Archive for March, 2011

State Democratic Party Chair Condemns High-Dollar ‘Pay-to-Play’ Republican Fundraiser

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Big Money Bash During Legislative Session Likely Breaks Election Finance Laws

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement today condemning the state G.O.P.’s high-dollar fundraiser being hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam at the Governor’s mansion tonight:

We’re now 77 days into Gov. Bill Haslam’s first term. In that time, we have not seen any inkling whatsoever that Republicans have a jobs plan — or even any ideas to put struggling Tennesseans back to work.

On the other hand, we have seen plenty of proposals that: grow the size of government, attack teachers, attack science, restrict religion, blow the tops off our Smoky Mountains, build a state mint, turn away affordable health care, disenfranchise voters, micromanage local school districts from Nashville, make government less transparent, waste millions of tax dollars, stifle economic growth BUT most of all — protect the financial interests of their big dollar campaign donors.

Tonight, those titans of industry are coming to the governor’s mansion to pay the piper.

“Shakedown” Bill Haslam is hosting a fundraiser for the Tennessee Republican Party at $3,000 to $25,000 a ticket — all this smack dab in the middle of legislative session.

What kind of message does this send to the everyday man who can’t afford to spend a year’s salary on Shakedown Bill’s one night soiree?

This event likely shatters the ethics laws designed to keep special interest money out of government, and it surely doesn’t pass muster in the eyes of working Tennesseans.

This governor and the Republican Party are running a pay-to-play scheme on Capitol Hill. Government for sale! All expenses paid for by taxpaying Tennesseans.

In his eight years in office, Gov. Phil Bredesen never held a fundraiser during session. He also mandated that he and his cabinet members would fully disclose their incomes and income sources.

That’s the way it should be.

In contrast, Bill Haslam’s first directive as governor was to repeal Bredesen’s executive order that made financial disclosure for the governor and his cabinet the law of the land.

Hard-working Tennesseans don’t want government business done behind locked doors anymore than they want big money, special interest groups influencing the legislative process.

But that doesn’t seem to bother “Shakedown” Bill and other Republicans, who are standing at the door of their fundraiser with hat in hand

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FACTS:

1. Tennessee law puts major restrictions on fundraising during the legislative session for the governor, state senators, state representatives and state parties.

2010 Tennessee Code?Title 2 – Elections
Chapter 10 – Campaign Finances
Part 3 – Campaign Contributions Limits
2-10-310 – Fund raising during general assembly session.

(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3), from the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, no member of the general assembly or a member’s campaign committee or the governor or the governor’s campaign committee shall conduct a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or member or candidate of the general assembly or governor.
(2) During such period, a member of the general assembly who is a candidate for a local public office shall be permitted to conduct fundraising events and solicit or accept contributions for such campaign for local public office only under the following conditions:
(A) Such fundraising events may be held only in the county in which such member is a candidate for local public office;
(B) Solicitations and acceptance of contributions for such purposes may only be made from individuals residing in such county;
(C) Such fundraising events shall not be held, nor contributions be solicited nor accepted, on state property;
(D) The member shall not be permitted to solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any actual or in-kind contribution during such period from a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist; and
(E) No other member of the general assembly or the campaign committee of such other member shall be permitted to solicit or accept contributions during such period for the member campaigning for local public office. It shall be unlawful for any lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist to make any contribution to such member’s campaign committee during such period for any purpose.
(3) All contributions raised as a result of fundraising or a fundraising event authorized and held in accordance with subdivision (a)(2) shall be reported on a form prescribed and provided by the registry of election finance for such purposes. Such form shall be filed with and attached to the applicable campaign finance disclosure report. The following disclosures shall be made on such form:
(A) The amount of contributions collected as a result of such fundraising event;
(B) The date and place such fundraising event was held;
(C) The dates on which such contributions were accepted; and
(D) All other information required by law to be reported on a campaign financial disclosure report.
(b) From the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, a political campaign committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level, or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly, that makes contributions to a candidate for the general assembly or governor for election or to defray the expenses of such person’s office shall not conduct a fundraiser, solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or candidate for the general assembly or governor.
(c) Excess funds for election to a local public office are not eligible for transfer under § 2-10-114 to a campaign account for election to the general assembly or governor.

[Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 1998, ch. 1062, § 7; 2002, ch. 470, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 17, 18.]

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Tennessee Democratic Party Announces Biennial County Reorganization

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Democratic Party announced Wednesday schedules for county reorganization, a biennial event where Democrats meet county by county to pick new local officers.

