The End of SessionToday's post is quite late because I returned from Nashville earlier this afternoon and I am just now getting around to making a post. As I'm sure readers are aware, I have been there all week covering the passage of the State budget as well as semi-successfully working against a certain bill.
While I would call the end of the legislative session disappointing, there weren't going to be any real winners on the budget, and on that Frank Niceley was correct. While I would have voted no and Frank voted in favor, the agreed-upon budget was very likely the best agreement that could have been arranged this year. The problem (which Frank admitted) is that next year is going to be worse and if the trends continue, in 2011 the budget may require Divine intervention. Those with reservations about the budget, from those who held their nose to those who voted a straight no vote, cited this reality as their number one problem, many asking why we shouldn't just make the deep cuts now and deal with the pain, as opposed to waiting until next year when things could be even worse.
For the first time that I can recall, I had a serious disagreement with a bill Rep. Debra Maggart sponsored along with Reps. Chad Faulker and Eddie Bass-the bill requiring those running for County Sheriff to demonstrate a certain level of law enforcement training. This bill may seem innocuous enough, but I fear a situation where we place too many limits on who can run for what office. We live in a representative republic where any citizen, provided they can get their name legally on the ballot, has the right to run for office and participate in the system. If you've got a problem with the Sheriff or the Constable, you ought to have the right to run against them. Should these officials get training? Yes. In the event that a completely inexperienced person is elected High Sheriff, the training they need to function effectively should be made available to them and since they chose to run for this paid office that involves law enforcement, they should foot the bill. It does happen from time to time that a person with absolutely no law enforcement experience of any kind gets elected, and it has happened in Tennessee. It is rare enough that we don't need to implement what amounts to a protectionist measure designed to shut people out (Jon Lundberg pointed out to me that this legislation would likely have disqualified Buford Pusser).
Constables are a different situation because they have to get on the ballot and ask for people's vote, but they aren't paid. A Constable might make money from serving papers and in some counties they may make a commission for writing tickets (a very bad practice), but in Jefferson County a Constable isn't even reimbursed for fuel costs-they are volunteers. They do need basic training, but since they are volunteers the county should pay for their training costs.
Despite my disagreement with Debra Maggart on this issue, Rep. Maggart has been a stalwart on conservative issues, and I appreciate her principled stand on SJR 127 and so many other matters-and she's a jewel of a person on top of that.
As an aside, I want to thank Reps. Dennis Ferguson, Bill Dunn, Eddie Bass, Vance Dennis, Joshua Evans, Susan Lynn, Mike Bell, Debra Maggart and of course Frank Niceley and Stacey Campfield and many others for their kindly consideration and hospitality this week-I can't thank anyone enough.
Labels: Tennessee politics