Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thank The State Lawmakers For Ending Session Early

It's far too beautiful a day to talk too much politics, but I did want to share a few thoughts about the current session of the TN Legislature which has now ended. First, thank the Good Lord they stopped before they made things any worse than they already did.

Corporations got excellent representation and more rights, the average citizen ... meh, not so much. Not a surprise since the so-called Tea Party Conservative Republicans were highly funded corporate puppets who pretended to be 'jes folks to voters.

I was happy myself to see an issue I wrote about often here, a proposal to reduce public notices of foreclosure, died as it should have. In the end, the state did alter the law by declaring just what specific information must be included about the property to be foreclosed, which will reduce the costs of running such ads. But realize too, the banks and their attorneys were the ones who took the original foreclosure law designation - "a brief description" of the property - and ramped it up to a very long and detailed document which cost already struggling homeowners more money.

In truth, however, I don't think the state backed off their plans because of concern about struggling homeowners. I think that once it became very clear that this law would also apply to commercial property too, then businesses quietly voiced their total opposition to such a plan.

And the concept of public notice is not and was not designed to be a "revenue stream" for newspapers. Public notices remain the only accountability in the foreclosure process. As I noted before, the vast majority of mortgages for homes and businesses, already include specific details on the number of public notices required prior to a foreclosure process. Public notices in general remain under attack in the legislature - and it will now cost much much more for anyone to even request and receive public documents.

It's sad how the public has to pay and pay and pay for the duties elected and appointed officials are already supposed to do.

R. Neal at KnoxViews makes some great points today too about what this session of lawmakers have done:

Us commie liberal bloggers tried to warn you, but voters were fooled anyway by Republican talk of jobs and improving our state's economy. Instead, they got a fantasy smorgasbord of conservative social engineering:

• Tort "reform," taking away your right to seek just compensation for injury or death due to negligence. (They say this is a "jobs" bill. Do we really want employers lured to the state just so they can avoid responsibility for their actions?)

• Made it harder for employees to seek compensation for workplace injuries. Will also allow employers to present uncorroborated, made up evidence when denying unemployment claims.

• Attacks on public education and teachers. Your tax dollars will fund private schools run by drive-by dilettantes for wealthy families, while hard-working teachers and professional educators are shut out of the discussion and subjected to greater political pressure and special interest influence to keep their jobs.

• Authorized contractors to discriminate against gay people when doing business with local governments. Set the stage for banning education about homosexuality in schools.

• Invoked the 10th Amendment to opt out of federal health care programs and regulation.

• Passed a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to take away a woman's right to make her own decisions about reproductive health. Bonus: it will get even more conservative fundamentalist voters to the polls during the next election when it appears on the ballot for voter approval.

• Enacted a meaningless "anti-terrorism" law aimed at persecuting Muslims.

• Attacked free and fair elections by banning voter verifiable voting machines. They also made it harder for the elderly, disabled and economically disadvantaged to vote while at the same time allowing corporations to now make campaign contributions.

Still, Tom Humphrey at the KNS points out a few items which were at least a little bit helpful in their $30 billion dollar budget:

--$71 million for disaster relief from recent storms and flooding.

--$45 million in funding for Higher Education capital projects.

--$20 million to allow lottery scholarships to be used during summer school.

--$16.5 million to issue bonds for the potential expansion of the Hemlock Semiconductor plant in Clarksville.

--$16 million in nursing home funding.

--$8.5 million to restore previously scheduled rate reductions to TennCare mental health providers.

--$33 million for TennCare services like labs, X-rays, dental and transportation.

But legislation is never simple, easy or direct. Go read Southern Beale's post and you'll see what I mean.

All of this, of course, masks the true agenda, which is to transfer power from the people to corporations.

Along those lines, this legislative session allowed corporations to donate directly to political campaigns and operate “virtual schools” (whatever the hell that is). We’ve exempted insurance agents and brokers from the TN Consumer Protection Act, and yes we’ve passed “tort reform” ....

Keep in mind, of course, that all of this pro-corporate stuff comes straight from the industry-funded ALEC, which has identical legislation in state legislatures all across the country. But if you want to still believe the fairytale that Tennessee legislators are rugged individualists who don’t take their marching orders from anyone, least of all Washington, D.C., well here’s a glass of Kool-Aid for you."

As much overblown, overtalked nonsense which tumbles out of our state legislature as they invoke this or that part of the state's constitution, I wish they would keep in mind the very first section - Article One, Declaration of Rights:

"Section 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness ...

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