The state legislator who broke the rules of the Tennessee House of Representatives to jam through Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase in 2017 has been sent packing by voters in the 70th State House District.
State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma) was thumped at the ballot box by political newcomer Clay Doggett on Thursday.
According to results reported by the Tennessee Secretary of State as of 11:59 pm Thursday, Doggett easily defeated Doss in the Republican primary in the 70th State House District, 55 percent to 44 percent, an 11 point margin of victory.
Doggett received 4,490 votes, while Doss received 3,584 votes in the GOP primary. He will now face Jessica B. Yokley, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the November general election.
Complete final results have not yet been reported.
The Tennessee Star documented in great detail all of the maneuvering and legislative sleight of hand deployed by Doss in 2017 to push through Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, which raised the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 10 cents per gallon. The bill also authorized the 12 largest counties in the state to use the referendum process to increase local taxes to fund mass transit projects. It was under the authority granted by the IMPROVE Act that disgraced former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry proposed her $9 billion transit plan that was rejected by voters resoundingly in a May 1 referendum.
In March 2017, The Star was in the committee room at the State Capitol when Doss pushed through the IMPROVE Act:
In a stunning abuse of power, 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 on Tuesday.
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.
All eighteen members of the House Transportation Committee were present when the hearing convened on Tuesday.
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.
Every chairman of every committee in the Tennessee House of Representatives, including Rep. Doss, is well aware that Rule 34 is a privilege, not a motion, which cannot be subjected to a vote once it is invoked by a member.
With just a few minutes remaining in the House Transportation Committee meeting to vote on the amendment referred to by co-sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) as the “new and improved IMPROVE Act,” Chairman Doss, who said he was “committed to get this vote out one way or the other,” broke the House rules to get the vote on the governor’s bill out.
When Clay Doggett, a political newcomer, launched his underdog bid to unseat Doss later that year, The Star was there:
PULASKI, Tennessee – Grassroots conservative candidate Clay Doggett announced his run Monday for Tennessee House District 70, a seat currently held by the chief promoter of the gas-tax increasing IMPROVE Act, Barry “Boss” Doss.
Doggett said of his decision to run that, like so many others before him, he was resolved “to stand up and protect the freedoms and liberties we now enjoy.”
While Barry Doss’s role as champion of the IMPROVE Act, breaking rules and renaming it the Tax Cut Act of 2017, calls for an ethics investigation, and, subsequent to the passage of the Act, his provocative road work and front-row support of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s $5.2 billion transit plan would have been an easy target for Doggett, he instead stayed remarkably focused on his own positions and qualifications.
A Giles County native, Doggett made his announcement at the Staar Theater in the county seat of downtown Pulaski after an eloquent and touching introduction by his six-year-old son, Coell. While there were about 100 people in attendance at the historic venue, one could nearly hear a pin drop as the audience listened intently to Doggett’s message.
A key factor in Doggett’s victory was the critical early financial support from the Roving Patriots PAC, which donated the maximum $7,800 to his campaign just one day after it launched.