Council Switch; New House Speaker; Legislative Alteration 

A decision by the presiding officials of the local AFL-CIO on Sunday to prohibit speeches by political candidates at their annual picnic at AFSCME headquarters downtown — even by those whom the union has chosen to endorse — has stirred some disquiet.
click to enlarge Charley Burch (l) with K.C. and Jeff Warren - JACKSON BAKER
  • Jackson Baker
  • Charley Burch (l) with K.C. and Jeff Warren

It has also prompted some action on the city-council-candidate front. Charley Burch reacted to the unprecedented acton by arranging a press conference for Monday afternoon involving himself, state Representative G.A. Hardaway, and fellow council candidate Jeff Warren. The purpose of the press conference?

Said Burch: “It’s to make the point that couldn’t get made at the picnic because we didn’t have the opportunity to say it — that those of us friendly to labor have to bond together in support of common goals.”

In Burch’s case, those common goals would be served by his using the Monday press conference to endorse Warren, who, along with Burch, Cody Fletcher, and Tyrone Romeo Franklin, is on the ballot for Position 3 in Council Super District 9. Presumably Burch would have availed himself on this option on Sunday if allowed to.

Eighth District Congressman David Kustoff addressed a National Federation of Small Business group at Regions Bank on Poplar last week and, as he has in the past, made a point of backing as many of President Trump’s initiatives as possible, including one that has been somewhat overlooked in the crescendo of recent political developments.

Said Kustoff: “An issue that I'm going to continue to fight on is the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (CAFTA), which will replace the old NAFTA. The president renegotiated NAFTA, I think, to the betterment of the United States. Mexico's ratified it. Canada's ratified it. So we need Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to put it on the floor. And the challenge that I see right now — should we go back on September 9th in Washington — is that we've got 41 legislative days or something like that.

“You’ve  got some Democrats who say they want to do it. But some who don’t, who say it’d be a win for Donald Trump. It'd be a win for the United States of America.  But that's the mentality. That's the mindset. And I'm concerned that with the presidential election, which is already in gear, that the longer she waits, the tougher it's going to be to to get it to get it done.”

At the same NFIB meeting, state Representatives Ron Gant (R-Rossville) and Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington) both attested to their belief that Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), newly nominated by the majority Republican caucus to be speaker of the state House of Representatives, will be a positive antidote to the confusion and mistrust that accompanied the one year-reign as speaker of Glen Casada (R-Franklin), who lost a vote of confidence in his caucus to remain in that position of leadership.

Gant told an affecting story about how Casada called him to the front of the assembled House in the last session and tried unsuccessfully to get him to change his No vote on the issue of private-school vouchers. Eventually, the then-speaker did manage to get another representative to change his vote, breaking the tie and allowing the voucher measure to progress.

As it happens, new Speaker Sexton was a No voter on the issue and has expressed a desire to postpone implementation of the new voucher law, which, as written, applies only to Shelby and Davidson counties. Gant allowed as how he thought some “tweaking” on the law might occur in the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January.

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