While the federal government takes ownership of General Motors and dictates the future of an entire industry, and while the government becomes more concerned with saving big banks than with letting Americans keep the money they earn, John Rich reminds us what is happening to America while the Administration pursues policies designed to bring Middle America to ruin.
Tennessee State Representative Gerald McCormick's bill to allow candidates who are currently serving in the General Assembly to raise money while the legislature is in session may be gaining "some traction" McCormick says, but the bill would also lift donation caps that could be given to candidates in a two-year period:
Republican Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga said Thursday that his proposal to remove individual contribution limits for gubernatorial campaigns would give every candidate the same fundraising potential as wealthy ones.
"Right now if a particular candidate wants to write $100 million to their own campaign — if they have that much money, they can do it," McCormick said of HB0198. "This allows everybody else to go to contributors that can afford to give a whole lot more money than $5,000."
In principle, this bill is a good idea because it levels the playing field. Not only can incumbents raise money during the legislative session, but far more importantly, it allows any candidate to raise enough money to be competative in a State race, not merely limit political competition to those who have a built-in warchest. Political office in our country was not intended to be the perview of the wealthy alone. Every citizen who can get their name on the ballot should have the opportunity to run a competative race for office, and to do that those citizens need the ability to raise money legally in order to compete with their opponents who very well might (and often do) have personal financial resources which allow them to get around the current fundraising limits which are in place.
Thus, the system needs to be reformed so that it is not inherently favorable to millionaires at the expense of working people and small businessmen and women. This proposal is probably the only constitutionally sound way to move our campaign system in Tennessee toward something that is a bit more equitable. The problem with this legislation is not the substance of the bill, but the timing behind it.
To introduce this bill now makes it appear as though the legislation is designed specifically to benefit Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, who in running for Governor can't raise money during the legislative session (until June 1st), and when he does, must labor under caps which his very wealthy opponents do not have to observe. Yes, Ramsey shouldn't have to deal with all of that and should be given a fighting chance, but to wait until now-the heat of a campaign-to try and make this needed reform makes this needed bill look not like a campaign finance reform bill, but instead like the Ron Ramsey Enabling Act-and I support Ron Ramsey.
This needed to be introduced long before now, so at least if it went down to defeat and was reintroduced this year it could have been rightly said that conservatives had been trying to change the campaign finance system long before Ron Ramsey decided to run for Governor.
Tennessee State Senator Joe Haynes has run a bill that would allow police to fingerprint a motorist-any motorist-who gets pulled over in a routine traffic stop. What is frightening is that the House of Representatives has approved this bill:
"I've had several people come up to me and express concern about this bill," Haynes said during Wednesday's Senate session. "It's not like Big Brother is looking down your throat like you think he is. Right now, police can take a fingerprint from someone stopped for a traffic violation. This bill just says that fingerprint can be electronic instead of a regular ink print."
But police admit, under current law, they can only ask a motorist for a fingerprint during a traffic stop but the motorist can refuse without any legal consequences.
"But they cannot refuse to give a signature," said Metro police Capt. Mike Hagar, who oversees the department's identification division. "What we are asking for is to eliminate the signature for the option of using the fingerprint as the affirmation instead.''
This is a dramatic expansion of police powers that would suddenly place on file the fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans every year who have done no wrong other than go five miles over the speed limit or park in the wrong space. Mind you, the Democratic Party, the party of Joe Haynes, is the same political party which threw a fit about the expanded police powers of the Bush Administration, yet they want to do something that smacks of Soviet or Nazi police state mentalities such as mandating fingerprinting for a traffic stop?
The legislative Democrats in Nashville have joined with the Governor to continue holding the General Assembly hostage, still failing to issue a budget proposal with Memorial Day nearing. Now comes word that the Governor may not even send a budget to the Hill until May 29th-the Friday after Memorial Day and a day in which the General Assembly is not even scheduled to be in session.
The Governor could have presented the budget long before now, but he used the federal stimulus as his excuse to fail in doing his duty to the people of this State, saying that he intended to wait in order to find out just how much federal money Tennessee was going to have doled out to us. It became clear that the so-called stimulus was not going to be the budgetary panacea which the Governor and the Democrats attempted to make the people of this State believe, and the Governor has delayed the presentation of the budget until such time as he knows that the Legislature should not be sitting at all.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have gone about attempting to accuse the Republicans of doing nothing except pass SJR 127 (the abortion amendment) and a slew of gun legislation. The Democrats have done their level best to make it appear as though the General Assembly isn't "doing anything," but what the Democrats are hoping is that the average voter will not come to the realization that the Legislature can't fulfill its primary constitutional responsibility-passing a budget-when it has no proposal from which to work and therefore no budget to pass.
