When they weren’t making laws, lawmakers passed around praise

Monday, 07/09/07
When they weren’t making laws, lawmakers passed around praise

By JESSICA FENDER
Staff Writer/The Tennessean

Tennessee lawmakers sponsored more resolutions than anything else this legislative session, lauding people like pop star Justin Timberlake and expressing solidarity with a Turkish religious movement, among other endeavors.
A Tennessean review of more than 6,000 records shows that 42 percent of all measures filed were resolutions with no force of law.

And while not all passed — Timberlake didn’t, religious freedom in Turkey did — the drafting of such “memorial” resolutions cost about $70,000, by staff estimates.
Most resolutions honored local teachers, soldiers, sports teams, administrators or students for outstanding achievement.
Among them was Hendersonville Christian Academy valedictorian Jamie Wallmark, 17, who earned a 4.125 grade point average. Being honored on the Senate floor meant a lot, she said, especially because she knows lawmakers are busy.
Resolutions cost time, money
But lawmakers’ busy agendas are precisely the problem when it comes to penning a deluge of resolutions, said John Summers, a lobbyist and Metro councilman who represents part of west Nashville.
While most are quickly dispatched, they can still “grind business to a halt,” said Summers, who said the Metro Council had a similar problem in the past.
“Clearly there are individuals that deserve recognition,” he said. “And clearly there are some resolutions that are there for political purposes by the sponsor.”
About 100 of the 1,699 resolutions filed established study committees, ratified the legislature’s rules or made a first step toward amending the state Constitution.
Rep. Tom DuBois, R-Columbia, introduced 167 congratulations, memorials and proposals to rename stretches of highway — the most by far of any legislator.

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