The latest proof Republicans don’t actually like democracy much comes to us in the form of a bill sponsored by Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) in the Senate and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) in the House, SB 0027 and HB 0021 respectively, which would change the Senate nomination process, doing away with primaries and letting state legislatures appoint candidates instead.
It’s a bill we’ve been warned about, brought to us by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, neither of which are big fans of letting the people have our say. Like voter suppression and gerrymandering, it’s yet another effort to minimize the influence of actual voters and concentrate power at the top.
As the infamously corrupt NYC politician Boss Tweed once said, “I don’t care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating.”
This is nothing short of a repeal of the 17th amendment, which was enacted to “reduce corruption at the state level”.
The bill still lets the people vote in a general election (how nice of them!), but would have candidates for Senate nominated by the members of their respective Republican or Democrat party of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee Senate.
No independent or write-in candidates.
No other state has done this yet, but ALEC is trying. As Nicely dramatically told The Tennessee Star: “This bill could change everything. It could save the world.”
Why? Maybe because, as the Star also tells us:
In 2018 the National Constitution Center posed the question, “What would the Senate look like today without the 17th Amendment?”
The simple answer, “It would probably be much more controlled by the Republicans.”
They’d clearly prefer to just repeal the 17th Amendment, but according to Mark Levin and the NCC that would be harder “Because of the idea that direct election gives the power to the people.” (yes what would give us that idea!)
The Niceley/Williams bill would go into effect November 30, 2019, impacting the 2020 U.S. Senate nomination process.
This week we learned Clay County would lose yet another rural hospital, putting Tennessee into the double digits and cementing our place as the per capita leader in rural hospital closures.
Yesterday a group of students gathered at the capital to ask Governor Lee to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a confederate general who also has the distinction of being the first ever KKK Grand Wizard.
Watch and Share the Video Here:
“We come in peace and love… we’re tired of being tired.” – Jeneisha Harris, TSU
The bust is featured prominently in the lobby outside the state legislature. The students are not the first to protest it, and they won’t be the last.
The young Tennesseans came from all over the state to make their voices heard, leaving letters expressing their feelings on the floor outside the Governor’s office and stopping to pray in front of the state troopers who stood guard outside the governor’s office
As Justin Jones of Vanderbilt Divinity School says, history isn’t just something we read about in history books, history is going on every day. If you agree with these brave kids and what they’re doing, HOLLER at Governor Lee HERE.
And please watch and share the video above, footage courtesy of WZTV.
A study from the Center For American Women shows Tennessee is well below the average for female representation in our state legislature, ranking in the bottom 10 states.
28% of state legislators nationwide are women – two-thirds of which are Democrats – but here in Tennessee that number is only 15%.
We have some work to do here.
Meanwhile of those 28%, just over 1 in 5 are women of color. Currently Juanita Charles is running to increase both totals in a special election in Clarksville, for the seat Mark Green left behind.
In an interview with The Tennessean’s “Grand Divisions” podcast about Criminal Justice reform, Tennessee Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth was asked about the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana here in Tennessee. These types of questions have been popular in this political campaign because of the legalization of marijuana in Canada, the popularity of stores like cannabudpost and Buy My Weed Online, and the reported benefits it’s having on their economy. If you would like to find out more about a successful Canadian vendor, you may wish to click here to get info. Along with weed itself, products like bongs, dab rigs, and bubblers are also selling at an extremely fast rate, making the cannabis industry as a whole a way to make good money and improve the economy. Due to the increased popularity in both the medicinal and recreational marijuana industries, there is an increased need for businesses to advertise for cannabis jobs to ensure that they can keep up with the growing demand for its products and services. Not only will it help decrease the rates of unemployment, but it can also help to build up the economy. With online sites similar to Fat Buddha Glass selling items like bongs and dab rigs, the online accessibility of products like these color changing pipes makes sales even easier. So, with such an important question being asked, you’d think Lamberth would have a good answer ready to give. But, instead, he gave some head-scratching answers.
First he was asked about Private Prisons, and whether or not they’re a good thing for Tennessee. He made it very clear he believes they are, and that the widely-discussed issues lie with state lawmakers and the policies they set.
“Private prisons are not the problem. The problem needs to be solved in the legislature.”
What conveniently didn’t come up is Lamberth’s $2500 contribution from Core Civic this past cycle.