The Democrats think it fine to play fast and loose with the budget, knowing that most of the subcommittees of the House have been shut down and that a budget submission on May 29th will mean that the General Assembly will remain in session well into the month of June. The longer the Legislature remains in session, the more Legislative Days (days when the whole body meets) it will use by necessity, and it may only use 90 in a two-year period. Using many Legislative Days this year will mean that there will be fewer to use next year, which will mean that either the Legislature will adjourn too soon, or could go through much of next year's session without pay because they exceeded that 90-day limit.
The Democrats seem to be dragging out the session needlessly this year in the hopes of getting out quickly next year-an election year where the sooner the General Assembly adjourns the quicker these people can raise money and campaign...how convenient.
Now that SJR 127 has passed both Houses of the Tennessee General Assembly by a 2/3rds vote on its first go 'round, it is becoming increasingly clear that liberals are not in control of the place. What's more, it is becoming evident that the reason that Jimmy Naifeh made sure that so many pieces of conservative legislation died in committee when he was Speaker of the House is because if these measures ever made it to the floor, they would have passed by a rather comfortable margin.
Many of our friends on the Left are consoling themselves by saying that this vote was inconsequential, that it was meaningless and it doesn't really change anything. Some have even suggested that if the proposed amendment passes both Houses of the General Assembly a second time and goes before the electorate for ratification that it will mean nothing.
The reality is that this vote does mean something. A great many people have worked hard for many years just to bring this pro-life Constitutional Amendment to a floor vote in the House for the first time. Those manifold efforts finally paid off yesterday when 127, which says that there is no such thing as a guaranteed right to an abortion in the Tennessee Constitution and effectively overturns the legal effects of Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist. Persistence does pay off, but now the battle has only just begun. SJR 127 must pass by 2/3rds one more time, in the next General Assembly, before the people can have their say. The public might have already had a vote had this measure not been bottled up for so many years in Committee Never Ending, and Planned Barrenhood and the other Leftist interest groups know that if 127 makes it to a public vote, it stands a good chance of passing. Their only hope of preventing the meaningful regulation of abortion in this State is to try and keep 127 from the floor in the next General Assembly, and thus prevent the vote that will trigger the 2014 referendum.
The fight over 127 will not be over until it is on a public ballot.
Today is the day that pro-life activists in Tennessee have been waiting for, and many have been doing so for some years. SJR 127, the Constitutional amendment that makes it clear that there is no such thing as a "right" to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution, will finally get its hearing and first vote on the floor of the State House of Representatives. It is such an important milestone because the measure has now passed the Senate twice, and with broad bipartisan support, but never so much as made it out of committee in the House until today.
In a twist of irony, the woman who is at least partly responsible for this announced over the weekend that she is resigning her position. Tennessee Republican Chairman Robin Smith has announced that she is resigning as of May 30, triggering an immediate election for Chairman among the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee. I think the world of Robin and her abilities, and I believe that the reason that Tennessee enjoys Republican control of the General Assembly for the first time ever is due in no small part to the fact that Robin Smith and her colleagues made capturing the Tennessee General Assembly the Republican Party's number one priority in 2008.
Not only did John McCain carry Tennessee, but the Republicans ended the night on November 4th here with more political power than we have ever previously enjoyed in Tennessee history. The Volunteer State turned blood red while the rest of the country went in another direction. Barack Obama carried six counties in Tennessee out of 95, and the very mention of his name was made a political poison. Candidates for the General Assembly were literally beaten by commercials which said "this candidate supports Obama." So frightened were Tennessee Democrats of Barack Obama that I did not see a single Obama bumper sticker on Capitol Hill in Nashville last year-but they sure came out in January 2009.
Robin's name became a curse word among Nashville Democrats. When a Republican legislator angers a Democrat, the worst (best?) thing that the angry Dem might call that person is "Robin Smith."
Robin Smith helped make all of that possible by standing firm on principles that she believes in and simply not wavering. Even when I have disagreed with her approach on certain things, I have deeply admired the fact that when Robin tells you she believes something, you can take it to the bank. Robin Smith has also been the most accessable Chairman in the history of the Tennessee Republican Party, and perhaps the entire Republican Party. Robin met with the grassroots on our level and encouraged our efforts to drum up support for candidates, use the internet as a campaign and organizing tool, and strategize for the 21st Century. She wanted to make use of grassroots activists not just at election time, but all the time, and she treated all of us little people in the trenches like we were important to the party, and that it wasn't just about the folks who could write big checks.
Party officials always call me Mister. Robin called me by my first name, and after awhile I quit calling her Madam Chairman and just called her Robin.
I am sorry to see her go, and I think her departure is a loss for the party. The reason that she is leaving is a good one-to run for Congress in the 3rd District-and it will bring her home to East Tennessee. However, I do agree with Rob Huddleston that she could have given the party a bit more notice to give us time to vet the different candidates for Chairman who have emerged in the wake of her announcement. As it is, I am afraid that the Executive Committee may make a less-than-desirable choice for no other reason than the lack of time needed to make the right one.
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