As legislators strolled into the House and Senate chambers for the noon opening gavel, protesters lined the marble hallways and demanded an end to the sales tax on food. Then as the House session started, they tossed fake checks like confetti onto the lawmakers from the gallery. The pieces of green paper were titled "The People's Bribe." They were made out to the Tennessee General Assembly for $99.99 and signed "the 99 percent."
In her first-day address, House Speaker Beth Harwell lectured Democrats on the need to quickly OK Republican redistricting maps to help political candidates meet the April 5 qualifying deadline. That's rich, isn't it? Republicans keep their plans under wraps until the 11th hour and then claim it's the Democrats' patriotic duty to rubber-stamp them.
"I hate starting the year in such a rush with a divisive topic, but I would like to remind you that we have responsibilities," Harwell said. "And one of those responsibilities every decade is to process these bills and get them out to the citizens."