Reporting by the Chattanooga Times Free Press that State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), a strong supporter of Gov. Haslam’s plan to increase gas taxes by 7 cents a gallon to fund more road construction, was the driving force behind the sudden adjournment of the Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday prior to the expected vote on the Hawk Plan, the popular alternative to the governor’s plan, was re-enforced by photographs of the event taken by The Tennessee Star.
In that photo, Doss is seen having an intense conversation with two unidentified individuals immediately before the sudden vote to adjourn was taken.
According to a long-time legislative operative, the people in the photo appear to be State Rep. Barry Doss, Stephen Smith (the governor’s recently named legislative director) and an unnamed political operative with a beard.
If indeed the person whose back is to the camera is Stephen Smith, it would underscore the governor’s near-panic that his gas tax was in major trouble last Wednesday.
“I have seen sneaky legislative maneuvers before,” said the source. “And the presence of Stephen Smith huddled together with the governor’s lackey, Rep. Doss, would be understandable. The governor sending his #1 staffer to the legislature at this critical juncture would underscore the governor’s personal panic as well as the desperate plight of his signature legislative program.”
“Smith was the point person for Common Core, serving that role in both the Haslam administration and as the lobbyist for the Common Core front group called SCORE. Serving as the designated hack on the gas tax would make infinite sense.”
The Star has asked both Doss and Smith to confirm the photograph shows the two of them in a conference immediately prior to the vote to adjourn was taken, but neither have responded.
Doss is Chairman of the Transportation Committee, as well as a member of the Transportation Subcommitee, which is chaired by State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster). He has never served as a Committee Chairman before, and has never served on the Transportation Committee in any capacity prior to this session.
Doss, along with State Rep. David Alexander (R-Winchester) and State Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin) was one of three Republicans who joined the two Democrats on the subcommittee, State Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) and State Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) who voted yes in favor of abruptly adjourning the subcommittee hearing without voting on the Hawk Plan, which funds increased road construction by reallocating 0.25 percent of the state sales tax from general revenue to road construction.
Only three representatives–Weaver, State Rep. Courtney Rogers (R-Goodlettsville), and State Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) voted against adjournment, so the sudden and unusual motion to adjourn, made by Windle, passed.
The subcommittee will meet again on Wednesday, March 1, to reconsider both the Hawk Plan and the governor’s gas tax increase proposal.
Americans for Prosperity–Tennessee has announced that it will hold a rally to oppose the governor’s proposal Wednesday morning at Legislative Plaza.