Tennessee’s General Assembly has seen a shift in its leadership in the past 10 years, both in the senate and state house, as various members have moved on to higher aspirations, retired or taken other political positions.
“In the last 10 years, the legislature has changed from people being there forever to where, today, there is less than one-fourth of the people who were there 10 years ago,” said Chuck Laine, president of Laine Communications and a registered lobbyist who represents Town of Farragut. He was featured speaker during The Rotary Club of Farragut’s regular noon Wednesday meeting Aug. 30 in Fox Den Country Club ballroom.
“We’re kind of losing our leadership in the senate,” he added.
As a result, “The laws they’re enacting are really a detriment to cities,” David Smoak, Town administrator and RCF past president, said after the meeting. “They are taking away our authority to be able to govern the way the local officials would like to manage their own cities.
“So, it’s been helpful to have someone in Nashville who is there all the time because we can’t be there all the time,” Smoak added about Laine.
Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen contracted with Laine two years ago to represent the Town in Nashville, then renewed the contract last year.
“One of the reasons we work with the Town of Farragut is when Republicans took over [in Nashville], they don’t like cities. That’s where the Democrats are,” said Laine, a RCF member for 30 years and a Farragut resident. “It’s been almost a blood bath for four or five years and [legislators] have been real hard on [the cities].
“They passed de-annexation and all those kind of laws that go after [revenues that] cities have been used to getting like the Hall Income Tax,” Laine added, pointing out the Town of Farragut is starting to feel the fall-out from those laws.
Smoak said Laine has helped with all bills dealing with the Town that “we’re concerned about, affecting our authority to govern or ability to help protect our citizens’ health and welfare. We’ve done numerous things with him on red-light cameras and on the Improve Act that got approved last year by the legislature.
“That was very helpful,” he added.
Other bills included funding for bicycle trails and curbing de-annexation.
“We got with the Tennessee Municipal League,” Laine said. “While I can’t say we did away with de-annexation, we delayed it for two or three years. It was coming on like a freight train.
“We’ve come up with about 40 to 100 bills we feel might affect Farragut. We send them to David and he and his staff get together and come up with 15 or 20 he wants us to watch,” Laine added.
Expressing a personal interest in the Town, Laine said, “I live in Fox Den and have lived in Farragut since there has been a Farragut, so it’s nice to have that warm feeling when you are representing people who mean a lot to you.”
“Chuck does a great job at what he does,” Smoak said. “… He’s been in Nashville from January through April and May.” He also deals with “legislative issues as a lobbyist for mainly the coal and mining industries in Nashville.
“It’s truly been great to know Chuck and Roxanne [Reiley, vice president of Laine Communications], as well, in how they represent us and our interests in the state capitol,” Smoak added.