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.


Tennessee's 2014-15 Gun Season For Deer Starts Nov. 22

Tennessee’s gun season for deer an annual opening on the Saturday before Thanksgiving which this year falls on Nov. 22, for 2014-15. For the fourth year, sportsmen will find one continuous season that will continue through Jan. 4, 2015. The continuous season replaced the previously two segmented hunting seasons that were in place prior to 2011. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources ... (click for more)

U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period On Proposal To List Northern Long-eared Bat As Endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the public comment period on a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Comments will be accepted through  Dec. 18 .   The Service is reopening the comment period to alert the public to additional information provided by state conservation agencies within the range ... (click for more)

County Schools Have Plan To Put Security Cameras At Every School

The Hamilton County Schools have a plan to put security cameras in every school, Supt. Rick Smith told the County School Board Thursday night. He said the money would come from the $2,201,000 the schools received last year from the sale of the old Ooltewah Elementary School property. The proposal must get approval from the School Board at the December meeting, then from the ... (click for more)

Lookout Mountain, Ga., Raises Sewer Rates; Joins In Kudzu Fight

The Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Council on Thursday night approved an increase in sewer charges. The council approved ordinance 281 increasing sewer rates to $6 per 100 cubic feet of water from the previous rate of $4.77.  The new increase will be in effect in January 2015.    City Manager Brad Haven said the town will be replacing the flow meter for ... (click for more)

Don't Allow Us To Be Overrun By People Who Do Not Belong Here

Thank you, Senator Corker, for your clear, concise evaluation of the president's attempt to bypass Congress and personally and independently establish national policy that violates our current immigration laws.   Our long-standing failure to enforce our laws to control illegal immigration across our southern border has made this country less safe and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Quick! Arm Our Guards

When I learned last Wednesday that Chattanooga’s leading hospital, in a ridiculous attempt to be more “family friendly,” planned to disarm its security guards. I was aghast but decided to wait for the proper “incident” to illustrate how stupid members of our “free thought society” can sometimes be. It took exactly one week. A bit after midnight on Thursday morning a gunman appeared ... (click for more)