Touting the disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country as the source of anger that led to Donald Trump being elected president, Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell says she hopes the election will begin a shift of government being returned to the states.
“The worst thing they ever did was put air conditioning in the Capitol,” Harwell told McMinnville Noon Rotary Club members during her talk before the local civic club Thursday, noting the air conditioning allowed the federal government to work 12 months a year. “The thing about state government is we are all part-time employees who have to come home and work regular jobs.”
Harwell has been cited for leading the Republican dominance in the Tennessee General Assembly that presently sees 74 of the state’s 99 representatives as being from the GOP. It was under her tutelage as Republican Party Chair from 2001-04 the Republicans seized the majority in the state Senate for the first time in 105 years. The Republican Party now dominates both chambers.
Harwell said she hopes the message sent by voters will prompt the federal government to loosen its grip on federal dollars.
“Government is best that governs least,” said Harwell, noting that in her time as speaker of the house, the legislature has taken 104 laws off the books. “As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Harwell said she asks Republican lawmakers to consider three things every time they vote for a bill.
“Does it increase government? Does it make it easier to own and operate business? Does it benefit education?” she said of her three questions.
Harwell pointed out Tennessee is the third lowest taxed state in the union and we are the lowest debtor state. Given the recent boom in investment in Tennessee, she said the state has been able to get rid of certain kinds of taxes and lower the sales tax on food twice as a way to return money to the people.
As for education, Harwell pointed out Tennessee is now in the top half of states nationwide.
“We used to always be near the bottom,” Harwell said “We are now one of the fastest improving states in education.”