TN political talk roundup: Outsourcing, Rusty Crowe, refugees & marijuana

Arguing over outsourcing

Randy Stamps, executive director of the Tennessee State Employees Association, did an op-ed piece a couple of weeks ago in the News Sentinel under the headline, “Outsourcing state services doesn’t save taxpayers money.”

In a rebuttal op-ed Sunday, state Department of General Services Commissioner  Bob Oglesby declares that Stamps’ article “makes misleading and factually wrong claims and chooses to back up his false premise with several charges that are equally incorrect.”

Retirement for Rusty Crowe in 2018?

There’s talk that state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, will not seek reelection in 2018, says Robert Houk in his Sunday column (though adding with some skepticism that “I’ve heard this guff before”).  There’s also talk of possible candidates to succeed the dean of Northeast Tennessee’s legislative delegation  – including  Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge,  former state Rep. Charles Allen, R-Johnson City; Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe and state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.

The speculation is coupled with a recounting of how Crowe, now 69, first won the Senate District 3 seat in 1990 – initially by winning the Democratic nomination as a write-in candidate, then by defeating Bob King, a lawyer who had won the Republican nomination thanks to the presumptive winner’s failure to properly qualify. In 1994, after winning reelection, he switched parties from Democratic to Republican.

Refugee lawsuit risks fomenting fear?

While Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is vowing “full speed ahead” with a legislator-initiated lawsuit over refugee resettlement in Tennessee despite a potential change in federal policy under President-elect Donald Trump, Sam Stockard indicates some misgivings in a lengthy review of the litigation. Excerpt:

More than likely, (Trump will) take a softer stance, too, on refugees, though it is said to be one of his top five priorities. Nobody argues that serious vetting is needed for refugees. The key is to avoid hysteria.

An equally important question is whether refugees are being used by big companies for cheap labor. The influx of Somalians into Bedford County where a large number are employed at the Tyson chicken plant spurred legislation requiring Catholic Charities to communicate with local and legislative leaders on the impact of refugee resettlement.

If Tennessee legislators want more information about the budget impact of refugees and how they’re treated when they arrive, so be it. Otherwise, this lawsuit could be used to do nothing but foment fear.

As such, it’s a good thing the Thomas More Center is donating its time.

Conflicting marijuana laws ‘unconscionable’?

It is “unconscionable and unacceptable” that eight states have enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana while the federal government continues to prohibit possession, opines Frank Cagle.

So we have a situation in which people in some states can be prosecuted and sent to prison for growing and selling marijuana, while in other states people can do it with impunity. What the hell kind of system of justice is that? Whatever happened to equal protection under the law? It’s also well-known in Colorado and Washington that certain banks and credit unions are offering banking services to marijuana merchants, which is a violation of federal money-laundering laws. That’s because in Colorado alone the amount of drug cash is $1.2 billion and it has to go somewhere rather than under the bed.

Now there is a new sheriff in town, so to speak. President-elect Donald Trump has designated U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as the incoming attorney general. Sessions’ views on marijuana are well known – he has famously been quoted as saying “good people” don’t smoke pot. Will his Justice Department descend on Colorado or other states and start throwing business owners in jail? Will bankers be prosecuted for money laundering? I bet.

 

But there are only two solutions that are acceptable. Repeal the federal laws concerning marijuana so that is is no longer a federal crime anywhere or start enforcing the law in all 50 states. We cannot continue to have two sets of criminal laws depending in which state you reside.

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