Gun bill sponsor Eddie Bass still unsure of party-switching

Gun bill sponsor Eddie Bass still unsure of party-switching

February 18th, 2012 by Staff Report in News

Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect, is shown at a committee hearing in Nashville, Tenn., in this file photo.

Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect, is shown...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

So is Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect, Tenn., welcome in the Tennessee Republican Party or not?

The Middle Tennessee rural, conservative Democrat this week told The Associated Press he hasn't decided yet which party he'll affiliate with when seeking a fourth term in the House.

Bass is now in a Republican-leaning district.

Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, of Chattanooga, said he likes the potential GOP candidates in District 65 and was dismissive of Bass.

"I'd rather he'd stay where he is, to tell the truth," McCormick told AP. "He's not doing himself any favors running that gun bill."

Bass is sponsoring a National Rifle Association bill that would require public and private employers to let workers store their firearms in locked vehicles parked on company lots.

Businesses oppose the measure saying it violates their right to determine what happens on their property, and Republican leaders are trying to devise a compromise.

Speaking to reporters later in the week while McCormick stood by, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, was asked about Bass.

"I welcome everyone into the Republican Party," Harwell said. "But I've made no attempt to recruit Rep. Bass."

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of Nashville, meanwhile, wants Bass to remain a Democrat.

"I hope he stays where he is," said Turner, who already has seen three Democrats, including Rep. Bill Harmon, of Dunlap, announce they won't seek re-election following a Republican-drawn redistricting plan.

Turner acknowledged another Democrat may announce soon he or she won't be running for re-election.

Republicans have 64 members to Democrats' 34. There's also an independent, a former Republican.

The GOP figures it could pick up six to seven more this fall, depending on how elections go.

Griscom on Regents

The Senate this week reconfirmed Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's nomination of former Chattanooga Times Free Press publisher Tom Griscom for a full term on the State Board of Regents.

The board oversees six state universities, 13 community colleges including Chattanooga State and Cleveland State, plus 27 technology centers.

Senators also confirmed Haslam's nominations of J. Brian Ferguson, Spruell Driver Jr. and Tommy Whitaker to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Griscom's term ends in May 2017.

Tirade about nurses

Already a YouTube video star over her multiple rants over the years, state Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, did herself proud this week in the Judiciary Committee as she launched into a lengthy, rambling tirade about "mean, hateful nurses."

The occasion was a bill that increases criminal penalties for assaults on health care professionals, including nurses, acting in discharge of their duties. Ford, who several years ago was treated in hospitals and nursing homes in extended stays, went on a roll.

"I would not be in your presence today because of mean, hateful nurses, and the lower on the scale they are with the least amount of experience, the worse they are," the senator charged, her arms extended wide.

"Most of you know I've had several illnesses, back in 2008, in and out of the hospital in 2006 and 2007 ... I cannot tell you the horrific experience I've had, and it was nurses who were mainly doing these things to me. I knew that such happens but I just didn't know it was so horrible."

Colleagues appeared horrified. Memphis news organizations buzzed over the latest Ford outburst.