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Don’t shoot the messenger: Assembly focus is on silliness

Staff Report • Apr 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Gov. Bill Haslam believes the news media spends too much time reporting on the “craziest” bills in the state General Assembly. The governor said last week reporters should focus on meaningful legislation.

We agree. Capitol Hill reporters have filed many stories this session about silly legislation.

Unfortunately, they’ve had no choice. Tennessee lawmakers simply aren’t debating meaningful legislation in Nashville.

Instead, they have made Tennessee the butt of jokes for late-night TV hosts with such legislative farces as the “Monkey,” “Don’t say Gay” and “Saggy Pants” bills.

Haslam should know better than to shoot the messenger. If he doesn’t like the circus the General Assembly has become, then perhaps he should talk to the members of his own party who are now leading both houses of the legislative branch.

We can understand Haslam’s concerns about recently passed legislation to allow public school teachers to question the science of evolution. What message does this assault on established science send to high-tech industries looking to locate in Tennessee?

We can sympathize with the governor for having to sign a bill into law making high school students pull up their pants. Is this the best the General Assembly can do when it comes to bettering the lives of children and teenagers in Tennessee?

And we know Haslam probably cringes every time his Republican brethren in the General Assembly show their intolerance and lack of understanding in debating a bill to prohibit teachers and guidance counselors from discussing gay issues. We agree with him that lawmakers could better spend their time debating real issues related to education.

Yes, we understand Haslam’s frustration over the lack of substance coming from the General Assembly, but the job of the free press is to report what we see. And what we see is this: The inmates are running the asylum.

Maybe it’s time for the grown-ups to take charge. Is Haslam prepared to lead the way?

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