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Mumpower voting record shows anti-tax philosophy

Mumpower voting record shows anti-tax philosophy

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2008 10:56 pm
By: AP

 

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican state Rep. Jason Mumpower got his start in politics by knocking on doors for then-Rep. Ron Ramsey. Next month, he could follow his mentor’s lead by being elected speaker of a chamber in the Tennessee General Assembly. Ramsey, of Blountville, was elected Senate speaker in 2007. And with the one-seat advantage won by Republicans in the House in November, the 35-year-old Mumpower is poised to be elected the first GOP speaker of the chamber since 1969. Mumpower, of Bristol, was elected in 1996 at age 23 to represent House District 3 when Ramsey was voted into the Senate. Mumpower then rose steadily through the House GOP ranks by aligning himself with social conservatives and steadfastly voting against tax proposals. One of the first bills Mumpower sponsored after his election was a 1997 measure to prohibit gay couples from becoming foster parents. It didn’t pass, and later incarnations of the bill with other Republican sponsors also have failed. Democrats in 2002 declared Mumpower and 17 other House members the “do-nothing caucus” because they rejected major tax proposals, but failed to suggest massive spending cuts while lawmakers were grappling with a large budget shortfall. Mumpower voted in 2007 against an 42-cent increase in the state tax on every pack of cigarettes. He also opposed a measure that reinstated business taxes on real estate investment trusts. Mumpower was a staunch opponent of creating the state lottery, which primarily funds college scholarships. He laid out his opposition to a state lottery in a speech to the Indian Springs Baptist Church in 2001. “When we push a lottery by saying the money is going for education, we are prostituting our children to use them to pass something like this,” Mumpower was quoted as saying on the church’s Web site. He was among only 15 House members who voted against letting the proposed lottery constitutional amendment go to the state’s voters in 2002. And even after voters approved the lottery, Mumpower in May 2003 voted against the legislation setting up the way the agency was to operate in what he described in a recent Associated Press interview as “a vote of consistency.” Despite his public opposition to the lottery, the Bristol public relations firm that Mumpower works for, The Corporate Image Inc., in August 2003 applied for a $125,000 contract to market the new agency. Materials submitted by the company identified Mumpower as being in charge of “new business development.” The company did not get the contract, and Mumpower says now he doesn’t recall if he was involved in the application process. Mumpower said he doesn’t find it inconsistent to have opposed the lottery in the Legislature and then have the company look to promote it. “You know, I don’t own the company,” he said. Mumpower’s boss, Jon Lunberg, has since been elected to the House as a Bristol Republican. In January, Mumpower said it would cheapen college students’ degrees if lawmakers lowered the grade point average required to retain lottery scholarships. “We have to ensure those diplomas mean something; we can’t continue to lower standards until anybody can just skate through,” he said at the time. But by March he had changed his mind, and he ultimately supported lowering the retention standards. “I think an overwhelming number of my members do realize that once a student does get in college, that it’s a whole new ball game and perhaps they need the ability to have a little more leeway,” he said. Also last session, Mumpower voted for a measure to lift a cap on toll road and bridge projects in Tennessee. The measure ultimately failed in the Senate. Democrats last year said Mumpower and other Republicans were being hypocritical for first denouncing a plan to give each lawmaker $100,000 to spend in their districts as “pork barrel” politics but then jumping on board for their share of money after the measure passed. Mumpower — who earmarked his $100,000 for youth programs, museums, libraries, senior centers and volunteer fire departments in his district — said the change of heart only occurred only after changes were made to limit the projects to bona fide nonprofit and community programs. “And since we passed it, I certainly wasn’t going to let my community go without,” he said. Published in The Messenger 12.15.08

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