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Beavers amendment unconstitutional
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At the end of the 2017 legislative year, on May 10, Senator Mae Beavers failed to accomplish her


efforts a) to dislodge Mrs. Lisa Peterson from her duly appointed position as Election Commissioner


and b) to usurp the Democratic Party’s right to select the person they want to serve on the Election


Commission in DeKalb County to represent the interests of the Democratic Party.  The Republican


Party, being in the majority, has three representatives and the Democratic Party has two on the  


commission.  Each party selects the persons they want to represent the respective parties.




Mrs. Peterson was unanimously approved by the State Election Committee.  On April 3, 2017


Senator Beavers, whose17th District includes DeKalb County, immediately attached an Amendment


(Amendment 3) to House Bill 0671 (SB0925) in an effort to have Mrs. Peterson removed from the Election Commission.  The Amendment was in violation of the First Amendment of the United States


Constitution, United States Constitution  Article 1, Section 10, and Article 1, Section 11 of the                                                              Tennessee State Constitution.  One cannot target an individual or category of individuals to impose


 punishment or punitive measures on them and one cannot pass a retroactive law.  The Democratic


 Caucus, with bipartisan support, was able to push back Senator Beavers’ Amendment.




The bill was sent to Conference Committee, which is a committee appointed by the House of


Representatives and Senate to resolve disagreements on a particular bill.  Members of the


committee appointed on April 24 were Beavers, Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Sen. Reginald


Tate (D-Memphis), Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis), and Rep.


Dale Carr (R-Sevierville), whose bill Beavers attached her amendments. 




Sen. Beavers then submitted Amendment 4, which stated that “A former administrator of elections ….shall not serve as a member of the appointing county election commission.” Amendment 4 failed because, on its face, it violates Constitutional law.




The makeup of the conference committee changed on Tuesday, May 9.  Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver


(R-Lancaster) replaced Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), and Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis) replaced


Rep. Cooper (D-Memphis) on the conference committee.  Still undeterred, Beavers introduced Amendment 5, which stated “A former administrator of elections…shall not serve as a member of the appointing county election commission for a period of five years after the person leaves office as an Administrator of Elections.”  This too was rejected by the House.




 With Ketron and Miller absent Wednesday, May 10 Beavers introduced Amendment 6, which                                                                                                          


changed the five year period to 10 years.  Mrs. Peterson left the office of Administrator of Elections in


April, 2009—eight years ago.  Rep. Carr, whose bill (HB0671) had the burden of the various materializations of Sen. Beavers’ original Amendment 3, rejected Amendment 6, because it carried the same burden of all of the other Amendments.  It remains, on its face, unconstitutional.  Rep. Carr asked that his bill be rolled to the next legislative calendar in January, 2018.




The State Legislature is being used by Senator Beavers for personal vindictiveness against someone


whose only interest is to be a public servant on the Election Commission, an important post which often


goes unacknowledged.   This is not in the public interest.  Had Sen. Beavers’ Amendment passed, Republicans would be negatively affected as much, if not more, than Democrats given their current majority. A quick review of the counties demonstrates that it is not at all unusual for a former Administrator of Elections to serve on an Election Commission.  The former Republican Administrator of Elections in Davidson County, for example, has served as an Election Commissioner. 




Someone raised the question from the floor of the House about the possibility of a former


Administrator asking questions to a current Administrator.  It is the expressed duty of


an Election Commissioner to ask questions to insure that the laws of the State are being


implemented.  Why would any person in a public office fear being questioned by a citizen


and knowledgeable person?




We still have a two party system.  Senator Beavers’ Amendment 6, on its face, violates the state and


federal Constitutions.  Her interference in a Democratic Party selection process undermines the


basic principles of our Democracy.   When did it become acceptable for one Party to dictate selections for another Party?