The 108th General Assembly of the great state of Tennessee will gather at the capital in Nashville today, and before they call it day and head out to the nearest watering holes you can bet your lungs one or two batshit crazy laws will be proposed. Just because. It's what they do in Nashville, and it can be wildly entertaining.
Look at the last General Assembly. They proposed laws to make it illegal to wear saggy pants in public schools. They tried to make it a fireable offense if a teacher discussed homosexual lifestyles ("Don't Say Gay!") in Tennessee classrooms. They wanted to make it legal for gun owners to leave their loaded weapons in the trunks of their cars, even on company property where that company forbids weapons. They voted to keep Sharia Law out of our courtrooms, and to fight the implementation of Obamacare in the Volunteer State.
The incoming legislature will be decidedly conservative, with Republicans holding 26 out of the 33 Senate seats and 70 of 99 House seats, as well as the Governor's office. Sheer numbers alone will make it far more tempting for culture warriors to push lousy legislation in this session, and there is little anyone can do to keep the state from being the butt of late night comedians again this year.
One flickering sign of hope is a new proposal put forth by House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville to limit each lawmaker to a maximum of ten bills per legislative session. The thinking behind such a restriction is that even wingnutters will have to pick and choose which loony bills they propose if they're held to a limit of ten per session. You can't just take the latest pamphlet from the John Birch Society and march to the floor of the House to demand a ban on all new mosques in Tennessee if it means you won't have room on your personal docket for more guns, fewer abortions, voter fraud canards, and such nonsense.
If it limits fringe bills from making the nightly news, there's hope for us yet.
Tennessee has a high unemployment rate, low average earnings, low high school graduation rates, an increasing number of teen pregnancies, and is right up there with Mississippi in obesity, smoking, and a host of other embarrassing statistics. Apparently, representing a state that is increasingly fat, ignorant, and unemployed isn't enough of an incentive for our lawmakers... they want to be on The Daily Show for all the wrong reasons, too.
Anyway, if you aren't busy doing something productive, keep an eye on the legislature in Nashville in the coming weeks. I promise, you'll be facepalming on a daily basis. They can't help themselves.
We're so proud...