Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; April 25, 2012:
House Calendar Committee Vote
First, the battle is not over. On a “recall” motion, the Safe Commute legislation can still see passage into law this year. It is time to increase the demands on all House and Senate members to hold them accountable.
On April 24, the House versions of the Safe Commute legislation (HB3560, HB3559) came before the House Calendar and Rules committee. Here are the votes from that committee which voted to send the matter to “Summer Study” which simply means that they voted to kill the bill:
Representatives voting aye (voting to kill) were: Brooks H (R), Casada (R), Cobb (R), Dunn (R), Harwell (R), Haynes (R), Johnson P (R), Maggart (R), McCormick (R), McDaniel (R), McManus (R), Niceley (R), Ramsey (R), Roach (R), Sexton (R)– 15.
Representatives voting no (voting to send the bill to the floor) were: Eldridge (R), Fitzhugh (D), Matheny (R), Montgomery (R), Naifeh (D), Sargent (R), Towns (D), Turner M (D)- 8
There are several things to note about this list of votes:
- Two sponsors, Eldridge and Matheny voted to send the bill to the floor so that all legislators could vote for the interests of their constituents.
- Four Republicans broke rank with House Leadership and voted to do the right thing and send this bill to the floor
- One Republican bill sponsor, Casada, voted to kill the bill suggesting he was never really in favor of this legislation.
- Not a single Democrat member voted to prevent the bill from a floor vote by all legislators
Also note that this bill had 30 sponsors from both parties. It had overwhelming margins in every committee what was charged by leadership to consider the bill on the merits. It was defeated in a committee that exceeded its jurisdiction because this committee is not charged with considering bills on the merits but only with the duty to move bills assigned to it from other committees in an orderly schedule to be heard on the floor. See Rule 49 of the House Rules. The conduct of the members of the Calendar committee who voted to refuse to allow the bill, a bill with 30 sponsors, to go the floor for consideration on the merits by all legislators is an obvious and blatant abuse of discretion by those members which should not be tolerated lightly.
Those members who voted to send the bills to the floor, of both parties and for whatever motive, were the only appropriate votes cast on this bill. It can be inferred that the other votes were simply purchased by Big Business and to appease a governor who seems to be more loyal to business interests than the constitution.
It is important to understand the euphemism “summer study”. The term “summer study” as historically used by the General Assembly with only a few exceptions means to kill a bill without allowing the full membership a vote on the merits of the bill. It is similar to the silly pronouncement last summer by Rep. Gerald McCormick that the House Repubilcan caucus had convened a firearms task force to study firearms laws in Tennessee. The committee had only a token meeting that was unannounced to the public and accomplished nothing. Even less is projected to happen with any “summer study” of this legislative topic. Indeed, why would anything be needed. The bill has been one of the most hotly debated bills this year. It has had numerous and extensive committee hearings with live testimony from many interested parties. It has been commented on by the Attorney General with respect to the fact that it would not unconstitutionally impair property rights. There is no reasonable expectation that this bill or its issues will be “studied” by the legislature.
This delay was not about studying the ermits. The issue is simply – extremely simple. Those in the Republican leadership owed a debt or an allegiance to Big Business and were called upon to pay that price, or a portion thereof, on this bill. They did it and tried to do it such that a minimum number of caucus members would be called upon to vote on this issue. They needed to avoid a vote not because it would embarrass caucus members but because they knew that the caucus and Democrats would on the floor pass this legislation, as the committees had already done, by overwhelming margins and that would mean that leadership had failed to deliver the results that Big Business was demanding.
The House Republican caucus as a body could have demanded that leadership do the right thing. They did not. They need to pay the price for breaking their oaths to uphold and enforce the constitutional rights of citizens. Now, to be certain, some Republican caucus members such as Matheny, Eldridge, Montgomery and Sargeant have stood against leadership on this issue with public recorded votes. Others who did not vote on the Calendar committee stood against leadership in other public votes. However, the point is that of the 64 caucus members a clear majority of them sided with leadership with the consequence being that the overall composition of the caucus is not a constitutionally conservative body and those who are not true conservatives need to be weeded from that body in the election cycles to come so that an accountable leadership can be selected in the future – perhaps as early as 2012.
