Letter from The Editor 

I've got bad news for you if you like to drive around with your pet in your lap. The Tennessee General Assembly is about to pass a law prohibiting that practice. They also just passed a bill that would outlaw saggy pants in school. Another bill being considered would raise property taxes on solar energy installations by 6,000 percent. This is being done, apparently, because a law giving property tax breaks to solar energy companies passed when the legislature was controlled by Democrats. Seven hundred solar installations and companies in the state will be affected. Message: Solar jobs, like saggy pants and driving with your cat in your lap, must be discouraged.

I receive emails from the Tennessee Citizen Action group (tnca.org) that tell me what's going on with our representatives in Nashville. If you're needing a source of continuous amusement — or amazement — I suggest you subscribe to their newsletter. The level of foolishness being sustained by these GOP-dominated elective bodies is mind-boggling.

It would be funny, except much of the legislation being proposed will have profound negative effects on our rights. Here's a brief rundown of some other bills that will probably become law: a token reduction in food sales tax that will save a whopping 25 cents per $100 spent on groceries for us peons; elimination of the estate tax that will benefit around 900 wealthy Tennessee families a year and cost the state millions in revenue; a measure allowing attorneys for health corporations being sued to have full access to your medical records and the right to interview your doctor (breaching patient confidentiality laws); a bill allowing insurance companies to make non-disclosed campaign contributions in the 10 days prior to an election; a bill requiring anyone receiving state benefits to take a drug test — and pay for it.

Other bills politicize appointments that have traditionally been vested in state boards and put them under control of the governor. These include various commission directors: the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

It goes on and on. And I don't include here the absurd menu of fundamentalist Christian, anti-woman, anti-science, pro-NRA measures floating around the capitol, awaiting their moment in the sun. It's all quite depressing. Not to mention, I'm still not sure how I'm going break the news to Muffin that she can no longer ride to Walmart with me.

Bruce VanWyngarden

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