OFF THE RECORD: Source Says Gov. Haslam Is Using His Position as Chairman of Republican Governors Association to ‘Rig’ Primary Election for Randy Boyd

Paul Bennecke, Diane Black. Bill Haslam

A high ranking source who serves on the Republican Governors Association’s (RGA) select national finance committee told The Tennessee Star that current and former RGA staff appear to be actively trying to damage the gubernatorial campaigns of Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) and possibly Bill Lee, while promoting close Haslam ally…

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Gas Tax Increases Another 1 Cent Per Gallon Today Thanks to Gov. Haslam, Democrats, and ‘Moderate’ Republicans

Tennessee Star

The state gas tax increased another 1 cent per gallon today, thanks to the IMPROVE Act passed by Democrats and “moderate” Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam in May 2017. The controversial law raised state gas taxes by 6 cents per gallon…

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Dave Ramsey Breaks Ground On New Corporate Headquarters In Franklin

Tennessee Star

  Dave Ramsey broke ground Thursday on new Williamson County corporate headquarters for Ramsey Solutions, his growing financial advice company. Thursday’s private ceremony was set to feature remarks from Ramsey and Gov. Bill Haslam, according to a news release. Representatives from the city of Franklin, the Williamson County Chamber of…

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Mastermind Of Pilot Flying J Rebate Scam And Three Others Sign Plea Agreements

  Four former Pilot Flying J employees officially agreed Monday to plead guilty in the company’s diesel fuel rebate scam, reports WSMV Channel 4. John “Stick” Freeman, the mastermind of the scheme, along with John Spiewak, Vicki Borden and Katy Bibee, signed plea agreements filed in U.S. District Court for the…

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Mae Beavers Tells Haslam State Will Pay For Roads After Gas Tax Repeal With $2 Billion Surplus and Ending Diversion of Road Funds to Other Uses

Tennessee Star

  Gov. Bill Haslam threw a soft ball over the middle of the plate to State Senator Mae Beavers (R- Mt. Juliet) about her campaign pledge to repeal the gas tax, and the recently announced GOP Gubernatorial candidate knocked it out of the park. Appearing in Nashville at one of…

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Democrats Unlikely to Get The $250 Million Education Bill For Their Yes Vote On The IMPROVE Act

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) said Wednesday in both the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee and full Committee that he didn’t have the votes for the $250 million K-12 Block Grant Act, which was reportedly part of the deal Governor Haslam made to get needed support from the Democrats…

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The $250 Million Education Bill the Democrats Reportedly Want in Return for IMPROVE Act Support is Still Alive

  Twenty-three of the 25 Democrats in the House voted for Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increasing IMPROVE Act last Wednesday,  amid rumors of a $250 million deal made between Governor Haslam and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) in a quid pro quo tradeoff: Democrats vote for the governor’s bill,…

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Boss Doss Admits To TDOT Contract After Being Elected

Tennessee Star

For the first time, State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma), who is the House sponsor of Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” and is serving as Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, admitted to having a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) since he was elected in…

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Jeff Hartline Commentary: In Tennessee, Growing Government is the New Faux ‘Conservative’

By Jeff Hartline We hear from time to time the graying generation express “Fifty is the new Thirty” or we hear fashionistas tell us that “Red is the new Black”. In trying to piece together the policy “MOAB” that went off yesterday in the Tennessee General Assembly, we have concluded…

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Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Calls Passage of Gas Tax Hike ‘A Momentous Day in Tennessee,’ Looks Ahead to Mass Transit Plan

Tennessee Star

  Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has been cheering Gov. Haslam’s gas tax hike for road improvements, while keeping an eye ahead toward implementing a $6 billion transit plan. Barry pushed for Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, which includes the gas tax hike, in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s action on…

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Metro Nashville School Board Member Mocks Gov. Haslam’s Letter To Students About Testing

Tennessee Star

  Metro Nashville school board member Will Pinkston said this week that Gov. Haslam’s letter to students to motivate them for standardized testing “might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” Pinkston took to Twitter Monday to make his comments about the April 10 letter. This might be the dumbest…

