The TestColby Sledge of The Tennessean seems almost shocked that the Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly are going to pursue the agenda they promised the voters. Perish the thought! Elected officials who carry out that which they pledged the voters to pursue if elected:
State Republicans hoping to tackle everything from education reform to
passing an anti-abortion constitutional amendment this legislative session
appeared eager to roll out the party's social agenda after they gained control
of the House and Senate in the November elections.
But then last month's surprise election of House Speaker Rep. Kent Williams
— voted in by Democrats and later thrown out of the state GOP — left Republicans
wondering how such bills will fare in a split chamber.
Now they're going to get a chance to find out.
In the coming weeks, legislators will vote on several previously killed
bills, but split committees could make things harder for Republicans hoping for
sweeping changes. In many cases, House Democrats have offered compromise
legislation that they hope brings hot-button topics closer to the political
"I hope this grand experiment that we're beginning will create more
than gridlock," said House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower, who was in line to
become speaker before Williams' victory.
"I'm optimistic, but I think the impact voters wanted will be somewhat diminished."
The present situation in the Tennessee House of Representatives actually provides an excellent opportunity to put Kent Williams to the test. It is important that this be done, because Williams has been adamant that he is, always has been, and so remains philisophically a conservative Republican. Further, Kent Williams has said that he favors measures such as a constitutional amendment declaring that there is nothing in the State Constitution that can be construed to grant any "right" to aboticide. If he does favor this legislation as he claims, he will see to it that it gets to the floor of the House and will do all in his power to see that it passes.
Kent Williams says that he is pro-Second Amendment and would see a series of bills expanding gun rights in Tennessee be enacted. Severals of these acts are before the House, so whether any of those which are more advanced and controversial make it to the floor will likely be up to Kent Williams.
Legislation ranging from firearms to abortion to illegal immigration to removing the grocery tax all currently awaits a hearing before some committee of the House or Senate. Kent Williams has said that he is a conservative, and that these are ideas which he favors and is prone to support.
Since I pledged to give Williams a chance, then I am looking forward in the coming weeks to seeing Williams bring these conservative ideas to votes by the force of his tie-breaking vote on committees and 50th vote in the House. If these things fail to happen because Williams, someone who supposedly supports a conservative agenda for Tennessee, bottles up the appropriate legislation or presides over its death, we shall all know to whom Kent Williams is beholden.