No, Tennessee Does Not Have the “Most Regressive” Tax System

[Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on the Beacon Center of Tennessee’s blog.]

Tennessee Legislator Introduces Fourth Amendment Protection Act, Joins Seven Other States

Lawmakers in at least seven states are taking the fight against the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to state capitols. All bills introduced locally to keep the states from cooperating with the federal government were based on the Off Now Coalition’s model bill.

Tennessee has now joined Washington, Kansas, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana in the battle to keep the federal government’s advances against privacy from spreading. The bill introduced by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) would keep the state from providing water and electricity to an NSA facility or any other federal agency “claiming the power to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant.”

The bill would prohibit the state of Tennessee from taking part in any effort to abuse the Fourth Amendment by ensuring that the NSA does not obtain any local material support, which is fundamental to the smooth operation of their facilities. The bill would also ensure that data gathered without a warrant and shared with local law enforcement agencies, cannot be used as evidence in state court. Any local public University in Tennessee would be prohibited from serving as recruiting grounds to the NSA. The agency would also be kept from using universities as research facilities.

OPINION: “Tennessee ‘Guns in Parking Lots’ Bill a Net Drain on Liberty”

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Daily Caller just published a new editorial of mine, in which I critique Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s proposal to protect gun rights by trampling property rights, and in which I offer the TN General Assembly a few alternative paths forward. Here’s an excerpt:

As Justice Antonin Scalia articulated in the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, we find the Second Amendment’s roots in the English Declaration of Rights of 1689, which asserted what Scalia called an “ancient right” of people to not be disarmed by the Crown. The Founders also recognized this right, and were wary of a government — any government — that would disarm its citizens. Ownership and possession of firearms, they believed, separated citizens from subjects.

Ramsey’s supporters are rightly bothered by the current regime, under which a gun owner can receive a jail sentence if found in possession of a firearm where a “NO GUNS ALLOWED” sign is posted, even on private property. To that extent, threats of criminal charges and imprisonment have a chilling effect on the exercise of ancient rights. Nobody should doubt the deterrent effect of firearm possession on violent crime, and gun owners are right to want to carry in today’s society.

But the current law was borne out of a conflict of rights: the right of a citizen to keep and bear arms, and the right of a property owner to determine the conditions under which someone may enter his/her property. We should view the issue as one of voluntary bargaining between private actors in the market; this is not a cut-and-dry Second Amendment issue.

Recapping Super Tuesday

If you’re like me, you went to bed before the Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota results started to tricke in. It wasn’t hard to see at that point that last night was a good night for Mitt Romney, though he didn’t deliver the “knock out” punch to end the race quickly. We’re probably going to see this thing drag out between he and Rick Santorum for at least the rest of this month.

Had Romney won in Tennessee, it would be a different story. However, exit polls showed that socially conservative voters came out pretty strong in that state. Additionally, Romney’s win in Ohio was very close. So while he may get to claim the state and it certainly helps with momentum, it shows that he is still just getting by.

Santorum is going to keep trucking. As he said last night, he won a few states and got “silver medals” in others. His biggest issue is money. While his team says they’re willing to take the race all the way to Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, he may not have the resources to get that far.

Of course, Santorum’s biggest obstacle isn’t Romney, it’s Gingrich. Conventional wisdom says that if Gingrich drops out that Santorum will be the beneficiary. That’s probably true, but only to a certain extent. Gingrich was defiant last night, but the writing is on the wall. He’s not going to win, especially after five last place finishes. Yes, he won Georgia, but he didn’t get the 50% needed to take all of his home state’s delegates.

Ron Paul’s strategy of focusing on caucus states hasn’t panned out the way his campaign had hoped. Granted, Paul was strong in several states last night, but he still doesn’t have a win in either a caucus or a primary. But as we’ve said before, Paul’s support has grown substantially since his run four years ago and he can no longer be ignored by Republicans.

It’s Super Tuesday: Is the end of the race around the corner?

It’s Super Tuesday, and hopefully the beginning of the end of the long and disasterous primary for the Republican Party. No one can deny that this cycle has been interesting process; well, most party primaries are. But this one has been especially painful to watch — especially recently, when the economy is the most pressing issue for voters, but some of the GOP candidates are focused on wedge social issues.

It’s hard to predict what will happen tonight, but observers say that Mitt Romney will have a good night and Newt Gingrich may re-establish himself if he manages to win more delegates that Rick Santorum, which looks like a very real possibility. On the other hand, we’ve seen so many twist and turns in this primary, would anyone be surprised to see a last minute surge for Santorum in Ohio or Gingrich not win Georgia by as substantial of a margin that polls indicate?

These three candidates — Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum — are a collective mess. While Gingrich generally respected amongst GOP voters and manages to gain enough support to remain relevant, national polls show him as toxic against Barack Obama.

