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Calfee: Too busy to be in the spotlight

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By Damon Lawrence

Kent Calfee hasn’t made any national headlines during his first few months as a state representative.
He said that’s been by design and good luck.

“I’ve just kind of kept my head down and been trying to learn the system,” he said.

Calfee, a former Democrat, defeated Julia Hurley in last year’s Republican Primary.

In the General Election, he went on to beat Democrat Jack McNew and Independent Allen Cole in House District 32, which includes parts of Roane and Loudon counties.

Calfee’s Republican credentials were questioned in both campaigns, but he responded by pointing out he had the backing of some of the state’s top Republicans.

Hurley was known for making headlines during her two-year tenure as the state representative for District 32. That’s was a good thing, she said, because it had people talking about Roane County.

“I don’t have a comment on that,” Calfee said. “You know all about that, and I don’t need to address that.”

Calfee said he’s been too busy in committees to get in the spotlight.

“I’m on finance,” he said. “I’m on business utilities and I’m on the subcommittee for business utilities. We’ve got a big agenda every time we meet. I don’t have much spare time.”   

According to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, Calfee has sponsored eight bills.

“We’re limited on the number of bills we can file,” he said. “I filed a couple for other people that had used their quota and some for the county and some for the comptroller and things like that.”

None of his bills deal with Tiger Haven, a sanctuary for big cats in East Roane County.   

“The county commissioner up there and I talked about that,” Calfee said. “If there’s anything that needs to be done, which I’m not sure there is, we’re going to have our act together and try to do something meaningful, but right now I don’t see any need to do anything.”

In 2011, the Roane County Commission asked Hurley to sponsor legislation that would have required tracking devices for animals housed at Tiger Haven.

Commissioners expressed frustration because she didn’t file it in the House. The commission has not asked Calfee to sponsor any Tiger Haven legislation.

One of the more contentious issues the legislature is dealing with this session concerns school vouchers.

The Roane County Board of Education went on record about the issue in December by passing a resolution opposing vouchers.

“I’m still open-minded about that, but I support public schools,” said Calfee, when asked his position on school vouchers.

A list of the bills he has sponsored can be found at the Tennessee General Assembly’s website – www.legislature.state.tn.us.