Monday, April 27, 2015

Crockett 4-27-15: Haslam Caves Signs Bill to Take Away Local Control of Parks

Tennessee at forefront as gay marriage case goes to Supreme Court

Rep. Butt apologizes for ‘mistake’ in saying rape and incest ‘not verifiable’

Haslam Caves, Signs Legislation Nullifying Local Options on Guns-in-Parks

Despite his persistent criticism of the General Assembly’s latest version of a guns-in-parks bill and a statement to the media on Thursday that he had not yet decided what to do about the bill — taken as a hint by several reporters and observers that he might veto it — Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on Friday.

What that means is that no longer do the state’s localities possess an option to ban individuals with legal permits from carrying weapons onto their parks. The previous guns-in-parks bill had such a provision, and it was invoked by such municipalities as Memphis and Germantown, as well as Knoxville, Haslam’s own home base.

Haslam had made it obvious that he thought legislators should have listened more to misgivings from local communities and law enforcement agencies in crafting a new gun bill, and his own reticence about this year’s bill was probably a factor in the National Rifle Association’s not asking him to address its recent convention in Nashville.

Some of the more cynical observers of the issue, noting speculation here and there that Haslam might end up as a vice presidential running mate for this or that GOP presidential hopeful, most of whom are NRA enthusiasts, predicted that the Governor would allow the bill to become law without his signature. Few imagined that he would sign it into law outright. LINK

Tennessee at forefront as gay marriage case goes to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a landmark case with Tennessee at the forefront that could legalize gay marriage nationwide.
Legal analysts say the case could do for gay couples what historic cases such as Brown v. Board of Education did for black Americans ending segregation and what Roe v. Wade did for women's rights allowing abortions.
"This will be the case everyone refers to 50 years from now as the gay rights case," said Brian Fitzpatrick, a law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School.
There are two questions before the court:
• Does the 14th Amendment — which affords equal protection to all citizens — require states to license same-sex marriages?
• Does the 14th Amendment require states to recognize marriages between two people of the same sex if their marriage was legal in another state? LINK

Rep. Butt apologizes for ‘mistake’ in saying rape and incest ‘not verifiable’

State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, has apologized for remarks she made about rape and incest during the House debate about an abortion amendment, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.
Butt said she voted for abortion bills during the legislative session because they were common-sense restrictions for the health and safety of girls and women in Tennessee. The bills passed the House and Senate and await Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.
The Maury County legislator raised eyebrows, though, with comments she made during debate over whether to exempt victims of rape and incest from the 48-hour waiting period. Butt said, “This amendment appears political because we understand that in most instances this is not verifiable.”
(Note: This touched off a round of criticism, initially from Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, on the House floor. Previous post HERE. And state Democratic Chairman Mary Mancini said Butt was The amendment failed but not before Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, translated Butt’s comment as: “In other words, women are liars.”
Butt told The Daily Herald she was arguing the amendment did not include language requiring victims to provide evidence or substantiation of rape or incest. She apologized for erroneously suggesting that rape and incest could not be verified LINK

New Plan To Fund Tennessee's Disabled Students Won't Pay For Much

First of all, the people behind the program are very careful about what it isn’t: a voucher. After all, the money won't be transferred directly from the state to a school. Instead, state representative Debra Moody says it should be called an Educational Savings Account, limited to students with autism, intellectual disabilities or serious physical impairments.
It's modeled after an Arizona program where parents are given a debit card to pay for schooling, therapies or homeschooling supplies from a list of approved providers.
But there’s one very big difference: in Arizona, a student can qualify for as much as 2-thousand dollars per month. Tennessee expects to pay out a much lower amount that Jonesboro Republican Matthew Hill considers inadequate. He worries a lot of parents will see the program as a "golden ticket," remove their children from public school, then discover that $550 a month isn't much help.
The bill’s sponsors say the program isn’t meant to fully pay for services, but rather to help defray some costs for parents who don’t think the public schools are meeting their children’s needs. They also don't expect it to be the right fit for many families: sponsors estimate fewer than 5 percent of qualifying students will participate. LINK

Columnist: Tuition equality debate shows there are still a few GOP ‘compassionate conservatives’ in TN

