Reporter’s note: This series examines claims made by Tennessee 2nd House District GOP challenger Tony Shipley in his race against incumbent Democratic state Rep. Nathan Vaughn.
Second in a series
Colonial Heights Republican Tony Shipley has made oil drilling in the United States an issue in Tennessee’s 2nd House District race.
He’s for it.
Shipley says that his opponent, Democratic incumbent state Rep. Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport, is against it.
Shipley is basing his claim on a vote Vaughn took on May 19, 2005, to table a Republican lawmaker’s amendment asking Congress to permit exploration of oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).
The amendment attempted to rewrite a House resolution urging Congress to investigate gas price manipulation and price gouging.
After the amendment was tabled, Vaughn voted for the resolution, which passed and was signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen.
“This bill is more relevant today than it was at the point in time we basically passed this urging resolution,” Vaughn said. “But this was an urging resolution, and that’s all it is ... to have the United States Congress look at and determine if this is basically something that is a prevailing situation in the marketplace. How can this say I’m against oil drilling? I have no earthly concept.”
Vaughn said the amendment should have been filed as a separate resolution.
“This was a political maneuver to take off the table asking Congress to study what’s going on in terms of these oil prices,” Vaughn said of the amendment. “If we wanted a resolution to basically investigate oil drilling, I would have been in favor of that, but it wasn’t an either/or situation. (Republican lawmakers) want to go around the process by taking somebody else’s piece of legislation and changing it to achieve their own agenda.”
Shipley insisted the tabling vote was the same as voting against oil drilling on American soil and is a legislative technique not well understood by the public.
“It is a way my opponent can participate in the Nashville two-step. He can have it both ways. When you table something, that in effect is a vote, period,” Shipley said. “That is in conflict with the gist of his TV commercial when he’s talking about energy. ... He’s supporting this notion that he understands ... (but) he followed the DNC’s (Democratic National Committee’s) position not to drill in ANWR.”
Shipley also attacked Vaughn’s April 5, 2007, tabling vote on an amendment to a bill to modify procedures for the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s disposition of small property parcels previously intended to be used as right of way.
Shipley interpreted Vaughn’s vote as being against private property rights.
The amendment called for the state giving the previous property owner first right of refusal to buy it back from TDOT.
The bill, which passed the legislature, authorized TDOT to convey property interests “to any legal governmental body for a public use purpose.” It also included an amendment that the property may be sold at public auction.
“When the Department of Transportation buys a piece of property from an individual at a fair market value, the state of Tennessee on behalf of the people of Tennessee should have the ability to dispose of that property in a manner in which is in the best interests of the public,” Vaughn said. “I’m definitely in favor of private property rights ... (but) if you no longer own the property how can you have private property rights?”
For more information go to www.legislature.state.tn.us and click on “Legislation.” The urging resolution bill, HJR 0345, is in the 104th General Assembly archives. The surplus property bill is HB 1203.