By Thomas Sheffield
Last week the State of Tennessee became the third state in the US to pass a bill limiting transgender athletes. Prior to this, they entertained a bill to let students to refuse to use bathrooms with transgender peers. These were huge bills that did more for the people of the state than any other bill since the passing of Tenncare. I’m just being facetious. I don’t know what they’re doing.
This legislature has become one of the most frustrating legislatures in modern times. Instead of tackling issues that bring a higher quality of life for more Tennesseans, they choose to pass things that should not be debated. Why is moving a bust of a confederate general and Klu Klux Clan leader even up for debate? It seems they are too cowardly to deal with uncomfortable or real issues. Whatever happened to the need to find affordable housing and healthcare? You were elected to make the hard and informed decisions, not to pass making the Bible the official book of Tennessee.
I am afraid these petty decisions or the lack of courage to take on difficult one’s, put our future in jeopardy. Bills that propose everyone needs to have a gun or discriminatory bills such as the ones against the transgender community will hurt us economically. What major company will want to expand or come to a state intolerant of their customers or their corporate policy? What company will want to come to a place where it is legal to give immunity to drivers who “unintentionally” hit protesters blocking the highway? What company will want to go to a state who wants to permanently block the use of medical or recreational marijuana from ever being adopted?
You were elected to make tough decisions. No, everyone will not like it or agree totally. Yup the press will criticize you and I may dog you about the decisions you make but this is what you signed up for. This is what you were elected to do. This is the job you asked to be hired for and there is so much more to it than the “bathroom bill.”
I dare my friends in the legislature to take on tough topics like Medicaid expansion which will give healthcare to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Tennesseans. I dare you to take on issues that will be guaranteed success such as infrastructure or popular items like Universal Basic Income. I dare you to focus on ensuring the participation of all Tennesseans in the right to a high quality education and the right vote. Let’s continue to encourage our elected leaders to take on these issues instead of issues that have no residual value. When you do, we will be sure to give you the credit you yearn for.
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