|Bill to close grant records stalls in Tennessee Senate |
|Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:00 pm |
|By LUCAS JOHNSON II |
NASHVILLE (AP) — Republicans have backed off — at least temporarily — of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to seal off information about companies seeking economic development grants after an impassioned debate between supporters and Democratic Sen. Roy Herron, who demanded to know why ownership records would not be made available to the public.
The measure, carried by Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson, was delayed Monday evening until Thursday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Commerce Committee.
Haslam has called for the public records changes as part of his plan to offer more cash incentives for companies to invest in Tennessee.
The bill closes off information regarding “business processes, organizational structure and ownership, financial statements, budgets, cash flow reports or similar materials.”
Herron, of Dresden, said he doesn’t see a compelling reason to hide the ownership records of companies receiving taxpayer dollars.
“Who do we want to give the taxpayers’ money to that we don’t want the public to know about?” Herron asked. “The temptation for corruption is too great.”
Watson has said the bill is necessary because the state will be asking for “new information” from companies considering an investment in Tennessee.
“We’re not getting this information now, that’s the point of the bill,” Watson said Monday evening.
One measure that unanimously passed the Senate would make emergency contact information on a governmental employee’s personnel file confidential.
Republican sponsor Ken Yager of Harriman said the information is already confidential if the emergency contact is an immediate member of the employee’s family, but his proposal would “allow the employee to designate other people besides an immediate family member, and that would likewise stay confidential.”
The companion to that bill is awaiting a vote in the House State and Local Government Committee.
Read SB2207 and SB2198 at http://capitol.tn.gov.
Published in The Messenger 2.14.12