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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

more on reform

First to have real reform, you have to take the power to do this away
from the legislature. I'm not saying that the current group working on reform is bad or not doing the work, but there is, and will continue to be the perception of "the foxes guarding the hen house" telling the other foxes to "get out of the hen house." It does not look good no matter the result.

Other problems involve actual passage--as an example, look at the "reform" attempted last year. It passed both the House and Senate, yet Lt. Governor Wilder stopped reform while giving his flock coverage by appointing it to a summer study committee. Legislators were then able to go home to their districts and talk about how they passed a big reform bill so they could get re-elected. But there is only one little problem: oops! Lt. Governor Wilder never appointed a committee and it all disappeared.

Perhaps this ethics bill is floating somewhere in the cosmos. Maybe, just maybe, Wilder can call upon the ghost of some dead president to retrieve the bill before Tennessee taxpayers get taken to the cleaners... again. Perhaps Senator Ford could serve Wilder as a medium to channel the bill from its undisclosed location back into the halls of the legislature. I've heard of tabling a bill---but if it has been sent to the cosmos...well, that's a bit extreme.

I think a new independent nonpartisan group (maybe a branch of the election commission) needs to have power. A $50.00 fine is a joke for the money some are taking in.

As the late Senator Koella used to say, if we're going to pass a law, let's put some teeth into it. Let's forget about a $50 fine, and instead press real charges.

These criminals should be dealt with as harshly as those they took advantage of. In some cases, a felony charge is not out of the question.

The final piece of reform should be an elected state-wide Attorney General who does not have to tow the line for anyone but the taxpayers. That means not owing his/her job to the Tennessee Supreme Court. If the voters aren't satisfied, he/she can be voted out and someone who will do the job can be put in. That is accountability--and accountability is sorely lacking.

An appointed Attorney General only has to keep a few people happy, that is, the justices who appoint him.

Next time I'll discuss some of the rules I would hope this new group would come up with and why ....


  1. Many problems in this state could be solved by citizens' initiatives, forcing referendums to be voted on by the citizens of Tennessee and bypassing the Legislature altogether. Tennessee, however, is one of many states that do not provide for citizens' initiatives, so initiatives can't be started here. That situation needs to be changed. It is undemocratic. Citizens' initiatives can be tough and expensive to do, but often, they are the only way to install common sense and justice for the citizens as a whole, particularly when a state is run as corruptly as Tennessee is.

  2. Citizen initiatives? for what country? we just LOST a vote today to keep ILLEGAL immmigrants from voteing

  3. You should tell the folks about that.

    I'm sorry to tell you that foreign interests have more pull in the Legislature than Tennessee citizens do.

    You might want to visit this Web site, because this is where our country is headed:


    They plan to expand to four states in phase 2.

    Donna Locke
    Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform

  4. thanks for blogging stacey.......good leadership.......keep up the good work........dk

  5. Voter initiatives have their ups and downs. Here in California, we have them and the really good ones like Prop 187 get shot down by the courts. Of course our courts use the Chinese Communist Constitution, so...

    On the other hand, our referendum process got us the Governator. If you don't think he's cool, try living under Gay Davis for a while.

  6. I would agree with donna locke in that we wouid be better served by having the ability bypass the Legislature through the usage of initiatives. It is extremely difficult for the citizenry to overcome the amount of influence that outside powers can exert on the legislature.

  7. I am for this also, I was just makeing a point.

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  9. One of the state legislators says that State Rep. Curry Todd -- who, among certain others, has shown a lot of courage this session -- offered an amendment on the floor to an election bill, an amendment to require proof of citizenship to register to vote. The legislator says the effort failed by one vote. They should try again.

    By law, only American citizens can vote in our elections, so what is the objection to requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration?

    I don't know the vote breakdown on that effort yesterday, but presentation of proof of citizenship upon voter registration and presentation of photo ID at the polls are often opposed by black legislators in the South because of fears of a return of the past when blacks were shut out of the voting process. I have pointed out to them that this is 2005, not 1955, and we have problems today that we didn't have then -- a massive number of noncitizens in our country. Measures that served us well in the past must evolve to meet the realities of today.

    Georgia, where I lived for a long time before returning to Tennessee, just passed a government-issued-photo-ID requirement for voters at the polls. But you need the proof of citizenship thing also and first.

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  11. Rep. Campfield, you are the future, according to a report in Carnegie Reporter about the future of the news business:


    Go to that Web site and click on "Carnegie Reporter Online." I tried to include the URL for the report here, but it won't go through in this blog, but you'll get to it.

  12. Citizen initiatives are a good idea on the surface, but too often they are merely special-interest-funded propaganda, and the voters can easily be suckered into something they really didn't want. We elect legislators to carefully sort through those kinds of pitfalls. I am not saying that there isn't also a need for the elimination of the "outside pressures" on our elected representatives, for such would make them directly accountable to their constituents. I also agree with Rep. Campfield that the AG and probably a few more statewide positions should be elected, not appointed -- or at least hired via panel interview, just NOT APPOINTED. Finally, look at the state of Washington's Commission on Public Disclosure. There's our example.

  13. Hey Stacey.

    It's Dr. Criswell here. Sorry to change the subject, but I thought you might like this....