Reorganization ButtonState Party Chair Chip Forrester sent the following email encouraging Democrats to get involved:

Dear Friend,

The only thing necessary for Republicans to keep running roughshod over our rights is for good men and women to do nothing.

Here’s your chance to do something big.

In the coming weeks, county Democratic parties across Tennessee will host local conventions where Democrats will pick new county party officers and lay the groundwork for selecting delegates to attend the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Do something big and sign up to attend your county convention.

County conventions, also called reorganization, only come along every two years so it’s important you get involved now. You and other passionate progressives will be the engine that drives our campaign to take back Tennessee for working people.

As a member of the Democratic Party, you know we can do big things. But nothing comes without rolling up your sleeves.

Will you work with your county party to take back Tennessee for working people?

The strength of the Tennessee Democratic Party comes from the dedication and hard work of people, like you, who take a leadership role in their local Democratic Party. Our county officers and delegates provide critical support to Democratic candidates and are essential to turning out the Democratic vote and winning electoral victories.

It’s also a great way to meet other like-minded people who want to make a positive difference in their community.

Help us do big things for working people here in Tennessee. Be a doer and get involved with your county party convention.

Click here to find out how.

Yours truly,

Chip Forrester
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party

P.S. Due to local county bylaws, Davidson, Decatur & Dekalb counties will not be hosting reorganization conventions this spring. Call our office at (615) 327-9779 to find out how to get involved in those counties.

The TNDP is Looking for Summer Interns

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Tennessee Democratic Party | Summer Internship Program

1900 Church Street, Suite 203
Nashville, TN 37202

Contact:
Kate Dobbins, Director of Operations
Kate@tndp.org

Description
The TNDP Internship Program provides recent graduates and students in high school, college or graduate school with an opportunity to play a hands-on role in Tennessee politics. Students from across the state can participate to develop leadership responsibilities, while working alongside of TNDP staff, legislators and candidates.

Academic Expectations
Students with a desire to work in a political campaign environment are welcome, and political science and history backgrounds are not required. Positions are available for students with experience in government, political science, administration, communications, public relations, journalism, photography, graphic design and video production. Selection is based on academic qualifications, including a minimum 2.5 GPA, as well as each applicant’s passion and expected aptitude for the variety of job assignments within the TNDP.

Time Frame
Two internship tracks are available this summer for students interested in working 20+ or 40+ hours. Interns are required to begin working in time to take part in an intensive training beginning June 6th in Nashville.

Academic Credit
The number of academic credits granted depends on your college or university. Please contact your faculty representative to obtain this information and collect any necessary forms from your university internship advisor. We are happy to work with any institution to meet the guidelines for credit.

Please note: obtaining academic credit is by no means a requirement.

Duties
Duties may include community outreach, data management, fundraising assistance, event planning assistance, research, grassroots organizing, communications assistance, graphic design, video and web design, and administrative work.

How to Apply
Interested students must submit an online application at www.TNDP.org.

Political Leadership Training in Nashville

Stewart: “It’s time to cut the tax on milk, bread and eggs”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Legislation Seeks to Help Family Budgets and Children’s Health

NASHVILLE (March 28, 2011) – We need to get rid of Tennessee’s tax on food and HB 537 is a step in the right direction.

HB 537 offers a simple trade – cut Tennessee’s food tax – one of the highest in the nation – and pay for it with a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, which have been linked by many experts to the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Stewart: "It's time to cut the tax on milk, eggs and bread"

“Families have to buy food, but they can cut back on non-essential items like soda when times get tough,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Mike Stewart.

Even with the proposed tax, soda would remain cheaper than it was in the 1970’s, adjusted for inflation. “With the use of high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, the price of soda has come way down whereas the price of food is going through the roof. This is one way to help a young family buy food without imposing a new tax on businesses that might hurt the economic recovery,” Stewart observed.

Additionally, studies show that much like the increase in the cigarette tax this would likely lower consumption and improve health, an increase in soda taxes also can lower the obesity rate for high risk children.

The fiscal note for the bill shows that the proposed 1% reduction in Tennessee’s food tax, which would reduce Tennessee’s rate to 4.5%, would be entirely paid for by the increased tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Beverages that are not sugar sweetened, such as diet sodas, would be taxed less under the proposed change. “For most families, this will be a well-deserved tax break,” Stewart noted.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:00am.

Tenn. Republicans Resisting Third Party Access

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Some Tennessee Republicans are showing that the only ideas they want to hear are their own.

Take for instance, the legislative proposal — ordered by a federal court — to give third parties easier access to Tennessee ballots.

In every sense, a third party adds to the free marketplace of ideas in an open society. But Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga is not interested in shopping around for the best ideas.

