by Steven Hale
In the Senate last night, Stacey Campfield opposed a Haslam administration bill to expand the use of economic development grants by giving cash to corporations that move to Tennessee. As the bill has already passed the House unanimously, Campfield stands as the only legislator in the land to vote against it.
In a passive-aggressive line of questioning, a charade of proper procedure that makes conflict in the chambers all the more entertaining, Campfield (as seen in the video above) pressed Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and likened the expansion of the so-called "FastTrack" grants to the "crony capitalism" Republicans were decrying months ago during the Solyndra debacle.
The administration — and every other legislator, apparently — prefers to call money given through the program "an investment." And with the expansion of the grants, the administration would like to get more information from the companies receiving them. But that has sparked a debate over transparency and the public's right to know who's getting their money.
Whatever you think about Campfield, his opposition here should be noted. Legislators are often heard asking whether or not a certain bill is an administration bill, looking for guidance on how much political freedom they have to publicly rail against it. In many cases, if the answer is yes, they sit down or, at least, give such a verbal throat-clearing that their opposition can hardly be registered as such. But — as a visibly irritated Norris and the lone spot of rebel-red on the board show — not Stacey Campfield, at least not this time.