Thursday, April 07, 2011

McWherter's Biggest Impact

The late former Governor Ned Ray McWherter's biggest contribution to Tennessee politics may have been as Speaker of the House:

Ned McWherter understood that Tennessee's Constitution really gives the legislative branch the vast majority of the power in our government, but he also knew that for years, previous Tennessee Governors took power that didn't belong to them by abusing what was a lack of a good committee system in the General Assembly. The Legislature often had to wait on the Governor before beginning even the most basic work, and that essentially made the House and Senate rubber stamps for an executive that was supposed to be weak.
House Speaker Ned McWherter changed all of that by strengthening the power, number, and role of legislative committees in the Tennessee House. He made the Calendar and Rules Committee the Great Decider, by giving it the power to essentially nix any bill that came before it, even if that legislation had already passed its designated committee or committees. This made Calendar and Rules the most powerful committee in the House, and it remains so today.

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