Official state stuff: Memphis Belle OK; spat over Oak Ridge Playhouse
While the House and Senate have unanimously agreed to declare the “Memphis Belle” as Tennessee’s official state airplane, there’s a difference between the two chambers on granting similar official recognition to the Oak Ridge Playhouse.
The Memphis Belle, subject of two movie productions, is described in SB1263 as “a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress” that is “arguably one of the five most famous aircraft in United States history.” The plane flew bombing missions over Germany during World War II. It was named, says the bill preamble, “for pilot Robert K. Morgan’s sweetheart, Memphis native Margaret Polk.”
The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) passed both chambers unanimously on Monday evening.
Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) and Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) are sponsors of HB985, which – as introduced – declares the Oak Ridge Playhouse “the official state community theater.” But in a House committee, the measure was amended on motion of Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) to amend by declaring the Oak Ridge facility “an” official state community theater rather than “the” official community theater.
Daniel said he was concerned that using “the” might unfairly exclude other community theaters from official state recognition and Ragan acknowledged that, while there are apparently other community theaters, he had no list of where they are or how many there are. The sponsor said the door would be open for others to seek similar state recognition in the future. Ragan said he preferred to keep “the” in place, but would go along with “an” to get the bill out of committee.
The bill is scheduled for consideration on both the House and Senate floor playhouses (OK, make that “sessions”) Monday evening, providing a bit of theater for the normally placid process of designating official state stuff.