A Lesson in Public Accountability
Coming into the last two years, TFA members and many other conservatives in the state, had optimism for the super majorities that the Republicans had obtained in the House and Senate as well as having a Governor who had promised on video to sign a Constitutional Carry bill if it was sent to him by the General Assembly. These Republicans proclaimed God, the Constitution and conservative principles in their campaigns. That was the fall of 2010. Those were mere promises.
Now, two years later conservatives in Tennessee see that many promises made over numerous years by individuals who called themselves and ran as Republicans were nothing more than empty campaign promises with no intent to perform when the opportunity actually presented itself or presented in opposition to the preferences of Big Business. Those promises were merely campaign claims that proved false.
It has become clear that much of the fault for ignoring and derailing conservative issues originated with a combination of House Republican leadership, Senate Republican leaders and Gov. Haslam. It has become sadly necessary for conservatives to start looking forward to November 2012 for reasons in addition to the defeat of Obama.
It has become necessary for Tennessee’s constitutional conservatives, grassroots organizations and voters to look forward to 2012 with the unpleasant task of having to defeat some or all of those self-proclaimed conservative Republicans who previously sought and won our support masquerading as constitutional conservatives.
To this end, TFA has determined that since it cannot remove in the ballot box all of those whom should be removed from power, it must identify the most necessary and effective incumbents whose acts and omissions most justify our efforts to oppose them. One such House Republican is a member of leadership, Debra Maggart. Harwell has no opposition in her election and absent a strong write-in candidate that race is immaterial. It is not clear at this time the quality of any challengers, from either party, to any of the others in House or Senate leadership that truly warrant opposition.
The focus on Maggart has existed since she made it clear last summer that she and others in House leadership had taken conservatives for granted under the assumption that conservatives had no “choice” but to support the Republicans. Her disposition in that regard was clear then and remains clear in light of her actions this year. Maggart will be primaried with another Republican, which means that there is a viable alternative to Maggart’s re-election in the primary and potentially the general election as well. An effective primary challenge not only removes Maggart but disrupts the leadership of the House.
Another beneficial objective of primaring and potentially removing a member of House leadership is that it makes a clear example to other incumbents and candidates that conservatives do not have to simply accept those individual Republicans or Democrats who want to hold public office, particularly the incumbents. It makes an example for others that conservatives are not afraid to replace an incumbent who has lost or may have never had the capacity for constitutional stewardship. It makes an example for others that simply being an incumbent is not a guarantee that conservatives will blindly re-elect them. It makes an example for others that conservatives will demand accountability to the voters – first – and will not suffer lightly being relegated to be mere 2nd class citizens behind the demands and interests of Big Business.
This point was made in an earlier TFALAC alert by making a figurative reference to the way the Romans displayed the crosses that they used for capital punishment as an example to deter others from future unacceptable conduct. It unfortunately appears that some missed the figurative analogy of making an example of one who has acted unacceptably to effect both a specific and a general deterrent. A specific deterrent references the refusal to re-elect an incumbent. A general deterrent references events that serve to encourage appropriate and acceptable conduct and discourage the type of conduct that resulted in a polticial challenge and hopefully defeat of another. In this case, we are talking the stewardship of elected officials and taking their oaths to uphold the constitutions seriously. If some missed the figurative analogy, then the analogy may have been too hard to follow and for that perhaps this clarification will make the intent clearer. For others who simply tried to profit from taking the analogy out of context, no clarification is offered.
The intent in this specific instance is to oppose at any and all levels the re-election of Debra Maggart individually and as a member of House Republican leadership. This intent is to encourage TFA members and other conservatives to be involved in the opportunity to cause Maggart’s political defeat and to do so such that other legislators and candidates for office will understand clearly that TFA, its members and other conservatives will not be taken for granted, will not be treated as “groupies” for either caucus, and that conservatives have a fundamental right to and will demand that elected officials serve first as defenders of the constitutions and stewards of the rights of the citizens – particularly whenever those rights are juxtaposed against the financial preferences of business interests.