* We all know how difficult the Democrats have had it this year here, despite their super-majority status. Well, Governing.com took a look at three GOP legislatures which have also struggled with super-majority status. First up, Tennessee…
The last day of Tennessee’s 2013 legislative session wasn’t a day that the state’s political leadership will remember fondly. It was a day of revolt and revenge in the legislature. Republican factions fought with one another. The house fought the senate. Very little was accomplished, leading to widespread complaints that scarcely anything of importance had been achieved in the entire three-month session.
Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey spent the whole session working on a bill to redraw state judicial districts, something that hadn’t been done since 1984. But when the bill moved across the hall to the house, Ramsey’s own Republicans repudiated it. They said it had been rammed down their throats. Some 40 of them voted no, consigning it to a 66-28 defeat. Then, in retaliation, Ramsey and the senate killed a house bill that was supposed to pass easily, a bill making it less difficult for the state to approve charter schools. By the end of the day, members on opposite sides were scarcely speaking to one another. About the only group happy with the debacle was the legislature’s relatively small cadre of Democrats. “The result could not have been better for the people of Tennessee,” one said.
Asked what he thought of all this, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam gave the legislative session about the faintest praise imaginable: “I certainly wouldn’t call it a waste of time.” Haslam had his own reasons for being miffed at how the legislature had handled itself. One of his top priorities for the session had been a bill creating school tuition vouchers for impoverished students. The senate and house passed it, but added a bunch of riders. Haslam said the resulting bill wasn’t what he had in mind, and pulled it from consideration. No voucher program became law this year in Tennessee. […]
“It’s easier to hold your party together when your majority is small,” Vanderbilt political scientist Bruce Oppenheimer told a reporter at the end of the Tennessee session. “As it gets larger, it gets harder to control.”
House Speaker Tim Jones started the year with a single-minded priority: changing the state’s education rules to make teacher evaluations contingent on student performance. The GOP house majority wouldn’t give it to him. So Jones dumped two members of his caucus who refused to vote with him on education and scaled down his bill so that it would apply only to school principals. He still didn’t get what he wanted. Meanwhile, house and senate Republicans continued to argue over tax credits for economic development.
When incoming GOP Gov. Mike Pence began promoting a 10 percent income tax cut as the central item on his legislative agenda, Republican lawmakers made it clear they weren’t going along. For one thing, they said they weren’t sure the state’s budget could handle the revenue loss. But for another, they weren’t willing to ram it through on a partisan basis.
Other states, however, didn’t do so bad at all.