  14. The problem that many have with requiring people to show proof of citizenship in order to vote is that it violates their Due Process rights. One of the standards used to measure this is called the "undue burden" principle (see Planned Parenthood v. Casey). The Supreme Court has established a largely subjective measure of this by stating that if government requirements place an undue burden on a citizen, then those requirements must be struck down as unconstitutional. In this case, some voters may have difficulty obtaining proof of citizenship; for example, those who cannot obtain a driver's license, the homeless, etc. Thus, if the law cannot meet the standard for all people, then it cannot be allowed to stand. I'm not sure how I stand on this issue, Constitutionally speaking. As a policy matter, I favor a bill that requires people to prove citizenship, but I need to research it just a little more.

    I'll try to post a story about this on my blog at Liberty Now.

  15. Okay, let me address the last post. What Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform is seeking, and what has already been put into law in a number of states, is this:

    In addition to proof of residency, prospective voters to show proof of citizenship (U.S. birth certificate or naturalization papers) as a requirement for voter registration. Considering we have the motor voter law, which opens up the process to easy fraud, Americans are crazy not to require this, since citizenship to vote is the law anyway!

    Next, voters to show U.S. government-issued photo ID (driver's license or state ID card from states that do not allow noncitizens to have DLs or state ID; or a U.S. passport; or a military ID; or something like that; we have a list) at the polls. New voters will not be showing proof of citizenship at the polls, since citizenship was proven when they registered to vote under this plan. However, when such a law is passed, if a person is already registered to vote, that person must also bring proof of citizenship to the polls the first time he or she votes after the law goes into effect. But just the first time.

    In addition there should be provision for provisional voting if a voter shows up without his/her proof of citizenship or photo ID. The verification can be done later.

    It is very important to have the provisional voting, or the courts could step in.

    Arizona voters, by initiative, passed a law with those requirements a few months ago.

    Arizona, like most of the states in the South, is subject to special oversight by the federal government under the Voting Rights Act. The new AZ law has been okayed by the U.S. Justice Dept.

    The Todd-Norris bill we're trying to get passed in Tenn. copies that AZ law.

    This won't get rid of all the fraud, and I haven't included all the details here, but if you want to lose control of your country, then keep the voting process unsecured. And yes, some illegal aliens and some legally present noncitizens are voting in our elections. Some of them have been caught. Most of that illegal voting was/is due to ignorance on the part of the noncitizens and those who registered them to vote.

  16. Donna, but it does not seem that you addressed the actual Constitutional question presented in my post: whether requiring people to show proof of citizenship violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. You presented the policy aspects of the legislation. Like I said, as a policy matter, I am all for this requirement, and I'm surprised that it hasn't been instituted sooner. However, from a Constitutional standpoint, it could have some problems like I noted above.

    Of course, an easy argument *for* this legislation from a Constitutional standpoint would be that the Tenth Amendment reserves for the states any power that is not expressly granted to the federal government.

  17. Mike, the voting rights and civil rights divisions of the U.S. Justice Dept. have okayed these requirements in Arizona and other states, where this stuff is already law.

    Frankly, I do not see that you have any constitutional argument, particularly when there are arrangements for provisional voting if the person shows up at the polls without ID.

    You have to show proof of citizenship to do a lot of things in this country. You certainly should be showing it to register to vote. Why should we be taking people's word for it? Yet we are in this state.

  18. Donna, first it's folly to allow the Justice Department to control any constitutional or civil rights aspects. It is the job of the judiciary to decide such matters. There have been many situations in which the Justice Department okay'd a policy and the courts struck it down. Second, be careful to give voting the status it holds as a Constitutional right. Being as such, any kind of restrictions placed on it (without good reason, i.e. felons) must be reviewed with strict scrutiny, which is the highest level of examination a court may use. Thus, it could possibly present some Constitutional issues when reviewed in such a matter as opposed to simply rational basis scrutiny.

  19. We only need one state legislature to find the courage to stand up to this lie and make their move. Make a commitment to oust any state legislator or senator who refuses to undertake this fight. We must replace these bad employees with ones who will get the job done or America is going down.



  20. Doug,
    sorry ,only the people can vote them out.I hope you are informed when you vote.

  21. Doug, if what that article says is true, then instead of trusting a legislature to solve the problem, it would be easier to challenge one of the federal statutes passed since the inclusion of 17A.

    And, Stacey, if Doug is informed when he votes then his situation would be a stark contrast to yours when you propose some of your unbelievable legislation.

  22. How did i know? stay tuned to my blog for a story on ths bill, it has been ammended to be more palletable to those who fear free speach in classrooms.

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  24. Check out my article for the Knox News Sentinel http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/archive/2005/April2005/TNCampfieldarticle041305.htm or check out Greg Johnson’s at http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/opinion_columnists/article/0,1406,KNS_364_3698186,00.html or any of the other articles by Googling my name and the student bill of rights as to why I support this bill.

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  26. question for camp, et al. -

    Who is the top-cop of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (i.r. THP Sheriff) ?

    Elected or appointed ?

    If appointed, by whom, term-length, process of being appointed, etc...

    Great blog !


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