For those of you who weren’t following along HB0600 was drafted just days after the introduction of Nashville’s CAN DO ordinance, an ordinance that requires vendors who contract into business with the city to follow rules against GLBT workplace discrimination.
The point of HB0600 is to roll back any such local ordinances and make it impossible for any local government to provide any more protection for any class of citizen beyond the protections the state allows.
This was billed as a “pro-business” bill, which is why its strange that David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee helped on the legislation, until you remember the whole anti-gay part, then it makes perfect sense.
As with so many of these hastily written, discriminatory bills, HB0600 not only stops cities and counties from enacting non-discrimination ordinances that are in line with their community standard, it also effectively hurts people from all walks of life.
Yesterday at the Justice for All Rally those in attendance heard about one group of people who were never mentioned but who could be targeted as a result of this bill.
Today, I stand here at First Congregational Church as we unite with various non-profit organizations, work groups and interested citizens in our community to voice our concerns at the “Justice for All Rally”.
The SAD (Special Access to Discriminate Act) HB600/SB632 Act, which will affect many individuals in our community with disabiliteis or without a disability. The SAD Act will affect individuals, who use Section 8 vouchers or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) as a means to obtain housing in the community. The SAD Act will allow landlords to refuse housing to individuals, who are disabled (like me) or depend on Section 8 or SSI as their only source of income.
How will the SAD Act affect me and especially my brothers and sisters with disabilities? It will affect me because if my physical conditions get worse and I am needing to quit my full-time job then most likely will lose my apartment. If I lose my apartment and major source of income then will become homeless on the streets of Memphis once again for the fourth time. If for some reason I lose both job and incoem then will need to find another place to live because of not being able to afford apartment.
The SAD Act will cause me to become homeless again especially since I have no family, who will take me into their home so I wouldn’t become homeless again. I would need to depend on SSI so the SAD Act will cause another traumatic experience in my already complicated life.
In my heart it makes me very sad and upset at times the SAD Act was passed in the first place. How can our political leaders create such a monster in the first place? Were the citizens made aware of the SAD Act being considered to pass before they voted on the bill? I never heard anything about it and this makes me very sad to know our political system is failing those individuals (like myself) with disabilities, who at times have no choice but to depend on our government for respect but at the same time protection from danger or discrimination. Is it too late to change the SAD Act like it use to be so our citizens with disabilities and other groups can get the respect and diginity they deserve as citizens?
I stand here today representing individuals with disablities along with my brothers and sisters represented by other groups in the community. We need to make our voice heard loud and clear this afternoon the SAD Act is wrong and needs to changed to its original act.
Thanks for your time in listening this afternoon.
“The state legislation was disguised as an effort to ensure consistent business regulations across Tennessee counties. But that was a Trojan horse pretext for getting this passed. Every county has unique zoning regulations, unique employment regulations and so forth. Why is it only now, and only on the issue of discrimination, that we suddenly need uniformity? If every county now needs to be identical, should we abolish city councils across the state?”
So yeah, this may be the worst bill the legislature passed this year.
Of the 132 legislators in the State House and Senate, only 7 Democrats voted for the bill. Their names and links to their legislative offices follow. Maybe you should ring them up and ask them what they have against city governments, home rule charters, the disabled and God only knows what else. Ask them why they would vote for a bill they
Senate – Charlotte Burks.
There’s still a lot of legislation to pile through from this session, but as it stands HB0600 may be the most widely destructive bill that was supposed to be “targeted” at a specific constituency.
Lets hear it for unintended consequences.
You can find many of the bills that have been enacted simply by searching the word enacted on their site. However, the list that is displayed doesn’t show all of their actions. Some bills that have been signed, HB600 for example, either haven’t been changed to reflect their status, or may never be changed.
You can also check the Tennessee Secretary of State’s list, though they seem to be even further behind than the legislature.
At some point we’ll know exactly what they did to us, but by then it will be too late and it will be getting done to us. I’m working on a rundown now, but with my work and school schedule, it may be a while coming. In the mean time you can check out Joe Powell, Southern Beale, and TN Citizen Action, as well as some others I probably missed.
Of the 233 currently published acts, many are procedural. Lots of now defunct commissions being taken off the books, the Governor is now required to designate some days as “such and such” day. Stuff like that.
There are also a lot of bills, now law, that will have a direct or indirect impact on people in this state, and it doesn’t matter how many newspapers you read, you probably never heard about them.
Truth is, most of the daily newspapers and the media in general in the state did a pretty bad job at reporting the session, until after something was passed. I read most of them online, so maybe their print editions had upcoming bill information, but considering how much real estate they’ve lost in their print editions, I doubt it. In the end, the 4th estate got caught up in the flash and trash, and that hurts everyone.
Online there was a much more vibrant discussion. Tennessee Report, an online journal, had some pretty awesome coverage on the big issues. As far as I know they have a very small staff, so lots of things still fell through the cracks. Also, there is some question about who funds them since they have no advertising on their site.
Many of the deadwood journos also have blogs and twitter accounts, so if you happen to follow them you got a little better idea of what’s going on. I won’t even try to list all of them here, but Tom Humphrey is still an absolute must read for anyone interested in the day to day slog that is session.
There was some pretty good coverage from indie blogs, though, as volunteers without a staff, and often without much time or direct access to the majority of elected officials, coverage is going to be spotty. At some point in the near future I’ll update the blogroll to reflect the more active bloggers on state issues.
