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TNDP Hoping for Gains in Nov. After Tea Party Losses in Primary

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 8, 2014:

Radical Republicans’ losses throughout Tennessee have opened doors for Democrats in November.

The Tennessee GOP has long held truth and reality in contempt, and Ron Ramsey’s reckless ploy to undermine the independence of our judiciary with hundreds of thousands of dollars in misleading attack ads was just the latest and most offensive example of this contempt. Tennesseans saw through the distortions and outright lies being pushed by the Lieutenant Governor, and a bipartisan majority voted to retain our eminently qualified Supreme Court justices.

Despite a slate of cherry-picked candidates, nearly half of the non-incumbents in the Republican Red to the Roots program managed to lose their general election race, and of the latest non-incumbent additions to the class, three out of four lost. Voters sent a clear message that the radical Tea Party Republican agenda has no place in Tennessee.

Democratic candidates up and down the ballot will continue to take the fight to Tea Party Republicans and continue to make plain that Tennessee values are Democratic values.  Democrats’ continued successes will lay the foundation for this November and beyond.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron made the following statement on the results of the August 7th elections:

“Yesterday’s election results show that Tennessee is a state that supports common sense values and rejects right-wing extremism.”

Early Voting Encouraged By State Election Officials

As the state enters the final days of the primary-election early-voting period, state election officials are urging Tennessee voters to get down to the polls early to avoid long wait times on Aug. 7.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins spoke on a conference call Wednesday to reporters from around the state about the extra long ballots for this election period.

“As we’ve emphasized before, this is the longest, or at least one of the longest ballots in Tennessee history,” Hargett told reporters, and added that the estimated time to complete a full ballot is about five to eight minutes.

The “added dynamic” contributing to the exceptional length of this year’s ballots are the inclusion of the retention questions for the 23 state appellate and Supreme Court judges, Hargett said.

According to Hargett, 368,111 people have so far participated in early voting, which is a 10 percent increase over the turnout for the August 2010 election.

Hargett is urging people to vote early to limit the lines on election day to make the day go smoother for state and local elections officials. Shorter lines of voters on election day means the polls close earlier, which means election commissions will be able to get the results out quicker, he said.

“We just want to encourage if people know how they’re going to vote, we want them to go ahead and take advantage of early voting,” Hargett said. “Certainly if they’re not ready to cast their vote, they’re certainly entitled to do it on election day, and we encourage them to do so.”

However, despite the longer ballots, Goins said that he had not heard of any problems with lengthy early voting times around the state so far, and that things appear “to be moving pretty smoothly.”

“People are not experiencing long lines during early voting. And obviously the numbers bear out that more people are taking advantage of it four years ago,” Goins said.

In the August elections of 2010, voter turnout was at 29 percent, Hargett said, and added that voter turnout in August of 2012 was “slightly under 20 percent.” In the November 2012 general election turnout  was “just under 62 percent,” the secretary of state said.

 

Carr: Lamar Should Drop Negative Tactics, Agree to Debate

Press release from the Campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; July 30, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN– TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr released the following statement tonight in reaction to Sen. Lamar Alexander going negative and attacking Carr:

“Things must be really bad for Lamar to go negative and embrace these kind of dishonest and deceitful tactics. But if it’s a debate about Common Core he wants, I dare Lamar Alexander to stop hiding behind his negative attacks and debate me before next week’s election.”

As reported today by the Knoxville News Sentinel “with the primary just days away, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s re-election campaign is doing something it has avoided doing for months: It is finally acknowledging the existence of Republican challenger Joe Carr. Alexander’s campaign is attacking Carr by name for the first time in a flier sent to voters in several Middle Tennessee counties where Carr is presumed to have his strongest support…”

Carr added, “Talk about blatant hypocrisy – I’ve spent the last two years fighting against Common Core but when Lamar Alexander is asked about his position he says ‘let’s not talk about Common Core.’ If this is something Lamar Alexander really feels strongly about, why does he refuse to take a position? What does it say about Lamar Alexander that he’s willing to take cheap-shots at me in a flier, but won’t stand-up and debate me in person?”

