Saturday, May 28, 2011

The other reason

There may be another explanation otherwise mentioned for why the budget amendment regarding the de-funding of Planned Parenthood was tampered with:

Are we so dependent upon the federal sow, as though we are piglets sucking at a teet in a dirty hog pen, that a letter from Democratic Senators (who don't represent us) to a Health and Human Services Secretary appointed by a President we didn't vote for, about butting into the business of States where none of these people live, would frighten our leaders into submission, and the will of the General Assembly be damned? Are our leaders so frightened of federal power that the wording of legislation can be changed after it is passed, apparently without the knowledge of those who voted to pass it?

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Friday, May 27, 2011


Aside from Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) at least one other legislator is publicly calling for full disclosure in the Amendment-gate affair:

"I'm not implicating anyone," Shipley said Friday, "but this whole affair points to a serious danger to our system of government. As legislators, we rely on being able to trust that what we are told legislation does is what it will do, and this raises the question about whether or not we as legislators or the public can have that trust. Clearly a major change was made to the budget amendment and most legislators did not have knowledge about that change when we voted on it."

Shipley said that the reason House Leadership must disclose everything that they have come to know about who is responsible for changing the wording of the amendment is because the public needs to know that they can trust their legislative leaders to be transparent. "Republicans ran on the idea that things were going to be done differently than they were when the Democrats ran the Legislature, so we need to know who knew what and who did what," said Shipley, "this has the appearance of a class E felony, and at least it may call for a censure, and at most it may call for the impeachment of a responsible person or persons. This subverts our legislative intent as the General Assembly, which was clearly to defund Planned Parenthood in the State budget."

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Devil's Work

Some unnamed legislator has taken it upon themselves to change the wording of an important budget amendment, and thereby fund Planned Barrenhood:

We now know that the lawyer who made the change in the budget wording was House legal counsel Doug Heim, and Heim isn't saying who ordered him to make the change because he is citing "attorney-client privilege." The General Assembly is a public body made up of officials elected by the people of this State, and one of them ordered a major change to be made in the wording of a budget amendment, and now they want to hide under the cover of attorney-client privilege? The lawyer who would use such logic is, at best, abusing the priciple of privilege, since legislative attorneys represent all members of the body, not merely one, and other members have the right to know who is making changes to public documents. The legislator who would use the cover of legal privilege to avoid the public wrath is the worst form of coward, and has no place whatsoever in the public square. It is to be remembered that Richard Nixon, after all, attempted to hide under the cover of legal privilege during Watergate.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Constitutional Questions

Tennessee House Bill 600, the legislation which essentially overturns a local Nashville/Davidson County non-discrimination ordinance, raises some interesting State constitutional questions:

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam showed on Tuesday that, contrary to what some people inside his own party believed when he ran for the State's executive position, that he isn't necessarily afraid to wade into controversial social questions as a consequence of his office. Haslam signed into law a bill that forbids localities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances which are stricter than the laws in place at the State level designed to combat discrimination. In practical terms, this legislation overturns a Nashville Metro ordinance which says that workplaces, and especially those businesses which have a contract with the Nashville/Davidson County Metro Government, cannot "discriminate based on sexual orientation." The State of Tennessee, of course, has no such provision in its anti-discrimination laws, which is the genesis of the new law.

"It is important that our anti-discrimination laws should be uniform throughout the State, and that is why I support this legislation," Senator Mike Faulk (R-Kingsport) said on the floor of the Tennessee Senate during debate over the legislation before the General Assembly adjourned. Faulk has previously served on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission as its Vice Chairman. Proponents of the legislation fear that without it, some business owners and even churches may be forced to act in a manner which contradicts their deeply-held religious beliefs in the name of combating discrimination. Many of those opposed to the law say that it is undue State interference in local affairs, and that argument alone has turned our State's traditional political spectrum on its head, because many of the people who are making it are the same people who are normally all too willing to interfere in local affairs when its suits them to do so. Arguments can be made that in the case of House Bill 600, there has been little in the way of ideological consistency on either side of the debate.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trying To Save Themselves

The Tennessee Education Association is trying one last attempt to save their political power:

In Tennessee, it only takes a simple majority (51 votes in the House, 17 votes in the Senate) to override a Governor's veto. The House and Senate could make the override the first major order of business when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, and the supporters of the measure would have the votes to make it stick. A veto on Haslam's part would only delay the enactment of the Collective Bargaining Repeal Law, not prevent it from coming into being.

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Monday, May 23, 2011


The fist session of the 107th Tennessee General Assembly is in the books:

The 107th General Assembly ended its first session on Saturday as both the Tennessee House and the Senate had a marathon weekend in which the House Calendar and Rules Committee was still meeting well after midnight Friday to set the schedule for Saturday, and some legislative staffers were sending messages on Twitter that they were still up at 2AM Central Time after a long evening of helping to prepare legislation for the House floor the next day. Republican leadership in both Houses were eager to show that the new governing party could achieve its agenda and adjourn for the year much sooner than previous leadership had done. While Democrats chided Republicans for spending too much time on what they deemed controversial bills, the Republican leadership led by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) were quick to counter that the GOP did largely what was promised to voters if they agreed to give the Republicans the legislative reins after the 2010 General Election.

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