Is HB0600 The Worst Bill of 2011 Session?

Taken at the Justice for All rally yesterday

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.

Marian Bacon
Memphis Tennessee

This morning Nashville Metro Councilman Mike Jameson as well as several other citizens and TEP filed a lawsuit in state court.

Councilman Jameson asked a pretty pertinent question in the In Session post, one that I asked myself during the debate over the issue:

“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.

Soon after session ended Sen. Jim Kyle filed a bill to repeal HB0600. Head over to his new snazzy website to thank and encourage him.

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

HouseEddie Bass, Charles Curtiss, John DeBerry, Michael McDonald, Joe Pitts, and John Mark Windle.

SenateCharlotte Burks.

As for the Rebulblicans? Call any of them. Not a single Republican voted against the bill. House | Senate

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.

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