NASHVILLE — Two Hamilton County Republican lawmakers moved up in state House ranks Thursday as a result of new committee assignments made by House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Rep. Vince Dean, of East Ridge, is now chairman of the House Transportation Committee, a position he has eyed for several years. Harwell tapped Rep. Richard Floyd, of Chattanooga, as vice chairman of the newly created Local Government Committee.
Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, announced the committee assignments Thursday. The 108th General Assembly completed its three-day organizational session and adjourned for two weeks.
In a major Senate shakeup, Ramsey replaced Sen. Mae Beavers, of Mount Juliet, as chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee. Moving up is Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Collierville.
"I struggled with that," Ramsey told reporters.
"I was disappointed a time or two on some of her decisions on the committee and trying to figure out where we were going with several issues," he said. "And everybody needs to be a team player. Sometimes I wondered about that."
Harwell also split the Judiciary Committee in half. The previous chairman, Rep. Eric Watson, of Cleveland, is now the Criminal Justice Committee chairman.
Freshman Rep. Mike Carter, of Ooltewah, an attorney and former judge, was named to the Civil Justice panel. Carter also was named to the powerful Finance Committee and the House Ethics Committee.
Rep. David Alexander, of Winchester, who is starting his second term, was made Finance vice chairman.
Harwell placed freshman Rep. Ron Travis, of Dayton, on the Insurance and Banking Committee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, was reappointed to the Health Committee and the new Insurance and Banking Committee.
In the Senate, Ramsey named freshman Sen. Todd Gardenhire, of Chattanooga, to the Education, Judiciary and the Energy and Natural Resources committees.
"I couldn't be happier," Gardenhire said. "Those are the ones that I asked for."
Fellow freshman Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, was named to the State and Local Government, Transportation and Safety and Government Operations committees.
Ramsey retained Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, as speaker pro tempore. Watson serves on the Finance, Commerce and Labor, and Rules committees. He is now second vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, remains on the Finance, Government Operations and Calendar and Rules committees and was named to the new Business and Utilities Committee.
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, ...