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Tennessee GOP rejects closed primaries

The executive committee of the state Republican Party on Saturday turned back an effort to hold closed primaries in Tennessee.

The panel voted 37-29 against the resolution aimed at requiring party registration to vote in primary contests, The Associated Press reported.

Currently, Tennessee voters aren't registered by party, and people sometimes vote in a particular primary because of campaign developments rather than party affiliation.

Supporters of closed primaries say crossover voting can unduly influence the outcome of nomination contests.

And while state law allows challenges for people who are "not a bona fide member" of a political party, that status is not clearly defined.

Any change in voting laws would have to be approved by the General Assembly. But because Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, GOP executive committee decisions carry extra weight.

Fleischmann will host Nuclear Cleanup Caucus meeting

The House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, chaired by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and Rep. Ben Lujan, R-New Mexico, will meet for the first time on Thursday in Washington.

The Cleanup Caucus is a bipartisan group supporting the largest environmental cleanup program in the world, Fleischmann's office said in a news release. The caucus hopes to raise awareness in Congress and around the nation.

"The legacy of the Manhattan Project and the 50 years of government nuclear weapons development affects communities throughout our nation," the release stated.

Corker: Congress should fight modern-day slavery

During a hearing to examine the challenge of modern-day slavery, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called for Congress to "create and lead a vision" to end the practice worldwide.

Corker said, "With the U.S. behind it, we can lead; we can solve; we can bring others to the table," according to a news release from his office.

According to testimony, more than 27 million people are enslaved, with forced labor accounting for 74 percent of victims and forced sexual servitude for 26 percent. Women and girls are 54 percent of victims and 26 percent are under age 18.

Solutions focus on improving local law enforcement as a deterrent to traffickers and for public education against trafficking.

Alexander favors majority vote on nominations

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander R-Tenn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are pushing to change Senate rules so presidential nominations of Cabinet members and judges could be approved by majority vote.

The two said in a statement that majority vote was the method "from the time Thomas Jefferson wrote the rules in 1789 until 2003, when Democrats began filibustering federal circuit court of appeals nominees."

They said their resolution would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate to approve the rules change. Alexander and Lee said their resolution respected Senate tradition and they slapped at Democrats, who in 2013 invoked the "nuclear option" by changing the rules with just 51 votes. The rule that they changed allowed the Senate to approve all presidential nominees -- except for U.S. Supreme Court -- with a simple majority.

Graves votes for business flexibility

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., voted for two bills he said would reduce regulatory burdens on small business: The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015 (H.R. 527) and the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (H.R. 50).

"Millions of people across the country support their families by working at a small business," Graves said in a news release. "But these small businesses are suffocating under the weight of federal regulations, which currently cost them a whopping $11,000 per employee. By reducing this regulatory burden, we will free small businesses to hire, grow and invest."

According to the Small Business Administration, seven out of every 10 new jobs are created by a small business. Additionally, according to the Congressional Research Service, half of America's workforce is employed by a small business.

Democrats criticize cuts to school worker health care

An item in Gov. Nathan Deal's proposed 2016 budget that would cut state health insurance for 11,500 school workers is heartless and unfair, the Democratic Party of Georgia said in a news release.

The cut would affect part-time bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Deal has maintained that it's appropriate because thousands of other part-time state employees don't get state health coverage.

However, the governor's budget doesn't whack at another group that gets state-subsidized health coverage: the Georgia General Assembly. The state spends $1.2 million to subsidize health insurance for 377 part-time state legislators and their dependents, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In neighboring Tennessee last week, state lawmakers who also receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance killed a proposal by Gov. Bill Haslam to expand the state's Medicaid program to insure nearly 300,000 low-income residents.


Monday: Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher will speak to the JFK Luncheon Club at noon at The Chattanoogan hotel.

Tuesday: The Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club will meet at the IBEW, 3922 Volunteer Drive, starting at 6 pm. For more information, contact Club President Jackie Dowell at

Thursday: State Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini is the guest at the Hamilton County Democratic Party executive committee's quarterly meeting at the IBEW. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a free chili supper. All Democrats are encouraged to attend and bring a friend. For more information, contact HCDP Chairmam Terry Lee at

Feb. 17: The Tennessee Valley Republican Women will meet at GOP headquarters, 1428 Chestnut St., Suite 4. Guest speaker is Patrick Hampton. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and the cost is $10. Please call 266-9351 if you plan to eat.