Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grading the General Assembly So Far

When I talk to people about this year's legislative session, I've often been asked how I would rate it so far in spite of the events of January 13th. The question deserves serious consideration, since some things have turned out far better than could have been expected. SJR 127 has passed the Senate overwhelmingly, and it would appear that it stands a good chance to pass the House.

Mail order wine appears as though it will become law, which means that even though we won't have wine in grocery stores just yet, we will have the ability to order wine and spirits for shipment to our homes-with proper identification. A flurry of positive Second Amendment legislation looks as though much of it will pass the House. These are bills which, if made law, would make Tennessee a freer State and reduce the active role of government in the daily lives of citizens. If SJR 127 and the Second Amendment bills actually do pass the House, it could place Kent Williams in an unusually good position politically, because he will be able to say that he kept his word in allowing these matters to come to the floor.

The downside of this session is that apparently the dreaded Judicial Selection Commission is going to reappear in another form. This breaks a campaign promise the Republicans gave that they would eventually allow the people to vote directly on their judges as the Tennessee Constitution prescribes. It cannot be said, however, that this session has been a disaster such as many of us predicted. Much has yet to be done and there are many pieces of legislation which have not gotten the fair hearing that they deserve, but many things have been given legislative life which would not have even made it to the House Calendar and Rules Committee during the previous General Assembly.

So far I'd give the 106th a C+.



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