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Haslam Reduced Highway Fund Budget By 13 Percent, Grew State Budget By 20 Percent Before Proposing Gas Tax Increases

Tennessee Star

Governor Haslam reduced the Highway Fund budget by 13 percent, while he grew the State budget by 20 percent during his first six years in office. Only after he made these reductions in the Highway Fund budget did he propose the gas tax and diesel tax increases included in the…

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Haslam’s IMPROVE Act Includes Same ‘Economic Development’ That Lost Millions in TNInvestco

Tennessee Star

  “A performance audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has revealed the State of Tennessee has only recovered $5.3 million of its initial $200 million investment in the TNInvestco program,”  according to a statement dated November 10, 2016, under the name of Justin P. Wilson, Comptroller, referring to a performance…

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WWTN’s Ralph Bristol Blasts Conservative State Representative Who Opposes Haslam’s Gas Tax Increase Bill

Tennessee Star

  Ralph Bristol, host of Nashville’s Morning News on 99.7 FM WWTN, blasted a leading conservative Republican State Representative who opposes Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase proposal, the IMPROVE ACT “Tax Cut Act of 2017,” on his program Thursday morning. Earlier this month, State Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) called…

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The 962 Road Construction Projects Costing $10.5 Billion in The Gas Tax Increase Bill Can Be ‘Modified’ by TDOT

Tennessee Star

  Governor Haslam and other administration officials have stated since announcing the IMPROVE Act , now the “Tax Cut Act of 2017,” on January 18 that the purpose of the gas and diesel tax increases included in the bill is to fund 962 needed road construction projects in all 95 counties for a…

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State Senator Mark Norris Accuses House Speaker Beth Harwell Of Working Covertly On Gas Tax Alternative

Tennessee Star

  State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has accused House Speaker Beth Harwell of working behind the scenes on a plan to avoid a gas tax increase, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. “There’s a fine line between indecision and deception,” Norris (R-Collierville) said Thursday, who did not elaborate on his…

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Speaker Harwell Says She Will Have a Road Funding Plan That Does Not Raise The Gas Tax

Tennessee Star

  Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) says that she and many other members of the Tennessee House of Representatives will introduce an alternative plan that will not increase gas taxes when the IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” comes before the House Finance Ways and Means Committee on Monday for consideration.…

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Tennessee Republican Assembly Calls for Ethics Investigation of Boss Doss Over TDOT Contracts

Tennessee Star

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 Republican Assembly…

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Concerned Veterans of America: ‘Veterans Being Used in Tennessee Tax Hike Ploy’

Tennessee Star

Concerned Veterans of America (CVA)  blasted Tennessee’s Republican political establishment on Monday for using veterans in a “Tennessee [gas] tax hike ploy.” “The politicians pushing for this gas tax increase know that it’s unpopular, so they’ve resorted to using veterans as pawns to push their big government agenda. Pretending that…

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Grover Norquist Praised Chris Christie’s Gas Tax Increase in New Jersey Before He Signed Off on Haslam’s in Tennessee

Washington insider Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, praised New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s gas tax increase in New Jersey in 2016, a year before he claimed Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase proposal here in Tennessee is “Taxpayer Protection Pledge compliant.” In the letter he sent to Tennessee…

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If Mark Green Does Not Run, Mae Beavers Will Be Only Potential or Announced GOP Candidate For Governor Who Opposes The Gas Tax Increase

Tennessee Star

“Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, said she is in the early stages of a possible run at the state’s top position after the leading conservative candidate might be headed to the nation’s capitol,” the Lebanon Democrat reported on Monday. If State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) becomes the next Secretary of…

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Grover Norquist’s Endorsement of Gov. Haslam Gas Tax Increase Backfires

Tennessee Star

Gas tax increase supporters initially believed they had scored a great political coup on Monday when Washington insider Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), declared his support for the amended version of Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act that passed the Senate Transportation Committee last week. That amended version…

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Gov. Haslam Admits Up to $70 Million of Gas Taxes Can Be Spent on Mass Transit by Cities and Counties

