The Tennessee Republican Assembly is calling on Speaker Beth Harwell “to fulfill her oath and address our concerns” about State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) “having a conflict of interest while serving as Committee Chair for the Transportation Committee.”
“On March 28, 2017, a letter from the Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) was hand delivered to Speaker Beth Harwell’s office. The letter contained well-defined examples of Rep. Barry Doss as having a conflict of interest while serving as Committee Chair for the Transportation Committee,” the TRA said in a statement released on Thursday.
“This was an official request for a meeting with Speaker Harwell to discuss our valid concerns and it is not acceptable for Speaker Harwell to refuse to acknowledge or meet with the Board to discuss the matter, after repeated attempts to get her to do so,” the statement continued.
“We are now publicly calling on the Speaker to fulfill her oath and duties and address our concerns,” the statement concluded.
You can see the TRA statement here:
“The Tennessee Republican Assembly has asked Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) to begin an ethics investigation of the business conduct of State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), a vocal supporter of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase proposal, over potential Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contracts for his firm,” the Tennessee Star reported on March 28:
“The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) is calling upon you, Speaker Beth Harwell, to investigate a potential ethics violation by Rep. Barry Doss, who also serves as Chair of the Transportation Committee,” the organization said in a letter dated March 27 signed by its entire leadership team and hand delivered to members of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“Chairman Doss should have recused himself from the proceedings that could potentially have a direct financial impact on his business,” the TRA said of his oversight of the Transportation Committee as it considered the gas tax increase proposal last week.
“In this role, Rep. Doss has the capability to sway the committee by means of influence or by manipulation of the rules governing the committee derived from Mason’s Manual,” the letter continued.
Doss’ chairmanship of the Transportation Committee and the roughshod manner in which he has conducted that committee’s hearings on Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase proposal, the IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” has been highly controversial.
In an article titled “Boss Doss Breaks Rules to Ram Amended Gas Tax Increase Through House Transportation Committee” published last month, The Star reported that “State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) broke a long-standing rule of the Tennessee House of Representatives to ram an amended version of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase through the House Transportation Committee he chairs.”
A bill containing the new and improved IMPROVE Act amendment, which restores many of the elements of Gov. Haslam’s original gas tax increase proposal, passed the House Transportation Committee in an 11 to 7 vote, but that outcome could not have taken place on Tuesday had not Chairman Doss broken Rule 34 of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Rule 34 of the Tennessee House of Representatives allows any member the privilege of “separating the question” when an amendment is added to a bill that is up for consideration.
A key element of Rule 34–which is known to every member of the House–is that it is a “privilege” that can be exercised without question whenever a member invokes it in a committee hearing. It is not a “motion,” which is subject to a vote of the committee
When State Rep. Timothy Hill invoked Rule 34 to “divide the question,” that is break up the vote on the IMPROVE Act and a proposed amendment into two votes, rather than a single vote, Doss violated Hill’s privilege as a member of the House and ignored his legitimate invocation of the rule and accepted a motion by State Rep. Dunn “to move [Rep. Hill’s] motion to the table.”
Rep. Hill responded immediately to the violation of fair procedure just executed by Chairman Doss and Rep. Dunn.
He raised his hand and spoke directly to Chairman Doss, who looked right at him.
But, violating Rep. Hill’s privilege as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Chairman Doss ignored Rep. Hill’s raised hand.
It is this kind of rule breaking by Chairman Doss, combined with his potential conflicts of interest, that compelled the TRA to ask for a meeting with Speaker Harwell.