Monkey business in Nashville

Sandra ClarkKnox Notes

Becky Mills and The Amber Restaurant in Halls got a shoutout from U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett on Tuesday. Burchett stood to introduce Mayor Glenn Jacobs for his annual budget message and said (roughly): “Becky Mills was scheduled to do this, but she got busy with the lunch crowd at The Amber and, since Congress never works, they asked me instead.”

Knoxville lawyer Dawn Coppock alerted us to the stealth bill HB1130 / SB868 which would establish an unprecedented, two-tiered system of appellate courts. There is no legitimate reason for these courts, Coppock says:

“We have a fine Court of Appeals and their workload right now is down. … A credible legal system is essential to democracy, our personal freedom and a reliable climate for business. Monkey business tactics creating kangaroo courts in Tennessee? Please vote no.”

Coppock is correct. The bill as introduced on Feb. 10, 2021, seeks to give residents a few more days to appeal an order in class action certification. Innocuous, right? Estimated fiscal impact: “Not significant.”

Except, this language was stripped in committee and an entirely new bill was substituted as an amendment. Dated May 3, 2021, the amended bill creates a 3-member statewide chancery court to hear cases that challenge the constitutionality of state laws and executive orders. Fiscal impact: An estimated $1.39 million annually for 12 new positions.

Looks like Gov. Bill Lee and his GOP Super Majority are mad about so many of their bills being overturned by existing courts. And with redistricting right around the corner, the squeeze is on. This legislature would rather spend $1.39 million of your money year after year than simply stop passing unconstitutional bills.

Monkey business, Part 2: Legislators are giving themselves a $3,000/year raise by increasing from $1,000 to $1,250 per month the amount of money each receives for a home office. No receipts required. There are other provisions in SB1400 / HB1401, increasing per diem and mileage. It all adds up, folks.

This also was introduced as a caption bill with no significant fiscal impact. It was rewritten in committee and now the fiscal impact is estimated at $438,400 per year – forever.

Wonder what Frank Cagle would say?

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.


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