Archive for the ‘Tennessee General Assembly’ Category

Mancini Elected Tennessee Democratic Party Chair

Monday, February 6th, 2017

mary mNashville – Last Saturday, Mary Mancini was re-elected to lead the Tennessee Democratic Party for two more years. Party [leaders] Executive Committee members gave the progressive activist from Nashville a unified show of support in re-electing her new chair of the state party.

Her decisive win marks a departure from close and divisive Democratic chair races in recent years.

In picking Mancini, Democrats have stayed with the former executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, a voting rights advocacy group that has criticized the state’s voter identification law. Mancini is a well-known voice in liberal circles, and at one time was a co-host of Liberadio, a political radio talk show in Nashville.

Mancini presented a two-year plan to executive members prior to Saturday’s election. The plan advocated Democrats recruit strong statewide candidates, effectively use voter data, raise more money, make strong gains in the state House and Senate and ensure that Democrats have a voice in the next round of redistricting in 2020. She said the party must include a strategy that includes all 95 of Tennessee’s counties.

“Republicans want us to think this is a completely red state, but it’s not,” she said. “There are Democrats all over the state. We’re going to find them and we’re going to work with them.”

She has now assumed leadership of a state party that has experienced damaging losses in recent years after controlling the state legislature and governor’s office less than a decade ago. In November, Republicans expanded supermajorities in both the 99-member Tennessee House — from 71 members to 73 — and the 33-member Tennessee Senate, where Republicans now hold a 28-5 majority.

Yarbro, addressing the executive committee Saturday as an ex-officio member, reminded those in attendance that the upcoming 109th General Assembly, which begins session this week, would feature fewer Democrats than at any point in Tennessee history.

UNICOI COUNTY DEMOCRATS: Party questions official’s use of taxpayer money

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

record-logo-hdErwin (July 27th)– Local Democrats are questioning State Senator Rusty Crowe for transferring Tennessee taxpayer communication funds to Nashville Senator Steve Dickerson in the run up to the August Primary election, according to a press release from the Unicoi County Democratic Party.

“Our Republican State Senator Crowe has unethically funneled taxpayer money to his pal, Senator Steve Dickerson, to use for his re-election campaign,” said Mike Hampton, chair of the Unicoi County Democratic Party.

State law provides legislators with an annual budget for sending mail and using other methods to communicate with their constituents. While the practice of transferring these funds between members is no longer allowed in the House, Lt. Governor Ramsey has allowed, what the press release referred to as “the unethical practice” continues in the Senate. Many good government groups and several Republican legislators have tried to end the practice all together but have yet to succeed.

“Senator Crowe took taxpayer money meant for use communicating with his constituents here in Unicoi County, and instead he gave it away to Sen. Dickerson in Nashville so he can promote himself to voters in his re-election bid,” Hampton continued. “It looks like Senator Crowe feels protecting his political allies in Nashville is more important than letting his constituents know what he’s been doing to make life better for the folks here at home. This Republican culture of unethical behavior is disturbing; sadly their loyalty lies with Lobbyists and special interest and not with the people of Tennessee.”

NRA Rewards Loyal Tennessee Legislators

Friday, July 8th, 2016

1353206437-lgThe National Rifle Association’s [NRA] Political Victory Fund has endorsed 18 incumbent Tennessee House Republicans in their re-election campaigns for their loyal servitude to the NRA.

They are Reps. John Holsclaw of Elizabethton in District 4, Gary Hicks of Rogersville in District 9, Jeremy Faison of Cosby in District 11,

Martin Daniel of Knoxville in District 18, Mike Carter in District 29, Ron Travis in District 31,

Jerry Sexton of Bean Station in District 35, Kelly Keisling of Byrdstown in District 38, Courtney Rogers in District 45,

Judd Matheny of Tullahoma in District 47, Mike Sparks of Smyrna in District 49, Charles Sargent of Franklin in District 61,

Jimmy Eldridge of Jackson in District 73, Jay Reedy of Erin in District 74, Tim Wirgau of Buchanan in District 75,

Curtis Halford of Dyer in District 79, Curry Todd of Collierville in District 95, and Steve McManus of Cordova in District 96.

During the 2016 Legislative Session, the Tennessee Legislature passed multiple pro-gun bills that promote gun sales and rights in Tennessee.

House Bill 1736 and Senate Bill 2376, sponsored by state Representative Andy Holt and state Senator Mike Bell, will permit full-time employees of state public colleges or universities to carry a handgun while on property owned, operated, or used by the employing college or university if the employee has a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit.

