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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
After failing to pass in the Tennessee General Assembly in both 2022 and 2023, the “Restoring State Sovereignty Through Nullification Act” has officially been introduced for the 2024 legislative session.
The First Amendment specifically denies the U.S. Congress of certain lawmaking powers. The federal government is also “specifically denied powers not delegated to it” in the U.S. Constitution.
Back in 2022, in the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns, mandates and restrictions, Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16) filed a bill “to end Tennessee’s practical participation with federal actions that it finds constitutionally violate.”
“I think we all have to concur it’s an undeniable fact that our federal government has grown well beyond its specifically enumerated powers,” said Sen. Bowling.
“The ever-increasing scope and size of the government not only violates the original intent of our founders but also threatens to suffocate our liberty through draconian overreach, antithetical to principles of federalism.”
This legislation was killed by other members of the state legislature that year and again when Sen. Bowling reintroduced it in 2023. Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) has also openly opposed this bill.
However, Sen. Bowling is not giving up on this legislation and has reintroduced it this year under Senate Bill 2775 (SB2775). The corresponding House Bill 2795 (HB2795) is being carried by Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport-District 2).
What would this bill do?
While the nullification process is not new, SB2775/HB2795 would create an “orderly pathway for the state to use the nullification process” by establishing five specific ways to invoke state nullification of federal action.
For reference, petitions created under this legislation would be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Once signatures have been verified and the petition is valid, a “bill of nullification” would be introduced.
A sample petition is provided in Section 13 of the bill and additional details on petitions are located in Section 9.
A “bill of nullification” introduced in the General Assembly under this legislation would bypass the committee process and be sent directly to the Senate and House floors for a vote.
Under SB2775/HB2795, nullification can be invoked by the following:
1. An Executive Order of The Governor of Tennessee
2. A “Bill of Nullification” Introduced by a Member of the Tennessee General Assembly
3. A Finding or Holding of Nullification from a Tennessee Court
4, The Petition of 10 Cities and/or Counties’ Executive or Legislative Bodies
5. The Petition of 2,000 Registered Tennessee Voters
The purpose and intent of this legislation is clearly laid out in Section 3 of this bill which provides a breakdown of constitutional and state rights.
Other State Sovereignty Legislation
Sen. Lowe’s legislation does not acknowledge the nullification process as means to obtain state sovereignty and sets up a ten member “state sovereignty committee” instead.
This committee would be made up of legislators hand-selected by the Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the House.
While this could be an attempt to get something in place should the “Restoring State Sovereignty Through Nullification Act” fail to pass for the third year in a row, some have speculated that SB2058 is an attempt to undermine Sen. Bowling’s nullification bill by offering lawmakers a more “palatable” option.
If this is the case, then the question is, palatable to who? From the looks of things, not Tennessee voters.
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee.
You can reach Adelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.