Friday, January 09, 2009

2009-01-9 Round Up --Legislature

A very busy week dealing with family stuff so I've got 185 Firefox tabs lined up. Here goes. We'll start with legislative news:

From AC Kleinheider:

I have never experienced a Speaker who disrespects a fellow member of the Senate in such an offensive manner.”

-Senator Thelma Harper

Seems Lt. Gov. Ramsey is daring to appoint only Republicans as chairman of the committees this session. Of course Sen. Harper has never experienced a speaker who disrespected her...her side's been in control for 140 years.

Speaking of Lt. Gov. Ramsay his comments at the Nashville Post include this:
"Ramsey said he expects that a judicial selection process will be put in place this year that falls somewhere in between last year's proposal and the direct election of judges without a retention vote."
Umm....anything other than the Tennessee Constitutional requirement of direct election ("shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district or circuit to which they are to be assigned") is, in the opinion of this non-lawyer, is flat out wrong. Don't do it.

This from
"For most of Tennessee’s history, appellate judges, like other public officials, were selected in elections. But in 1971, the General Assembly decided to change things by adopting Tennessee’s current system for selecting appellate judges – the “Tennessee Plan.” The plan charges the governor with appointing all appellate judges in the state, including Supreme Court Justices, from a list of candidates submitted by a nominating commission. In June 2009, the Tennessee Plan will expire unless it is reauthorized by the legislature."
Let it expire. Let it die. The Republicans need to put a stake in its heart and bury it and any 'compromise' in garlic. Let's follow the plain language of the Tennessee State Constitution and let the people vote!

And about those constitutional officers that will be voted on next week by the Republicans--

I saw Phil William's report at WTVF of the most scummy, low life, ghoulish revenue enhancement scheme I've ever heard tell of in my life. The Republican party can do better than Ira Brody and Justin Wilson if they truly believed that taking out life insurance on state retirees with the state as beneficiary was the least bit proper. Seriously, the Republican legislature does not need to begin 5 steps back by allowing anyone who thinks this way in a position of power.

Terry Frank has it exactly correct:
One of the reasons Republicans won in this state this election cycle was because the state Democrats had a corruption problem at the state level. Putting Wilson in as our “money cop” as he calls the job, would surely assist the state Dems in leveling the playing field in that regard.
Candidate interviews and applications linked from Ben Cunningham's blog.

The state legislature has an updated website and it's about time. Best new feature may be the bill tracking. Get an RSS feed when it's status changes. HUGE downside---you can only track 30 bills (3 lists of 10 bills per). C'mon folks---they'll be 4,000 bills filed in the next two years if the pattern repeats and 30 won't even cover the eduation bills filed. Guess I'll have to create a bunch of accounts--if it'll let me.

They also got rid of that annoying linking system that required a bit of html knowledge to discover the URL to link to it instead of the generic Unfortunately, all my ActiveWords for legislators will have to be updated--but it's worth it.

Another nice on your legislator's page and about in the middle is a link to the list of the bills they're sponsoring with a link to the bill which includes the usual bill text and fiscal notes but also links to video clips---that's very new.

Unfortunately, TN still hasn't followed the lead of a lot of other states by presenting the bill language in a fashion that clearly shows what's being added and what's being taken out.

Folks may want to bookmark the Tennessee Center for Policy Research's brand spanking new legislative tracking website called as an alternative.
"Welcome to! This web site provides concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Tennessee House and Senate. You can search these by legislator, category, keyword and more. Citizens can also post comments about bills and discuss other state policy issues on the Forums."
Kudos to Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, and Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. According to the Times Free-Press:
Two Chattanooga Republican lawmakers are exploring how to rescind their recent, automatic cost-of-living salary increase as the state wrestles with a budget deficit caused by the deepening recession.
Someone should figure out how these men, including Gov. Phil Bredesen, can refuse their salaries without penalty.

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