The Tennessean then went on to ask Lamberth whether or not he supported decriminalizing marijuana, which overwhelmingly affects the African-American community, after waxing poetic about “personal accountability” the House Majority Leader dropped this gem:
“Legalizing certain drugs is a really dangerous road to go down. If you just start legalizing behavior, we have states that have legalized prostitution, certain drugs… you can’t legalize your way out of a criminal issues.”
“You can’t legalize your way out of criminal issues.” There’s one to chew on.
As a reminder, drinking alcohol was once illegal in Tennessee. (Also, the sale of it still is in 10 counties)- But Lamberth gets donations from the Malt Beverage Association, so they’re probably safe.
Holler at Lamberth HERE.
Rep. David Byrd, who you’ll recall admitted on tape to sexually molesting girls he coached in Wayne County and was asked to step down by his own party before running again, getting re-elected, and getting promoted by Speaker Casada to the most unthinkably insulting post of all, just chaired his first subcommittee meeting.
Thankfully, all 6 members of the committee meeting spoke out in defiance of Byrd, and he is now stepping down.
Just kidding! Nobody said anything. Instead they went around making jokes about “interesting facts”, and acted like having a pedophile in charge was just another day at the office.
Go here to read Andy Spears’ post over at the TN Education Report.
This issue isn’t going away any time soon, and neither are we. Feel free to reach out to Speaker Casada and Byrd and let them know how you feel about this insult to women and survivors and frankly everyone in our state.
In the Tennesseean today, a guy named Ryan Moore who doesn’t even live in Tennessee – but who claims to work at a Tennessee-based nonprofit – wrote a woe-is-me op-ed about how wearing his red hat gets him all kinds of “death threats and racist comments” from people he interacts with on social media.
While we don’t condone any kind of threats, we do take MAJOR issue with one claim he makes:
MAGA Hats Are the Symbol of Putting America First… White men are the most hated and discriminated against group of people in the USA now. If you don’t believe that, you simply aren’t paying attention or looking at it objectively.
Say what now? Since Ryan challenged us to “look at it objectively”, we did. And guess what? He’s completely wrong.
According to the most recent FBI data:
Among single-bias hate crime incidents in 2017, there were 5,060 victims of race/ethnicity/ancestry motivated hate crime.
- 48.6 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias.
- 17.1 percent were victims of anti-White bias.
Big WHIFF there, Ryan. What about religion?
Of the 1,749 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:
- 58.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
- 18.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
- 4.3 percent were victims of anti-Catholic bias.
- 3.3 percent were victims of bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
- 2.3 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.
- 1.8 percent were victims of anti-Other Christian bias.
In other words: NOPE. “Objective” means “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts”.
Sorry Ryan. You may get your feelings hurt when you turn on your phone, but other races and religions have it far worse.
Instead of accepting the billions of dollars we lose each year and simply expanding Medicaid like many other “red” states already have – and they don’t regret it – Tennessee Republicans want permission to impose a work reporting requirement on poor parents and caregivers who get coverage through Medicaid.
What would this mean?
A new study from Georgetown tells us this would mean 68,000 of our most vulnerable families lose coverage, mainly in rural areas, and THEIR KIDS WILL SUFFER THE MOST.
- In Arkansas 23 percent of affected adults lost their health insurance. If Tennessee has a similar outcome, approximately 68,000 parents will lose their Medicaid coverage.
- The new rules would predominantly affect Tennessee’s poorest mothers in small towns and rural communities.
- Even if these parents work more hours, they are unlikely to have an offer of health coverage from their employers.
- The loss of coverage for parents would affect their children, creating more financial hardship for families and risking children’s access to health care. Tennessee was one of nine states to see a significant increase in children lacking health coverage in 2017.
These families could find affordable health coverage from somewhere like IEHP instead, but if they are amongst the poorest families in Tennessee even this may not be possible. As yet another rural hospital closes in Clay County, there’s simply no excuse for not expanding Medicaid at this point.
Today we learned from the Tennessean that Glen Casada and the TN House GOP are changing the rules in House committee meetings – and the House floor itself – to ban cameras and live-streaming in the gallery, and by representatives.
This attack on transparency should be upsetting to everyone.
Their defense will be that the House itself will post streams of the meetings after the fact, but we’re told that will give them ample time to edit them before the streams go up, which means not hearing some of the most important “Oh no he didn’t” moments this house has to offer.
Which is exactly the point.
This session promises to be extremely controversial, and they know it, which is why they’re turning out the lights on democracy. Regardless of party, you should be up in arms about this. Contact Glen Casada, or your reps, and tell them to turn the lights back on.