- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

April 14

The Post-Intelligencer, Paris, Tenn., on the last-minute legislative blitz:

The Tennessee legislature, often a puzzle to understand, is pretty predictable in some ways.

Thursday, it finally adopted a budget -the governor’s proposal was largely unchanged.

Now will come a flurry of action for a day or two or three, including passage of some of the term’s most significant proposals.

Legislators face a long list of major issues. They’ll rush to take action so that they can adjourn and return home for their election campaigns.

These issues could have been decided earlier in a more reasoned setting, but our lawmakers always put these hot items off until the last minute. Then comes a flurry of action and adjournment.

The budget action turned down a plan to award a $500 bonus to most state workers, including school teachers. Some members complained that Gov. Bill Haslam had put them in a tough spot politically by proposing a pay raise earlier in the year, but then withdrawing it because funds were short.

Among the big issues still facing lawmakers: …

- Drugs - Should stricter limits be put on sales of the decongestant pseudoephedrine because it’s a key ingredient in home-cooked batches of methamphetamine?

- Taxes - Should the Hall tax on investment income be phased out?

And there’s more. Lots more. Deciding all this stuff at the last minute doesn’t seem like the wisest course, but it’s the Tennessee way.




April 12

The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn., on the legislators’ work:

Just when we thought legislators might make it out of town without embarrassing the state too much more, they decided to pass a law that bars the United Nations from sending monitors to state elections.

Election officials in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine may regret that the United Nations will be able to focus its attention on them rather than the Volunteer State, and it’s nice to know that Tennessee does not have any serious problems like a revenue deficit.

Oh, that’s right, it does have a revenue deficit that the Legislature had to resolve to approve a balanced budget before it adjourns.

The General Assembly seems to operate in something of a dual universe.

In one universe, legislators try to address issues that really have some relevance to the state’s residents. In the other universe, too many legislators are actors in the political theater of promoting extreme positions on issues generally irrelevant except for the fact they may expand voter turnout.

State residents who are contemplating their futures in regard to gainful employment, educational opportunities and health care undoubtedly are relieved to know that legislators spent time to guarantee that “In God We Trust” will emblazon some part of the state Capitol.

They may be less relieved that some legislators have decided to replicate the Old West with six-guns on every hip because Tennessee was not at a geographically advantageous location for saloon showdowns.

Some legislative acts simply are inexplicable in either universe.

Presumably, since the Republican Party dominates both houses of the legislature, the majority of lawmakers are pro-life, yet they have passed a law that means that pregnant women may face criminal penalties if their babies suffer medical harm because of their consumption of illegal drugs.

Care of the child should be of the utmost concern, but the possibility of criminal penalties could result in termination of the pregnancies, which the majority of state legislators cannot support.

District attorneys and law-enforcement officers may want some solution to dealing with the harm to infants because of drug abuse, but approval of such punitive action could have unintended consequences.

More thought should have gone into this solution as it should have gone into protecting the state from the United Nations and providing economic incentives for the holster-manufacturing industry.

More thought, however, may be too much to ask.



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