to watch.


Trace Sharp
The Daily Buzz