Carrie Underwood is not happy with Tennessee lawmakers, after they passed the Ag Gag bill last week.
Neither is The City Paper's J.R. Lind, who says the bill — which would require evidence of livestock abuse be turned in within 48 hours — would actually serve to protect animal abusers by potentially criminalizing those who would expose them, and take an Orwellian piss on the First Amendment.
As free citizens in our day are wont to do, Underwood tweeted her frustration:
Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who's with me?
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) April 18, 2013
As Tennessee legislators are wont to do, state Rep. Andy Holt, offered a half-brained response. From WSMV, after the jump:
State Sen. Stacey Campfield returned to Knoxville after a long arduous session spent embarrassing everyone who calls Tennessee home and, possibly after picking up his girlfriend from the bus stop, proceeded to debate former Knoxville DJ J. LaLonde. Posters for the event featured two boxers engaged in a furious duel!
But it seems the gloves very much stayed on.
According to Baker, "Ramsey’s attitude is said to be, “' Don’t get mad, get even.' ”
Harwell's Senate sponsor, Dolores Gresham, might not even bother to bring the bill before the full Senate today before adjournment. More from Baker:
Though sibling rivalries have happened before between House and Senate and between their respective speakers, this is the most serious schism yet involving the GOP leadership. At one point, there was a heated exchange in Legislative Plaza between Gresham and House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Just about all the rest of the state's political reporters, with nothing better to do as lawmakers drone on about inconsequential bills, are trying to figure out what's happening with the charter authorizer bill, too. A Metro school guy sitting in the gallery said he overheard some of the talk in a gaggle of high-ranking Republicans at the Senate podium, and that Ramsey said, "We're done." Take that for what you think it's worth.
Update: Gresham sent the bill to the Calendar committee, and the Senate is preparing to adjourn. So barring some extremely weird doings, the charter authorizer is dead for the year.
According to lawmakers, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey took her bill hostage and refused to let the Senate act on it until the House adopted his judicial redistricting bill. In their caucus this morning, House Republicans were riled up about it.
A few minutes ago, the House killed Ramsey's bill by a resounding 66-28 vote after much blustery chest-beating by representatives about not letting the Senate push around the House.
"Vote no on the bill because it's not our bill!" Rep. Bill Sanderson cried. He said Ramsey's bill was "crammed down our throats."
The Senate has just reconvened from lunch, and Ramsey's House sponsor—Rep. Jon Lundberg—has arrived at the podium to whisper the bad news to the speaker. They are frowning at each other and shaking their heads.
Now, the question is whether Ramsey will make good on his threat to kill Harwell's bill in retaliation, or is he bluffing?
Senators aren't too fond of Harwell's bill anyway. It took weeks of wrangling to pry it out of the Senate Finance Committee and that happened only after the bill was amended into a nearly meaningless state.
Mercy for Animals said, "The purpose of these bills is to prevent whistleblowers from documenting and exposing the full extent of animal abuse and other criminal activity in factory farms and slaughterhouses. The practical effects of these bills would be to allow factory farms to scapegoat low-level employees for cruel and inhumane practices that start at the top while shielding managers and corporate executives from criminal liability."
The bill by Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Frank Niceley would have exempted gold purchases from the state sales tax. Paranoid conspiracy theorists preparing for Armageddon could have saved a mint.
Carr claimed he actually wasn’t trying to help out a few friends on the fringe. He was trying to help only one of them—some constituent who wants to open a big gold warehouse here. That’s exactly what we need to do—poke another loophole in our tax system to benefit one of Joe Carr’s constituents.
The House budget subcommittee killed the bill unceremoniously without comment this morning.
State House Republicans just voted 30-23 to join the Senate in going home by Friday, rather than quitting today and coming back for another week of anguish.
House Speaker Beth Harwell told the Republican caucus there still are 40 bills to debate this session, in addition to the state budget.
They include her state charter authorizer proposal to stick it to the Metro school board for denying the Great Hearts application last year, and the "ag gag" bill to curtail prosecutions for animal cruelty at factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Conservatives are miffed at Attorney General Bob Cooper for refusing to join the lawsuit brought by many other Republican states against ObamaCare. Plus, he persists in writing opinions that their crazy bills are unconstitutional. Once the attorney general is under the supermajority’s thumb, this kind of thing won’t happen.
For bonus points, Republicans get to mess with the state Supreme Court, which they still hate for ruling in favor of abortion rights in 2000’s infamous Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist decision.
“We’re just trying to bring some accountability to the process,” Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, said. “It takes away even the appearance that [the attorney general] does not answer to the people.”
This resolution hasn’t been heard in the House yet. If the House adopts it next year, it will need to pass the next General Assembly by a two-thirds vote, and then it will go on the ballot for voter approval in the 2018 election.
The agribusiness industry claims innocently that it’s trying to stop animal cruelty with this bill. But the real goal is to stop prosecutions of animal cruelty by criminalizing whistleblowing on factory farms.
The bill makes it a crime to videotape animal cruelty or abuse and then fail to turn in the evidence to authorities within 48 hours. That's to stop animal rights activists from accumulating enough documentation to prove that animal cruelty is routine at some factory farms and slaughterhouses. Under this bill, farmers can claim the abuse is a one-time occurrence and go on their merry way.
To their credit, a couple of Republicans tried to shame their colleagues into voting against this bill, which came from that corporate front, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
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