From The AP:

House Majority Leader Rep. McCormick of Chattanooga

“I don’t want to see us become like Italy and have a dozen different parties and all these splinter groups, and have to make coalitions with them,” said McCormick.

Heavens to Betsy! Working with “different parties?” Having to “make coalitions with them?!” That would just be awful.

The Knoxville News Sentinel says it more eloquently:

A vast majority of American voters cast their ballots for one of two parties, not only recently but going all the way back to the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans in the early days of presidential politics.

But third parties – the generic name given to political parties opposing Democrats and Republicans – deserve to have their names on the ballot and try to win public approval.

The state Legislature has an opportunity to make that happen this term, and that should be one of its accomplishments when the session ends.

Third parties have provided a colorful and thoughtful element to American politics, although none in modern times has been able to displace either of the top two. Nevertheless, there is always that possibility in an open and free society.

Sen. Kyle: "Democracy works better when the rules are fair."

Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis has also spoken in favor of third party access to Tennessee ballots. He suggests 10,000 signatures from eligible voters should be enough to get your preferred party on the ticket.

“My goal is to allow people who believe they’re in the Tea Party or the Green Party or the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot,” Kyle said. “Any organization that can get 10,000 signatures is as legitimate a political entity as any other. People should be able to stand up there and say I believe in these principles. I just think democracy works better when the rules are fair.”

Well said, Sen. Kyle. Well said.

The Jackson Sun: Republican Bill ‘an Embarrassment to Tennessee’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

From The Jackson Sun:

A bill in the state legislature that would require federal agents to obtain written permission from the local sheriff before making an arrest for a non-federal offense is ridiculous and should be voted down.

The bill has been submitted by state Sen. Stacey Campfield and state Rep. Bill Dunn, Republicans from Knoxville. It would also require federal agents to get written permission from the local sheriff before conducting a search or confiscating property.

We find it intriguing that while he is a sponsor of the bill, Dunn says he’s not ready to talk about it. Campfield says the bill is an outgrowth of a Supreme Court decision that says the sheriff should have the “ultimate decision-making power.”

“I think we need to start doing some things that show where that power lies,” Campfield said.

And there we have it. This boils down to a power play.

Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork says he is not aware of any problems with federal agents overstepping their authority or trampling state rights. In fact, he noted the excellent cooperation shown between local, state and federal authorities in the hunt that centered on Jackson this month for two fugitives from Louisiana.

Woolfork says the law would limit federal authorities at the expense of public safety.

State Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, says the law would only help “every terrorist, Mafia thug, drug lord or corrupt politician” and would potentially tie the hands of the FBI in its fight against illegal drugs and terrorism.

Laws such as the one proposed by Campfield and Dunn are an embarrassment to Tennessee. They say our lawmakers would rather make political statements than address the real problems of our state.

Unemployment. Education. Crime. Those are issues that deserve the full attention of our state legislature. And they deserve it now.

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TNDP Chair: Report Ramsey for Government Waste on His New Fundraising Website

Monday, March 28th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement in response to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s new fundraising initiative:

“I appreciate Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s push for ending redundant and wasteful government services. And it didn’t take long to find a state employee squandering tax dollars. For waste, fraud and abuse, look no further than Lt. Gov. Ramsey, who today sent out a press release for his fundraising organization RAAMPAC — all paid for with your tax dollars. That’s right: the same site that advocates a streamlined government also wants to streamline its data collection for Ramsey’s fundraising organization — and it’s being promoted by state employees on state time, paid for with taxpayer dollars. Looks like Lt. Gov. Ramsey is right: His site does encourage Tennesseans to point out government waste. And we’re starting with him.”

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Forrester Slams ‘So-Called Compromise’

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Bill strips Tennessee teachers’ ability to negotiate contracts

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Democratic Party chair denounced Thursday the anti-teacher bill approved by House Republicans on the Education Committee this week.

The “so-called compromise” bill continues a misguided effort to strip teachers of their current right to negotiate classroom improvements for students, better working conditions and fair wages.

“To call this a compromise is nothing short of ridiculous,” said Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “You don’t make compromises with yourself. This was a back room deal cut in secret between Republicans, Republicans and presumably their public relations people.”

The anti-teacher bill makes it illegal for teachers to effectively negotiate a contract covering their salary, benefits, working conditions, school safety, class size, planning time, time to teach, length of the school day, scheduling and other priorities. The measure passed the House Education Committee Tuesday on a 12-6 party-line vote.

“This is nothing more than a Republican PR stunt,” Forrester said. “It is not a compromise — it is a blatant power play to strip teachers of their right to effectively negotiate with their employer.”