Senate Bill 1991 and House Bill 2131, sponsored by state Senator Brian Kelsey and state Representative Courtney Rogers respectively, prohibit public post-secondary institutions from taking any adverse action against an employee or student as a result of such person’s lawful transportation and storage of a firearm or ammunition in the person’s parked motor vehicle.

Senate Bill 1559 and House Bill 1644, sponsored by state Senator Mike Bell and state Representative Tilman Goins respectively, allow the chief administrative officer of a private K-12 school or private institution of higher education to implement a handgun carry policy that either permits or prohibits a person who has a handgun carry permit from carrying on the grounds or buildings of a private K-12 school or private university.

House Bill 2575 and Senate Bill 2566, sponsored by state Representative Gerald McCormick and state Senator Mark Norris respectively, reduce the cost of handgun carry permits from $115 to $100 as well as extend the permit renewal to eight years.

One can only wonder how much money the members of the Tennessee Legislation were paid for their loyalty to the NRA as society watches the death toll rise in regards to gun violence.

Let the Sunshine in Tennessee

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

For the second straight year, members of the Tennessee House of Representatives remain under criticism for their use of meetings inside lawmaker offices and conference rooms to discuss upcoming legislation.

These so called meetings are packed with lobbyists and representatives of those who own the Representatives. Government experts and Democrats question the reasons for the meeting and argue the meetings undermine transparency.

Republicans claim the meetings are casual greet and meet with lobbyists and officials.

The meetings make the Sunshine law a joke. Republicans tout Sunshine Week, when media organizations get a brief peek of transparency in government.

Democrats say most of the decisions about bills are now being made in these pre-meetings, rather than in committee meetings. Unlike the secret pre-meetings, Committee meetings are held in meeting rooms easily accessible to the public, the press, live-streamed online and archived for on-demand access.

Some Democrats point out that they have never been invited to these meetings and noted… “It’s outside the public eye, and anything you’re doing behind closed doors outside the public eye, for the most part, is usually not good,” (D) Mitchell said.

The use of pre-meetings came to light last year, after a joint effort by The Tennessean, the Knoxville News Sentinel, The Associated Press, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and The Commercial Appeal discovered that at least 10 of the 15 committees in the House held pre-meetings.

Experts call these meetings “secretive” because the meetings were not publicly announced and, on some occasions, members of the media were initially prevented from attending.

The Senate does not hold similar secret meetings.

When meetings of state government are held in secret and attended by lobbyists… that cannot be good for the public. But, when your party holds a super majority… do they really care?

The Battle Over Insure Tennessee

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

The battle over Insure Tennessee wages on and a series of interesting revelations have been uncovered since Governor Haslam unveiled his Insure Tennessee Plan.

In February, records were provided that showed Republicans voting against Haslam’s Insure Tennessee were themselves on the state health plan, which funds 80 percent of employee premiums. These Senators were Health Committee Chairman Rusty, Mike Bell, Sen. Brian Kelsey, Sen. Frank Niceley, and Sen. Kerry Roberts.

In April, the Tennessean continued its investigation of Insure Tennessee and laid out the financial losses to Tennessee because of Republican political games.

If the Tennessee General Assembly had passed the Insure Tennessee plan to extend insurance coverage to the working poor, about $3.1 million would have been spent daily in Tennessee doctor’s offices, pharmacies and hospitals.

Instead, today, thousands of sick Tennesseans do without care or visit emergency rooms at the expense to Tennessee taxpayers. To date, an estimated 800 Tennesseans have died awaiting Health Care Coverage since Tennessee was eligible for ObamaCare coverage.

The Insure Tennessee plan proposed by Haslam, and rejected by a fearful legislature with virtually no debate, would have been one of the best economic stimulus programs for small towns and rural communities in this state.

A University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research study released in January “estimated that the average person who enrolled in Insure Tennessee would “spend” about $5,700 each year on health care and that 200,000 Tennesseans would enroll in the various plans proposed by the governor to help the working poor who make too much for Medicaid insurance and not enough to qualify for the subsidies offered on the federal health insurance exchange”.

The study also projected that expanded insurance coverage would bring about $1.14 billion of spending into the state from the federal funds earmarked for Medicaid expansion when Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The spending generated from Insure Tennessee would create an economic boom, creating or maintaining about 15,000 jobs, mostly in our rural counties, where the bulk of those eligible live. The $1.14 billion would mostly flow into the paychecks of Tennesseans, adding over $900 million to their income.

