Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) rebutted claims by Cleveland, Tenn. attorney Jim Bilbo that splitting Bradley County between an eastwardly expanded 10th senatorial district and the 9th would weaken the county’s influence in Nashville. Bell cited his past House experience, when he served part of Monroe County, as evidence:
“Every time an issue came up with TDEC, TDOT or the County Commission passed a resolution, they had two representatives speaking for them in Nashville,” he said. “Anytime we had a meeting in Nashville, they had two representatives there.”
But is that assuming that their votes don’t cancel each other out? Say, for instance, that Sen. Andy Berke still held the 10th and Bell the 9th, and both represented Bradley. Well, look no further than Hamilton County, Bell says, which today is split between Berke, a Democrat, and Sen. Bo Watson, the Republican Speaker Pro Tempore.
“When it comes to local issues, economic issues or road issues, even Berke and Watson get along,” he said. “I’m sure they don’t agree a lot on political issues, but when it comes to local issues … when it comes to economic development issues, even Berke and Watson get along on those. It’s the political issues when you have people of different parties who might not get along.
In any case, despite Bilbo’s begging, it looks somewhat likely that Bradley County will have one senator representing its northern half, and another representing the southern.
State Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville (District 9) has been named Chairman of the Government Operations Committee by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. Blogger David Oatney examined this move, and came away pleased:
What is most impressive about Mike Bell, however, is his work ethic. This writer will never forget the morning that he joined Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) in the office that he then shared with Mike Bell, as the two began work on procedural and legislative matters at 6:00AM-their secretaries arrived nearly two hours later, and they were already hard at work on the day’s business. To say that the Lieutenant Governor has made a wise choice to chair the Senate Government Operations Committee would be a major understatement.
The press release from Gov. Ramsey’s office follows:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has announced the appointment of Sen. Mike Bell (R – Riceville) as the new Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. He replaces Sen. Bo Watson who serves as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore.
“As Republicans, one of our highest callings is to increase accountability and efficiency in government,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “Government Operations is where the real work of shrinking the size and scope of government gets done and Senator Mike Bell is the perfect choice to lead that effort.”
“Speaker Pro Tem Watson and Chairman Johnson have done great work transforming this committee into an active and industrious engine of reform,” Ramsey continued. “I am confident that Mike Bell will continue in that mold and excel in this new position.”
“I appreciate Lt. Governor Ramsey giving me the honor and opportunity to serve as Chairman of this committee,” said Senator Bell. “I look forward to working with the Lt. Governor to reduce the size of government and make Tennessee’s system more efficient and effective.”
The Government Operations Committee is responsible for legislation concerning the creation or reauthorization of new departments, commissions, boards, agencies or councils of state government. It also oversees licensing and certification of occupational and professional groups and reviews regulations promulgated by Tennessee departments, commissions, boards or agencies.
Following Thursday’s announcement that Senate Speaker Pro Tem Jamie Woodson will step down in July, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today announced that he has appointed Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) to succeed her.
From a press release:
“It is rare that you find someone who works as hard for the people of Tennessee as Bo Watson,” said Ramsey. “His tireless work on issues of government reform has been an inspiration to all of us striving to make state government as small, efficient and transparent as possible. I’m extremely pleased he has agreed to take the job.”
“I’m humbled and honored that Lt. Gov. Ramsey has placed this kind of faith in me,” said Sen. Watson. “I look forward to serving my speaker to the best of my ability in this new role.”
The speaker pro tempore is a key leadership role in the General Assembly, both public policy-wise and operationally. Most notably, the speaker pro tempore presides over the state Senate in the absence of the speaker.
Watson is a physical therapist in Chattanooga.