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Capitol View commentary: Friday, June 10, 2022

Capitol View
Posted at 11:37 AM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 12:26:45-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst

June 10, 2022

INSIDE POLITICS LOOKS AT THE JANUARY 6 INSURRECTION AS THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE GOES PRIME TIME; AS THE CARNAGE CONTINUES A CONTRAST IN STATES IN THEIR RESPONSES TO GUN VIOLENCE; ANOTHER PROBLEM WHERE IT TOOK MORE TIME TO ADDRESS AN ISSUE THAN IT SHOULD; A LONG NIGHT AT THE METRO COUNCIL; THE 5th DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL RACE REMAINS UNCERTAIN; MORE CHANGES AT THE TOP FOR THE LEE ADMINISTRATION

INSIDE POLITICS LOOKS AT THE JANUARY 6 INSURRECTION AS THE HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE GOES PRIME TIME

A little over a year and a half after it occurred, the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol went prime time Thursday night.

The House Select Committee that has been investigating what happened and who is behind it, held the first of six public hearings on what it found. The sessions are expected to receive live coverage on almost all the nation’s TV networks and media platforms.

After all the leaks, the sometime bombshell disclosures from the committee, the court fights and even some indictments bringing contempt of Congress charges against some of those not providing information, what else is left to learn about what happened, and who was involved in planning it?

Does the committee have a compelling case? And if so, what does the congressional group hope will happen? Finally, do the voters care or have they moved on?

This week on INSIDE POLITICS to discuss these and other questions and issues growing out of all this are Democratic analyst Larry Woods and Republican Bill Phillips.

We thank these gentlemen for joining us again.

INSIDE POLITICS airs several times each weekend on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Those times include:

7:00 p.m. Friday.

5:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

1:30 a.m. & 5:00 a.m. on Sunday.

THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 182 and on NEWSCHANNEL5’s over-the-air digital channel 5.2. We are also on DISH TV with the rest of the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK.

One option for those who cannot see the show locally or who are out of town, you can watch it live with streaming video on NEWSCHANNEL5.com. Just use your TiVo or DVR, if those live times don't work for you

This week’s show and previous INSIDE POLITICS interviews are also posted on the NEWSCHANNEL5 website for your viewing under the NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS section. A link to the show is posted as well on the Facebook page of NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Each new show and link are posted early in the week after the program airs.

Finally, I am now posting a link to the show each week here on my own Facebook page, usually on the Monday or Tuesday after the show airs.

AS THE CARNAGE CONTINUES A CONTRAST IN STATES IN THEIR RESPONSES TO GUN VIOLENCE

As we approach the end of the work week, we will see another outbreak of senseless mass shootings, deaths and other gun violence which reached a record level last weekend?

One of the cities hit twice by mass gun violence in the last two weeks in Chattanooga where the mayor says it is time to treat the issue like the emergency it is.

Here in Nashville, in the wake of perhaps the most shocking recent mass murder of 19 elementary school students and two teachers massacred in Texas, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order. It sought to address the crisis specifically in schools. But strangely the word gun was never mentioned in the governor’s order, which was mostly a doubling down on school safety efforts already approved and in place. Democrats called the governor’s action “hollow and toothless.”

Tennessee’s response to the gun violence crisis contrasts with what other states such as New York have done in terms of adopting new gun regulation laws. One national media outlet, National Public Radio has picked up on that.

In Washington, the Democratically-controlled U.S. House of Representatives continues to move ahead towards approving a new set of gun regulations. The progress of legislation in the lower chamber came within hours after emotional testimony was given before a House committee on the Hill from survivors of the carnage in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo New York.

Late Wednesday, the House began debate on its gun reform package. After voting and passing several separate pieces of legislation, the House combined them into the Protect Our Kids Act and sent that to the Senate on a largely party line vote. Tennessee’s nine- member congressional delegation split along party lines, the seven Republicans voting no, the two Democrats no.

On Thursday, the House passed another gun related bill seeking to nationalize “red flag” laws, which seek to keep guns away from individuals deemed a threat to themselves and others. Again, the vote was overwhelmingly along party lines.

None of the House passed measures are unlikely to receive enough support, especially among Republicans in the Senate, to ever become law. There are ongoing negotiations, between a bi-partisan group of Senators. They are seeking a filibuster-proof majority (60 votes or more) to approve a smaller package of gun related bills.

One sign of optimism this week, that there is enough political momentum in Washington to see Congress pass its first gun legislation in 30 years. It came when a conservative Senator from Wyoming announced she is rethinking her position on gun bills.

But the support for the Second Amendment in the Republican Party has not faded away. Following the Buffalo mass murder, a Republican congressman from that area announced his change of position on gun legislation, only to quickly recant his change of heart and announce he is retiring from Congress.

Nevertheless, hope remains that some kind of gun legislation might emerge from Congress. But even after one of the GOP leaders in the bi-partisan negotiations, Senator John Cornyn of Texas said he was “optimistic” 60 votes could be found in the Senate, the bill hit another snag over background checks.

As of Friday morning, this appears to be where things stand in the Senate.

ANOTHER PROBLEM WHERE IT TOOK MORE TIME TO ADDRESS AN ISSUE THAN IT SHOULD

In the past two decades or so, over 40 people have taken their lives by leaping off the bridge along the Natchez Trace Parkway near Nashville.

For years there have calls for a common-sense solution to address the issue.

