Kelsey Explains Proposals

State Senator Brian Kelsey explains some of the amendments that will be on our November ballot:

When you go to the polls this November, you will be able to vote on four proposed amendments to the state constitution. I am proud to have sponsored two of the four: one prohibiting an income tax and one establishing a judicial appointment model.

Amendment #3: Income Tax Free

Amendment #3 would put the final nail in the coffin of the income tax. It was a mere twelve years ago that a proposed state income tax failed by just five votes in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Not having an income tax has already brought jobs to Tennessee, and being able to tell prospective businesses that we will never have an income tax will help us become the number one state in the southeast for high quality jobs.

The amendment will also prohibit a state or local payroll tax, which is a tax on employers that is measured by their wages and is essentially just an income tax by another name. Payroll taxes have been proposed in recent years by elected officials in Shelby County as a way around an income tax.

Amendment #2: Founding Fathers Plus Plan

The Founding Fathers Plus Plan solves a constitutional crisis in the way we select appellate judges in Tennessee. The constitution is clear that judges must be elected; however, the legislature has denied Tennesseans the right to vote in contested elections for years. If we are going to amend our constitution to solve this problem, then we should adopt the best system, which is the one designed by America’s Founding Fathers. As Alexander Hamilton wrote of the plan in Federalist 76, “It is not easy to conceive a plan better calculated than this to promote a judicious choice of men for filling the offices of the Union.”

The Founding Fathers Plus Plan would allow the governor to nominate appellate judges, subject to confirmation by the Legislature. It is called the “plus” plan because the Senate plus the House are included in confirmation. The amendment also keeps in place retention elections at the end of each eight-year judicial term, so judges will be held directly accountable to the people.

Other Amendments

Voters will also decide whether to take the authority to regulate abortions away from state judges and return it to the people through their elected state legislators (Amendment #1) and whether to allow veterans organizations to hold gambling events (Amendment #4).

We hope to have him at our July meeting to elaborate on these and answer any questions.

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