In Spite of Dispute, House Speaker Wants to Keep TWRA

"... saying the solution is to take the Sunset Provision off notice is like trying to kill a mouse with an M1 Abrams Tank."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - by Richard Simms
<i>Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams says "communication" is at the root of problems with TWRA.</i>
Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams says "communication" is at the root of problems with TWRA.

Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams (R - Dist. 4) says he has no intent of legislating the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) out of business.

Speaker Williams does admit however that he asked Rep. Susan Lynn to take the TWRA Sunset Provision "off notice," a measure that if left unchanged, would lead to the end of TWRA.

Every state government has a Sunset Provision, a date they will automatically cease to exist unless the state legislature extends its sunset date (usually every four years).

Last week TWRA issued a news release notifying the public their Sunset Provision had been stopped from moving forward in the Legislature, which would put the Agency "out of business" effective June 30, 2011.

Although he admits he asked Rep. Lynn to stop the legislation (HB 2460), Speaker Williams said today his intent is not to get rid of TWRA.

"No, that's my intent. Absolutely not," said Speaker Williams. "TWRA is going to exist."

Speaker Williams said a study committee set up by the General Assembly is just finishing up its recommendations.

"We didn't want the (TWRA) Sunset Provision to go through until our recommendations have been heard in the enviromental committee this week," he said. "Communication is the problem. I get more constituent calls about TWRA than anything else other than TennCare."

Mike Butler, Chief Executive Officer for the Tennesse Wildlife Federation (TWF) said, "Saying that communication is the issue and then saying the solution is to take the Sunset Provision off notice is like trying to kill a mouse with an M1 Abrams Tank. If the issue is communication, than lets sit down and communicate."

TWF is a private conservation organization that lobbies on behalf of hunters, fishermen and conservationists.

Speaker Williams says a bill (HB 3936) being pushed by Rep. Joe McCord (R - Dist. 8) would revise the way Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commissioners are appointed.

"Changing the structure of the Commission doesn't get at the (communication) concern," said Butler.

In her position in the House, it is Rep. Lynn's job to push all Sunset Provision through the legislative process. But she says in this case she is "stuck in the middle" of a political dispute.

"I know TWRA's Sunset hearing looked fine," she said. "We certainly need the TWRA. There's no way I want to stand in their way. This bill needs to pass."

Rep. Lynn said she also believed Rep. Chad Faulkner (R - Dist. 36) is upset with TWRA.

Rep. Faulkner represents Union and Campbell counties, which border Norris Lake. TWRA recently passed a new regulation restricting the creel limit on smallmouth bass on Norris Lake. Many fishermen, especially tournament fishermen, are extremely upset over the new regulation. Outdoor Writer Bob Hodge covered the dispute in the Knoxville News Sentinel in February.

While unconfirmed, it seems possible that the dispute over the new Norris fishing regulation might also be at the heart of a move to hold up TWRA's Sunset Provision.

"That has nothing to do with it whatsoever. I know there is some discussion on Norris Lake about the smallmouth... but that has nothing to do with it," said Speaker Williams, insisting the root of the problem lies with communication.

"When I was elected in Carter County one of the primary complaints I heard was that the (wildlife) commissioner in our area wouldn't return calls... so I called our commissioner and I couldn't get a return call," he said.

Neither Rep. Faulkner nor TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter have returned calls seeking additional comment.


Defendant In False Bear Attack Case Pleads Guilty

The defendant charged with filing a false report after he told authorities an animal attacked him last September pleaded guilty in Campbell County Criminal Court this month.   Michael Savage, 28, of LaFollette, claimed he was walking along Demory Road in LaFollette in the early morning hours of  Sept. 4,  when he was attacked by an animal with dark coarse ... (click for more)

Cleveland Receives 24th Tree City USA Award

Cleveland has received its 24th Tree City U.S.A. award. The National Arbor Day Foundation recognizes Tree Cities annually. The local ceremony took place  Tuesday  beside the greenway at 20th and Keith streets. Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out cities must meet the foundation's criteria to receive the distinction. Taking part in the ceremony were members of the Cleveland ... (click for more)

Dewayne Ray Burns Wanted After Firing Shots At Fort Oglethorpe Police Officers

Dewayne Ray Burns is wanted after police in North Georgia were led on a chase, and he fired shots at officers. Burns fired shots in their direction late Thursday night. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department are investigating the incident. According to park rangers on the scene, the Burns ran away, while firing shots in the direction ... (click for more)

5 Considered For Cleveland City Manager Position

Five names were selected  Friday  by a citizens advisory committee to send to the Cleveland City Council for consideration as the next Cleveland city manager. The five are Angie Carrier, Joe Fivas, Mark Reeter, Seth Sumner and Julie Underwood. The list is being sent in alphabetical order so no one has an advantage when the city council considers the candidates. ... (click for more)

Jill Levine Is An Educational Rock Star

No one has covered the Hamilton County Department of Education drama better than Roy Exum.  Thank you, Roy, but I take issue with your unnamed sources.  Professional jealousy and sour grape darts should not be anonymous.   HCDE is so dysfunctional, and there is good cause to place this public organization under a microscope, dissect it into pieces and discard all ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Settle It With A Vote

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which I consider a pretty good authority on what words really mean, defines “freedom” in this way:  “The quality or state of being free: such as, (a) the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; (b) liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; (c) independence -- the quality or state of being exempt ... (click for more)