“With state unemployment rising and Tennesseans clamoring for work, the majority party and the administration should be pursuing an aggressive jobs package, but once again, all we are seeing is a concerted effort to shred the rights of working people,” Forrester said. “Meanwhile Democrats are standing by their pledge to get people working again and will introduce proposals in the coming weeks that would bring more jobs to Tennessee and preserve quality jobs and rights for our teachers and all working families across the state.”

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Media Contact: Brandon Puttbrese at 615-327-9779

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On the One-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

One year ago today, President Obama signed the historic Affordable Care Act into law. In the 12 months since enacted, many new patient protections and benefits have already taken effect – insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions or take away individuals’ health coverage when they need it most; all new health plans must offer free preventive care that will help Americans stay healthy; and young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, while they look for a job or finish school.

The Affordable Care Act has made a difference for people across the country, people like Janice of Cleveland, Tenn. Janice’s daughter was born with Down’s Syndrome and because it is a pre-existing condition, she could never get coverage.

In January, Janice received a letter from her insurance company explaining that because of the Affordable Care Act, her family’s policy is no longer subject to a lifetime maximum of $250,000.

Janice said: “This is huge for our family.  It means our family is protected from losing our home, our farm, our life savings simply because someone gets hurt or sick. My husband & daughter, because of the Affordable Care Act can no longer be denied access to insurance because of pre-existing conditions.”

Janice’s daughter is one of 2,800,000 Tennessee residents with a pre-existing condition who could be denied coverage by insurance companies without the protections in the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act provides Tennesseans with more freedom and control in their health care choices. It gives families the freedom from worrying about losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. It frees Americans from discrimination when insurance companies deny women health insurance because they are pregnant, or refuse to provide coverage to children who are born with disabilities.

Despite the clear benefits of this law for every Tennessean, our Republican lawmakers in Nashville and Washington, D.C. continue to challenge health care reform in Congress and in the courts. Repealing or even defunding the Affordable Care Act would put the many benefits of health reform at risk and add over a trillion dollars to the national deficit.

It is critical that we continue to protect the Affordable Care Act and prevent Republicans from rolling back new health care benefits for Tennesseans. We applaud President Obama, our Democratic delegation and other Democrats in Congress for their leadership in making tough choices to improve America’s health care system and we look forward to celebrating the passage of this historic law far into the future.

To see how the Affordable Care Act benefits you, click here: http://www.heathcare.gov.

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Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh Sounds Off On the Collective Bargaining “Compromise”

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Former Speaker of the House Rep. Jimmy Naifeh slams the secret, back room deal struck between state House tea party and Republican members.

“When you have true compromise, you have all parties involved,” Naifeh says in the statement.

From the desk of Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh:

OF ALL WEEKS TO WORK BEHIND CLOSED DOORS—LAST WEEK WAS “SUNSHINE WEEK –OPEN GOVERNMENT, TRANSPARENCY, ETC……

THIS AMENDMENT WAS A COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS—MODERATES AND TEA PARTY MEMBERS. WE (HOUSE DEMOCRATS ON EDUCATION GENERAL SUB) WERE NEVER INVITED FOR INPUT.

THIS WAS MERELY AN ATTEMPT TO SATISFY THE MODERATES AND TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS.

WHEN YOU HAVE A TRUE COMPROMISE, YOU HAVE ALL PARTIES INVOLVED; REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS, TEACHERS, TEA, SCHOOL BOARDS AND SCHOOL DIRECTORS. YOU WORK UNTIL YOU COME WITH A TRUE COMPROMISE.

WE, THE DEMOCRATS ON THE SUB-COMMITTEE, DID NOT RECEIVE THE AMENDMENT UNTIL NOON FOR THE AFTERNOON MEETING. WE REQUESTED A ONE WEEK DELAY BECAUSE WE HAD NOT SEEN THIS AMENDMENT. IT WAS WORKED OUT THE DAY BEFORE BY THE REPUBLICANS. OUR REQUEST WAS NOT GRANTED BY THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED COMMITTEE.

ALL OF THE STUDIES SHOW THAT PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATIONS DO NOT HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

WHILE UNEMPLOYMENT IS UP IN TENNESSEE, THE REPUBLICANS ARE ATTACKING OUR TEACHERS ON ALL FRONTS: PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATIONS, RETIREMENT, DUES DEDUCTIONS, DISCUSSIONS ON THE “MONKEY BILL”, SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS, GUNS, CREATING CURRENCY, IMMIGRATION AND OTHER NON-RELATED JOBS BILLS.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE JOBS PACKAGE??????

Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh

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