At what point will the Cretin Caucus destroy the music business in Nashville and prompt nationwide boycotts of Tennessee products? Three dozen large companies and 100 small businesses have warned the legislature not to create a national backlash against the state. Amazon, building a huge new facility in the state, Nissan and Nike were among those who objected to a bill that discriminated against gay couples.
There are any number of serious-minded legislators concerned with governing, but the rest of the country can get a false impression of the state thanks to a few goobers more concerned about generating campaign bullet points than actually doing the people’s business. The Tennessean reports that the state is now facing seven lawsuits since Gov. Bill Lee took office.
So, what’s next? Let’s look at one Republican House member from Gray, in Washington County. His name is Micah Van Huss. Here are a few of his greatest hits:
- He proposes a constitutional amendment in which voters will be asked to “recognize that our liberties do not come from governments but from Almighty God.” He wants to put that in the constitution. But isn’t the constitution part of the government?
- He proposes a resolution “designating the Washington Post as fake news and condemns it for denigrating our citizens.” The Tennessee Journal reports that this screed naming the Post was prompted by the paper printing a review of a book which criticized the author’s premise that Trumpism is like a cult. Van Huss either has a problem with reading comprehension or he believes that he and his colleagues who are Trump fans are in a cult.
- Van Huss is the House sponsor of a bill that allows Tennessee counties to conduct a special census and count the number of unborn children. Ostensibly this is for “planning” purposes so local governments will know how many new children to expect. Birth statistics would seem to provide this much needed information already. What this bill actually is, is an effort to get the state of Tennessee, in a census, to officially designate a fetus as a “person.” It’s a disguised anti-abortion bill.
- Van Huss is also the sponsor of a fetal heartbeat bill. No abortion could be performed after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Gov. Bill Lee has hopped onto the bandwagon for some version of this bill. This, despite similar bills in a dozen states already struck down by federal courts and the almost certain outcome of this bill being a loss and the state paying Planned Parenthood expenses.
The bill is also opposed by many anti-abortion lobbyists because such incremental legislation begins with the premise that Roe v. Wade is settled law and this is only a modification. The bill, if it has any effect at all, will not stop abortions, it just reinforces the legal recognition that Roe v Wade is settled law. The only purpose this bill serves is a bullet point on a mail piece to be used in legislators’ re-election campaigns.
The constitutional amendment declaring that liberty comes from Almighty God is co-sponsored by another goober, state Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station. The only time you have heard of Sexton is when he sponsored a bill to make the Bible the “state book.” Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed Sexton’s last try but Sexton has brought it back to try again. Lee, who wears his religion on his sleeve, isn’t likely to veto it. Declaring Andy Jackson’s Bible, out at the Hermitage, as the state book might make some sense. But the amorphous term “Bible?” Which version? Which one? With the Apocrypha or without? The King James version? And again, it is patently unconstitutional unless you want to include the Koran and the Talmud.
Another campaign bullet point. These people are not serious about governing the state, just playing with their hobby horses. When members give these people serious consideration it just encourages them to keep it up. The adoption bill was said to be about religious liberty because it allowed agencies receiving taxpayer funds to refuse to place children with gay parents. It was unnecessary. The legislature has already passed a Religious Liberty bill that covered the situation. Passing the adoption bill was just another unnecessary campaign bullet point.
More tax cuts: Budget surpluses have allowed Republicans to cut taxes with some regularity since the party took over the legislature: Repeal of the gift tax, inheritance tax, phase out of the Hall income tax. There have also been some cuts in the sales tax on food. This session it’s a cut in the privilege tax for professionals from $400 to $200. You know, lawyers, lobbyists, doctors and stockbrokers who probably can’t afford $400 over 12 months.
But the Lee administration has flagged (objected to) a bill for a sales tax holiday on food. The four percent state sales tax would be suspended for June and July. Stockbrokers? OK. Poor people buying food? Opposed.
The state had a surplus of $129 million in January alone. That’s one month. The lost revenue for two months of grocery sales tax cuts is $88 million.
Frank Cagle is a former managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel.