Monday, January 26, 2009

Gridlock is Good

There has been much discussion in some quarters about the faulty committee system created for the Tennessee House of Representatives for the 106th General Assembly by Kent Williams. It is a system that will, more often than not, bring about confusion, deadlock, and make the progress of bills extremely slow. Many pieces of legislation introduced this year may not even be heard before next January at the pace which things are likely to move in the Confused 106th.

However, things may not be as bad as they appear on the surface for the Republicans in the House under this arrangement. For one thing, even though Stratton Bone will continue to Chair the House Agriculture Committee, Frank Niceley returns to the Aggies, and that's great news for anyone from Jefferson County. Certain lobbyists won't like the move, but it means that some of Frank's bills which were sent to Summer Study Eternal after Jimmy Naifeh booted him from Ag and he had to go before the Committee to plead and beg will now get a more fair hearing. How do we know this? Well, guess who is Chairman of the Ag General Subcommittee-why yes, how Niceley done.

On Judiciary, another Democrat Chairs, Kent Coleman, but four of the House's most conservative voices-Brian Kelsey, Judd Matheny, and freshmen fireeaters Chad Faulkner and Vance Dennis-are all to be found on this important committee.

Susan Lynn will be Chairman of Government Operations, but she won't be the only conservative holding down the fort. Stacey Campfield, Glen Casada, Mike Bell, and Jason Mumpower will join her.

The most powerful, and one of the most populated committees in the House is Calendar and Rules. It is clearly organized so that nothing gets done, but what does occur will be DUNN very well with C&R's new Chairman. Pro-life legislation might actually get a floor vote thanks to Chairman Bill Dunn.

An overview of the House committee structure makes it clear that these committees have been designed in such a way that little new or substantive is liable to pass committee scrutiny, since the Williams committees appear destined to gridlock, even on much good legislation. However, I am not sure that won't be good in the end. Do we want a great many bills passed, or should Tennesseans demand not many laws, but fewer statutes of far greater quality. If very little gets passed at all, Tennessee may just be better off.



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