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State Constitution Amendment 1

If you're confused about the Tennessee constitutional amendment on abortion on the ballot in next month's election, the left has done its job.

The Vote No. on 1 campaign, Planned Parenthood officials, some Democrats and others who promote abortions at will have tried to muddle the simplicity of the amendment with obfuscation and innuendo.

It comes down to this: A "yes" vote on the amendment puts the state back in line with the United States Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion -- it's still legal, in other words -- but says there is nothing further in our state constitution, beyond the federal constitution, that protects the right or requires its funding.

The left would have you believe abortion in Tennessee is in danger of being taken away completely, could become more unsafe and would not be allowed in the cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Given current law, all of those are false.

To date, the only restrictions on abortion in Tennessee are that the parent of a minor must consent, the use of phones or webcams to provide medication is forbidden, and public funding is available only in the cases of life endangerment, incest or rape. In addition, health plans offered in the state's health exchange under the Affordable Care Act cannot provide coverage for an abortion.

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court struck down laws requiring a two-day waiting period and physician-only counseling for girls and women considering abortions, and preventing second trimester abortions from taking place anywhere but in a hospital.

The state court, in broadening the federal Roe vs. Wade decision, did so, it said, because the laws were not narrowly tailored to promote maternal health and thus violated a woman's right to privacy in the Tennessee Constitution.

Supporters then and now didn't and don't understand how a waiting period, counseling and hospital abortions did and do anything but promote women's health, so they've been trying to change the law ever since.

A loss on the amendment, they feel, could lead to challenges to remaining abortion restrictions, more taxpayer funded abortions and for the state to become even more of an abortion destination -- 23 percent of abortions are performed on women from other states -- than it already is.

It also would give the people even less of an ability to weigh in on the controversial issue, supporters say.

In order for Amendment 1 to pass, a majority of the voters who vote in the governor's race must vote in favor of the amendment.

We urge Tennesseans to vote "yes" on Amendment 1.

State Constitution Amendment 3

Tennessee does not have a state or local income tax now, doesn't need one and doesn't want one. And the likelihood of one being necessary or desired in the near future is slim to none.

But nobody knows what the future will bring in 2030, 2050 or 2077. Economic realities may look completely different then.

That's the main reason for not tying the hands of state government about such a tax. That's what Amendment 3 to the Tennessee Constitution on the state general election ballot next month would do, though.

A "yes" vote would permanently bar the General Assembly from enacting "any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income ..."

We prefer state residents vote "no" on the amendment not because we believe the legislature should enact such a tax -- we certainly don't -- but we believe future legislatures need such flexibility in case of emergencies or unforeseen economic realities.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, sponsored the resolution putting Amendment 3 on the November ballot and heads the "Yes on 3" committee urging its ratification.

He believes, correctly in our opinion, that not having a state income tax has brought jobs to Tennessee. Indeed, economist Arthur Laffer, a former economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan who now lives in Murfreesboro, said states with no income tax average higher job growth rates than the national average.

But Kelsey also says, incorrectly we believe, that passing the amendment would bring even more jobs.

Businesses desirous of locating to the state do their homework and already know the state has no income tax and does not have one on the horizon. They also understand the need for flexibility in an unforeseen future.

Tennessee is one of only eight states without a general personal income tax but is one of two of those, along with New Hampshire, that tax certain dividend and interest income.

However, the state is phasing out its inheritance, estate and gift taxes, and has lowered taxes on groceries. Talk is afoot, too, of eliminating the tax on dividends and interest.

That leaves sales tax -- Tennessee already has the highest state and local sales tax rates in the nation -- use tax and consumer tax for revenue. Some think the amendment's adoption also could lead to a rise in property taxes or the proposal of a state property tax.

Currently, according to the conservative Tax Foundation, the state's overall state and local tax burden is fifth lowest in the country.

Although the General Assembly has considered a state income tax three times since the state Supreme Court last ruled it was unconstitutional in 1960 -- in 1985, 1991 and the sessions of 1999 to 2002 -- it never got further than a failed vote (by five) in the state House and never made it to the state Senate.

No Republican or Democrat is about to propose it, either. But the possibility should be out there in case -- heaven forbid -- it is ever needed.

Vote "no" on Amendment 3.

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