Are you interested in writing a guest commentary article for the Free Press opinion page? Over the coming weeks, the Free Press page will feature several conservative/limited government/free market-oriented guest pieces by informed readers and area residents.
You may be thinking, "Oh, Drew, you just need to fill up your page with good local content when you take time off to get married in a few weeks and you're asking us to do your job for you." Well, yeah. That's true. But it's also a great opportunity to have your perspective seen by tens of thousands of people in our region and potentially make a difference.
If you have expertise or passion about a particular topic and are interested in writing a short guest commentary, please contact me at: email@example.com or 423-757-6300.
- Drew Johnson
HEADLINE: New laws taking effect in Tennessee
THE RECAP: On July 1 more than 100 new laws and requirements enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly go into effect.
The new laws include a ban on most warrantless surveillance by unmanned drones in Tennessee, a reduction of the state sales tax on groceries from 5.25 percent to 5 percent and a directive that permits people with handgun carry permits to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked.
DREW'S VIEW: While it's hard to overlook the wasteful and reckless $32.7 billion state budget that took effect on Monday, a few of the new laws actually intend to rein in government in Tennessee.
Lowering the sales tax on groceries is the latest step toward the much-needed elimination of Tennessee's regressive food tax. In reality, though, the savings is laughable -- about $3.40 a year for each Tennessean.
Laws that empower homeschool students to participate in extracurricular athletics, allow manicurists to provide manicuring services to an ill, disabled or homebound individual in his or her home, and ban warrantless surveillance by unmanned drones in the state are also commendable actions by the Tennessee General Assembly.
There are still plenty of duds, though. After all, most laws are passed simply so busybody state legislators can tell their constituents they did something, when doing nothing would have served Tennesseans just as well.
For example, lawmakers established a human trafficking task force that will almost certainly never prevent a single incident of human trafficking. There is now also an accurate vehicle identification number reporting advisory committee. All Tennesseans are undoubted breathing a sigh of relief about that.
While it was already illegal to vandalize highway overpasses and tunnels, it's now even more illegal. And not-so-importantly, as the result of a new law, Tennesseans can own their very own Southern Leopard frog license plate.
Before passing a law, Tennessee legislators should ask themselves if the law is constitutional; if it empowers people, rather than government; if it benefits all people in the long run, not just a chosen few in the short term; and if they would spend their own dollars on it. If the answer is "yes," the law is probably worthwhile. If, however, the answer is "no," lawmakers should go back to the drawing board.
HEADLINE: Delay stirs broader worries about Obama health law
THE RECAP: The sudden one-year postponement of a major part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is raising questions about other potential problems lurking in the homestretch. White House officials said Wednesday that the delay in the requirement that many employers provide coverage won't be extended after a year, but delays or tweaks to other provisions are possible.
DREW'S VIEW: Every day that any component of Obamacare is delayed is a day that Americans won't be shackled by the odious burdens of the act -- and another day that Americans can fight to overturn the atrocious law.
That's especially good news in this case, since the requirement Obama has decided to delay is the heinous provision requiring that employers choose between providing employees with expensive health insurance, paying an enormous fine for not providing the coverage or firing some of their workers.
That said, it's important to look at the timing of Obama's move. The president made the announcement about the delay just before the Independence Day holiday, apparently to ensure a minimal amount of coverage about the decision -- and a minimal amount of pushback from those who are so removed from reality that they actually believe this Obamacare provision is a good idea.
More importantly, the move to postpone the implementation of this most controversial and unpopular component of Obamacare a year means that the employer mandate will begin after the 2014 elections. The president must believe we are all too dumb to recognize that the delay is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to protect Democratic members of Congress at the voting booth.
If Obamacare were such a good idea, the president would be proud to see the employer mandate to go into law as soon as possible. But even he knows the act is a faulty and dangerous idea, and he doesn't want to see the lawmakers he strong-armed into passing it pay a price for the bad idea.
"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.