The negative attack against Carr comes as Alexander continues to come under attack for comments made earlier this week while campaigning in Tennessee which has revealed a massive divide between Senator Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee Congressional Delegation. When asked about his support of the Senate’s immigration bill (S. 744) last year, Alexander replied, “I voted to end amnesty.” However, Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black, Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan Jr., Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann have been vocally forceful in their characterization of S. 744 as “amnesty.”

“This is very straight-forward, either Lamar Alexander is lying or he’s suggesting Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann are when they call S. 744 ‘amnesty’,” said TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr. “You have to wonder if Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann agree with Lamar when he says the Senate immigration bill was actually a ‘vote to end amnesty.’”

“The Senate amnesty bill is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Blackburn declared at the time. “I do not believe in amnesty and if we are going to make any changes to our system we must start by securing our borders. Any other reform effort is meaningless if we don’t start with strengthening our border security.”

Rep. Black decisively said, “There is no place for amnesty in immigration reform, period…In Congress, I was proud to be a vocal opponent of S. 744, the flawed Senate immigration bill that would have granted almost immediate legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.”

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that looks to me like it’s very similar to the [1986 amnesty] bill,” Rep. Duncan said about the S. 744. “I don’t know that Ronald Reagan would do the same thing if he was facing a problem that had become four or five times worse than it was in 1986.”

“The United States has always had a generous legal immigration policy, but we simply cannot grant amnesty to those who choose to break the law,” Rep. DesJarlais said in a statement about S. 744. “The Senate immigration proposal is the ObamaCare of immigration: A broad, comprehensive bill fraught with unintended consequences and unexpected results. I will fight to make sure this bill never reaches the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Providing a pathway to citizenship before securing the border is putting the cart before the horse. Before overhauling our nation’s immigration system, we should first ensure we are enforcing the laws that are already on the books.”

Rep. Flesichmann added, “An estimated 15 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. I do not support rewarding these illegal immigrants with amnesty. In 1986, when legislation was passed granting general amnesty, the illegal immigrant population quadrupled.”

“I am opposed to the Senate bill because it includes a pathway to citizenship without sufficient protections to ensure our laws won’t be broken in the future,” Rep. Roe said last year. “Congress must take a transparent, incremental approach to dealing with this important issue instead of rushing through a seriously flawed piece of legislation.”

TN Forum: Congrats to Supreme Court Justices on Endorsement by Davidson Co Dems

Press release from The Tennessee Forum; July 24, 2014: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Forum President Susan Kaestner congratulated Democrat Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade on their endorsement by the Davidson County Democrat Party today. In an email to Democrat party activists and supporters, Gary D. Bynum, Chairman of the Davidson County Democrat Party, said, “Remember when Democrats don’t vote, Republicans are elected and we ALWAYS support the Democratic ticket…Vote to “RETAIN” the current Supreme Court on August 7.” A copy of the email can be viewed HERE.

“I congratulate Justices Clark, Lee and Wade on earning the support of their base – the liberal left of the Democrat Party,” Kaestner said. “It should not be surprising that Democrats would endorse the judges given that they are, in fact, Democrats. Chairman Bynum makes clear that Clark, Lee and Wade are key components of the ‘Democrat ticket’ for voters to consider this August.”

“Partisanship is nothing new for Clark, Lee and Wade,” Kaestner said. “They earned the respect of their friends in the Democrat party by being ultra-partisan activists and donors throughout their judicial career, despite claims to the contrary.”

A review of campaign finance records by the Tennessee Forum reveals a strong pattern of partisan behavior by all three Supreme Court judges up for retention this August. The political contribution histories of Judges Clark, Wade and Lee directly contradict the public mythology perpetrated by the judges and their Democrat operatives that they are “nonpartisan.”

“The judges’ political contributions put in perspective the level of deception they are peddling to the people of Tennessee,” said Kaestner. “The judges can masquerade as apolitical, but the facts are the facts. Normal Tennessee citizens go to work, raise families and go to the polls on election day. They do not consistently and generously give large amounts of money to Democrat candidates. There is a term for people who do that: Partisan Democrat.”

