Legislators talk Ramsey retirement, foreign relations at Chamber breakfast event

Published 10:27 am Monday, March 21, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., speaks to attendees at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce's annual Legislative Breakfast on Friday morning.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., speaks to attendees at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast on Friday morning.

Attendees at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast got the chance to meet with local, state and federal elected officials and get updates on the issues facing our community, state and nation.
Among the leaders filling the legislative panel on Friday morning were Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, State Rep. Timothy Hill, State Rep. John Holsclaw, and U.S. Rep Phil Roe. Jill Salyers, the field office director for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker also spoke at the event on behalf of the senator, who was unable to attend himself.
A large crowd of community members and leaders attended the event Friday morning at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus on Highway 91.
One of the major topics under discussion by the legislators and those in attendance was the bombshell announcement made on Wednesday when Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey stated he would not be seeking re-election to the Tennessee Senate this fall.
“The main topic from Memphis to Mountain City is the retirement of Ron Ramsey,” Holsclaw said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Roe also addressed Ramsey’s retirement, saying that while he understood Ramsey’s desire to spend more time with his family, he was saddened by the state’s loss of such an excellent conservative leader.
“We are losing a lot of horsepower with Ron Ramsey retiring,” Roe said. “First and foremost, he is a quality person, not just a good senator.”
Hill mentioned the shift in power that will come at the end of Ramsey’s term.
“We have enjoyed for quite some time having the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate being from Northeast Tennessee,” Hill said.
When the next senator for the Tennessee Senate’s 4th District is elected, he or she will be a state senator, but they will not be the Speaker of the Senate or the Lieutenant Governor. Those posts will be filled by more experienced members of the Senate.
“It’s going to be a long time before it comes back to Northeast Tennessee,” Hill said.
When asked by the event’s moderator Josh Smith who might be selected to serve as the next Speaker and Lieutenant Governor, Hill said he had not heard any names thrown out yet as possible successors and there is no heir apparent to the position to his knowledge.
The United States relations with foreign countries was also an important topic of discussion as both Roe and Salyers mentioned missile launches by Iran and North Korea.
As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker monitors the situations in Iran and North Korean very closely, Salyers said.
“There are now reports that Iran is testing ballistic missiles for a second straight day and there are open hostilities toward Israel,” she said.
North Korea has also launched ballistic missiles and they have been involved in nuclear testing, Salyers said.
The actions of both nations violate agreements that are already in place and Salyers said there is bi-partisan support growing in the Senate regarding enforcing sanctions against the two countries.
Roe said he was scared by the prospect of North Korea and Iran gaining nuclear capabilities.
“I spent 13 months there when they didn’t have a nuclear weapon and it was a dangerous place then,” Roe said of North Korea, referencing his time there during his military service. “It is an extremely dangerous place.”
While Iran does not have nuclear capabilities at this time, Roe said the nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama with Iran would open the door for the nation to develop nuclear weapons.
“If you put nuclear capabilities into the hands of the largest state-sponsors of terrorism in the world you are not making the world a safer place,” Roe said. “The world is not safer when rogue nations join the nuclear club.”
Roe also pointed to rising tensions between Iran and Israel and the possible implications of hostilities between the two nations.
“Israel will not go into the dust bowl of history quietly, I can promise you that, and I don’t blame them,” he said.

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