By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst
March 3, 2023
AFTER FIVE WEEKS, OUR INSIDE POLITICS MEDIA PANEL ANALYZES THE 113th TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY; 40 YEARS IN THE BOOKS; 48 YEARS AGO; SOME GOOD NEWS; CONGRESSMAN OGLES IS STILL FIGURING OUT HIS RESUME; THE MAYOR RACE GAINS YET ANOTHER CANDIDATE WHILE COUNCIL HOPEFULS PUSH AHEAD FOR CONTESTS THAT ARE UNCERTAIN; THE $2.1 BILLION TITANS ROOFED STADIUM BEGINS FINAL CONSIDERATION BY THE METRO COUNCIL
AFTER FIVE WEEKS, OUR INSIDE POLITICS MEDIA PANEL ANALYZES THE 113th TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The 113th Tennessee General Assembly is now over 5 weeks into its first session.
What have lawmakers accomplished so far?
What are the big issues and controversies still to be resolved?
To help us answer those questions, we welcome as our guests on INSIDE POLITICS this week, Holly McCall, the editor of the TENNESSEE LOOKOUT publication and Chris Davis, NEWSCHANNEL5’s Capitol Hill reporter.
We thank them both for being on the program.
We discuss it all, from the recently passed bills on drag shows, trans teens health care, the pending anti-Nashville bills, efforts to establish exceptions for the state’s ban on abortion, Governor Lee’s roads and choice/toll lanes proposal to relieve congestion, and more.
Tune us in!
INSIDE POLITICS can be seen on its regular weekly schedule on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS.
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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.
48 YEARS AGO
I couldn’t think of better day to tape INSIDE POLITICS this week.
That’s because, it was 48 years ago today, on March 3,1975, that I first went to work at Channel 5!
The station was then known as WLAC-TV. The NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK was EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Gerald Ford was President. Our Tennessee Senators were Howard Baker and Bill Brock.
Ray Blanton was Governor of Tennessee.
Richard Fulton was Nashville’s Congressman.
Beverly Briley was Metro Mayor.
It’s all changed now.
But what hasn’t changed is that WTVF-TV, NEWSCHANNEL5 is a great place to work!
I had a couple of service breaks, totaling 8 years, since I started.
Therefore, this is still a milestone day for me.
I have now worked in the NEWSCHANNEL5 newsroom for four decades!
When I started at age 23, I was the youngest person on staff. Now, at 71, I am the oldest.
I have been blessed by all my hundreds of co-workers over the years.
That is particular true for Chris Clark who hired me, and the late Tom Ervin who asked me to come back to Channel 5, after two years in the mayor’s office, to do something a little different from being a reporter.
Tom wanted me to be the station’s political analyst. At the time, I really didn’t know exactly what that was.
But I am sure glad I figured it out, and resumed a career at the station that I thought was over.
Almost five decades later, with 40 years in the books, I am still going!
SOME GOOD NEWS
So often at the Capitol, the news is not good or it’s controversial.
That’s why It is nice to report that one of the most shameful chapters in Tennessee’s history, involving the state’s at- risk children, may soon be a thing of the past.
This week, Department of Children Services officials told a legislative committee that except for Memphis/ Shelby County the agency is not longer have to have children sleep in their offices because there was no place and no foster parents to take them. It’s an issue that had been going on for years, until media stories about the deplorable situation shocked the state last year.
The other good news this week is that, with extra money from the state, DCS has also been able to hire more case workers, and pay them more, helping to ease another major issue hampering the department. It’s about time.
CONGRESSMAN OGLES IS STILL FIGURING OUT HIS RESUME
For the third consecutive week, NEWSCHANNNEL5’s Chief Investigative Reporter Phil Wiliams knows more about the resume of Andy Ogles, Nashville-area’s new congressman, than he does.
Here is the latest of what Phil has learned that has now led the rookie congressman to issue an apology to his constituents. Ogles is still not answering any questions and communicates only through written statements given to favorable media outlets.
But even normally favorable media outlets for conservative politicians such as the NEW YORK POST are following the story as are national outlets such as USA TODAY and THE HILL.
This week, Congressman Ogles’ colleague, first-term NY congressman George Santos, continued to find himself even deeper into controversy and scandal. In a rare, bipartisan, unanimous vote, The House Ethics Committee is launching a full-scale investigation, not just into all the resume fabrications Santos employed during his campaign last fall, but potentially serious charges about his activities as other investigations are underway.
THE MAYOR RACE GAINS YET ANOTHER CANDIDATE WHILE COUNCIL HOPEFULS PUSH AHEAD FOR CONTESTS THAT ARE UNCERTAIN
Yet one more candidate for mayor has filed a treasurer to begin to raise money for the August 3 election.
Alice Rolli, a former campaign manager for Senator Lamar Alexander in 2014, is the type of conservative candidate that might benefit in a crowded field, if the General Assembly passes a law doing away with local runoff races.
But right now that bill does not seem to be moving in committees in either house on the Hill.
The deadline to qualify to run is not until mid-May. So, there is still time for more candidates to jump or decide not to run.
Meanwhile, a number of at-large and district council candidates are pushing ahead, even as uncertainty continues about whether those races will be held in August or next year depending on whether Legislature cuts the size of the Metro Council in half from 40 to 20. Even then, it is unclear exactly how many district or at-large seats will be up for grabs if there is a new council configuration.
If that sounds chaotic with the current scheduled election now only about just over 4 months away, it is.
And it looks to get even more chaotic. This week the Republican Super Majority, determined to exact their political pound of flesh because Nashville declined to host the 2024 GOP National Convention, amended their Council reduction bill to require the city and the Council to redraw and approve all the new lines by the qualifying deadline in May.
If not, the current Council stays in office another year to redraw the lines and the election will be in August 2024. But what if the Council follows the Metro Charter on any redistricting effort? The Charter requires the Council to either approve or reject what the Metro Planning Commission recommends. If the Council rejects, the body must come up with its plan and both are submitted to the public to pick one in a referendum.
Of course, there is no way all that could happen by May. With a sizable number of councilmembers term-limited, and ready to end their public service at the end of August, it appears more likely the body will grit their teeth, approve the new district plans. But might there be a major division on how many, if any, at large positions are continued in the new 20-seat council? The uncertainty and chaos continues!
BREAKING: It also appears the controversial bill to cut Nashville’s Metro Council in half (from 40 to 20 members is on the agenda for the State House Monday night. It appears likely to easily pass, with the Senate to follow shortly.
THE $2.1 BILLION TITANS ROOFED STADIUM BEGINS FINAL CONSIDERATION BY THE METRO COUNCIL
The largest public construction project in Nashville, and perhaps in Tennessee history, comes up for the first of three readings before the Metro Council Tuesday night.
By a two-thirds vote, the Council gave approval late last year of a preliminary term sheet of the plan. Now the final agreement is before the body.
The ordinance BL2023-1741 is about 250 pages long and one council member describes it as full of dense legalese.
So it seems most likely the bill will be approved on first reading and sent with the other first reading measures for more study in committee. In fact, it seems possible there will be at least one joint meeting of multiple council committees to analyze the measure and likely ask many questions of the Titans and officials of outgoing Mayor John Cooper’s office.
The bill would be scheduled for second reading consideration at the following Council meeting on March 21. If it passes by a simple majority then, the third and final vote would occur on April 4.
The big question for many council members to determine is what are the changes in the final term sheet, and in the rest of the bill, from what they thought they approved last year? Is the bill open for amendments or changes by the Council? The answers to those questions and possibly others could shape the rest of the debate on second and third reading.
RS2023-1741 will need a 21-vote majority to pass on third and final reading.