Tennessee: 2012 State Legislative Priorities

The Tennessee General Assembly will begin its 2012 legislative session this week.  This begins the hard work of communicating with and encouraging our state legislators to stand up to the continued encroachments of the federal government on the rights of the citizens of the State of Tennessee.  For 2012, we are keeping our priorities simple.

Priority 1: Sheriffs First (HB0959/SB1108)

Last year, Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn introduced legislation that will require federal law enforcement officers to seek the permission of the county sheriff before executing an arrest, search, or seizure in the state of Tennessee except in specific situations.  The bill states:

“A federal employee who is not designated by state law as a Tennessee peace officer may not make an arrest, search, or seizure in this state without the written permission of the sheriff or designee of the sheriff of the county in which the arrest, search, or seizure will occur.”

Why is this bill needed?  We have seen a vast erosion of our rights as Tennesseans and Americans, even over just the last year.  With the Gibson Guitar factory raids, the extension of the Patriot act, and now the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) containing language that could be construed to allow for the indefinite detention of Tennesseans without probable cause or a trial it is critical that our state and local officials stand up to this overreach and provide real protection for Tennesseans from these egregious unconstitutional actions of the federal government.


Feds Conduct Gestapo-Style Raids on Tennessee Guitar Maker

On Wednesday, August 24, federal agents conducted a Gestapo-style raid, complete with automatic weapons and bulletproof vests, on Gibson Guitars manufacturing facilities in Nashville and Memphis. The reason for all the firepower and spent taxpayer money to fly in agents from New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Washington, DC to take part in the raid?  The federal government executed search warrants to seize wood – yes, wood – from Gibson that they allege was imported illegally.

What were the feds expecting Gibson employees to do that required SWAT gear, make the federal agents cringe by playing out of tune guitars at them?

According to statements by Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz at a press conference following the raids, Gibson was never informed by the federal government as to the charges leveled against the company.

“What is more troubling is that the Justice Department’s position is that any guitar that we ship out of this facility is potentially an obstruction of justice, and to be followed with criminal charges,” Juszkiewicz said.

In other words, to add insult to the injury inflicted when the federal government took Gibson’s property without informing them of the charges –  a violation of the Sixth Amendment right of the accused “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,” they have also attempted to shut down Gibson’s business by preventing them from moving any guitars outside of the searched facilities.


Stealing Haslam’s Money

cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center

You are stealing Governor Bill Haslam’s money. And he’s not happy about it.  In fact, he’s downright upset about it.  After all, how can any self-respecting Tennessean be so selfish as to try to hold on to more than their fair share of the money the benevolent state and federal governments allow them to keep from their labors.

It’s a national tragedy that’s playing out in states all across the country.  In every state of the union, citizens are trying to keep too much money.  After all, it’s not even your money.  What you don’t understand is that all money belongs to the government.  See, this is how it really works:  you work hard at your job to earn money for the government, and because the government is so nice they actually designate a portion of it for you to keep.  Isn’t that great?

But it doesn’t stop there.  Then the state government has to take its cut.  Because Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax (thank heavens!), we have to pay sales tax.

According to Governor Haslam the state of Tennessee is losing between $300 and $500 million because of untaxed internet sales.

Did you get that?  Haslam thinks the money in your pocket belongs to the state of Tennessee.  The state of Tennessee isn’t LOSING anything.  It’s YOUR money!  You get to decide how to spend it, not him.


The Price We Pay

February 8, 1924 dawned cold and icy, just like any other winter morning in Emory Gap, Roane County, Tennessee.

But the day would prove far from ordinary.

Constable James Jett had information about an illegal moonshine still on the Newport family farm.  This was the era of Prohibition, and the U.S. Constitution had been amended to outlaw the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.”  This moonshining had to be stopped, and Constable Jett was determined to uphold the law by destroying the still and arresting the moonshiners.

Constable Jett couldn’t conduct a moonshine raid by himself; he was going to need some help. And he couldn’t think of anyone better to help him on the raid than Deputy Sheriff John Franklin Swann.  The two men worked raids together previously, and Deputy Swann was a good man he could count on to have his back. So Jett stopped by the Swann home that morning to ask for help.  John got his gun, and said goodbye to his wife Essie and their four small children. He promised to be home for supper and left with Constable Jett at about 8:55 a.m.

That was one promise John would not be able to keep.

At the farm, 15-year-old Leland Newport went up from the house to the family’s moonshine still to get something.  He arrived to find Constable Jett and Deputy Swann in the process of destroying the family’s still.  The two lawmen arrested and handcuffed Leland, and Constable Jett went down to the Newport house, presumably to make more arrests. He left Deputy Swann guarding Leland.

At some point, Leland managed to run off through the chicken lot toward the house.  An eyewitness said that Walter Newport, seeing his younger brother running toward the house handcuffed, called out to Leland “Son, what are you doing with them things on?”  Leland replied, “Jett and Swann arrested me and put ‘em on me.”