Records show that Clark has given a total of $5,435 to political candidates over the years. 80% of those donations have gone to Democrats, including former Democratic Senate Speaker John Wilder, former Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Joe Haynes and former state Representative Rob Briley. The candidate receiving the largest total contributions from Clark was former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Clark to the Supreme Court in 2005.

Clark’s partisan roots transcend her donation record as well. She was elected to the Tennessee Democrat Party Executive Committee, the most partisan and highest ranking political organization one can be a part of at the state level. As a member of the state Democrat Executive Committee, Clark helped set policy, elect the party’s chairman, and worked to elect Democrat candidates across the state.

Wade, the largest political contributor of the three judges, has donated over 70% of his money to Democrat candidates. Wade’s political contributions total at least $27,311 and include former Vice President Al Gore, Harold Ford, Jr., current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and the Democratic National Committee. Wade also gave at least $3,000 to former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Wade to the Supreme Court in 2006.

Publicly available campaign finance records indicate Lee is the most partisan of the three. She gave over $8,000, 92% of which went to Democrats. Recipients of Lee’s political generosity include Harold Ford, Jr., 2010 Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter, current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and ActBlue. Lee joined her two colleagues in supporting the Democrat Governor who appointed them. She gave Bredesen’s campaign over $3,000. She was later appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008 — by Phil Bredesen.

“These records are public and searchable by anyone with an internet connection. The judges don’t want voters to know their entire campaign is predicated on deception,” said Kaestner. “These judges are candidates for the highest court in the state and they are denying basic truths about their political history.”

“Ironically, their campaign is an argument for replacement. If you truly want nonpartisan judges on the Supreme Court of Tennessee your only choice is to vote ‘replace’ on Judges Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.”

The general public can search databases of state and federal political contributions free of charge at http://www.fec.gov and http://www.tn.gov/tref.

Ads For, Against Retention of State Supreme Court Justices Flood TN Airwaves

Press release from Justice At Stake; July 23, 2014:

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23 – A significant new barrage of politically-charged campaign ads hit Tennessee airwaves this week targeting three state Supreme Court justices up for retention. Among the out-of-state groups spending money to unseat the justices is Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers-linked dark money group that also spent money to influence state Supreme Court races in North Carolina and Florida in 2012. Other groups seeking to influence Tennessee’s retention election include the Republican State Leadership Committee, which distributed fliers, and the State Government Leadership Foundation.

The state is seeing a surge of ads both for and against Justices Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee as the August 7 retention election approaches. Early voting began July 18. While much of the advertising spending is likely to remain undocumented until the next state disclosure deadline at the end of July, public FCC files show spending on television ad contracts continues to rise, and has crossed the $400,000 threshold.

The ads include:

  • A radio ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, criticizing the justices for appointing a “liberal” Attorney General who did not oppose Obamacare.
  • A TV ad sponsored by Tennesseans for Fair Courts, a pro-retention group, disputing claims made in ads opposing the justices.
  • A TV ad sponsored by the Tennessee Forum, a conservative Tennessee group, claiming the justices are “liberal on crime” and “threaten your freedoms.” It urges voters to “replace the liberal Supreme Court.” The group said these ads are part of statewide campaign that will air through the election.
  • A TV ad highlighting the justices’ records, saying they upheld “nearly 90 percent of death sentences,” and urging viewers to vote in favor of their retention.
  • A TV ad from the State Government Leadership Foundation, a partner group of the Republican State Leadership Committee, criticizing the three justices for being “liberal on the Obama agenda.”
  • A TV ad in favor of Justice Gary Wade, describing him as focused on work, family and faith.
  • A TV ad sponsored by Keep Tennessee Courts Fair (the coordinated campaign to retain justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade), in which retired Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Mickey Barker says “politics has no place in our courts.”

“The continued flood of money into judicial elections from all sides is already a threat to impartial justice. But if AFP has decided to spend the kind of money in a judicial race that it has spent in other contests around the country, this could transform judicial politics in the United States,” noted Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, which has been monitoring money and politics in this year’s judicial elections. “More judges are feeling trapped in a system that is persuading many people that justice is for sale.”

