Published: January 27, 2009
New state House of Representatives Speaker Kent Williams did something odd in Tennessee politics last week when he assigned committee chairmen.
He did it in a bipartisan way.
Meaning Republicans head seven committees and Democrats head six.
Also, all committees are split evenly between the two parties, except Government Operations, where the Democrats have a one-vote advantage, and Calendar and Rules, where the Republicans have a one-vote advantage.
Williams (R-Elizabethton) came into power in a bipartisan vote and vowed at the time to run the state house in an equitable way.
He became speaker of the house after siding with house Democrats in the vote, while the Republican caucus voted for Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol). The house is divided 50-49, with Republicans holding a one-vote advantage.
With Williams casting a vote for himself, along with the Democrats, he essentially voted himself into the speaker role.
Because of Williams decision to make committee assignments based on experience Rep. Kent Coleman (D-Murfreesboro) kept his spot as chairman of the house Judiciary Committee. He will also serve on the Finance, Way and Means, and Calander and Rules committees.
Newly elected Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Curt Cobb (D-Eagleville) were selected for the Commerce Committee. Cobb will also serve on the Small Business Subcommittee.
Rep. Donna Rowland (R-Murfreesboro) will serve on the Children & Family Affairs Committee, Family Justice Subcommittee,
Rowland will also serve on the Conservation and Environment, the Finance Ways and Means, and Fiscal Review committees, as well as the Select Committee on Education.