A spokesperson for Gov. Haslam has admitted that up to $70 million of highway user fees collected by the State of Tennessee, primarily from gas taxes, can be spent on mass transit in the FY 2017-2018 budget. In that budget, which he transmitted to the Tennessee General Assembly on January…

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Metro Transit Authority CEO Steve Bland Asks Nashville Mayor Megan Barry for $85 Million Increase in Capital Budget

“The Metro Transit Authority asked Nashville Mayor Megan Barry for a 427 percent capital budget increase on Monday,” Fox 17 WZTV reports. MTA’s request for this quadrupling of its capital budget comes as the Tennessee General Assembly is debating Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act proposal, which would increase gas taxes by…

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High Noon: Steve Gill and Ralph Bristol Debate the Gas Tax on WWTN Tomorrow

Tennessee Star

Steve Gill and Ralph Bristol will debate the merits of Gov. Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase on 99.7 FM WWTN’s Dan Mandis Show tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon. Gill, the former Nashville talk radio host who led the successful opposition to Gov. Sundquist’s proposed state income tax in 2000-2002, is opposed…

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Fifty Leading Tennessee Conservatives Send Open Letter to State Legislature Opposing Gas Tax Increase

Fifty leading Tennessee conservatives have sent an open letter to the Tennessee General Assembly opposing Gov. Haslam’s proposed IMPROVE Act, which includes a 7 cents per gallon gas tax increase and a 12 cents per gallon diesel tax increase. The letter was released Tuesday morning, on the same day the…

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Gas Tax Apologists Unable to Explain Why the 15 Percent of User Fees Diverted From Highway Fund is Not Spent on Road Construction

Tennessee Star

At least 15 percent of the $1.2 billion in highway user fees collected by the state of Tennessee in FY 2015-2016–$189 million– was diverted away from road construction (see page A-65 of The Budget: State of Tennessee, Distribution of Actual Revenue by Fund, FY 2015-2016). Under Gov. Haslam’s proposed FY…

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State Rep. Susan Lynn: ‘I Am Not For The Gas Tax So There Is Nothing To Debate’

Tennessee Star

“No, I am not for the gas tax so there is nothing to debate,” State Rep. Susan Lynn (R- Mount Juliet) tells The Tennessee Star in response to challenger Jeremy Hayes’ March 8 press release calling on her to debate him over the issue. Hayes opposes Gov. Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase.…

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House Transportation Committee Fails To Advance IMPROVE Act, Despite Multiple Tactics By Chairman Doss

  The House Transportation Committee failed to advance Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act (HB 0534) on Tuesday, despite multiple tactics employed by Chairman State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), a vigorous proponent of the governor’s gas tax increase proposal, to accomplish that outcome. The committee voted instead to roll the vote over…

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Senate Transportation Committee Approves 15 Percent Increase in TDOT Budget That Includes $278 Million From IMPROVE Act Funding

Tennessee Star

The State Senate Transportation Committee voted on Monday to approve the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) 2017-18 budget of $2.2 billion, an increase of 15 percent over the 2016-17 budget of $1.9 billion. Five members of the committee voted in favor of the increased funding, while three passed on the…

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Haslam’s IMPROVE Act Forced Through House Subcommittee in Rare Political Power Play as Speaker Pro Tem Brought in To Break Tie

Tennessee Star

Through a series of political maneuvers, Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act has advanced from the House Transportation Subcommittee to the full House Transportation Committee, thanks to the rare tie-breaking vote cast by Speaker Pro Tem State Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville).  Johnson was brought in at the last minute to the House…

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25 Percent of Highway Fund ‘User Fees’ Are Allocated to General Fund, Education, and Debt

One of the principles asserted by Governor Haslam in support of his IMPROVE Act and its proposed increase of 7 cents per gallon in the gas tax is that “users” of roads should pay for road construction. The gas tax is proper, he argues, because people who purchase gas to fuel…

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Ralph Bristol Testifies Before State Senate Transportation Committee on Gas Tax Increase Proposal

