Kelsey, Briley, and legislative shenanigansSome readers to this weblog may think I am just being overly partisan when I speak of the arrogance of the Democratic majority in the Tennessee House of Representatives. At yesterday's session, that arrogance was on full display for the world to see.
Three amendments were introduced, two by Representative Brian Kelsey of Germantown, one by Representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville. Kelsey's first amendment was a "bill in the form of an amendment" added to House Bill 2076 (which requires background checks for those entering teacher training). Kelsey's amendment would have created the long-awaited school choice initiative, allowing Tennesseans to use their tax dollars to send their kids to whatever kind of school they choose. No more would a parochial education, for example, be the purview only of those who can afford one.
It is no secret that the Democrats would attempt to stop this amendment from passing, since virtually the entire party is in the pocket of the public school teachers' union (not the students, not the parents, not even all teachers-the teachers' union). The Dems do not want to go on record as opposing this measure in Tennessee, since nearly every poll taken on the issue indicates that people support school choice, and the numbers get even higher the closer you get to urban areas-key Democratic constituencies. Jimmy Naifeh put his pet minion Rep. Rob Briley up to tabling the amendment.
Since I fully expected Kelsey's amendment to be tabled, I was less concerned with the fact that the amendment was about to be tabled and more concerned with the snotty and arrogant way that Rep. Briley addressed and treated Rep. Kelsey. The way that Rep. Kelsey introduced this legislation is a common parliamentary tactic, and it is one that the Democrats have used many times before. Hence, it is a double-standard for Briley to accuse Kelsey of introducing an "off-topic" amendment when it is something that happens all the time, with members saying "the topic of this bill is (whatever the broad topic is)
I do not know Rob Briley personally, he may be a very nice man-but he came across on the House floor as a stuck-up spoiled rich kid who has to have his way. Since he is from Nashville, it might do him well to know that this isn't a good persona to have with people from other parts of the State if he is ever interested in Statewide office-especially people from East Tennessee.
The right thing for Briley to do would have been to say "Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment..." and then explain all of his reasons, even the "off-topic" one. The right thing to do is not to stand up and try and run down your opponent. I won't say what my wife called Briley (the wealthy son of the former Nashville mayor) when she saw his conduct, but I will say that she was far less charitable than me.
I didn't agree with Kelsey's second amendment (to the imfamous Ulyses Jones Act) which would have banned legislative receptions. I thought it too harsh. I had lunch via one of these receptions while in Nashville and took a quick snack at another, and I noted that I was by far not the only non-legislator who was doing so. The receptions must be open to all legislators, so by fiat they are open to just about anyone else who happens to be there as well-I see no harm in them. I noted, however, that those rising to oppose this amendment could teach Briley a thing or two about parliamentary civility.
I did not find myself opposed to Stacey Campfield's amendment to ban free alcohol at these same receptions. As readers know, I have no problem with an adult beverage from time to time. However, I can easily see where a lobbyist or an overzealous constituent could use a Representative's love of Jack and Jim as a means to have their way with them. If a Rep. wants a drink, buy it yourself. Immediately upon the amendment being introduced, Naifeh banged the gavel and said that it dies for lack of a second. What Naifeh really did was bang the amendment dead before having to recognize the (at least) four members raising their hands for a second on the amendment. I guess Jimmy didn't want to give up the free whiskey.
If you wonder why so many people in East Tennessee complain about the House of Representatives and the way business is done there, I invite people to watch a session live online.
Labels: Tennessee politics