TENNESSEANS ARE NOT IMMUNE
For some reason, many Tennesseans believe we live in a state where life is good, we are rewarded for hard work and playing by the rules, and our elected officials work for us to improve our lives, and our state.
The reality is…yeah, not so much. The evidence lies not only in the metrics, which illustrate Tennessee’s standing in health, personal safety, and education, but in how the hardworking people of the state are considered – or not considered, as the case may be – by those in power. Because while they say one thing, their actions illustrate their true intent.
TAKE THE GOVERNOR. PLEASE.
In last week’s state of the state, the Governor talked about a food tax cut – a food tax cut that will save hardworking Tennesseans about twenty-cents on every $100 spent. And while the governor is crowing about this empty gesture, he is doing nothing to address the real inquities in our tax system which allow the richest 1% in our state to pay 3.1% of their total income in taxes while the poorest 20% pay amost 12%. In fact, he is doing more than nothing, he’s working to allow the richest 1% to pay even less by pushing for a reduction in the estate tax. Why? Because, he says, it drives wealth from the state. And while we can point to many weathy families who have stayed put for decades (even though they have enough gas to get them the heck out of dodge), he has yet to provide the public with any examples supporting his position.
YOU KNOW WE CAN SEE YOU, RIGHT?
Shocking as realizing that Wall Street is more important than Main Street in Tennessee as it is in almost every other state in the Union, what’s even more shocking is the blatant attempt to continue to strip the laws that will keep the Governor and his administration from abusing their power. Tonight, the Tennessee State Senate will vote on SB2207, Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to offer cash incentives to large corporations in secret and without any kind of accountability. SB2207 adds due diligence materials such as “information on business processes, organization structure and ownership, financial statements, budgets, cash flow reports or similar materials that are provided to the department as part of an evaluation process for tax incentive, tax credits, or FastTrack funds” to the list of documents and records that are to remain confidential within the Department of Economic and Community Development. Defines “due diligence materials” His reason for the change? It’s “part of his plan to offer more cash incentives to companies to invest in Tennessee.”
UNITARY EXECUTIVE. IT’S NOT JUST FOR THE PRESIDENCY ANYMORE
Tom Humphrey has a must-read blog that covers state government and he provided us with these little tidbits of info that illustrate an executive branch run amok. One bill, HB2385, would allow the governor to appoint the executive director of the which deals only with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, which oversees everything from natural gas companies to suburban sewer systems and phone calls by telemarketers. Another, SB2249, would allow the governor to appoint executive directors the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, taking that authority away from the boards themselves.
KICKING HARDWORKING TENNESSEANS WHEN THEY’RE DOWN
We can’t say it any better than Pith in the Wind
“Not satisfied with crippling their union and weakening tenure, Republicans running the state House slapped public school teachers again today. This time, Tennessee’s big-government conservatives rammed through legislation to yank their certificates to teach if they fail to pay back their student loans.”
Empathy, right? It’s all about putting yourselves in the shoes of someone else. Try imagining this, Rep. Charles Sargent, sponsor of the bill:
Times are tough, we know that. You lose your teaching job and are out of work for months. You get behind on your bills and one of the first you fall behind on – since, you know, you have to pay your mortgage and put food on the table so your 3 and 5-year-old can eat and keep the heat on – is your student loan. 10 months go by and a teaching job finally becomes available but OOPS your license was yanked so you are no longer eligible.
Too bad for you, Teacher Rep. Sargent, that you can no longer do what you trained to do. I guess it’s time for a career change – why don’t you just go back to school? Oh…you can’t afford it? Too well.
KICKING HARDWORKING TENNESSEANS WHEN THEY’RE DOWN, PART 2
People who are unemployed are not criminals. Let’s just start there. So when Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, supporter of a bill that would require anyone getting any kind of government assistance to be drug tested says, “I’m in favor of drug testing for people that are on any kind of benefits. Whether it’s unemployment compensation, workers compensation or whatever it is, because I don’t think that we need to be supporting that kind of lifestyle,” we have to wonder, why does the Lt. Governor of our state think so little of the people he has sworn to serve?
A Daily Show clip features a trip to Florida by correspondent Aasif Mandvi to dispel the myths Lt. Governor has based his support of the bill on – that all poor people working hard to pull themselves out of povery, or who have slipped into poverty because of a wretched economic downturn – are on drugs. Mandvi found Floridian Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran and public assistance recipient, on public assistance and who won’t submit to a drug test. How many Luis Lebrons are there in Tennessee? And why doesn’t the Lt. Governor think better of them?
By the way, welfare recipients use drugs at a much lower rate than the general population. Just sayin’.
WHY SHOULD THEY HAVE TO BE ABSENT WHEN THEY WANT TO BE COUNTED AS PRESENT?
While the richest 1% in Tennessee are coddled and given special treatment and hardworking Tennesseans get dumped on, the party in power – in league with the governor – are also fiddling with what is very often the only voice hardworking Tennesseans have in our government – the right to vote. This week, the bills that start fiddling with the excessive law that requires a very specific government- issued photo ID to vote law, start their parade through the House State and Local Government Committee.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, 2/6, SB 2128/HB 2174 will be heard in a Senate and House Committee. This bill, sponsored by the legislators who passed the photo ID to vote law, would allow registered voters to vote “no questions asked” absentee at the age of 60 years or older instead of 65. And while on its face this seems like a good idea, nothing but a full repeal of the photo ID to vote law will allow for free and fair elections for all – no matter what your age.
In other words, by requiring a photo ID to vote, the state is taking away a person’s right to vote and then requiring them to have a very specific government-issued photo ID to get it back.
And besides, why should seniors be forced to vote absentee when they want nothing more than to be part of our democratic process by showing up at their polling place and casting their ballot for their candidate?
EVENT: ANDREW COCHRAN SERVES UP HOT COFFEE
You only think you know all about the civil justice case in which the lady spilled hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap. Andrew Cochran of the blog, 7th amendment advocate, will in Tennessee to discuss the 7th Amendment and the many ways in which the system is rigged to deny the 99% access to justice.
WHEN: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
WHERE: Legislative Plaza, Downtown Nashville (Room TBA)
SPECIAL GUEST: Andrew Cochran, 7th amendment advocate.
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