Gov. Bill Haslam has declined to sign a resolution that denounces “the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21,” passed by Republican legislators over Democratic complaints that it buys into a bogus conspiracy theory.
The resolution, HJR587, was approved 72-23 in the House and by a 19-11 vote in the Senate.
“Resolutions are position statements by the General Assembly, not a law to be implemented,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an emailed response to a question. “The governor doesn’t support Agenda 21, but he didn’t feel compelled to and isn’t required to take any action on the resolution.”
“Some could construe the resolution as promoting a choice between business and the environment, which he thinks is a false choice,” Smith said.
Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, the lead sponsor of the Agenda 21 resolution said he was disappointed that Haslam had declined to join in showing his support for the measure.
“We would enjoy his signature and maybe we can find a way to see eye-to-eye on it in the future,” said Brooks. “I look forward to that discussion.”
Apparently, HJR587 is the first resolution Haslam had refused to sign, though Smith declined to confirm that is the case. WPLN radio said it has reviewed “hundreds” of resolutions and could not find one previously that the governor did not sign.
Resolutions have no legal effect and amount to statements of opinion by the Legislature. Governors may sign resolutions and, as a matter of courtesy, usually do so though no signature is required. Typical resolutions, for example, express condolences on the death of a constituent or praise for some accomplishment, such as a high school basketball team’s win in a tournament.
In the recently-completed legislative session, however, Republican lawmakers adopted several resolutions expressing politically-oriented viewpoints. But Haslam has signed them as well — examples including HJR614, which denounces U.S. Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and HJR614, which criticizes President Obama and calls for repeal of “the indefinite detention bill” passed by Congress last year.
Brooks’ resolution declares that “United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control” adopted at a U.N. gathering in 1992 that “is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States.”
The resolution was roundly criticized by some Democrats who said Agenda 21 has laudable goals of easing poverty and hunger. The resolution wildly exaggerates the import and effect of Agenda 21, which has never been accepted by the U.S. Congress.
“Children have imaginary friends; Republicans have imaginary enemies,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville after the House vote.
Gov. Bill Haslam has declined to sign a resolution passed by the General Assembly – over Democrats’ objections – to condemn United Nations Agenda 21.
The governor’s decision (or non-decision?), initially reported by Blue Collar Muse, marks another semi-assertion of gubernatorial differences with the Republican majority of the Legislature on social issues. The biggest assertion, of course, was his first veto – the so-called Vanderbilt bill, or “all-comers bill,” if you prefer. And there was that refusal to sign the so-called “creationism bill,” or “monkey bill” if you prefer.
Says Ken Marreo in the Blue Collar Muse post: I’m unclear on why the Governor has refused to sign the Resolution. He has not issued a statement on the matter.
But doing so gives ammunition to those believing the Governor is less than a reliable ally on basic issues. Taken alone, perhaps it could be explained away. In conjunction with actions such as his veto of the Vanderbilt Religious Freedom bill, it makes it harder to argue Haslam is a Governor of the People and not a representative of the establishment.
In fact, given the establishment and the People are in agreement on Agenda 21 and Haslam is out of step with both groups, the whole thing becomes even more confusing.
Haslam has refused to condemn Agenda 21. Just exactly where does that put him on the political map? I don’t know. Perhaps a statement from Governor Haslam explaining his decision would help pin down where he should be seen to be.
An inquiry by yours truly to Haslam’s press secretary, David Smith, asking if it was true that the governor had declined to sign and for a comment, produced this response:
“Resolutions are position statements by the General Assembly, not a law to be implemented. The governor doesn’t support Agenda 21, but he didn’t feel compelled to and isn’t required to take any action on the resolution.”
That lattter comment is true, of course. Governors may sign resolutions and, as a matter of courtesy, they usually do so. Gubernatorial signatures are not required for the non-binding and generally inconsequential statement of legislative opinion. Most resolutions express condolences on the death of a constituent or praise for some accomplishment, such as a high school basketball team’s win in a tournament.
The governor, I think, has courteously signed every resolution put before him previously. The suspicion is that the governor has been deliberately discourteous here, but would rather not talk about it. And the folks hired to spin for him need a little time to figure the best, most benign method of stating the governor’s semi-non-position.
Check back in a day or two and we’ll see.
Previous post sampler, HERE, HERE, HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that calls for the rejection of a United Nations agenda on the environment and poverty has passed the Senate.
