NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Wednesday both parties met at Tennessee's Capitol Hill to discuss how to reduce unemployment, which lingers near 10% in the Volunteer State.
House Republicans convened for the first time since their Small Business and Economic Development Task Force.
Democrat leaders announced a “jobs tour” across the state that begins in Memphis on September 19th and wraps up after six in the Sparta-Cookeville area after six consecutive days in different areas of the state.
“Across the country and here in Tennessee, we are stuck in a jobs crisis, and it's going to take everyone working together to get us out of it,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh.
“Jobs are the number one priority for Tennesseans, and they also must be the top priority for their elected officials.” he added.
“People want their lawmakers to do something to combat the unemployment crisis, especially in rural areas that have been hit the hardest,” said State Senator Eric Stewart.
“There's a lot we can learn from going out there and listening to the people who are creating jobs, as well as the people who are looking for jobs.”
About two hours after the Democrats unveiled their “jobs tour,” Republicans took their turn at what they believe is necessary to create jobs and spur the economy.
The GOP task force brought in various small business owners and job creators state-wide to talks about how regulations are hindering job growth and limiting economic development.
They heard from people like Harry Wampler who owns several Tennessee meat packing plants.
He told Nashville's News 2 that government getting out of the way would help.
“I don't need them to put out a good product….cause I am putting my name on it and its my reputation,” Wampler said before speaking to the GOP task force.
While saying government inspection has its place in some parts of his business, Wampler said regulation costs for corporations are not nearly as great as the cost for smaller businesses like his.
“The big manufacturer can spread that cost over many, many dollars and I got to spread it over few dollars,” he added.
Wampler said those costs cut profits first, then jobs.
Excessive regulation was a theme heard frequently when others spoke.
Richard Skiles, a west Tennessee pharmacist held up a several page list of regulations that he said need attention daily just to open his doors.
“We have the HIPPA [medical privacy] regulations, we have to have post TennCare rules in both English and Spanish,” he said in exasperated tones.
Expect the job creation debate to grow louder as January's legislative session nears.