Here come the Mid-Terms

On November 4th voting will begin for Tennessee’s Midterm Elections. This year citizens of Tennessee will be voting on amendments one, two, three, and four. Amendment one is on abortion, two is over the judicial selection, three is on income tax prohibition, and four is over charitable gaming. All amendments must have a majority vote by any citizen who is eligible to vote for the Governor. The competing campaigns for these amendments is the “yes on 1” and “no on 1.”

The first Amendment on the ballot has caused the most attention. The amendment would revise the abortion law and if passed will state that, “ Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother”. This means that if the amendment is passed, abortions will still be allowed in Tennessee. The State will also regulate how the abortion facilities are maintained.

The amendment was sponsored by Representative Diane Black who was a senator at the time and Senator Mae Beavers. Supporters of the amendment hope that it will better ensure the safety of the mother. However, those opposed to the amendment feel that if passed the State will limit the mothers ability to decide for themselves to have an abortion.

The Second Amendment that is to be voted on this year is the Judicial Selection amendment. This amendment will slightly alter how Tennessee’s Supreme court Judges are selected. The amendment will delete the first two sentences of the of the law and replace them with, “Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state…” This change is similar to the way federal judges are selected. This amendment will disband the Judicial Nominating Commission. It will also empower the legislature to confirm or reject appointments. These newly appointed judges would be allowed to serve an eight year term. The amendment is sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey and Representative Jon Lundberg.

The next amendment is the Income Tax Prohibition. This amendment will add at the end of the section and state that, “Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.”  The amendment is sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey and State Representative Glen Casada.  The measure would prohibit the legislature from levying, authorizing or permitting any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income.

The final amendment up for vote is the Charitable Gaming amendment. Currently the legislature is allowed to authorize lotteries if there is a two-thirds vote for most non for profit organizations known as 501(c)(3) groups, however 501(c)(19) organizations cannot apply for these lotteries.  501(c)(19)s are non-profit military organizations. The amendment will state that, “All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(19) organization, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code, located in this state.” This amendment is sponsored by Senator Rusty Crowe.

Besides these amendments Tennesseans will also be electing a Governor. This year Governor Bill Haslam is running for reelection for the Republican party. Running for the democratic party is Charles ‘Charlie” Brown.  Daniel Louis, Isa Infante, Shawn Crowell, and two other independent candidates will also be running for Governor.