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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee • 8
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee • 8

The Tennesseani
Nashville, Tennessee
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

8A Wednesday, January 10, 2007 THE TENNESSEAN GENERALASSEMBLY New lieutenant governor outlines areas of interest 2 Ramsey to push tort reform, fight state income tax r- LARRY MCCORMACK THE TENNESSEAN Sen. Ron Ramsey takes the oath of office to become the lieutenant governor after being voted in Tuesday as the speaker of the Senate, defeating longtime Lt Gov. John Wilder. 7 IN SESSION The 105th Tennessee General Assembly is up and running. To keep up with what's going on: fi fin Check throughout the day today for news By JESSICA FENDER Staff Writtr A new GOP dawn in the state Senate brings an uncertain agenda from Lt.

Gov. Ron Ramsey, elected by his peers Tuesday in a historic and surprising upset in control of the upper chamber. Ramsey laid out some areas of interest building a pro-business environment, tinkering with education funding, restoring public trust in government but was sparse on specifics. "I don't want to get ahead of myself," said Ramsey, a Blountville auctioneer who will spend the next few days composing Senate committees. The lieutenant governor takes over if the governor cannot serve and holds sway over what legislation survives the Senate through committee appointments.

Ramsey said he would push tort reform, oppose a state income tax and come down in favor of business when it comes to commerce law. Anti-illegal immigration and anti-abortion measures may appear on his agenda as well, he said. The new lieutenant governor has vowed to appoint some Democratic committee chairmen in the spirit of bipartisanship that has been the hallmark of die Senate for 36 years under the leadership of the ousted lieutenant governor, John WQder. The first Republican to lead the Senate in 140 years, Ramsey won the spot when a Clarksville Democrat unexpectedly broke rank and left an on-thc-fence Republican free to vote his party. The final vote stood at 18-15.

The new lieutenant governor would not say whether Sea Rosalind Kurita will receive a committee chairm'an- about dynasty. This is about the people of Tennessee, and I voted my conscience." GOP Sea Mike Williams, long thought to support Wilder, threw his vote behind Ramsey after it was clear Ramsey would wia Wilder, 85, plans to continue as a senator. "If I live, I'll be in the Seaite," he said. GOP members have sought the Senate's top seat since winning the majority in the upper chamber two years ago. Their plaas to install Ramsey then were foiled by Williams and another fence-hopping Republican who voted for Wilder and faced harsh criticism from the party in return.

Kurita already faces similar rebuke from Democrats who say they were blindsided by her vote on the Senate floor. Kurita last week seemed to signal her support for Wilder at a Democratic caucus meeting, said Democratic minority leader Sea Jim Kyle. "It is simply that's a moral issue with me," Kyle said. "She's broken trust with me. She's broken trust with a lot of members of the Senate." Contact Jessica Fender at or 259-8094.

Staff Writer Michael A. Weber contributed to this report. updates and make sure to see The Tenness-ean's new political blog, "The Plaza," at keyword PLAZA. To watch live streaming video of the floor sessions in either chamber, go to www.legislature. and click on "Senate" or "House" in the left column, and then follow the links to streaming video.

ship for her party-hopping vote. "I can honestly say there were no promises made," Ramsey said. "Senator Kurita is well qualified to be a committee chair. We'll work that out in the next few days." Kurita called her vote a vote of conscience, saying she wanted a leader who would open up discussion on improving education and publicly electing constitutional officers like state Supreme Court justices. "We will have real direction, and we know where we're going," Kurita said.

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