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.
I’ve been bogged down with work and a very abbreviated school semester (3 weeks=1 semester of course work. Oy!) but I saw this and decided it needed to be posted.
ht/ the twitters
In that time, the bill has moved through the State Senate and is scheduled for a vote in that body tomorrow. Whether or not the House will move on the bill is an open question, though some think they may not make it this year.
National media attention came and went, but the issue of Campfield’s “ask” for $1000 to debate a bill he both authored and is sponsoring remains an open question.
Tom Humphrey explored the possibility of an ethical problem with Sen. Campfield’s “ask”, but in the absence of a formal complaint, the details were essentially dodged, and unfortunately, the Senator was not called to the carpet on that dodge.
Until just recently, any complaint filed against a candidate, elected official, or lobbyist would have gone unheard due to the lack of a quorum on the State Ethics Commission. In talking to that office yesterday, I learned that House Speaker Beth Harwell has appointed her two members of the Commission, meaning that should an ethics complaint be filed, the Commission could now hear it once the new appointees have gone through a mandatory training.
As of this writing, Governor Haslam has yet to nominate anyone to the two seats his office is tasked with appointing.
While the national media attention has faded, the public concern over Sen. Campfield’s ask for financial consideration to debate Mr. Shores has not. That concern, still simmering underneath the shift in national stories, has caused a buzz about the filing of an actual complaint against Campfield. However, the actual status of any potential complaint may not be known publicly for some time due to the process by which a complaint is handled.
The complaint process is somewhat complicated, and the beginning rounds are completely confidential. This may cause some concern about the integrity of the process, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, a citizen must file a sworn complaint form and have it notarized. The complaint must be delivered via mail or private courier (FedEx, UPS, etc.). Upon receipt of a complaint, only the complainant and the accused are notified. The complaint is then presented confidentially to the Tennessee Ethics Commission. At that time the Commission makes a determination about the complaint and either dismisses it, or sends it on to the State Attorney General.
At this point, the complaint is still confidential, though both the complainant and accused are notified via mail at each step in the process.
If the complaint is sent to the Attorney General’s office, a determination will be made as to whether or not a statute within the jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission has bee violated. That report is then forwarded back to the Ethics Commission. If the AG believes a law has been violated, the ethics commission may hold a public hearing on the issue. It is not until this point that the names of the complainant and accused are disclosed publicly.
There are concerns about a process that is basically closed until the very end, but this, as with many things, requires a delicate balancing act between the rights of the public, and the presumed innocence of the accused. While a completely open process would provide a level of public disclosure, it may also cause the Commission to be used for solely political purposes chasing false claims down rabbit holes. What would invariably happen is the process would be abused to score political points on candidates or elected officials. By keeping the beginning of the process closed, you protect people from having their names being unnecessarily dragged through the mud.
On the other hand, because there is a stiff penalty for false claims, notifying the public that a complaint had been heard and either disposed of, or referred to investigation, balances the needs of the public, and the presumed innocence of the accused. A disposed claim could be a bonus for a candidate who has been targeted by an opponent. Disclosure of a claim under investigation, though not necessarily the details, would be a heavy threat that would deter candidates from acting out of line.
Unfortunately, that’s not the system we have in place.
So has someone filed a complaint against Sen. Campfield? Only the Senator and any potential complainant actually know, but based on what I’ve heard privately, it’s a done deal.
What will come of it? Who knows? There’s a lot of process between now and public disclosure, but I’m sure that since the good Senator is such an open, honest, and ethical guy he’ll be willing to fully discuss the matter.
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.
Methinks someone is confused.
In an article published last night on the issue of the $1000 he asked for to debate Del Shores, State Sen. Stacey Campfield asserts:
Campfield said his request, which came in an exchange of messages with Shores, was simply to request a deposit to guarantee that his travel expenses would be paid.
“I’m not going to pay air fare to Texas and a hotel, then have the guy stiff me,” he said, adding the retainer request came when he understood the debate would be in Texas.
Unfortunately for Sen. Campfield, that’s not how it went down.
The Facebook message exchange that transpired between the Senator and Mr. Shores only mentions Texas in saying that’s where he grew up. Shores now lives in Hollywood. Shores also mentions a Texas charity that the proceeds of the debate might go to, but clearly indicates he wants to debate Campfield on his home turf, so how Texas even comes into the equation as a location is highly suspect.
But if Sen. Campfield knows that saying it was supposed to happen in Texas might fade some heat off of him, as Director Rawlins indicates in the Humphrey article, then he may feel it behooves him to make that assertion.
Unfortunately for him, there is a record, that he engaged in.
As posted in this note, Shores gives the details of the entire conversation with Campfield.
Del Ferd (DEL SHORES)
SENATOR STACEY CAMPFIELD VS. DEL SHORES
HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE!
I would like to debate you Senator Stacey Campbell on your turf in your home state Tennessee. I will now announce the challenge publicly.
Topic: Homosexuality and the Bible.
We could charge and give the money to charity. I would choose The Trevor Project, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Youth First Texas — because with bills like your’s gay children are being taught they are less than and NOT God’s children. They are killing themselves because of YOU and so-called Christian’s like you who perpetuate hate from pulpits and political stands. You can choose something like, oh, Focus On The Family. Or, just pocket it or give it to some rich Republican CEO.
Please contact my manager Michael Warwick to arrange the debate.
phone: 310 993 5524
fax: 310 997 3487
Although it was you that brought up the bible not I, I will happily debate you. I require a $1000.00 retainer fee and all expenses covered. You can do with the rest all you want.
Where are you located?
And please tell me who to contact to arrange … looking forward to it. Del Shores
Knoxville TN. I will debate you where ever you set up and pay my expences to go to (In advance).
Just let me know.
I will check into Knoxville this week. No worries with $1000 and whatever other expenses. We’ll work out the details and agree on format and moderator(s). Looking forward to it. Del
about an hour ago
Senator: Would I make the check out to you personally or do you need it to be made out to a company or other party? Let me know. I have a few ideas I’d like to run past you, venues and dates, as they come together. Thanks so much. Del Shores
(NO RESPONSE YET FOR MOST RECENT POST)
Of course Campfield hasn’t responded. He knows he’s up the creek without a paddle.
The coverup is always worse than the crime Sen. Campfield. I suggest you admit your wrongdoing, and take your licks like a man before people start digging into other questions. They will. No telling what they might find.
In other news, Campfield’s bill made it out of committee.