An eyewitness in the home said that upon hearing this, Walter grabbed his gun and left the house for the barn.  Less than a minute later, the witness heard shots ring out.  He hightailed it away from the Newport farm, fleeing from the trouble.

Two young men were rabbit hunting near the scene and witnessed the shooting.  Dewey Pressly and Roosevelt Stamps heard four rifle shots from either the barn or the nearby chicken house. Then the two men saw Constable Jett come running out of the Newport’s barn and fall down on all fours. They heard him loudly cry out “Oh!”

With the sharp sound of two more shots, Deputy Swann also fell. The two hunters heard him repeatedly crying “Oh Lord!” as he struggled to get back up.

According to stories passed down, it was Maynard Human who shot Deputy Swann.  Walter Newport and John Swann often played pool together at the local pool hall and Walter considered him a friend.  When Walter said he couldn’t shoot John, Maynard reportedly said “you have to” and took the gun from Walter and fired the fatal shot.

Deputy Swann’s liver was shot into pieces and part of it was completely severed, lying loose outside his body in the front of his shirt. Medical examiner Dr. H. M. Carr stated at the trial, “There was a piece of his liver about five inches long and two and a half inches wide that was out here under his shirt.”


Tennessee Outlaws Jerks

The State of Tennessee has actually done the impossible – jerks have been outlawed in Tennessee.  Not only are jerks outlawed, but now you can actually do hard time as a felon for being a jerk.  How has Tennessee accomplished such a mighty feat, you ask?  By outlawing and criminalizing freedom of speech and expression in the electronic world.

The new law (HB0300), which goes into effect on July 1, states that anyone who,

“Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by any method described in subdivision (a)(1), without legitimate purpose.”

The law covers any form of electronic communication, including internet, telephone, text messaging, and faxes.  The data transmitted could be anything from sound, video, pictures, or images.

Any communication in Tennessee could be construed as criminal if it is communicated:

“In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.”

Thus, you are a criminal jerk if you communicate with someone in a way that offends or emotionally distresses them.  Even more shocking is that only four legislators in the entire legislature voted against this draconian measure:  Sen. Mike Bell, Rep. Scotty Campbell, Rep. Joey Hensley, and Rep. Mark Pody.  Has the Tennessee General Assembly lost its mind?


TN Legislative Update – Week of May 1

Real ID Nullification

The Real ID Nullification Bill (HB1874/SB1638) was delayed a week in going before the full House Transportation Committee.  It has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 3.  This bill is critical to defend Tennesseans against the unconstitutional federal Real ID program, as well as the move toward a global ID card (to find out more about the alarming realities of Real ID click here).  Please continue to contact members of the Transportation Committee and encourage them to support this important bill.


Constitutional Tender for Tennessee?

cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center

Sen. Bill Ketron has introduced a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly that will create a committee to study creating an alternative currency for Tennessee in the even of a collapse of the Federal Reserve.  SJR0098 is an important step towards bringing constitutional tender to Tennessee.

When our Founders wrote the Constitution, in Article I, Section 10 they wrote “No State shall … make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”  The reason for this is that historically fiat currencies, that is currrencies not made of or backed by gold and silver, always collapse.  The United States currently uses fiat currency in the form of Federal Reserve Notes that are not backed by gold or silver.

SJR0098 pending before the Tennessee General Assembly recognizes this and seeks to ensure the economic viability of the state in the event of a collapse of the Federal Reserve.  The resolution states:


Tennessee Passes Health Care Freedom Act

On Monday, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act cleared its last hurdle in the Tennessee General Assembly.  The House voted 70 to 27 to pass the legislation, following on the heels of the Senate passage of SB0079 on February 23.  This bill provides vital protections to Tennesseans who choose not to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year.   The Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act states:

It is declared that the public policy of this state, consistent with our constitutionally recognized and inalienable right of liberty, is that every person within this state is and shall be free to choose or to decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty.

It is declared that the public policy of this state, consistent with our constitutionally recognized and inalienable right of liberty, is that every person within this state has the right to purchase health insurance or to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government may not interfere with a citizen’s right to purchase health insurance or with a citizen’s right to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government may not enact a law that would restrict these rights or that would impose a form of punishment for exercising either of these rights. Any law to the contrary shall be void ab initio.

The bill will be heading to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk shortly.


Tennessee Legislative Update: Week of 02-27-11

We had a huge victory last week with the passage of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act by the Senate.  SB0079 sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers passed the Senate 21 to 10 with 1 present not voting.  Those voting against the bill were Senators Barnes, Berke, Burks, Ford, Harper, Haynes, Herron, Marrero, Stewart, and Tate.  Senator Kyle was present not voting.

SB0079’s companion bill in the House, HB0115 sponsored by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver was recommended for passage by the General Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee and is scheduled for review by the full Commerce Committee on March 1.  Please begin contacting the members of the Commerce Committee to express your support for the Tennessee Health Freedom Act.