Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bills From Last Night: Judicial Discipline, Echinacea Tennesseensis (Or How Many Counties Are There in Tennessee?)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Will the governor veto this beautiful flower?
  • Will the governor veto this beautiful flower?
A couple of things worth noting from last night's floor sessions:

Judging Judges: Years of debate over judicial discipline may be over, for the time being, after the House last night passed a compromise bill on the matter. The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, eliminates the current Court of Judiciary and replaces it with a 16-member panel, made up of 10 judges and six other legal types, appointed by the governor and the House and Senate speakers.

Here's Humphrey with all the details.

What is 95?: In accordance with the governor's urging that we focus on substance, we report to you that the House last night unanimously passed a bill that adds Echinacea Tennesseensis as a state wild flower. The real point of interest, though, came during debate on the bill, brought by Rep. Ryan Williams.

Debate on the bill.

There was debate on the bill.

After the bill's introduction, Rep. Phillip Johnson rose with a few questions about the particulars, allowing for this brilliant exchange:

Johnson: Where can you find this Echinacea Tennesseensis flower?

Williams: I'm being told it is found in two historic Tennessee battlefields but in four counties.

Johnson: In four counties?

Williams: Yes, across the state.

Johnson: How many counties do we have in this state?

Williams: Um. I don't even remember.

Eventually, Williams was helped out by some other members, who managed to yell out, "95!" as they laughed. Johnson went on to question, with a bit of a smirk, how the members could support the measure when the flower was only in four counties. He questioned whether Williams could identify the flower himself. He even wondered aloud if the body should put a sunset on the legislation, in case, we guess, the flower becomes extinct or experiences a dramatic revival.

Frivolous as the exchange was, we applaud Johnson for making Williams earn it. It's good for legislators to know that even if they're just trying to help out a rare flower, they can't just phone it in. Williams' forgetful moment is understandable, though, since he probably never imagined he'd have to answer anything about the bill, let alone the state map.

In any event, the bill has now passed both chambers and heads to the governor. A state awaits his decision.

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