On the Democratic side of the blogosphere there’s a pretty solid core group of consistent bloggers who lift a pretty heavy load during session. I know from experience, keeping up is a full time job, and even then a best effort is going to miss something. It doesn’t help that the folks who write the captions do so in such a way as to make the real impact of the bill obscured. Another win for open government.
I stopped following the right side of the blogosphere this year for the first time since I started blogging. Honestly, it was just too much to keep up with and my patience for their rhetoric was severely tested early on. I’ll get back to them at some point.
In addition to the individual activist crowd, this year saw a lot of stepping up from activist groups, and its a good thing because there was plenty to keep them busy.
While there were many single issue groups that worked their butts off to raise awareness of bad bills, I think the rock star for the little guy this year was Tennessee Citizen Action. Under the guidance of former Liberadio! hostess with the mostest Mary Mancini, TNCA kept people informed about all the dumb stuff that the General Assembly could muster. It was a huge job and I really appreciate the work they put into it.
Another group that was all over the place, and for good reason is Tennessee Equality Project. From HB600 to Campfield’s ridiculous “Don’t Say Gay” bill and more, TEP harnessed the power of just about every media delivery system, from their website, Facebook page, twitter and email, to the phones and snail mail, they did it all, and got some good attention for their efforts, even if the majority of the General Assembly ignored their efforts.
There were several other focused issue groups that had their hands full, but still managed to get the message out there. TEA was under continuous assault and kept on fighting away. They lost the battle on collective bargaining, but swayed some Republicans in the House, something that looked impossible earlier in the session.
Another honorable mention is TN Leaf, a faith based environmental group that fought the good fight against mountain top removal mining. Go read their story, it’s pretty neat. They’re small but vocal and ambitious. I don’t know much else about them, but I can say on this issue they’re spot on.
Last but not least, a late entrant to the session, Mike McWherter and Trace Sharp launched The Daily Buzz, a daily email detailing some of the happenings and upcoming happenings around the state. Even though the session is over, The Daily Buzz continues. Give ‘em a follow, it’s good stuff and not anywhere near as wordy as one of my screeds.
Overall, there was a lot that happened since January that no one, but the members of the General Assembly, actually know about. We’ll likely start feeling these new laws pretty soon. Hopefully, as the influx of bad bills starts impacting people on a more personal level, more people will get and stay involved, expanding interest and coverage. Until that happens, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see what new law is lurking in the background waiting to bite you in the ass. It’s there, and it won’t be pretty.
Lots of things are going on across the state and the nation, and even though it’s hard to keep up with everything with all the flood information, but it is important.
On the bright side:
Speaking of “Don’t Say Gay”, here’s an interesting exchange between Sen. Campfield and a blogger.
On the Not so bright side:
The Tennessee Senate voted last night to approve a bill that would end collective bargaining. I’m not sure how removing a check from the system of checks and balances is going to help student achievement, and neither are several state legislators. Here’s a video from State Sen. Eric Stewart.
Sen. Lowe Finney and Rep. Craig Fitzhugh ask in the Commercial Appeal why the Haslam Administration is abandoning successful policy.
The CA editorial board also had something to say about the Anti-Shariah bill before the TNGA.
Here in Shelby County, the mediation on the Schools issue has been taken back over by the Judge. We’ll just have to see what shakes out from that development.
City Council Meeting
No mention of redistricting, which was deferred until the May 17th meeting. Maybe someone needs to go and ask them about the need for public scrutiny. Maybe I will.
The meeting starts at 3:30.
I’ll have more flood information later this afternoon. Until then, stay safe.
Sure, there have been other bills in the past, like the drink more selenium bill that comes up like acne on a teenager just about every year, but most of those have fallen by the wayside too. With the change in leadership, and the huge shift in the balance of power in the State House, the fate of bad bills like the selenium bill was very much in question.
For the most part, this legislative session this year has been a disaster. As Tennesseans struggle to make ends meet in an economy that’s making it harder and harder, many legislators in Nashville are spending their time on frivolous legislation. There was an unconstitutional anti-sharia law, a bill that requires Presidential Candidates provide a long-form birth certificate even though the sponsor didn’t know what one was, and a bill that would have Tennessee issue its own currency, a violation of Federal Law.
Yep, some of these guys have been busy, just not on doing anything that might help you. So when there is a diamond in this rough, it’s a sight to behold.
This bill would stop any new surface mining operations in the state of Tennessee that are 2000 ft above sea level. There are other provisions and you can read them all here. The thing is, this would actually do something for people by ensuring that one of our natural resources isn’t squandered, and that our most precious natural resource, water, isn’t made undrinkable in the process.
The bill comes before State House and Senate Committees this week, and will likely have an unfriendly presentation from a coal industry group in at least one committee.
Give all the members a call, an email, or show up to the meeting and tell them how you feel. Here’s how you can:
Conservation Subcommittee – Tuesday, March 29th, 10:30am, Room HHR30
David Hawk – Phone (615) 741-7482 – email
Ron Lollar – Phone (615) 741-7084 – email
Richard Floyd – Phone (615) 741-2746 – email
Sheila Butt – Phone: (615) 741-3005 – email
Charles Curtiss – Phone (615) 741-1963 – email
Brenda Gilmore – Phone (615) 741-1997 – email
Andy Holt – Phone (615) 741-7847 – email
Mike Kernell – Phone (615) 741-3726 – email
Pat Marsh – Phone (615) 741-6824 – email
Michael McDonald – Phone (615) 741-1980 – email
Frank Nicely – Phone (615) 741-4419 – email
Art Swann – Phone (615) 741-5481 – email
John Tidwell – Phone (615) 741-7098 – email