Commentary

Commentary: A Modest Proposal for the General Assembly,

With apologies to Jonathan Swift

April 21, 2021 4:00 am
Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

I have a modest proposal to make.

Why does Tennessee need 95 counties? Think of the efficiencies to be gained by consolidating them into one county.

Why does Tennessee need general sessions courts, circuit courts – civil and criminal at that – chancery courts, appellate courts and a supreme court, not to mention the state attorney general? Think of the efficiencies to be gained by consolidating them into one court.

Why does Tennessee need a governor with the accompanying agencies and departments?  Think of the efficiencies to be gained by eliminating the executive branch.

After all, Tennessee has a General Assembly and it represents all the people.  Just look at it.  Mostly white.  Mostly male.  Mostly middle-aged.  Mostly Christian.  And assuredly, mostly Republican and conservative.

It has the interests of the people at heart, and it knows their interests, probably better than they do.

The General Assembly already has state and local government committees in both chambers, and so they can take over for the counties and the executive branch.

The judiciary committees are well prepared to take over the functions of the courts, and besides the courts have repeatedly shown they don’t understand that the General Assembly knows the laws and state and federal constitutions better than they do.

This modest proposal can also take care of the debate on elections.  Do we really need them any more, considering the potential for fraud and for people voting who shouldn’t be voting?

The General Assembly can be self-perpetuating, with the current members electing their successors.

ennessee has a General Assembly and it represents all the people.  Just look at it.  Mostly white.  Mostly male.  Mostly middle-aged.  Mostly Christian.  And assuredly, mostly Republican and conservative.

And there is an efficiency to be gained within the General Assembly.  Do we really need the Democratic members in either the House or the Senate?  Eliminating those seats will save tens of thousands of dollars and also make deliberations in committees and on the floor so much more efficient without distractions like having to answer questions.

The time for this modest proposal has come.  Surely, there is a caption bill broad enough to handle all of this.  The late Rep. Shelby Rhinehart never was without one or two caption bills late in a session just for such an opportunity.

As soon as the General Assembly dispenses with the legislation to take the authority away from the state attorney general for handling constitutional challenges, it should turn its attention to this modest proposal.  The proposed legislation is just tinkering around the edges.  But, this modest proposal would be a game changer.

 

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Jim O'Hara
Jim O'Hara

Jim O’Hara served as Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs at the Food and Drug Administration from 1993-1997 and Associate Administrator for External Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency from 2012-2013.

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