Annual Meeting Provides Focus for Members
With another Special Session looming in November, TFT worked to
mobilize its members, past and present over the Summer. At the Annual
Meeting on Saturday, August 14, fifty-five TFT members from around the state
came together to develop a plan of action for the next few months. It was probably
the best annual meeting I have ever been to, declared board member John Stewart
afterwards. Board treasurer Polly Marsh agreed, Best meeting I¥ve attended
the meeting, members mapped the State Senate and the important swing districts
members needed to work in. Board secretary Rick Held facilitated the strategy
session as pointed to a display on the back wall of colored construction paper
with the names of the State Senators on them.
After looking at the 33 senatorial districts in the state, and determining who
will likely support reform and who will, or already has, opposed reform.
It was agreed that the most effective use of TFT¥s limited resources was to
focus on the ²swingÓ districts, those that are undecided.
After mapping the state and identifying the key districts, members
broke into small groups to discuss resources TFT had in various key districts.
Members went to the board and wrote the names of the organizations that had
members or bases of support in various key districts. This was followed
by break out sessions where members gathered in small groups to make plans for
those various swing districts. This critical work provided a framework
for the organizing efforts over the next few months.
well, the luncheon panel at the annual meeting was praised by all. The
panel was facilitated by former board chair Tony Garr with the Tenn. Health
Care Campaign. Policy maker guests included Sen. Bob Rochelle, Rep. Matt
Kisber, Rep. Mary Ann Eckels, and Finance Commissioner John Fergeson.
TFT members on the panel, Harrell Carter with JONAH, Anne Hablas with Save Our
Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), and Priscilla Craig with the Tenn. Education Association,
asked questions of the policy makers. This panel provided additional input
on TFT¥s state-wide strategy for reform.
was the most focused discussion of tax reform I have ever been a part of, stated
Dale Gray, the director of the anti-hunger group, MANNA, and former TFT board
member. Dale continued, ²We left that meeting with a good idea of what
we needed to do. Over the next couple of months we generated calls to
our state senator and organized a powerful meeting where 25 constituents of
Sen. Haynes met face to face with him. Although in the end he voted against
tax reform, he certainly knows we are here.Ó
In other districts, the legislative working groups yielded
very positive results, such as in Anderson County, where 15 member met with
Sen. Randy McNally. Sen. McNally was one of the two Republicans who votes
yes on tax reform as it was voted out of the Sen. Finance Committee. That
historic vote, and tremendous victory for TFT, was the first vote taken on an
income tax by a Committee of the General Assembly in nearly seven decades (since
1931). The only other vote taken was by a Legislative Task Force in 1984
that recommended a set of proposals, all of which included an income tax.