Tag Archives: legislture

Animal Abuse Video Bill Wins House Approval 50-43

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.
The chamber voted 50-43 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, after defeating several proposed amendments and an extensive debate that at times featured lawmakers making animal noises.
Bills must gain at least 50 votes in the 99-member chamber to pass. The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said earlier this week that he didn’t know enough about the measure to say whether he would sign it into law.
Animal protection activists like the Humane Society of the United States have said the bill would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and prevent undercover operations from establishing a pattern of abuse.
In 2011, the Humane Society secretly filmed video inside a Tennessee Walking Horse stable showing trainers applying caustic substances to the horses’ legs and beating them to make them stand.
Trainer Jackie McConnell, whose stable was in Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham’s West Tennessee district, pleaded guilty in federal court in September.
The Senate version passed 22-9 on Tuesday.
Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, objected to the bill during the Wednesday debate, calling it unenforceable and “Orwellian.”
“If you walk down the street and see someone commit a murder and you don’t report it, that’s not a crime,” he said, “but under your bill, if you see and record animal abuse and don’t report it, that is a crime.”
Among the failed amendments proposed on Wednesday was one that would have broadened it to require anyone observing animal abuse to report it and not limiting the reporting requirements to a person intentionally recording or photographing the abuse.
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, tried to amend the bill to specify that news reporters would be protected from prosecution.
“We don’t punish the people who gather the information on the crime, we punish the people who commit the crime,” Lynn said.

GOP Primaries Indicate Dissatisfaction With Incumbent Legislators?

Nearly a third of the Republican members of the state House of Representatives are facing primary challengers in August, observes Chas Sisk. He says that’s a sign of the party’s new dominance in Tennessee politics and possibly also grass-roots dissatisfaction with the lawmakers who benefited from it.
For some senior members such as Republican Caucus Chair Debra Maggart of Hendersonville and first-term lawmakers such as Reps. Julia Hurley of Lenoir City and Jeremy Faison of Cosby, the road to re-election will not be automatic.
Redistricting plans designed to strengthen the GOP’s hold on the legislature also may have opened the door for new challengers. Returns that have shown the state’s electorate surging to the right may have convinced conservatives that their representatives are not keeping up.
“The party is finding itself,” said Tom Lawless, former chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party.
These primary races could hinge on red-meat issues such as guns and prayer, as well as accountability questions like pay and attendance.
Challengers also may try to build on the anti-incumbency sentiment that continues to sweep away longtime officeholders
…(T)he results could determine the character of the 108th General Assembly, which will begin its two-year term in January. Another wave of fresh faces in the state legislature could amp up debate in ways similar to the just-concluded season. It also could unsettle the political balance that has led members such as Maggart, House Speaker Beth Harwell and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick to top positions.

Breeding Candidacy Headed to Court? (Democrats Cry Foul)

A court needs to decide the legal residency of state legislative hopeful Shelley Breeding, a state election official has advised the Knox County Election Commission, reports Jim Balloch.
A letter to the commission, state Election Coordinator Mark Goins expressed several doubts about Breeding’s eligibility to run in Knox County. (Note: full text of letter HERE.)
But Goins concluded that since the issue is likely to land in court anyway, it is better for a judge to decide it now instead of later.
Breeding, a Democrat, has petitioned to run from the newly created 89th state House District, which lies entirely in Knox County. But part of her residential property — including her dwelling — is in Anderson County.
The Knox County Election Commission should petition a court for a declaratory judgment on the issue now, Goins said. The commission has scheduled a meeting for 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, to discuss the issue.
Breeding could not be reached for comment, but she has previously vowed to challenge any denial of a place on the ballot.
“Under these circumstances, it is better to receive the court’s guidance on the front end of the issue,” Goins said in a four-page letter that cited case law and a number of issues relating to residency.
Breeding’s mailbox and driveway are in Knox County, but her house is entirely in Anderson County, said Knox County Election Coordinator Cliff Rodgers

And, this from the state Democratic party on the matter:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese issued a statement in response to the state election coordinator’s letter urging the Knox County Election Commission to contest the qualifying petition of Democratic candidate Shelley Breeding in court:
“As if it is not shameful enough that Republicans are working overtime to block a woman from running for office, they are also preparing to waste thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in defense of their blatant overreach,” Puttbrese said. “Shelley Breeding’s address is in Knoxville. Her voter registration is in Knox County. She was even summoned to jury duty in Knox County. The gig is up. Voters are responsible for determining the outcome of elections — not Republican bureaucrats. This is nothing more an attempt to rob voters of their right to choose their leaders.”

Candidate Qualifying Lineup Leaves GOP Positions for Total Legislative Control

Passage of the qualifying deadline for legislative candidates last week leaves Republicans well-positioned to achieving their goal of making Democrats politically irrelevant in the 108th General Assembly that convenes next year.
In part, that’s because 11 incumbent Democrats — seven representatives and four senators — are voluntarily not seeking re-election.
At least four more incumbent Democrats — three representatives and one senator — are certain to be ousted later because of Republican-controlled redistricting leaves incumbents running against one another in the same district.
In part, the GOP advantage also rests with money. Financial disclosures filed earlier this year showed Republicans holding an advantage of more than $3 to $1 in cash on hand for spending on legislative races — about $3.2 million for Republicans versus $770,000 for Democrats.
The uphill road faced by Democrats in just maintaining their status quo as a sometimes influential minority becomes apparent through an analysis of the candidate lineup for this year’s campaigns after the qualifying deadline passed on Thursday.
Basically, it shows Republicans already are certain to have a majority again next year in both chambers and have a head start toward further eroding Democrats’ waning strength. Republicans need to gain just two seats in the House and two seats in the Senate to have a two-thirds majority in both chambers, a standard that means that all Democrats could boycott a session and the GOP would still have a quorum to continue legislating.
A two-thirds majority would also mean unified Republicans can suspend normal procedural rules to take up any legislation and push it through almost instantly.

Continue reading