The resolution, which “recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21,” was approved 19-11 on Tuesday. The House passed the measure 72-23 last month.
The agenda came out of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 following discussions on “sustainable development.”
Republicans say the agenda is a veiled attempt to take away property rights.
They say the 300-page document contains catch phrases such as “sustainable development,” which they say actually means Tennesseans could lose their land or businesses.
But Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga said the agenda is about caring for the environment’s future, “which is exactly what we should be doing.”
Legislation that critics see as a means of promoting creationism in classrooms was revived last week after a year of dormancy while a so-called “don’t say gay” bill suffered a setback that some supporters say is only temporary.
Having drawn national media attention, those two bills are perhaps the best-known and most controversial measures in a broad agenda of social conservative causes pushed by Republican legislators.
But they are not necessarily the most significant among the multiple bills with religious, moral and social overtones.
The bill on teaching of scientific theories in Tennessee schools – dubbed “the monkey bill” by the National Center for Science Education – passed the House last year. House Sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said it was to promote “critical thinking” about scientific theories by protecting teachers from discipline when they engage students in discussion about prevailing scientific theories such as evolution or global warming.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A state lawmaker was mistaken about the facts of a restaurant’s zoning issues when he used the case of Papa’s Butts and BBQ Hot Sauce Store as an example of the creeping influence of the United Nations in Tennessee, a city official said.
Republican Rep. Rick Womick cited the store’s issues with the city of Murfreesboro in remarks on the House floor to support a resolution urging the rejection of the UN’s Agenda 21 on sustainable development.
But Murfreesboro Planning Director Joseph Aydelott told the Daily News Journal for Friday’s editions (http://on.dnj.com/yMjxz8 ) that Womick had the facts wrong about the case heading for a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals on March 28.
And Aydelott told the paper that Agenda 21 has nothing to do with the case. “I don’t really know what that is, except for what I’ve read in the paper,” he said.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Tennessee House Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) found more ways to avoid focusing on the one topic that Tennesseans desperately need them to focus on, the economy.
In a 35 minute debate on the House floor the Republicans hit every major talking point of extremist conspiracy groups such as the John Birch Society in decrying “Agenda 21,” a plan passed 20 years ago passed by the UN and supported by every President, Democrat or Republican since. The agenda was designed and implemented to promote sustainable development and smart growth practices throughout the world to reduce the harmful effects of overcrowding and mismanagement of resources.
Below is a list of the wild-eyed conspiracy theories promoted in the resolution, followed by what Agenda 21 actually does:
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republicans are calling for the rejection of a United Nations agenda on the environment and poverty, even though Democrats say their actions are silly and amount to fear-mongering.
The resolution, which “recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21,” was approved 72-23 in the House on Thursday. The agenda came out of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 following discussions on “sustainable development.”
Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland said the resolution is similar to one that the national GOP passed and “encouraged all their state Republican parties to follow suit.”
Republicans said the agenda is a veiled attempt to take away property rights.
Andy Sher begins a roundup report on the snags Gov. Bill Haslam has encountered in passing his legislative agenda by repeating the governor’s likening of his administration to a football team – last year spent in the locker room trying on helmets and shoulder pads; this year on the field to play. It’s a good thing they’re wearing shoulder pads and helmets. Because even though he’s a Republican and the state House and Senate are GOP-controlled, Haslam and his team are running into their fair share of blocks, tackles and head-butts as they try to move bills.
….Haslam spokesman David Smith said that “in proposing substantive and meaningful legislation, it is not surprising that there is a lot of debate and discussion as part of the legislative process.”
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Haslam is encountering the normal checks and balances provided by the legislature.
Lawmakers respect the executive branch and the agendas that governors put forth, Watson said.
But, he added, “To think that just because he’s a Republican governor and we’re a Republican legislature, that we’re not going to do our duty as representatives of the citizens — it would be a false assumption.”
As Bill Haslam might say, frankly, I’m not convinced that our governor is ready to apply the brakes to fellow Republicans who are pushing an incredibly aggressive conservative agenda in the Legislature.
But, on the other hand, given his gentle nature, some of the things he’s been saying lately could be seen as a top-to-bottom review of potentially adjusting foot position below the dashboard of state government. Even if it’s incredibly difficult. Maybe.
OK. That’s a bit of exaggeration on gubernatorial lingo. He does, however, repeatedly begin sentences with “I’m not sure that ” or “I’m not convinced that ” or “I don’t know that’ in the course of avoiding a definitive declaration on his position.