NASHVILLE-Tennesseans serving on state boards or commissions would have to take a one-year cooling-off period before they could lobby for interests regulated by the same panels under proposed legislation.
The bill passed the Senate 23-8 on Thursday. Its sponsor, Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said the measure "tightens up" ethics legislation that currently bans registered lobbyists from serving on boards.
But Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, criticized the measure, saying it would discourage citizens from serving and describing it as "genocide."
"I think what we see is genocide as it relates to who we want to serve and who's eligible to serve," she told senators. "What you're finding is public people who work with the PTA after a while will not be able to serve on some of those boards and commissions."
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, later voiced astonishment at Harper's use of the word "genocide," a word defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the "deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group."
"Incredible," the senator said in a posting on his blog.