Seems columnist Robert Houk is leaning no on all four Tennessee constitutional amendments proposed on the November ballot. Excerpt from his opinion piece:
It should never be easy to change the state’s Constitution. That’s something I heard many conservatives, both Democrats and Republicans, say two decades ago when supporters of a state lottery were seeking an end to the state’s ban on gambling.
My, how times have changed. Since taking control of the state General Assembly, Republicans have championed a number of ballot initiatives to change the constitution. Most, like passage of a measure in 2006 to ban gay marriage in Tennessee, have been blatant efforts to codify their religious and partisan beliefs.
Tennessee’s gay marriage ban, however, could soon be struck down by the courts. Although it may be easy for some to use a perceived religious or moral authority to callously deny a fundamental kindness to a member of a minority group, the federal courts have ruled it should never be easy to deny that same minority any portion of the freedoms and protections they are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
There are four constitutional referendums on the ballot this fall. The most talked-about referendum on the ballot is Amendment 1, which… would give state lawmakers the power to require a waiting period prior to an abortion, place restrictions on abortion clinics and draft rules on what doctors are required to tell women prior to the procedure. If you want to know precisely what sort of things the Tennessee General Assembly has in mind if the abortion amendment passes, just check out what has transpired down in Texas.
Amendment 2 … will make it easier for a partisan governor to seat judges based not on their judicial scholarship, but on their politics. It could also set up the kind of partisan and ideological stalemates we’ve seen in Washington, D.C., when Republicans block every judicial appointment made by President Obama.
..Amendment 3… would tie the hands of future (and hopefully more progressive) lawmakers and would continue to saddle Tennesseans with a regressive and burdensome sales tax. Strangely, the most compelling argument I’ve heard for banning a state income tax is that it will help bring more retirees to Tennessee. We could soon be Florida, but with mountains instead of beaches.
Amendment 4 (would) … rectify what some are calling an oversight to the 2002 lottery amendment that left veterans groups off the list of charitable organizations allowed to hold raffles, reverse raffles and cakewalks. I don’t think it was an oversight.
When the then Democratic-led General Assembly finally voted to place a lottery referendum on the ballot in the late 1990s, Nashville was still reeling from “Operation Rocky Top” … I recall Republicans in the General Assembly at the time arguing that Rocky Top proved state lawmakers could not be trusted to legislate gambling in Tennessee. They urged their colleagues to leave the constitution alone.
Today, some of those same GOPers are asking voters to give them broad constitutional powers to interfere in a woman’s right to an abortion. As I said earlier, things have certainly changed.