At the invitation of Chairman State Sen. Paul Bailey, 99.7 FM WWTN’s Ralph Bristol, host of Nashville’s Morning News, testified before the State Senate Transportation Committee on Monday afternoon about Gov. Haslam’s proposal to pay for additional road construction funding by increasing the state’s gas and diesel tax. Bristol provided…

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Gov. Haslam Has Cut State’s Portion of Highway Fund Budget by $56 Million Annually, Compared to Predecessor

Tennessee Star - Gov Haslam

During the six years he has served as the head of Tennessee’s state government, Gov. Haslam has cut the state’s portion of the Highway Fund budget by an annual average of $56 million when compared to his predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen. In the last six years of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s…

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Haslam Gas Tax Hike Opponents Gather at ‘Tank the Tax’ Rally Set for Wednesday

Tennessee Star - Tank the Tax Rally March 1

As the Haslam IMPROVE Act plan to increase fuel taxes returns to the Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday March 1, Americans for Prosperity and other activists plan to “turn up the heat” by gathering at Legislative Plaza to express opposition to the proposed tax increases. The Transportation Subcommittee, Chaired by Rep. Terri…

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More Unanswered Questions at Gov. Haslam’s Sumner County Gas Tax Town Hall

On Wednesday evening, Governor Haslam spoke about his proposed 7 cent gas tax and 12 cent diesel tax increase at Sumner County’s Station Camp High School to a group of about 300 people, around 100 of whom received a personal email invitation from County Executive Anthony Holt. The governor, joined…

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Pure Foods Goes Bankrupt After Benefiting From $1.2 Million in Tennessee State Economic Development Funds

Less than two weeks before Governor Haslam introduced his IMPROVE Act centered on a gas tax increase for road funding, Pure Foods, Inc., a recipient of $1.2 million in state economic development funds, filed for bankruptcy.   The $1. 2 million from the state’s FastTrack Economic Development (ED) Fund did…

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Gov. Haslam Gets Tough Questions From Informed Crowd at Franklin County Gas Tax Town Hall

Governor Haslam appeared nervous and off his game Monday night, as he was peppered with questions he could not answer at a “gas tax town hall” tour stop at the Franklin County Annex Building in Winchester. After giving 30 minutes of opening comments to the standing-room-only crowd of about 150…

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BREAKING: Gov. Haslam Claims ‘There Have Not Been Any Other Alternatives Proposed’ To His Gas Tax Increase

“Gov. Bill Haslam did not acknowledge the multiple alternatives to his proposed gas tax increase that legislators have introduced in the statehouse during an interview with Knoxville media Friday,” WBIR TV reports. “There have not been any other alternatives proposed. No one else has laid out a plan and said…

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Gov. Haslam Stumbles in Smith County: ‘The Only Reason Government Exists At All Is to Buy Things for the People That They Can’t Buy for Themselves’

“The only reason government exists at all is to buy things for the people that they can’t buy for themselves,” Gov. Haslam told the Smith County Rotary Club on Friday as he continued to promote his proposal to increase the gas tax by 7 cents per gallon. You can hear…

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EXCLUSIVE Grassroots Pundit Interview With Sponsor of Hawk Plan to Fund Roads by Reallocating Sales Tax

In an exclusive interview with The Tennessee Star’s Grassroots Pundit, Laura and Kevin Baigert, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, State Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) explained the details of his increasingly popular Hawk Plan to fund additional road construction by reallocating 0.25 percent of the state’s 7 percent sales tax. “We’ve had…

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Gov. Haslam Proposes Free Community College For ‘All Adults’ in State of the State Address

Gov. Haslam proposed free community college for “all adults” in his State of the State address last Monday “I am proposing that Tennessee become the first state in the nation to offer all adults access to community college free of tuition and fees,” Haslam said: Just like the Tennessee Promise,…

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Grassroots Pundit: Sumner County’s Role in the Governor’s Gas Tax Increase Story

The story of the Governor’s proposed gas tax increase introduced on Wednesday was being written for nearly two years in Sumner County. The most recent chapter was added with the attendance of County Executive Holt and Jimmy Johnston of Forward Sumner, the county’s hired provider of economic and community development…

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