Former Governor Ned McWherter died Monday at age 80. McWherter was governor from 1987 to 1995. Prior to that, he was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1975 until elected governor. The Tennessean published a long biographical story and reported late yesterday that both former President Clinton and former Tennessee Senator and Vice President Al Gore will speak at the memorial service in Nashville on Saturday. The Tennessee Report has an in-depth article about McWherter's governmental legacy and video comments from current political leaders about McWherter's influence on Tennessee politics.
The subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee recommended to the full Judiciary Committee that Governor Haslam's tort reform proposal, "Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011," be passed by that committee. The bill had been the subject of testimony in two previous meetings, and the administration insisted on several amendments to its own tort reform measure. The administration's changes to the bill include exceptions to the caps on non-economic damages and punitive damages and the deletion of the elimination of the so-called "collateral source" rule by which injured plaintiffs can recover money damages for medical bills not actually paid.
The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, April 12. It is not scheduled for consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee at this date.
Updating the news on the "animal" bills, on Thursday the House passed the bill protecting teachers who may teach different theories of science. The bill was referred to in House Education Committee by Speaker Emeritus Naifeh as "the monkey bill," a reference to Tennessee's early 20th century anti-evolution bill that sparked the famous Scopes trial in Dayton in 1925.
The other "animal" bill, Representative Frank Niceley's bill to allow farming of white-tailed deer, was amended to a bill in the House Agriculture Committee, a committee chaired by Representative Niceley. Even there, the bill did not move last week. The bill is fiercely opposed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Tom Humphrey of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports the details of the House consideration of Niceley's political maneuver.
The General Assembly is moving inexorably toward adjournment, though that likely will not come for another six or seven weeks. The Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee has announced that its last meeting will be next week, and the Senate Commerce Committee has given notice that any bill that a senator wants to be heard this session must be placed on the committee calendar by Wednesday, April 13.