“The ads in Tennessee are just the latest in a disturbing trend of outside groups attempting to influence who sits on our courts,” said Alicia Bannon, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “People need to feel that judges are accountable to the law, not special interest groups pouring money into retention elections. Ads that politicize judges’ records on the bench undermine the independence of our courts.”

Amendment for Popular Election of State Attorney General Falls Short in Senate

The Tennessee Senate failed Wednesday to approve a proposal to let voters pick who serves as the state’s most powerful lawyer.

The measure, Senate Joint Resolution 123, is a constitutional amendment sponsored by Mt. Juliet Republican Mae Beavers. It calls for contested statewide elections for attorney general beginning in 2020.

The upper chamber’s vote on SJR123 was 15 in favor and 14 opposed. One senator, Republican Randy McNally of Oak Ridge, abstained. The resolution needed 17 votes to win passage. Three senators didn’t vote: Republicans Janice Bowling and Todd Gardenhire, of Tullahoma and Chattanooga, respectively, and Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis.

According to the Senate clerk, because SJR123 wasn’t defeated outright with at least 17 senators voting “no,” it is technically still alive and could be brought up for a floor vote again this session if Beavers requests it. In the event that happens and it is approved, SJR123 would have to pass by a two-thirds majority in the next legislative session and then win in a statewide referendum.

Another measure that proposes altering the attorney general selection process passed last year in the Senate, 22-9. It awaits action in the House. That proposal, SJR196 by Clarksville Republican Mark Green, would rewrite the state’s constitution to allow for the Legislature to appoint the attorney general.

SJR196 states, “Beginning January 2019, and every four year thereafter, an attorney general and reporter for the state shall be appointed by joint vote of both houses of the General Assembly and shall hold office for a term of four years and until a successor is appointed.”

If it is approved in the House, that measure, too, must win passage next session by two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate and subsequently go before the voters.

Presently under the state constitution, the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints the attorney general to terms of eight years. The term of Robert Cooper, who currently holds the office, expires this year.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General, Tennessee is the only state in which the holder of the office is appointed by the state Supreme Court. Forty-three states elect their attorneys general. In fives state the post is assigned by the governor and in Maine the attorney general is selected by secret ballot of the state’s legislature.

Tennessee Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID Act

Press Release from the Tennessee Supreme Court, Oct. 17, 2013;

Ruling on constitutional challenges to the state’s Voter Identification Act by the City of Memphis and two Shelby County voters, the Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously declined to overturn the Act.

The Act, which was passed in 2011, requires voters to present government-issued photographic identification in order to cast a ballot in state or federal elections. As originally written, the Act authorized several acceptable forms of identification, one of which was a valid photographic identification card issued by an entity of the State of Tennessee.

In response to the new law, the City of Memphis Public Library began issuing photographic identification cards to its patrons. Shelby County residents Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell attempted to vote in the August 2012 primary using their library cards but were turned away by election officials.

Prior to the 2012 general election, Turner-Golden and Bell, along with the City of Memphis, filed suit, arguing that the photographic identification requirement violated state constitutional protections and that the City of Memphis library cards were valid identification.

The trial court denied relief on all counts. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the library cards were acceptable identification under the Act, but also concluding that the photographic identification requirement was constitutional.

Because early voting for the 2012 general election was underway, the Court of Appeals ordered election officials to accept cards from the Memphis Public Library. The Supreme Court granted review in November of 2012 and ordered election officials to continue to accept cards from the Memphis Public Library during the general election.

On April 23, the General Assembly amended the Voter Identification Act so that cards issued by municipal libraries were specifically excluded as valid identification. Because of the April 2013 amendments, the Supreme Court first ruled that all issues pertaining to the validity of the Memphis Public Library cards were moot.

In addition, the Court ruled that the individual plaintiffs, Turner-Golden and Bell, had legal standing to challenge the Act, but the City of Memphis, which obviously did not have a vote, did not.

Finally, the Court held that the version of the Act in effect at the time of the 2012 primary election met constitutional standards, concluding that the legislature has the prerogative to enact laws guarding against the potential risk of voter fraud and determining that the additional requirements placed on voters were not so severe as to violate protections set out in the Tennessee Constitution.

