May 28, 2009
House approves bill to give Republicans
majority on State Election Commission
(NASHVILLE, TN), May 28, 2009 — Republicans won a significant victory this week with passage of legislation in the House of Representatives that honors Tennessee’s current law to give the majority party in the Tennessee General Assembly a one vote edge on the State Election Commission. The action comes as a result of the November
elections when Republicans took control of both houses of the State Legislature.
“The Democrat majority put the state law into place and had no problem abiding by it until Republicans took control,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who is the sponsor of the legislation. “They wanted to maintain their control despite the fact that it is clearly in violation of state law and does not recognize the fact that the people of Tennessee voted for new representation in our State Legislature.”
The bill, which has already been approved in the Senate, temporarily adds two Republicans to the State Election Commission to provide a four to three Republican majority. The Commission currently has a three to two Democratic majority. The bill contains a provision to automatically give the majority party the one-vote advantage if the power shifts in the future. Current Tennessee law also provides that the majority party shall have control of all 95 election commissions at the county level.
House Democrats had threatened to bottle up the bill in House committees where there is an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Legislation must receive a majority vote to advance to the floor of the House, where it was approved today along party lines. Norris had declared that, if House Democrats continued to hold up approval of the bill, Senate Republicans would not vote to continue the existence of the Election Commission, which was up for sunset review.
“This was a simple matter which should have been taken care of months ago in accordance with state law,” Norris continued. “I am pleased that it has passed the House and expect the Senate to take it up for adoption of a House amendment next week. Hopefully, the two new members can be seated on the Election Commission before we adjourn our 2009 legislative session.”