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.


100K Tree Day: Largest Community Tree Planting Event In Tennessee History Scheduled For Feb. 25

The Tennessee Environmental Council (Council), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry (TDA) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) announced on Thursday their partnership to distribute and plant 100,000 native Tennessee trees across our state on Saturday, Feb. 25. The event is being hailed ... (click for more)

Bike Chattanooga Partners With The Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon

The Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System will be the go-to method of transportation for runners, their families, and support teams at this year’s Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.   Bike Chattanooga and The Marathon Planning Committee will promote the transit system as a way for competitors and spectators to access the event. ... (click for more)

School Board Turns Thumbs Down To Proposed Funding Of Central Track

County school board members on Thursday night expressed a number of concerns about a proposed $500,000 new track under consideration for funding by the County Commission at Central High School. The vote was 9-0 to table a motion to accept the money (if offered). Karitsa Mosley-Jones said, "We've got students at schools on a high priority list and you're going to give me a track?" ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bakewell Mountain Community Thanks Commissioner Fairbanks

The residents of Bakewell Mountain want to formally thank Commissioner Randy Fairbanks for standing up for our community in protecting our property rights and families. He personally made several trips to our properties and homes to see how the proposed gun range would affect our daily lives with noise, traffic, and a decrease in property values. Sometimes the little guys need ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Just One Year Later…

If I hadn’t actually seen it happen, I would never have believed it. Not only did I wonder if it could ever happen, more often than not my disgust and dismay of such rampant disorder has filled me with more gloom and doom than you’ll find in a liberal Democrat on this, Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. But I have got to proclaim that Thursday night I have never been as proud of the ... (click for more)