Most of that $900 million would be spent in local businesses. And so on … get the picture. Obviously, Republican hatred of President Obama trumped any chances of economic boom for Tennessee. Their fear of being primaried by fellow wing-nuts also trumped economic benefit to Tennessee.

The opposite of an economic boom is what our legislator’s want, a vicious cycle of delaying health care until it becomes a crisis, or an act of charity, and/or paid for by the rest of us. The decision of our legislature has created a living on the edge mentality where financial disaster and ruin, for many, is a simple accident away from destroying a Tennessee family.

It is hard to recall a time when the General Assembly has so ignored the wishes of a business and Tennesseans. A recent Vanderbilt poll showed two out three Tennesseans want/support Insure Tennessee.

Early this month the Tennessee Legislature got excited when the Tennessean exposed the fact that many of the same folks who voted to deny poor Tennesseans health care coverage, are covered by health care, on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers.

Taxpayers have paid almost 6 million for health care for these hypocrites since 2008. Several lawmakers tried to stop the release of how much money the state spends on their individual health premiums. They argued the release of the information would violate privacy laws.
While Republicans have fought to keep expenditures on their health care private, Democrats have been supportive of the release.

“It is the ultimate in hypocrisy,” said state Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who is enrolled in the health plan. “To refuse to provide for the working poor of Tennessee, while trying to keep the insurance benefits they receive a secret illustrates their [Republicans] contempt for Tennesseans.”

PREMIUM COSTS

Lawmaker – Years on Plan – Lawmakers Contribution – Taxpayer Contribution
Sen. Rusty Crowe – 1992-2015 – $48,162.32 – $202,730.79
Rep. Beth Harwell – 1992-2015 – $49,242.94 – $198,134.99
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey – 1993-2015 – $44,924.74 – $187,796.77

NOTE: Records only go back to 1992. They may have received coverage for a longer period.

As revelations related to Insure Tennessee have been unveiled, activists across the state have taken action to pressure legislatures to support Insure Tennessee. In NETN, activists have purchased ½ page ads in various area newspapers designed to put pressure on Rusty Crowe and Ron Ramsey. This same group of activists engineered a town hall meeting that focused on Medicaid expansion and Insure Tennessee. Over two hundred folks packed Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City in the Town Hall meeting.

The meeting was filled with questions mostly aimed at Rusty Crowe. Why would the legislature vote against a plan that would not cost Tennessee taxpayers a single penny while providing 300,000 Tennesseans with health care? Why don’t working people in Tennessee have health care? Those in attendance hammered Rusty Crowe with those and other questions. Petitions were being signed after the meeting was over.

Tennesseans would prefer their elected representatives act like leaders and support the will of the majority and the best interest for Tennessee. And maybe stand up for what is right; instead of trying to protect their chances in a primary election challenge by a wing-nut. When it comes to the Tennessean legislature doing their job, they prefer to do nothing and blame it on Obama, unless it is one of the wealthy friends or lobbyists who demands special consideration. They will waste a whole week with legislation designed to pander to folks like the NRA.

TNGOP Attack on the Middle Class Continues

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

150px-Business_moneyNashville – Yesterday the Republican Legislature continued its attacks on the middle class, voting to dramatically undermine salaried workers on all fronts. After opening the legislative session with a week of laws crafted for the NRA, Republicans have turned their attention to helping their other rich friends.

In a barrage of laws designed to gut middle class family earnings, the TNGOP continue to show their loyalty to their masters [lobbyists and wealthy donors] with legislation crafted to protect the wealthy. Among the laws addressed, three laws were especially ruthless toward working Tennessee families.

First, Republicans voted to eliminate longevity pay designed to reward state workers for years of public service. Second, they voted to gut health insurance benefits for state and local employees. Third, in their continued attacks against public education and teachers, Republicans voted to let charter schools throw their employees off the insurance provided by local school boards and force them to get insurance elsewhere.

Under the anti-public education bill, outside charter organizations, after taking over public schools, will now be in a position to cut costs by simply taking benefits out of their teachers’ pockets.

Individually, these bills are bad for Tennessee workers and their families. Taken together, they are the latest chapter in Republican efforts to undermine the middle class and continue the move toward a society of rich and the poor masses. Is this the Tennessee most people want their children to grow up in?