Finally in recent days the National Park Service has begun work to install a temporary barrier along the bridge with the goal to have a permanent one installed in the near future.

The effort has been driven in many ways by mental health advocates and the families who have lost loved ones, all people who want to see something happen so these kinds of tragedies stop occurring.

A LONG NIGHT AT THE METRO COUNCIL

June is budget month for the Metro Council.

It means lots of hours spent in committee reviewing the mayor’s proposed budget. This year the spending plan submitted by Mayor John Cooper totals almost $3 billion, a record.

The operating budget was up for a public hearing Tuesday night. 43 Nashvillians over about two hours shared their thoughts, and in several cases, emotional, heartfelt pleas for more funding for affordable housing, the homeless, and more pay for city workers. The mayor’s budget contains a 4% cost of living raise but a study by the Metro Civil Service Commission says a 5% hike is needed. That would cost another $6.5 million which the Council appears to be still considering.

School workers want more money too, saying they got left out last year when teachers got big raises. Several told the Council they are considering quitting their jobs, some after many years of service. That is happening because of the rising cost of living, especially here in Nashville, makes it impossible to make ends meet. One school worker even quit on the spot while addressing the Council.

By the way, even though annually the Council and the Mayor set a dollar amount for a school budget, how the money is actually spent, is totally up to the nine-member elected Board of Education. Nobody mentioned that at the Council meeting and no one from the Board spoke on how that body will handle raises this year.

The Council also held a public hearing on the city’s Capital Improvements Budget. It is a bit of a wish list, a 5-year planning document. It doesn’t spend any money, but no city capital project can be undertaken unless it is in this budget.

This year the budget includes the new $2.2 billion Titans retractable- roof NFL stadium and sports events facility. But nobody spoke at all during the Capital Budget public hearing. Instead, the new stadium did come a couple of times during the operating budget hearing with speakers saying “if Nashville has $2.2 billion to spend on a sports facility, we ought to have money for (fill in the bank), i.e., affordable housing, the homeless, better pay for employees, etc.”

The Council will take final action to approve the Capital Budget during a special meeting on June 14. The 40-member body is expected to give final approval to an operating budget on June 21.

Later in last Tuesday’s meeting, the Council did find and approve spending $20 million to buy from the state some 3-plus acres of property at 88 Hermitage Avenue. The Council had fought for a month, during two previous meetings, about the proposal. It was said the land would be used for a park. But there are no firm plans for that and the Council approval by a 20-9 vote with two abstentions came only after the Cooper administration promised not to tear down the historic buildings on the site which were once the all-black Tennessee School for the Blind. The administration also agreed to look at placing an affordable housing development on the property. Still some council members were not convinced of the need for the land purchase which a previous Council refused to buy for $11 million a few years ago for a school.

THE 5th DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL RACE REMAINS UNCERTAIN

The Republican primary election for the new 5th Congressional District in Tennessee is less two months away (Thursday August 4). Early voting is set to begin July 15.

Yet it remains unclear exactly what candidates will appear on the ballot.

About a month ago, the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee kicked three candidates (Robby Starbuck, Morgan Ortagus and Baxter Lee) off the ballot. They did so saying the candidates failed to meet the party’s standard to be “bonafide” Republicans by voting in recent GOP primaries.

Starbuck went to court to challenge the decision. After losing in federal court, the would-be candidate went to the local Davidson County Chancery Court. That’s where Chancellor Randall Perkins found the party’s actions were done in violation of Tennessee’s Sunshine Law, and therefore their move to kick Starbuck off the ballot was illegal and invalid.

So far, I have not seen any sign the other two ousted GOP candidates are seeking to be back on the ballot. In fact, Ortagus has joined a committee advising another candidate, attorney and former Tennessee National Guard General Kurt Winstead.

Even as time is of the essence to get the ballot finalized and absentee ballots ready to be sent out overseas, etc. beginning June 20,

The situation became even more confused on Wednesday when a last minute effort by state election officials to appeal the Starbuck decision found the Tennessee Supreme Court stepping in to take the case and at least temporarily blocking Starbuck from going back on the ballot.

This is certainly one the strangest Tennessee congressional races I can remember.

Early Friday afternoon, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Robbie Starbuck should stay off the ballot saying the lower court erred in putting him back on.

MORE CHANGES AT THE TOP FOR THE LEE ADMINISTRATION

It is not usual to see changes in a governor’s Cabinet as he (and one day in the future) she approaches the end of their first or second term in office.

That kind of high-level turnover has been going on recently for Governor Lee. One thing a bit different for him has been his good fortune to bring back into public service, people who have already served on his team.

There are concerns among some economists that a recession may soon begin. Already inflation is creating problems. The national average this week for a gallon of gas reached within pennies of $5.00.

This week, I saw my first Nashville gas pump on Charlotte Avenue offering $5 gas ($4.99.9). Fortunately for Tennessee, our economy generated an extra $1 billion in tax revenues than projected this fiscal year.

The latest consumer price index report released today (Friday) finds May set another 40-year high for inflation now at 8.6%.

So what should Tennessee state government do with its unexpected money? Be cautious say economists.

Another stroke of luck for our state will be if our sales- tax based state budget stays strong. Believe or not, the state sales tax has not been increased for 20 years! A hike last occurred in 2002 when the General Assembly raised the rate by a penny after rejecting a possible income tax. If you look back in Tennessee history, the sales tax had been increased every 4-6 years, so the current no-tax increase streak, now going on for two decades, is remarkable.