Archive for October, 2014

The 4 Amendments: What do They Mean?

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This is the amendment that would strip our state constitution of its own privacy rights independent of the federal constitution. It would also open the door to legislative forays into a woman’s private healthcare decisions. Whatever you think about abortion, you have to question the wisdom of this amendment. RECOMMENDATION: Vote NO.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:

“Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This amendment would retain Tennessee’s longstanding practice of having the governor appoint members of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal as opposed to having these judges campaign for their seats in partisan statewide elections. Amendment 2 also continues the current practice of giving voters the chance to retain or retire these judges every 8 years. States such as West Virginia that have switched over to statewide elections for appellate judges have discovered that an influx of large cash contributions into judicial campaigns can corrupt the judicial process. (See Caperton v. Massey Coal) RECOMMENDATION: Vote YES

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the final substantive paragraph within the section:

“Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This amendment would prohibit our legislature from ever considering a state income tax regardless of the circumstances. So, if the legislature ever wished to replace its sales tax with a more progressive income tax, it could not. Again, whatever you think about tax policy, one must question the wisdom of tying a future legislature’s hands in this fashion. RECOMMENDATION: Vote NO

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 4 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the following language:

“All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) organization located in this state, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code or as may be amended from time to time.”

and by substituting instead the following language:

“All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(19) organization, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code, located in this state.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

Tennessee has an exception to its anti-gambling laws for the state lottery and charities that convince the legislature to grant them an exemption – such as the one for the Boys and Girls Club Annual Duck Race fundraiser. This amendment would extend that possibility to veterans’ organizations. RECOMMENDATION: Vote YES

Rob Martin for Tennessee House of Representatives – District 4

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Rob Martin, Democratic Candidate for Tennessee House of Representatives – District 4, continues to work hard for votes. Rob has been canvasing door to door in Carter County and meeting Democratic voters. Rob was unopposed in the Democratic primary. John Holsclaw, Jr. defeated Judy Veeneman in the Republican primary. Check out Rob Martin at his website martinstatehouse.com

Rob was born in the Midwest and raised with his three siblings by his working mom and dad, he learned early the value of hard work, teamwork, and perseverance. Rob’s math abilities gained him a scholarship and he attended the highest ranked academic high school in the United States. His continued academic prowess and leadership abilities earned him a scholarship to an Ivy League school where he earned a Philosophy degree. Rob was a housing rights activist for many years and cemented basic housing rights for renters in New York City that have withstood the test of time for over 20 years. In the early 90’s Rob moved to Silicon Valley and worked for software start-ups. After a successful career Rob moved to Carter County near Roan Mountain to teach and give back to those in need.

Rob earned a Masters in Computer and Information Technology while teaching at The University School & ETSU in Johnson City. Rob has been an Adjunct professor in Computer Science at E.T.S.U. & University of San Francisco, and a featured lecturer on advanced computing technology at University of Texas at Austin & University of Denver . Rob worked with the dean of mathematics crafting the technical curriculum at the J.D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management at University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

​For the past 5 years Rob has made Erwin his home and has been Director of IT and Software Engineering at Conrad Industries just across the border in N.C. where he directs IT for 3 factories and 6 direct sales organizations in the US, Mexico, and China.

Tennessee Decends into the Dark Ages

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

dark pathThe fight for reproduction freedom rages on in several states this election but the Tennessee wing-nut legislation has made this state center stage for the battle.

Tennesseans were asked and voted to amend the state constitution to provide that:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother”.

That’s right folks. Tennessee is trying to amend its constitution to never protect abortion, ever, under any circumstance (rape, incest or death to mother). How did Tennessee descend into such backward thinking logic?

It was not that long ago [2000] that the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in a case that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of… the Tennessee Constitution’. The case was Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist and the ruling of the court was that the Tennessee constitution affords even more protection than the U.S. Constitution to Tennesseans seeking abortions.

The court also determined that Tennessee could only pass very narrow restrictions on abortion as a result. Republicans in the state legislature immediately reacted by attempting to amend the state constitution. Those proposed amendments failed to pass the state legislature but now they are on the November ballot.

Don’t be deceived that protections exist in the legislation by veiled references to rape, incest and the life of the mother in the language of the proposed amendment. The second sentence is deceptive and craftily written to leave the incorrect impression that exemptions are either in place, or could easily be put in place. The proposed wording in fact allows the state to regulate all those interests out of existence.