The only resistance to the Republican super-majority managed to pass these bills is minority status Democrats who overwhelmingly opposed the legislation. Democrats amended the longevity pay bill to delay cuts for a minimum of five years, but the amendment was voted down. They also urged delay of the massive insurance cuts, given their significant impact on retirees and current employees, but Republicans pushed forward despite his objections.

As Easter approaches… Can Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Senate Health Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, tried to explain why he first said he would vote yes, days later voted no on Insure Tennessee earlier in the session then more recently voted yes:

In an article on Humphrey on the Hill, Crowe said amendments made to the pilot program were key in his decision to change his vote. The amendments include a “lockout provision” for enrollees who fail to pay premiums. An additional provision asks Governor Haslam to wait to put the plan into effect after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on health insurance exchanges is announced.

Some speculation is that Mr. Crowe is merely a puppet of Ron Ramsey, doing his bidding, in initially killing Insure Tennessee. The backwoods boys have repeatedly shown a deep hatred of ObamaCare and vote consistently against the welfare of Tennesseans.

This week, the legislation will go to Senate Finance and on to similar committees in the House. Many see Crowe’s explanation as unbelievable.

Recently a half page article appeared in several area newspapers calling Rusty Crowe and Ron Ramsey out on their failure to move Insure Tennessee forward. Days after the ads are carried in papers, it is reported calls flooded several offices as the ad requested the public to do. Rusty Crowe then votes “yes”, of course, the following ad had nothing to do with his change of heart… SURE

The ad is as follows:

USE OF THIS SPACE IS PAID FOR BY AN INFORMED AND CONCERNED BIPARTISAN GROUP OF CITIZENS FROM CARTER, JOHNSON, SULLIVAN, UNICOI, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES DISGUSTED BY THE BETRAYAL OF OUR INTERESTS

REPRESENTED BY THE FEB. 4, 2015, VOTE TO KILL GOVERNOR HASLAM’S INSURE TENNESSEE MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL. WE SAY,

NOT IN OUR NAMES.

THE PROBLEM

In crafting the Affordable Care Act, Congress and hospital associations created a provision to deal with uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion to 138% of poverty would cover the low-income uninsured whose basic needs emergency rooms are required to meet. In exchange, hospitals would forgo federal reimbursement for uninsured care. The government would pay 100% Medicaid expansion cost for three years and 90% thereafter. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA as constitutional, but allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision. However, in 2014, hospitals would lose federal reimbursement regardless of their state legislature’s choice. Our legisla-ture has rejected Medicaid expansion, leaving our hospitals and 280,000 low income workers stranded, the lifeline dangling just out of reach. Our hospitals lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year and stand to lose billions. Tennessee’s economy lost as well. Some rural hospitals have already closed, and all are at varying degrees of risk. Partici-pating states will receive our lost billions.

HEROES AND A SOLUTION
In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam, his staff, and hospital professionals began crafting Insure Tennessee, an alternative to Medicaid expansion which would 1) satisfy the federal requirements, 2) cover 280,000 uninsured low-income workers, 3) meet our hospitals’ financial needs, and 4) address issues raised by political conservatives. Polling revealed popular, bipartisan approval at 62%. Insure Tennessee gained official federal approval in 2014. Low-income workers could have personal and less costly routine care. Hospi-tals would be relieved of a debilitating financial burden—three goals met with a professionalism to make us proud.

A REPREHENSIBLE RESULT

Insure Tennessee failed in an ad hoc committee, chaired by Sen. Rusty Crowe, after insultingly brief discussion. A mere seven senators, all chosen by Sen. Ramsey for that purpose, killed it. Public comment and full assembly vote were denied. All Tennesseans, Republican and Democrat, lost.

WE DEMAND A DO-OVER

East Tennessee counties sent Ron Ramsey and Rusty Crowe to Nashville to represent our interests. It’s the widely popular Governor, a fellow Republican, whom these two have chosen to insult and hinder. It is the hospitals in their own districts they have chosen to cripple. Mr. Ramsey manipulated this travesty. He reconfigured the standing Health and Welfare Committee temporarily for his purposes. It is widely understood that he removed not only the bill’s sponsor, but three members who are medical profes-sionals, replacing them with six whose “NO” votes were assured. Mr. Ramsey left Mr. Crowe as chairman and a reliable “NO” vote, despite the fact that Mr. Crowe had as-sured hospital leadership in his district of his support. Mr. Crowe and Mr. Ramsey need to hear from us.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. CROWE (PHONE: 615-741-2468)