Santorum isn’t much different. Polls show him doing decent in head-to-head matchups against Obama, but that’s largely because voters aren’t familiar with him. His socially conservative message isn’t one that will push independents to Republicans, and his numbers would fall even lower.

Herman Cain: People Have A “Right” to Ban Mosques

Herman Cain is the GOP’s 2012 token Islamophobe. When asked if he would be comfortable with “appointing a Muslim either in your cabinet or as a federal judge” Cain gave an emphatic “no” and stated that he “will not” appoint a Muslim to any such position:

He later campaigned against a mosque being built in Tennessee, ironically citing the First Amendment:

“It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” he said. “And I don’t agree with what’s happening, because this isn’t an innocent mosque.”

Now Cain is stating that Americans “have a right” to ban mosques that they don’t like:

In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.

The Free Market didn’t let the house burn

Some basic libertarian principles are catching flak over a house burning down. It seems that in Obion County, Tennessee, you’re required to either pay a $75 subscription fee for fire service or else risk your house burning down. Homeowner Gene Cranick didn’t, and when his house caught fire, firefighters watched it burn.

Some on the left are using this as evidence that libertarianism fails and is morally bankrupt. They also don’t know what they’re talking about.

First, many libertarians have no problem with municipal fire services. They don’t. Only a small handful want that in the private sector’s hands completely with subscriptions and such. However, what happened in Obion County wasn’t even what these people envision.

You see, Obion County does let residents opt in to paying for fire service. That is all fine and good. However, they also have a monopoly on fire services. I can subscribe to their service, or get nothing. That’s not the free market at work, that’s a tax they’re calling a fee but making optional. Gene Cranick should have had the choice of several operations if you’re going to make it optional. If the answer is still no, then oh well.

Cranick has stated that he would have paid anything once the fire broke out, and a free market operation would have responded to such. You see, the $75 subscription fee, in a free market, would have been part of a list of fees. Putting out a fire without the subscription fee would have cost more, but a free market operation would have been willing to do it for the extra income. Greed ain’t always a bad thing after all. Greed, the progressive boogie-man, would have put out the fire at Gene Cranick’s house. Adhering to regulations - you know, like all the regulations progressives seem to love? - caused Cranick’s house to burn down.

McCain and Obama Debate in Tennessee

The second Presidential campaign debate of the 2008 election took place Tuesday night, October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. This debate took place when the Obama campaign had been riding high from the bounce from economic conditions that would favor the party not currently in the White House. However, the post-VP debate spin seemed to be moving toward McCain. Tuesday morning’s polling seemed to indicate that McCain was cutting into Obama’s lead. However, I believe that the slight swing to McCain will end with the results of Tuesday night’s debate.

Beretta has had enough: Gunmaker plans to bolt from Maryland due to restrictive new gun control laws


Businesses may not be able to vote, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not responsive to policies enacted by lawmakers that could hurt them. This usually revolves around tax policy and/or regulations. But other policies can have a similar effect. And Beretta, a gun manufacturer based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is a perfect example of that.

The Maryland legislature passed and, last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) signed several restrictive gun control measures into law, including a ban on high-capacity magazines and certain “assault weapons.” And, in response to these new laws, Beretta announced plans to move its operations to Tennessee:

The culture clash escalated after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza killed 27 people, including 20 first-graders. In the political furor that followed, Maryland banned 45 types of assault weapons and put in place tough fingerprint, photo identification and training requirements —restrictions viewed by Beretta as the legislative equivalent of a declaration of war on its operations.

Another Dave Brat-style upset could happen in the #TNSen Republican primary

Lamar Alexander

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander has been in and out of government service since he worked as Senator Howard Baker’s legislative assistant and in the Nixon White House in the late 1960s. He successfully ran for Governor of the Volunteer State in 1978. After two terms as Governor, Alexander served as President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Education from March 1991 to January 1993. He ran unsuccessfully for President twice in 1996 and 2000. As a consolation prize, Alexander ran for and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, where he has served since.

In 1998, he published Lamar Alexander’s Little Plaid Book, which included 311 pithy quips and rules about public service. More on that in a minute.

Alexander, like Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, is his home state’s favorite son. He is still very popular as a public figure in Tennessee and is a relic of the “good ole boys” system that has for so long been a factor in both Southern politics and Senate politics. And to compound that issue, Tennessee, despite being a reliably conservative red state, has a real issue with electing moderates to statewide office. Current Governor Bill Haslam and junior Senator Bob Corker are all from the East Tennessee moderate wing of the Republican Party.

And speaking of East Tennessee: Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander likes to tell this story about a time he went into a convenience store in Maryville, Tennessee. The cashier rings up his purchase, and the Senator takes out his credit card to pay. The cashier looks at the name on the card and up at Alexander and asks, “Do you know your parents named you after a highway?” nodding outside to U.S. Highway 321 — “Lamar Alexander Parkway.”

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