Tennessee’s Third Parties Take Fight To Court

Tennessee’s system is rigged to keep third parties from becoming recognized, allege lawsuits filed by three political parties in federal court.

The Green, Libertarian and Constitution parties of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Elections Coordinator Mark Goins alleging Tennessee places places “an unconstitutional burden” on smaller political parties, according to Courthouse News Service.

The parties claim state law places stiffer requirements on minor political parties than on the two major statewide parties, in effect keeping the third parties from being fully recognized.

The Libertarians claimed Tennessee’s deadlines for petition signature collection for special general elections are unconstitutional. The Green and Constitution parties went further in their suits and claimed requirements for an affidavit swearing not to support the overthrow of the government, petition signatures and number of votes for minor parties are unconstitutional.

State law requires third parties to gather signatures from 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor, to be recognized and appear on the ballot.

Then to be recognized as a “statewide political party,” third-party candidates are required to receive 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election of governor.

Parties recognized as “statewide” have four years to satisfy their requirements, while minor parties “have only the election on the year in which they become ‘recognized minor parties’ to attain the status of ‘statewide political parties,'” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment and attorney’s fees and costs. They are represented by Darrell L. Castle of Memphis.

Nixing U.S. Senate Primaries Put Off for Now

The full state Senate heard opening salvos of debate Monday on a bill that would change the process by which Tennesseans pick their U.S. senators.

The legislation, Senate Bill 471, introduced by Strawberry Plains Republican Frank Niceley, would hand the power to choose candidates over to state lawmakers, who would caucus along party lines and place their choices on the ballot for general elections. The measure was approved last week in the Tennessee Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 7-1 vote, with only Memphis Democrat Reginald Tate voting “no.”

Currently, Republican and Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are selected by voters in open primaries, although the party establishments retain some authority to void or challenge election results if they’re dissatisfied with the results.

After noting that for the first 126 years of the country’s history U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures, Niceley argued on the upper-chamber floor Monday evening that formally reintroducing General Assembly lawmakers back into the selection process would bring Tennessee — and, over time, the country — more in line with the intentions of the country’s founders.

In 1913, passage of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave authority for selecting membership in what has been termed “the world’s most exclusive club” directly to the American people. In Niceley’s view, an unfortunate national consequence of that shift in state-level political dynamics was to loosen a reliable curb against unrestrained expansions of federal power.

“The check that the states had on a runaway federal government was the (United States) Senate,” Niceley said. “The Founding Fathers wanted the state legislatures to…elect the U.S. Senators so that the U.S. Senators would be ambassadors to Washington.”

Niceley was quick to point out that Volunteer State voters would still get the final say as to who goes to Washington in the general elections under SB471. He asserted, though, that establishing a system whereby major-party U.S. Senate nominees are picked by members of the General Assembly would bolster the Legislature’s Beltway influence.

If “10 or 15 small Red States” were to follow suit, a philosophically like-minded bloc might “get control of the U.S. Senate,” said Niceley. Three or four other states have considered or are considering such a move, he said. “Washington is out of control — it’s not going to fix itself,” Niceley declared. “This is about trying to save America.”

“The greatest fears of our Founding Fathers have come true,” said Niceley. “The federal government has usurped our powers, there’s no denying that. Anyone who thinks Washington is working, you’re in a dreamworld.”

Niceley’s logic wasn’t universally embraced, even by Republicans. Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey bristled at the idea of taking any decision-making power from state voters.

“This bill is anti-democratic,” the Germantown Republican told his fellow senators. “This bill smells of elitism, of cronyism, and it would open up a system that was, and could be in the future, rife for corruption. It is entirely self-interested of this General Assembly to vote to give itself the power to pick the political party nominees for the United States Senate. It is a bad idea and I sincerely hope we do not pursue it.”

Kelsey noted the curious irony that exactly 100 years ago, on April Fools’ Day 1913, Tennessee ratified the 17th Amendment.

No Democrats rose to voice opinions one way or the other on Niceley’s bill Monday night, but earlier in the day Roy Herron, the Tennessee Democratic Party’s recently installed chairman and himself a former state senator from Dresden, said his side doesn’t want to be included in the bill. “Once again, the reactionary and radical Republicans want to take us back a couple of centuries, to the 1800s when the Legislature picked our senators until corruption and the people finally ended the practice by constitutional amendment in 1913,” said Herron.

