State Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), joined by more than a dozen colleagues in the Tennessee House of Representatives, held a press conference Monday blasting the Republican leadership for their heavy-handed and ethically questionable tactics to ram through the Governor’s gas tax hike, the key element of the IMPROVE Act.
“We are calling on Speaker Harwell, House Leadership, and those that support this bill to hit the restart button in regards to the IMPROVE Act and to send the bill back to Transportation Subcommittee to be debated fairly and openly,” Sexton announced.
The Tennessee Star was there with cameras rolling:
The Star has reported extensively on how State Rep. Barry Doss, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, broke the rules of the House of Representatives to push Haslam’s gas tax through the committee.
On March 22, for instance, The Star published a story titled “Boss Doss Breaks Rules to Ram Amended Gas Tax Increase Through House Transportation Committee,” which provided a blow-by-blow account of the subterfuge behind the bill’s passage that day.
“The people have elected Republicans to govern at all levels of state government. The Republicans control the Governors Mansion, the state house, and the state senate. We, as Republicans, have a duty to the people of Tennessee to build reliable and safe infrastructure by way of funding roads and bridges. We, as Republicans, ALL agree on this issue,” Sexton said.
“Where we disagree, is how to pay for it,” he noted.
“Some Republicans want to raise taxes by 6 cents per gallon on gas and 10 cents per gallon on diesel. Other Republicans like myself, those that stand here with me today, and many more who were not able to make it to this press conference, are opposed to raising taxes on hard working Tennesseans while our State continues to run a very large revenue surplus,” he said.
“We believe that there is wisdom in listening to all sides of this debate,” Sexton noted.
“Unfortunately, right now, that is not happening,” he explained, adding:
Just last week, the legislators who support this bill prevented those like myself who oppose it from speaking during a committee meeting. We do not believe this is right because we are an elected body of members who represent millions of Tennesseans that expect their voices to be heard. When the committee system is violated the purpose of representative government is lost.
From our side, we who oppose the legislation in it’s current form, want to work with leadership and those who support the legislation. We want to work toward a “yes” vote. We want to make sure those who support the bill know that overwhelmingly people in our districts oppose it. After everyone understands where both sides are coming from, we want to work with our fellow republicans to fix the legislation so it benefits ALL Tennesseans. . .
As for my part, anyone that knows me knows I get fired up. It’s because I care about the people I represent. This is not a job to me. It’s more than that. It’s a mandate from my folks at home. They have been very clear about what they expect from me.
We are all very passionate about this piece of legislation. We all need to come together and set aside political agendas to do the people’s business of funding our roads and bridges in a manner that’s fiscally responsible for all Tennesseans.
“No matter the outcome of this legislation we are focused on making sure that it goes through the right process is debated thoroughly and is the best legislation that it can be so that all Tennesseans can be proud of it,” Sexton concluded.
Those standing with Rep Sexton include: Andy Holt (R- Dresden), Terri Lynn Weaver (R- Lancaster), Courtney Rogers (R- Goodlettsville), Sheila Butt (R-Columbia), Bryan Terry (R- Murfreesboro), Jay Reedy (R-Erin), Micah Van Huss (R- Jonesborough), Roger Kane (R- Knoxville), Tim Rudd (R- Murfreesboro), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), David Byrd (R- Waynesboro), Mary Littleton (R- Dickson), Mike Sparks (R- Smyrna), John Crawford (R- Kingsport),Dawn White (R- Murfreesboro), and Debra Moody (R- Covington).