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Briefly: Errant 'VC secrecy' reference in legislation provokes mild hubbub
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Sen. Andy Berke

A Tennessee Senate bill carrying a 'Venture Capital' title chosen for expediency has slightly rocked the legislative boat this week.

State Sen. Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) told VNC this morning that a bill that erroneously suggests Berke and others might seek to conceal information submitted to the University of Tennessee for funding through a suppposed "Tennessee Venture Capital Network," was just bearing placeholder language, to hold a spot for a largely unrelated bill, all of which Berke plans to redefine through an amendment he plans to submit to the Senate Commerce Committee, convening at 1 p.m. today.

The placeholder language was apparently quickly cut and pasted from a relevant passage of Tennessee Code Annotated, with little regard for the short-term consequences.

Berke told VNC that the bill he's actually carrying (SB3904), and which was not yet finalized late this morning when he was interviewed by VNC, is intended to address confidentiality of business information provided by companies bidding to provide benefits to State employees.

Berke said some potential bidders have said they would not bid if some of their pricing information were made public. Berke added that the actual legislation is sought by the Administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Berke acknowledged he had been asked today by several interested parties in the hallways of Legislative Plaza whether his bill actually related to the TNInvestco capital-formation program, which has attracted a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court.

There is, by the way a Tennessee Venture Capital Network that is apparently resident at Middle Tennessee State University, but persons familiar with that entity were not available on deadline for this story. There is no such network, apparently, at the University of Tennessee, nor are there apparently any plans for such a network.

The currently failed lawsuit by Franklin venture capitalist Larry Coleman, plus criticisms of management of the program by lobbyists for others who competed for TNInvestco funding and lost in the process, have created a somewhat charged environment, just as the legislature racing for adjournment, amid the mid-term election cycle.

Coleman's demand for Chancery help in unlocking confidential TNInvestco documents pertaining to the competition for funding was rejected by Chancellor Russell Perkins, but Coleman and his attorney have said he intends to appeal.

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Tags: Andy Berke, General Assembly, Larry Coleman, politics, TNInvestco, venture capital

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