1. The Governor is owed an apology for the rude and cavalier treatment of his accomplishment.

2. You betrayed your district’s medical community, its premier economic mover, and 280,000 working people.

3. Your loyalty belongs to us, not to Mr. Ramsey and out-of-state big money handlers.

4. Stand on your own two legs, re-open hearings with the original Health and Welfare Committee members, and join the Governor in doing the most economically wise and morally decent thing.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. RAMSEY (PHONE: 615-741-4524)

1. You are not Governor. We soundly rejected you, remember?

2. Your reputation as a bully follows you. No amount of language, no matter how carefully crafted, disguises what you’ve done. Actions always speak the loudest.

3. You could consider that you’re being used by those powerful out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs who certainly seem to guide your every move. If you can’t detect the boot on your own neck, the rest of us can. It doesn’t build a legacy.

4. If your justification for accepting support from the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs is that you and they agree ideologically or in principle, does that include the crippling of our state’s hospitals?

5. Neither Democrats, President Barack Obama, Governor Haslam, the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs, nor the seven “NO”-voters (whether true believers or simply cowards) are responsible for the failure of Insure Tennessee. You are.

6. When hospitals in rural counties fail, as they will, it will have been by your doing. When our local hospitals have to cut staff and services, it will have been by your doing.

When overworked doctors and support staff make mistakes, you’ll have created the conditions for those mistakes.

7. The legislators we elect deserve the right to show us their own brand of leadership, and sense of what’s right, without fear of retaliation.

NASHVILLE IS A HARD CASE, BUT IT’S NOT HOPELESS. IF YOU AGREE, CALL AND SAY SO.

Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) has been instrumental in bringing Insure Tennessee back from the Ramsey dug grave. Yarbro is a prime sponsor of SJR 93, along with Republican Senators Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) and Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville). Ramsey insists the bill (Insure Tennessee) will not survive. As Easter approaches, could Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?

The Most Important Legislation in Tennessee?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

1353206437-lgNashville – Guns! Guns! Guns! — Guns continue to dominate the agenda of the Tennessee Legislation. 27 gun bills top of the legislation agenda. How can so many gun bills be warranted? The TNGOP continues to pander to the NRA lobby who owns them! So many important issues remain unanswered in regards to guns – permit fees, where you can carry them, what kinds you can own, etc. — will dominate discussion at the General Assembly this week. There does not seem to be much room for other real issues that affect hard working Tennesseans. But there are few measures that could get some attention if they come up in committee.

Once again, it’s gun week at the General Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to take up 27 bills related to handgun permits, exploding ammunition and a vast array of Tennessee gun laws. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee is set to debate 22 gun bills. Most of the bills ease restrictions on where and when people can have guns.

Several proposals, most related dismantling the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” are set for discussion this week. One bill calls on the attorney general to sue the federal government on behalf of those people who face possible fines through the Affordable Care Act for not having insurance. The same committee will hear the bill that would prevent the state from setting up a health exchange under the law.

One bill, from Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, calls for cameras to be worn by police. The bill could face some hurdles — there are no GOP sponsors.

Someone texting while driving faces a maximum fine of $50. Someone caught driving without a seat belt faces a $10 ticket for the first offense and a $20 ticket for each additional offense. The fines for both offenses will jump to $250 if a new bill becomes law.

One bill will ban the use of such cameras used to give traffic tickets.

There are no bills scheduled to discuss job creation, improve education, increase the minimum wage or address the important issues facing hard working Tennessee families. But who needs a job when you can have a gun?

Fear not! The 1800’s weren’t all that bad!

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

1800saNashville – State Rep. Steve Womick has filed the first abortion-related bill on Thursday, November 13th to take advantage of the passing of Amendment 1. Under the new bill – The woman will be forced to have an ultrasound one to three days before a procedure. She will also be forced to listen to the heartbeat.

Womick says his concern is to “fully inform the mother of what she is doing”. He says his bill will protect the “emotional and mental health of women across the state of Tennessee”. So it takes a Republican man to tell Tennessee women what they are doing? The GOP war on women continues and more bills restricting women’s rights will continue when the Tennessee legislation convenes in January.

It is interesting to note that in 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that abortion was protected in the Tennessee Constitution as part of a woman’s fundamental right to privacy. Welcome to the new Dark Ages in Tennessee.

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