Gerald McCormick said Tennessee Regulatory Authority will be 'less political' under Haslam proposal

Gerald McCormick said Tennessee Regulatory Authority will be 'less political' under Haslam proposal

April 10th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee House Republican Leader Gerald McCormick

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, today said the Haslam administration's proposed changes to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority will make the agency "less political than it's been" in decades.

"This thought that we're from a non-political, some kind of a pure little agency, into something that is political is one of the most ridiculous things that I've heard in my eight years up here," McCormick told Government Operations Committee members.

"Before it was the [Public Service Commission], before it was now the TRA, there are so many political lines going through that organization, it's amazing," he said.

Haslam's bill changes the four full-time directors into five part-time directors with a full-time executive director to run the agency. The committee moved the bill out with a neutral recommendation.

Critics, including TRA Chairman Kenneth Hill, say the move isn't needed and will effectively deliver power over utility regulation to the executive director. Haslam originally sought the authority to name the executive director himself.

But after getting pushback from lawmakers, he compromised and the bill now provides for a joint appointment between the governor and the House and Senate speakers.

The bill now goes to Budget Subcommittee.