January, 12, 2011

In a vote that was not much of a surprise to anyone, Tennessee State Comptroller Justin Wilson and State Treasurer David Lillard were re-elected to two-year terms in a joint convention of the General Assembly this morning. Both men were re-elected by acclamation, a stark difference from the election of constitutional officers two years ago, wherein Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to use a series of parliamentary delaying tactics to try and engineer the re-election of the then-Democratic incumbent constitutional officers. Comptroller Wilson simply thanked the General Assembly and said “we have a lot of work to do.” Tennessee State Treasurer David Lillard’s remarks were a bit more detailed, and included a thank you to Treasury Department employees who he said “have steered us through the greatest economic and securities crisis since the Great Depression.”

Readers in West Tennessee may be aware that a crisis has developed in Shelby County over the issue of consolidation of the Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County schools. Negotiations to merge the two school systems appear to have broken down, and State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Senate Majority Leader, is filing an emergency bill to require voter approval of Shelby County voters who live outside of the City of Memphis, as well as residents of the city in separate referendums. The issue of school consolidation has apparently been a divisive one between Republicans and Democrats, as well urban city dwellers and suburbanites in Shelby County. Since Senator Norris has received the apparent public approval of House Speaker Beth Harwell for the urgent legislation, both Houses of the General Assembly appear ready to suspend the rules and allow for the bill to be considered during the organizational session as opposed to the regular session of the General Assembly, as well as allowing the bill to completely bypass the House and Senate Education and Calendar and Rules Committees and move immediately to the floors of both bodies for Thursday or Friday votes.

The new General Assembly appears ready to take aggressive action to deal with some local crises when necessary.


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