-By Warner Todd Huston
One of the Things Wrong With Our Legislative System Appears in Tennessee
One of the things wrong with our system of creating legislation and passing it into law in America today has appeared in Tennessee. The Volunteer State is not the only place things like this happen, either.
Recently the Tennessee legislature passed a bill to remove state funding from the abortion mill operator Planned Parenthood. The bill was a hard fought victory for the Tennessee GOP and finds favor with the voters as well. As it happens, while the budget was winding its way through the Tennessee legislature a thus far unnamed state senator slipped in an amendment that no one saw, no one voted on, and no one knew anything about. This surreptitious amendment completely upends the defunding of Planned Parenthood quite despite the open legislative process that eliminated the funding in the first place. In other words, despite the political wrangling, the public debate, and the will of the voters having been heard, some abortion-loving pol took it upon himself to throw out all that democracy business and put his own will right into the budget.
This isn’t the only instance of an anti-democratic abuse of the legislative process. It happens all the time in nearly every state as well as Washington D.C. After weeks, months, even years of debate and crafting legislation we see these sort of things sipped into bills all the time, things that materially alter the original intent of the law.
What’s the point of having transformative elections, publicly debating proposed legislation, and passing same if it can all be undermined by secretive amendments that no one has a chance to even discuss before the voters?
As to this particular incident, some Tennessee legislators, advocate, and analysts are claiming that this last second budget amendment was added to keep PP from suing the state. One can only ask why anyone should care if PP tries to sue? These nuisance lawsuits are, any more, the result of nearly every bit of legislation passed these days.
Worse, the amendment in question was put in the budget one other time, too. It was removed that time, but was slipped in yet again this time in the state senate.
It is a corruption of the system, an abuse that reveals the arrogance of our elected officials. They don’t have any regard for either the public debate or the will of the voter.