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We’re not alone, but that’s no excuse

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* 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.”

* Missouri

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.

* Indiana

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

4 Comments
  1. - walkinfool - Friday, Jun 28, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    I heard years ago that the Speaker likes a comfortable margin, but hates a super-majority. I didn’t get it.

    I’m still not sure I fully understand why.

    Perhaps more individual members feel freer to let others to support the caucus, while they focus only on their individual seats.


  2. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Jun 28, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    Thanks Rich. Helps to keep things in perspective when you see others have the same issues / problems.


  3. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jun 28, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    I think part of my disappointment stems from the fact that few other states have had the same Speaker for 28 of the past 30 years.

    Expected he might have an easier time wrangling his herd of cats than some of those others, and really make some forward progress for the state.

    Speaker of the House 28 of 30 years? Check.

    Godfather to my child running the Senate? Check.

    Chairman of the Party? Check.

    Nearly full party control of Chicago, Cook County and Illinois? Check.

    It’s not entirely his fault, not by a long shot. There is plenty of blame to go around.

    I simply expected this would be his time to shine - not literally be running from reporters.


  4. - wishbone - Friday, Jun 28, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wants a state constitutional ban on gay marriage which would insure that millions of dollars in federal benefits will never reach his state, and that his taxpayers will forever subsidize states with gay marriage. Smart, real smart, a true economic thinker.


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