Some political and policy commentary reading suggestions for Tennessee political junkies, 5/20/2018

Whiskey River take the Legislature’s mind?

In a rambling article on the political influence of state’s most famous whiskey, Sam Stockard mixes Jack Daniels with PAC money, lobbyists, legislators, rock  ‘n’ roll, the Tennessee Constitution, legislators and the attorney general  under the headline, “Jack Daniels may no longer be a sacred cow.” After reading the intoxicating tale, the headline may not ring true, but perhaps there is solace in the concluding line:  Just enjoy the whiskey and forget all your woes. (HERE)

In GOP guber primary, overblown emphasis on illegal immigration?

Citing TV commercials by Diane Black and Randy Boyd, columnist Frank Cagle throws in a bit of sarcasm (evidently, Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republican legislature have allowed the state to be overrun) in suggesting gubernatorial candidate passion for attacking illegal immigration is overblown to the detriment of discussing other issues actually related to state, rather than federal, government. Health care, for example. The reason, he says, is pandering to right-wing  talk radio and popular websites devoted to crusading against illegal immigrants. The article is HERE. The last line:

There was a time when John Seigenthaler and the Nashville Tennessean set the campaign agenda and influenced candidate positions on issues. That role is now being filled by Steve Gill and the Tennessee Star website.

Democrats laughing over Sundquist and Blackburn; New twist in Bredesen bashing

Tennessee Democratic Party Vice Chairman John Litz, a former state representative from Morristown, has an op-ed piece published in the News Sentinel and Tennessean that follows an op-ed piece by former Gov. Don Sundquist endorsing Marsha Blackburn and criticizing former Gov. Phil Bredesen. Excerpt:

Political insiders are knee-slapping over the misstep, now jokingly referring to the incident as “Blackburn’s Boomerang” — a poorly thought-out attack that didn’t make a dent on Bredesen, but left bruises on Black and Sundquist.

The article is HERE. Previous post, including excerpt from Sundquist’s article, is HERE.

Staunchly Republican columnist Greg Johnson, meanwhile, says Bredesen as a governor earned GOP voter support, but if elected to the Senate, ”The deliberative pragmatist will have little influence, especially in his own party… a good man to a 1-in-100 irrelevancy.” HERE.

Legislature discovers blockchain

The Nashville Ledger reports at considerable length upon the “esoteric technology that some legislators had never heard of.” A bill embracing blockchain was unanimously approved in the past session, even though it had a Democratic sponsor. Excerpt quote:

“Blockchain technology is the shiny new penny, and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, because if you don’t you might get left behind. Tennessee is a very entrepreneurial state, and we like to make sure that if entrepreneurs think they need something we give it to them.”

The article is HERE. The bill is SB1662.

Economic value to undeveloped land

With state and local governments focused on bringing in more development, using grants to businesses and tax breaks, The Tennessean reports on the dramatic dwindling of forest and farmland – including a  study, focused on Middle Tennessee, that says there’s some economic value to having undeveloped land around (such as property values of homes located nearby are 16 percent higher near developed property). And maybe some non-economic value, as illustrated by a farmer who hasn’t sold his 250 acres yet:

“I guess I’m hard-headed,” he said. “I would not sleep well at night thinking that it had four houses per acre on it.”

Juvenile Justice Reform ‘gutted’

WPLN reviews what happened to Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed reform of the state’s juvenile justice system during the legislative session, which had the stated goal of reducing incarceration of youths who do things that wouldn’t be crimes if they were adults – like skipping school and drinking alcohol. Excerpted quote:

“The original bill … was gutted,” he says. “(It) is really the best word that I can use.”

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