From Richard Locker, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’
After voting in lockstep during the previous two-year term, when their majorities were not yet “super,” Republican lawmakers finally became willing to kill or delay some of their colleagues’ most extreme proposals — or at least compromise them sufficiently to appear respectable in public.
Trace Sharp, Placate, Litigate, Agitate
This year we have become a national laughingstock more than usual. Sen. Stacey Campfield has introduced Don’t Say Gay, Starve The Kids and went as far to put up a pressure cooker photo this week less than a week after the Boston Marathon Bombing to attack the gun debate. Rep. Andy Holt and Sen. Delores Gresham introduced ALEC based model legislation that is in a direct violation of the first amendment and is designed to slow down whistleblowers. Did I mention that they both own farming operation so the Ag-Gag bill will benefit both of them? Did I mention that Holt insulted Carrie Underwood in such a condescending way earlier this week when she asked the Governor to veto this horrible festering bill?
Let’s not forget that Sen. Frank Niceley introduced legislation that would have ended Senate primaries. Or that local authority is being whittled away at to give the state government more control.
Robert Houk: It’s good Tinfoil Hat Caucus wrapped things up quickly
A priest, a rabbi and a state legislator walk into a bar. The bartender says to them: “Is this a joke?”
I know, it’s not very funny and it’s actually quite insulting to priests and rabbis to be linked to state lawmakers — particularly if they serve in the Tennessee General Assembly. Those vaudevillians in Nashville have really put on a show this year, but not everyone is laughing.
Drew Johnson, writing as part of the Chattanooga Free Press ‘Right Side Round Table’
Tennesseans who support a smaller, more accountable government and greater individual liberty expected big things from state lawmakers this year.
While the 2013 edition of the legislative session didn’t exactly deliver on all counts, notably failing to lift the ban on wine sales in grocery stores, enact school voucher proposals and expand opportunities for charter schools in Tennessee, there were a number of highlights for Volunteer State residents.
And there was this earlier, well-written Free Press diatribe:
Tennessee’s Republican state lawmakers must think we’re stupid.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t have bragged about passing a “balanced budget,” as state Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman; state Rep. Kevin Brooks, of Cleveland; and a number of other GOP lawmakers did last week.
And they never would’ve implied that new state budget was “thoughtful and strategic” like Gov. Bill Haslam did last Friday. And they certainly would never have called th budget “fiscally responsible” as House Speaker Beth Harwell did with a straight face in a guest op-ed in The Tennessean.
Jeff Woods, ‘Only the Tennessee GOP could accomplish legislative gridlock wielding a supermajority‘
The legislature has become less representative democracy than bizarre spectacle — an annual horror show with Tennesseans gasping and shrieking as lawmakers debate and vote on one extreme measure after another.
To the relief of the emotionally spent audience, few of these bills made it all the way to the governor’s desk this year. Nearly 1,500 bills were introduced, and the list of noteworthy new laws is remarkably short.
In defending this session last week as lawmakers debated the last of their bills, Gov. Bill Haslam damned it with faint praise.
“I certainly wouldn’t call it a waste of time,” he said.
J.R. Lind, ‘The Un-conservative Budget
But as they so often did during this session of the General Assembly, Tennessee’s legislative Republicans showed themselves to be play-acting at conservatism. Their state budget sailed through with a whisper of opposition and, in the end, was the largest in the state’s history.
It was larger than any shepherded by former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh — long cast by the Republicans as Tip O’Neill with a West Tennessee drawl.
As they always do, the legislature busted the so-called Copeland Cap — a constitutional brake on the state budget that supposedly limits its growth, tying it to personal income. It would indeed limit the budget if the General Assembly wasn’t always so eager to override it every session.
In a year when an amendment was proposed to make the cap more difficult to circumvent, the Republicans busted it again by some $132.5 million, which they are free to spend next year and the year after that, and so on and on.