Grundy County Education Association president Judy Fults, center, debates a bill proposing to do away with teachers’ collective bargaining rights with Kyle Mallory, right, a Stewart County teacher and tea party member, before a Senate Education Committee hearing in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
NASHVILLE — Tea Party activists hope to apply “mighty pressure” on a dozen House Republican lawmakers that activists say are waffling on legislation that would strip the Tennessee Education Association of its collective bargaining powers.
“We need to ‘wear them out’ now!” says an emergency legislative alert sent today by the Tennessee Tea Party, urging members to contact lawmakers. “We have got to focus attention on the House side of this issue. We have the votes in the Senate.”
The group says it included House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, on “this list for good measure. We are also being told that Governor [Bill] Haslam is exceedingly [sic] weak. ... We need to apply pressure to him.”
Conservative Republicans are pushing the measure which has the support of Senate Republican leaders, whose party controls the chamber. The Senate version has passed the Education Committee but has yet to be scheduled for Senate floor debate.
The bill has not yet moved in the House, where Republicans also have a majority. Haslam, a Republican, has refused to say where he is on board with the legislation. Harwell has said the bill remains under review, with leaders working to get it “to the point where we all feel comfortable with it.”
On Sunday, the Tennessee Tea Party sent out another alert attacking Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, who serve on the House Education Committee, as “RINOS” — Republicans in name only.
Brooks, a former House Education Committee chairman, said he is working with House leaders on the measure.
“We haven’t arrived at any conclusions yet where we are,” he said. “We’re working with leadership with reference to what we’re going to do in the House.”
He said he will ultimately “vote my district. I’m keeping a pretty good tab on folks in the 19th District.”
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...