Most of those who voted no couldn’t get past the illegal immigration issue. One potential yes voter told White that a spouse persuaded him to change his mind out of respect for a relative who came to this country legally. Another lawmaker even said that voting yes would tie him to Obama. But the bill had nothing to do with immigration rules or Obama, and everything to do with giving deserving youngsters a chance at an affordable education.
White said the bill applied only to students who are under 16 years old and were living in Tennessee before 2007. That means they were 8 or younger when they were brought here.
“This is about education. This isn’t about any kind of immigration reform,” White told his colleagues during an hour-long debate. But not enough of them agreed.
…“The sad thing is, we’re hurting our state moving forward because the best way to make our state better is with education.” White said.
It’s also sad that we have people representing us in Nashville who — as First Baptist Church-Broad pastor Keith Norman said — want to make the Bible the state book, but don’t want to do what the Bible says.
In other words, compassionate conservatism as a political ideal is now officially dead in the water. In Tennessee, it has already sunk to the bottom of the river.
Haslam and White aside, most of the conservatives who govern our state don’t give a hoot about people who are perceived as not being a part of their voting base. In this case, that means Hispanic voters.
It also means another step backward for Tennessee.LINK

Opinion -Frank Cagle: Dems should ditch statewide primary

It’s a thesis open to debate, but conservatives could offer, as Exhibit A, the Tennessee Democratic Party. That’s the party that had joke candidate Charlie Brown win its gubernatorial primary over the qualified choice of party leaders in former Sullivan County Mayor John McKamey. The same party that had Mark Clayton win its primary for the U.S. Senate seat against Bob Corker. The party that had to disavow Clayton for his less-than-mainstream views.
McKamey sent a letter to the Democratic Executive Committee recently that makes a lot of sense, so will no doubt be ignored. He proposes that the party do away with the statewide primary and have a convention in which the activist and committed members of the party could gather and pick a candidate that is credible and, well, possibly have a chance of winning. One that might be able to raise money. Get some control over who gets on the ballot to represent the Democratic Party.
A candidate picked in a convention wouldn’t have to spend money on a primary. Statewide candidates could focus on the Republican instead of spending it to prevent Democratic voters from electing Ace Aardvark because his name was first on the ballot. LINK

Editorial: Extend TN's embrace of liberty to same-sex marriage

The procreation defense is discriminatory not just against gays and lesbians — some who have conceived children naturally — but also against people who are infertile and older people who might wish to get married.
While Tennessee leaders might want to stand apart from other states, why would they do so on a question of liberty and discrimination?
There's also an economic argument.
The center of job growth in Tennessee has been the Nashville metropolitan area, with Davidson County accounting for 50 percent of new jobs in the state.
The people this region has attracted include those in the creative class and of a younger generation — 72 percent of newcomers are under 40 — who generally see no problem with same-sex couples getting married.
2014 Gallup poll showed historic support for same-sex marriage among Americans, at 55 percent.
Washington Post-ABC News poll this past week showed that support was at 61 percent.
While this is not a popularity contest, Tennessee has an interest in seeing continued economic growth, and those educated, creative workers the state wants do not desire to live in a state that discriminates against gay and lesbian couples.
By late June the Supreme Court's ruling will come out. LINK

Washington Update by Billy Moore 

The Senate cleared a bottleneck last week, allowing Congress to accelerate action in committee and on the floor.  This week's floor agenda reminds that avoiding overreach is essential to passing bills into law.
Last week, senators compromised on an abortion-related provision in a bipartisan human trafficking bill that had jammed up the Senate schedule and prevented action on other items. The compromise cleared the way for confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch's and for senators to begin debate on bipartisan legislation supported by the White House to provide congressional review of a nuclear agreement reached by the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and Iran.
The House passed a pair of bills to increase private-public cooperation in cybersecurity. Next week begins the appropriations floor season with two spending bills scheduled for action.
The surge of congressional bipartisan cooperation that has produced a small flurry of achievements and holds promise for more, provided House and Senate leaders can avoid destructive overreach.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises a robust amendment process for the Iran nuclear sanctions bill.  Adoption of any amendment that exceeds the limit of the White House will countenance would destroy bipartisan support for the initiative, requiring McConnell to manage amendments with a firm hand.
Overreach on appropriations earlier this year forced Republicans to back down on demands to void President Barack Obama's administrative actions on undocumented aliens.  Some Republicans want to try again to use spending bill riders to restrict Administration regulations, such as on clean air and water.  Democrats could respond by withholding votes needed for House and Senate passage, requiring leaders to control amendments to preserve some bipartisanship.
Appropriators are eager for a budget conference agreement that eases spending caps and helps avoid gridlock on spending bills.  Budget conferees hope to bring a conference report to the floor before the House departs Friday for a one-week recess.

Crockett Policy Institute

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