Do Tennessee women really need to be protected from their own decision-making by the state legislation? The restrictions and regulations that Amendment 1 would enable Tennessee legislators to pass would be appalling.

Amendment 1 is a misleading piece of legislation and designed to be exactly that in an effort to deceive voters into voting for poorly written legislation. Recent polling conducted by Vanderbilt University in May found that 71 percent of state voters oppose amending the constitution to place abortion rules solely in the hands of the legislature.

It appears that people who support Amendment 1 will have their rigid beliefs and restrictions imposed on everyone else. They want the draconian legislators to decide – the same legislation that has repeatedly proven to be biased on the issue. People should not forget that the last time fundamentalists imposed their rule on everyone else – they called it the dark ages.

DREAMers:

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

There are an estimated 11 million dreamers in the United States. After a lifetime of fearing deportation, being banned from working legally and fighting to stay in the country they grew up in, thousands and thousands of young, undocumented immigrants continue to fight for a national Dream Act.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, S. 1291 by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch.

[This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they may qualify for permanent residency if they have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge”. Military enlistment contracts require an eight-year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years. However, the military does not allow undocumented immigrants to enlist, and those that have enlisted have done so under a false identity, or used fraudulent documents. “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated… shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.” This bill would have included undocumented aliens as old as 35 years of age. As of November 2013, 15 states have their own versions of the DREAM Act, which deal with tuition prices and financial aid for state universities. These states are Texas, California, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon. The Maryland DREAM Act was approved by state-wide ballot, winning 59% of the vote on November 6, 2012.]

Supporters argue that the Dream Act would not create an “amnesty program” and would produce a variety of social and economic benefits, while critics contend that it would reward illegal immigration and encourage more of it, inviting fraud and shielding gang members from deportation.

The war has waged on for years over Dreamers and immigration Reform. On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed a memo calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and have pursued education or military service here. Applications under the program which is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) begin on August 15, 2012. Two years ago the Obama Administration gave permits to thousands of young illegal immigrants.

o-DREAMER-FILM-facebookImmigrants who were younger than 31 and were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthdays were eligible for the permits, which will allow them to stay and work here legally for two years. Although 1.76 million people were eligible for the permits — There was an estimated total of 11 million dreamers.

To receive the deferred action permit, immigrants had to either be currently enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or GED. Honorably discharged veterans were also eligible to apply for the permits. Felons and people with more than three misdemeanors were not eligible for a permit.
Since the permits were granted in 2012, the fight for Immigration Reform, the Dream Act and other variations of immigration have waged on. The Majority of Americans, even a majority of Republicans support Immigration Reform.

But obstructionists [the Republican “Teabagger” controlled congress] led by house speaker John Boehner have refused to bring Immigration Reform to a vote, even though it would easily pass with a majority of congress. Boehner refuses to bring the bill to a vote because a majority of his wing-nut majority will not support the reform — under any condition — and he wants to remain speaker of the house.

The influx of immigrant children from South America briefly heated up the debate over immigration reform. The initial outcry erupted by anti-immigrant forces but recently pro-immigrant forces have took a stand — with counter protests –on behalf of the children caught in the middle of the immigration battle.

It appears obvious that the Republican logic is Morally Bankrupt and Politically Senseless: Use the humanitarian crisis as an excuse to target young undocumented residents, and use them as political scapegoats to rile up conservatives — while fixing absolutely nothing.

The Partisan Divide: A Race for Control

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

This is a very important election and a great deal in on the line. Will America move forward or will we continue to decline under austerity and a do nothing strategy by the Republican Party? Control for the Senate is at stake.

These contests might lack the drama of a presidential election — and there are plenty of signs of voter suppression and apathy in this cycle — and several major issues that will erode individual rights are on the ballet.

The core question of this election remains unanswered: Is it a wave? All indications of unexpected close races are Republicans are poised to gain because the set of battleground states just happens to favor them as a result of Gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics? The Washington Post reported that voter suppression laws worked well in Tennessee.

The devil is in the details and the question remains, whether Republicans can win in blue states or presidential battleground states, like Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. If Republicans fare well, the rights of Americans will continue to erode. Will Republican governors win competitive contests in states like Florida and Michigan? If not, even with a Republican takeover in the Senate, indications for 2016 may be good news for Democrats.

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