GOP Sens. Mark Norris of Collierville, Janice Bowling of Tullahoma and Rusty Crowe of Johnson City asked for time to discuss the issue with constituents. Niceley agreed to postpone bringing SB471 up for a vote until the end of this year’s session — possibly later this month.

It’s unclear the level of support the proposal will draw, but the state Senate’s most powerful legislator appears on board. Speaking to reporters last week, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey called Niceley’s legislation an “interesting prospect.” He acknowledged that doing away with primaries will strike some as voter disenfranchisement, but said party-level or pre-general election candidate selection processes aren’t uniform across the country.

“Lot’s of states do caucuses,” said the Tennessee Senate speaker, a Republican from Blountville. “Lots of states don’t use the primary system…and in the end, in November, obviously (the people) will get to vote.”

The House version of Niceley’s legislation, HB415 by Knoxville Republican Harry Brooks, is still working its way through the committee system. It’s scheduled to go before the Local Government Committee April 2.

John Klein Wilson and Mark Engler contributed to this story.

Bickering Over Voter ID Bills Ongoing

Legislation designed to clarify Tennessee’s voter ID law generated heated exchanges and raised more questions than answers on the House floor before the final vote left the bill at odds with the Senate version.

Earlier this week, the House substituted HB229 for SB125. The House also approved an amendment barring students from using their IDs from state-funded colleges to vote – a move the Senate sponsor says he will fight.

Bill KetronBill Ketron

“The Senate voted 2-to-1 against disallowing state-issued college IDs when that amendment was before us,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, who initiated the legislation. “We will continue to push to allow state-issued student identification to remain in the bill as passed by the Senate, even if we have to go to a conference committee.”

When or if that committee may be convened remains up in the air, according to a legislative assistant the Murfreesboro Republican.

In addition to college IDs, the bill would ban the use of out-of-state driver’s licenses, currently allowed even if they’ve expired, as well as ID cards issued by cities, counties or public libraries. The validity of the latter form of identification is before the Tennessee Supreme Court after the city of Memphis and two residents challenged the law. 

The House floor debate about the legislation became rather heated at times, and even though other issues surfaced, it passed 65-30. The Senate version, which allows students IDs to be used, passed earlier this month 24-3.

Rep. Johnnie Turner, a Democrat from Memphis, called the bill “another form of voter suppression.” Fellow Memphis Democrat Rep. Antonio Parkinson claimed he was “hoodwinked and bamboozled,” because the bill that passed the House Local Government Subcommittee allowed student IDs to be used, but an amendment in the full committee stripped that provision.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick emphatically proclaimed, “This talk about voting suppression is just not true!”

The Chattanooga representative said the legislation is designed to stop voter fraud. He said that “a state Senate election was stolen in the city of Memphis just a few years ago” and that a recent documentary had a chairman of the NAACP talking about “the machine in Memphis” that would load people on a bus and take them to multiple polling stations to cast their votes “over and over again.”

Republican Rep. Vince Dean, of East Ridge, and Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong, of Knoxville, expressed concerns about blocking out-of-state IDs for those who own property in Tennessee but live in another state.

Rep. Susan Lynn, who sponsored the House bill, said she was not sure whether the state would issue an ID to a nonresident.

“What we’re doing with this legislation is trying to most closely match the legislation that passed in Indiana, because that legislation did survive all the way to the United States Supreme Court,” the Mt. Juliet Republican said.

Armstrong claimed the bill would change the way the city of Knoxville elects its mayors and city council members because property owners are allowed to vote in municipal elections even if they don’t live there.

Had the bill been in effect when Gov. Bill Haslam first ran as mayor of Knoxville, Armstrong said, the outcome could have been changed. Three thousand property owners voted, and “a lot of them live out of state.” Haslam won by 1,500 votes.

“Now we have a sitting governor that benefited from the law,” Armstrong said.

Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at amhipps@capitolnewstn.com, on Twitter @CapitolNews_TN or at 615-442-8667.